Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Another whitewashing of the '60s

from Simon Garfield.

Not that what he writes is strictly untrue, of course, but we have all heard it so many times, and now - more than ever - we need to hear the hidden history of '60s rock culture, how its desperate, death-or-glory, inherently pro-self and anti-collective call actually shared much common ground (obsessive desire to break out of the post-war state and its nationalised norms) with the Institute of Economic Affairs, how it failed to see that, in terms of economic equality of opportunity and social provision, the world in which its protagonists then lived - however stodgy and literal-conservative it seemed to them - was, in fact, as good as it was going to get in this country, how its libertarian streak was harnessed and redefined by the New Right, who (I insist) couldn't have done what they did without the groundwork laid by rock culture's opposition to the post-war orthodoxy.

Needless to say, neither Garfield nor the ludicrous film his article is effectively promoting (and which I shall not name) makes no mention of any of this - now, after so many years of '60s rock culture being mythologised to death and beyond, the only interesting thing anyone could write about the offshore radio movement.  Nor does he mention the immensely important (as acknowledged by Andrew Marr, and you don't get more consensual these days than that) political allegiances of Oliver Smedley.  Nor do either he or Johnnie Walker mention the fact that the latter's current Saturday-night Radio 2 show only exists because a gap was left in the schedules when the Daily Mail went into its crazed "get that n***** off the front page" spasms. That very fact alone sums up precisely what the offshore nostalgia movement is today.  No wonder none of them want to admit it.

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