Listening to Thunderclap Newman, a revolutionary rock band of 1969-1971, it’s clear that then, as now, we didn’t know where we were going. Their number-one song in the UK, “Something In The Air,” proclaimed “the revolution’s here.” In those heady days there was far more optimism for the revolution, defined variously in Marxist terms or what came to be lumped into “New Age” consciousness. The Movement and its revolution did not succeed in changing society’s course, as The Movement soon fragmented into submovements which survive today (feminist, environmental, peace, gay rights, etc.).
The answer to the question “Why not now” (for a revolution) has to do with (a) the worsening state of the Earth, saddening and depressing many, and (b) the power of what we can call the monumental greed machine and its police state. The U.S.’s and mega corporations’ long suppression of people’s movements is well-known, and is ongoing. Turn on any electronic media, and you get frivolity rather than revolutionary content (e.g., “Something in the Air”). Unfortunately, youth seem to believe that techno-toys are liberating — until they can really have it all with a nice new car.
Some young adults and oldsters believe a revolution is in store more than ever today, but conditions have changed since the old-style 20th century social-justice and political revolutions. Did those revolutions really succeed, or were they only a changing of the guard? Is redistributing the economic pie outmoded, when it is a toxic pie?
Revolution can come, but it may accompany much more chaos than ever seen before, such as epic food riots with no relief. The population size in the U.S. since 1970 has jumped by over 50% from 203 million to over 310 million today. Demographically, far fewer people have direct access to land and water. Moreover, their skills to subsist are steadily poorer, despite the hippies’ Back to the Land movement and the present efforts of the Transition Town movement. Globally in 1970 there were 3.7 billion people, and now we are hitting 7 billion. The strain on the ecosystem may mean it’s too late to get our political house in order while Gaia waits. For she does not wait, as she seems to be sloughing off a fever or infestation by non-self-disciplined humans.