A Tale of Two Americas in 1969: Apollo 11 and Woodstock
Coming up this July and August are the 50th anniversaries of two seminal events that highlight and distinguish the two visions of American that still define in many ways the country as it is today. Those two events were the moon landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969 and, a month later, the Woodstock Music & Arts Fair, primarily a musical festival, that took place in the small rural community of Bethel in upstate New York on August 15–18, 1969. Estimates were as high as a million people and as low as half a million attending, but it was most likely in the neighborhood of 400,000.
The Apollo 11 landing and man walking on the moon for the first time represented the pinnacle of human achievement in overcoming limitations. Woodstock represented the pinnacle of man's attempt to achieve personal liberation by rebelling against the traditions, values, and norms of a society that created the conditions for the moon landing: discipline, perseverance, and sacrifice in order to achieve something greater than oneself. Woodstock was the apotheosis of hyper-individualism and narcissism centuries in the making.
The Apollo 11 moon landing and Woodstock were and still are the perfect symbols for conservatism and liberalism. The juxtaposition of those two seminal events at virtually the same point in time is an amazing confluence filled with historical irony.
When Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, it was less than seventy years since the first manned flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and only eight years after John Kennedy made his famous declaration in 1961 that the United States would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. These accomplishments boggle the mind and could have been done only in a society where personal responsibility and accountability are the foundations of achievement.
Woodstock was just another manifestation of what Nietzsche called the transvaluation of values, which came to be known as moral inversion. Simply defined, this is when good becomes bad and bad becomes good. Modern liberalism embodies moral inversion as an ideology that has promoted and continues to promote the slow-motion slippery-slope destruction of any sense of sacrifice, where the siren song of the world is to follow one's heart and passion. This is nothing other than giving license to do what one pleases, even though the destructive consequences are all too common.
Take smoking pot as one example; it was most assuredly in ample supply at Woodstock. Up until the sixties, this was a societal taboo. Now it's been mainstreamed, legalized in many states, and many of the Democrat 2020 presidential hopefuls are proposing its legalization nationwide. What was once bad is now good. It goes on and on in the liberal scheme of things.
Conservatives view the world through an entirely different lens: if sufficient restraints aren't kept in place through discipline and tradition, bad things are going to happen. Liberalism's operating philosophy at a cultural level has been one of permissiveness and hedonism. If anyone tries to get in the way of one's personal gratification, he is immediately declared "phobic" and an oppressor.
What is truly ironic is that the personal freedom that liberalism says it has to offer is always co-opted into big money by corporate interests. Pot companies are going public by raising tens of billions of dollars from investors in order to finance the emerging industry. The abortion industry is nothing but a big business enterprise masquerading as a vital service. It preaches the message of freedom that comes with ending an unwanted pregnancy, all the while raking in millions of dollars every year.
These are examples of the realization of Nietzsche's prophetic vision of a God-less future for Western societies that have discarded Christian morality.
Woodstock was one of the most notable counter-cultural events of the sixties that were years of rebellion against the Vietnam War and the conformity and banality of America's consumer society. The irony is that it mainstreamed rock and roll by turning it into a multi-billion-dollar industry, enriching "capitalist pigs" in the process.
Fifty years later, the Apollo 11 moon landing and Woodstock are emblematic of the culture wars still raging between conservatism and liberalism. One ideology sees restraint and limitations as the pathway to an orderly society that allows everyone to live in harmony with others. The other sees personal liberation through the satisfaction of one's pleasures by throwing off all restraint and limitations as the road to a harmonious society. One is constructive; the other is destructive. One transcends time; the other is temporal. One is true, and one is a lie.
Woodstock dates corrected.