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1968: The year of the posturing rebel [by playwright Tom Stoppard]
London Sunday Times ^ | March 16, 2008 | Tom Stoppard

Posted on 03/20/2008 9:08:17 PM PDT by Aristotelian

The student unrest in Paris and London 40 years ago filled our writer with revulsion. The protesters enjoyed enviable freedom and had no idea how lucky they were.

In 1968 I was living the good life with my first wife and first baby in our first house on the swell of my first play and was beginning to be noted by my peers as someone who was politically dubious.

It was to be some years before a well known left-wing director, asked to typify a “Royal Court play”, replied that it was a play not written by Tom Stoppard, but I was already conscious of a feeling in myself which detached me from the prevailing spirit of rebellion when bliss was it in that dawn to be alive but to be young was to be where it’s at.

The feeling I refer to was embarrassment. I was embarrassed by the slogans and postures of rebellion in a society which, in London as in Paris, had moved on since Wordsworth was young and which seemed to me to be the least worst system into which one might have been born – the open liberal democracy whose very essence was the toleration of dissent.

I had not been born into it. You don’t need to be a qualified psychologist to work out that in England in 1968, 22 years after I arrived, I was much more disposed to champion my adoptive country than to find fault with it. For all I knew to the contrary, if my father had survived the war (he was killed in the Far East) he would have taken his family back to my birthplace in Czechoslovakia in 1946 and I would have grown up under the communist dictatorship which followed two years later.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Henninger called it "a remarkable coincidence" that Stoppard's column should appear within a week of playwright David Mamet's disavowal of liberalism.

As Mamet says, "I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism."

That the liberal intelligentia should suffer two major defections in less than a week says to me that something is giving way on the Left -- people are being mugged by reality.

1 posted on 03/20/2008 9:08:18 PM PDT by Aristotelian
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To: Aristotelian

As someone in the arts I applaud any artist that can recognize a good thing when they have it...way too many cant

2 posted on 03/20/2008 9:19:30 PM PDT by woofie
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To: Aristotelian

I pray to God that you are correct in your belief.
bu whn you see the Thugocracy that has been educating our children since 1970 or so,
It’s a very scary universe that we inhabit.

3 posted on 03/20/2008 9:20:38 PM PDT by acapesket (never had a vote count in all my years here)
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To: Aristotelian

I celebrate these two great contributors to literature and now to reality.

I have long been an admirer, now unabashedly admiring.

4 posted on 03/20/2008 9:20:48 PM PDT by tennteacher (Hunter Conservative)
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To: Aristotelian
A very interesting if somewhat meandering article, and thanks for posting. One gets the sense of disillusion that resulted from the fall of that great tabula rasa the Soviet Union, on which so much youthful political naivete was projected. The invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 should have served as a wake-up call, but the street parties had started and everything was groovy, baby. Except, of course, for the Czechs.

What is most marked about this period is not the degree of self-delusion indulged in by youth, because youth is always self-deluding, but rather how long it kept hold of those who have grown old enough to know better but wish, instead of wisdom, to be eternally youthful, passionate, and unquestionably right. That's actually very sad.

I loved the music and the dressing up but I couldn’t take to the dialogue: a reductive argot of comrade-jargon and bogus wisdom derived from misunderstood eastern religions.

There's an awful lot of that still going about, isn't there? The eternal child in politics mouths platitudes and goes straight for raw power. It's a heady and fantastically self-destructive combination. For all the fear of secret government bureaus and closed company boardrooms, the most dangerous person in politics is one who simpers "our diversity is our strength" while attempting to cut the throat of anyone he doesn't like. He'd be right at home in the street in 1968 - Paris's, not Prague's.

5 posted on 03/20/2008 9:33:11 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Aristotelian

Stoppard does not sound like a guy defecting to me. He sounds like level head immigrant from the Eastern bloc who knew how lucky he was to have freedom all along. His plays that I have seen reflected that some too.

6 posted on 03/20/2008 9:48:02 PM PDT by JLS
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To: Billthedrill; Aristotelian

I hope you had a chance to read the Mamet piece that Aristotelian references.

7 posted on 03/20/2008 9:52:42 PM PDT by JennysCool (They all say they want change, but they’re really after folding money.)
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To: Aristotelian

Liberalism is philosophically bankrupt, and the Democrat party in the US is nothing more than a vote-buying machine.

8 posted on 03/20/2008 9:53:38 PM PDT by GVnana ("They're still analyzing the first guy. What do I have to worry about?" - GWB)
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To: Aristotelian; woofie

I’m watching shows that I haven’t watched in years , ..

tonight Larry King served-up softballs to The Empty Suit

I catch myself , agape , and wonder , ...

can MeeeeeCain really beat this guy (???) , .. I know its still early

but Obama isn’t very good fielding questions , .. ..

if his staff and TheMedia put him at a podium , just making like “The Aloof Orator” , well , then he’ll have the upper hand

9 posted on 03/20/2008 9:57:20 PM PDT by Dad yer funny (FoxNews is morphing , and not for the better ,... internal struggle? Its hard to watch)
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To: Aristotelian
...people are being mugged by reality.


I recall one friend that arrived at conservatism from liberalism not too late in life said to me, "I began to notice things."

10 posted on 03/20/2008 10:08:50 PM PDT by Poincare (Hope is nostalgia for the future.)
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To: JennysCool
I hope you had a chance to read the Mamet piece that Aristotelian references.

I did indeed, and commented on it. BTT.

11 posted on 03/20/2008 10:14:58 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Aristotelian

I’m pretty sure Tom Stoppard is a long time self described conservative

12 posted on 03/21/2008 2:17:53 AM PDT by OeOeO
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To: Billthedrill

I considered myself a liberal in those days, but even then most of friends loved the music but hated the politics. I didn't know one person who was interested in revolution. All we talked about was the music. When a big sixties groups like The Jefferson Airplane decided to go all out radical with their "Volunteers" album in 1969, I knew they were done for. (Besides all their albums since "Surrealistic Pillow" were self-indulgent pieces of garbage.) I suspect that most groups who championed radical causes lost most of their fans. When politics gets involved, art always suffers.

13 posted on 03/21/2008 3:31:35 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: OeOeO

If so, I stand corrected.

14 posted on 03/21/2008 3:57:00 AM PDT by Aristotelian ("I have a million ideas. The country can't afford them all." Hillary Clinton)
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To: driftless2

When speaking with folks who came of age in the 60s, I ask if they were political or just hippies.They always answer just hippies(with a cheesy little grin).

It was just about sex,drugs and rock ‘n’roll for the majority.
By 1973, everyone who wanted to be considered cool had adopted *the look*. The smart and connected went back to school, into the family business and mouthed that they were working within the system to change it. Today, they are elder statesmen, wealthy Democrats and they are financing the *revolution* from safety.

Conseravatives just on with their lives. I remember trying to reminisce with some people back in the early 80s and they, who had spent that time in a small rural town working and raising a family, just looked at me deadpan and asked:”What Sixties?”

Everyone was into the music, though, even the politicals who saw the music as an organizing vehicle.

15 posted on 03/21/2008 5:50:05 AM PDT by reformedliberal
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To: Aristotelian
Today, they are elder statesmen, wealthy Democrats

The smelly hippies are in charge now.

16 posted on 03/21/2008 5:54:54 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: reformedliberal
"with folks"

I grew up in the midwest..Wisconsin to be exact. I know many teens smoked dope, but I never did. And I didn't know one person who I could genuinely have called a hippie. Most young people still drank a lot of beer (this is Wisconsin remember), and those who smoked dope were only interested in getting high and not supporting some witless, leftist revolution. Even in my college poly sci class there was only one kid who dressed and sounded like a hippie activist. Other kids dressed normal and laughed at his statements in the classroom.

17 posted on 03/21/2008 10:50:11 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: dead

That is just so wrong on so many different levels.


18 posted on 03/21/2008 11:46:03 AM PDT by Moose4 (Hey GOP...don't move toward the middle. Move the middle toward us.)
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