On Rebels and Pretenders

The hippies are nearly always good for a laugh unless you have to deal with one, and then they are downright insufferable.  Most people who call themselves hippies are actually just for natural living and easy vibes, but in reality, a hippie is a person who rebels against modernity, and beyond this, it is a person who rebels against civilization.  Hippies are against factories because they believe we came out of the grime and against soap because grime comes out of us.  I have no idea how this makes them natural, but it's what they believe, and with this in mind, it's a miracle that any of them wipes himself.

A refusal to use soap is actually where I draw the line and say they're from Hell.  But what people forget is that sixty years before the hippies, people didn't shower daily, either, and that while hippies style themselves as rebels, this fact is responsible for making them the staunchest conservatives.  I have already quoted somewhere that the English confuse soap with civilization and they had confused the two of them only recently.  The hippies in this respect – and in terms of a tribal political theory and the radical egalitarianism of Jesus and the general hatred of hygiene and opposition to the industrial revolution and to any number of obvious improvements to human existence – are not actually new or fresh or even interesting.  They are as senile as humanity has ever gotten, and they may be compared not with youth, but with the extremity of old age – in fact, with the people who existed so long ago that they lived in times that are prehistoric, and so blind and so deaf and with noses so gone that they are against anything as rock-solid as aesthetics.

The fact that the hippies are so uniform in their oldness is proof that even a general rebellion against society is a pledge of allegiance to others.  You cannot abandon all flags; you can only switch them.  A general rebellion against "society" is not and never will be an assertion of freedom.  It is an acceptance of terms that have already been chosen for you.  A hippie isn't free to pick what he's for and against.  Society has chosen one way, and so he has to go in the other.  He isn't a thinker, but a reactionary – perhaps the most mindless of reactionaries.  Society says "for," and he says "against," and then he joins a group of other people who are uniform in their againstness.  Life is never more conformity than in a commune.

Until recently, I was under the impression that many teenagers go through a time of rebellion.  In fact, they do, but this is not what makes them rebels.  To rebel against your parents happens every time a person moves out of the house.  It is everyone's personal Declaration of Independence, guaranteed (unless you're disabled) by law, as mechanical as clockwork and as inevitable as taxation.  Rebelling against people who are older than you is as obvious and necessary as getting a job.  Rebelling against people who are the same age as you makes you a rebel.  Taking a stand against your peers is the danger.  Maintaining a truth when popular girls hate it is individualism.  Doing what is right when everyone says it's wrong is what makes you rebellious.

A rebel doesn't have to be rude, and he doesn't have to constantly fight.  A smart rebel knows that some things are not worth fighting about and leaves them alone.  A rebel laughs in the face of false morality and double standards and bad ideas from serious people.  He likes what he likes, and he hates what he hates.  The smarter he is, the more he realizes that even his challenges to rote morality are moral.  He never challenges "modernity."  He never challenges "orthodoxy."  He believes in no buzzwords like "progress" and "change," because life is always changing and progressing, and eventually it's for the worse.  He analyzes things bit by bit, time after time; weaving truths in his mind to a pattern only he sees, mixing policies and experiences as only he sees fit, blending utility and idealism in ways that shock both scientists and pastors, asserting his individuality when necessary and quietly conforming when it suits the general purpose.  His ideology is both taken from the ages and homespun, new and old, timeless and temporary.  His primary concern is not whether his ideas are rebellious or herd-like, "good" or "evil," offensive or acceptable.  He worries about whether they're true.  His joy is in their discovery.  His mission is in their expression.

There is a myth in American society that in order to be a rebel, you have to be a leftist.  So far as I can tell, it's the opposite.  To be a leftist is to be against all rebellion, against everything like inequality and failure and rugged individualism that makes all rebellion successful.  Like the hippie, the leftist claims rebellion for himself while doing everything to crush it, and in doing so, he smothers the people who would have been heroes and champions.  Leftists don't like property rights because they can't handle others' success, and they can't handle free speech because they won't let us learn from their pet people's failures.  They claim to be rebels because rebellion is appealing.  They spurn real rebels because successful rebels hate them.

Jeremy Egerer is the author of the troublesome essays on Letters to Hannah, and he welcomes followers on Twitter and Facebook.

The hippies are nearly always good for a laugh unless you have to deal with one, and then they are downright insufferable.  Most people who call themselves hippies are actually just for natural living and easy vibes, but in reality, a hippie is a person who rebels against modernity, and beyond this, it is a person who rebels against civilization.  Hippies are against factories because they believe we came out of the grime and against soap because grime comes out of us.  I have no idea how this makes them natural, but it's what they believe, and with this in mind, it's a miracle that any of them wipes himself.

A refusal to use soap is actually where I draw the line and say they're from Hell.  But what people forget is that sixty years before the hippies, people didn't shower daily, either, and that while hippies style themselves as rebels, this fact is responsible for making them the staunchest conservatives.  I have already quoted somewhere that the English confuse soap with civilization and they had confused the two of them only recently.  The hippies in this respect – and in terms of a tribal political theory and the radical egalitarianism of Jesus and the general hatred of hygiene and opposition to the industrial revolution and to any number of obvious improvements to human existence – are not actually new or fresh or even interesting.  They are as senile as humanity has ever gotten, and they may be compared not with youth, but with the extremity of old age – in fact, with the people who existed so long ago that they lived in times that are prehistoric, and so blind and so deaf and with noses so gone that they are against anything as rock-solid as aesthetics.

The fact that the hippies are so uniform in their oldness is proof that even a general rebellion against society is a pledge of allegiance to others.  You cannot abandon all flags; you can only switch them.  A general rebellion against "society" is not and never will be an assertion of freedom.  It is an acceptance of terms that have already been chosen for you.  A hippie isn't free to pick what he's for and against.  Society has chosen one way, and so he has to go in the other.  He isn't a thinker, but a reactionary – perhaps the most mindless of reactionaries.  Society says "for," and he says "against," and then he joins a group of other people who are uniform in their againstness.  Life is never more conformity than in a commune.

Until recently, I was under the impression that many teenagers go through a time of rebellion.  In fact, they do, but this is not what makes them rebels.  To rebel against your parents happens every time a person moves out of the house.  It is everyone's personal Declaration of Independence, guaranteed (unless you're disabled) by law, as mechanical as clockwork and as inevitable as taxation.  Rebelling against people who are older than you is as obvious and necessary as getting a job.  Rebelling against people who are the same age as you makes you a rebel.  Taking a stand against your peers is the danger.  Maintaining a truth when popular girls hate it is individualism.  Doing what is right when everyone says it's wrong is what makes you rebellious.

A rebel doesn't have to be rude, and he doesn't have to constantly fight.  A smart rebel knows that some things are not worth fighting about and leaves them alone.  A rebel laughs in the face of false morality and double standards and bad ideas from serious people.  He likes what he likes, and he hates what he hates.  The smarter he is, the more he realizes that even his challenges to rote morality are moral.  He never challenges "modernity."  He never challenges "orthodoxy."  He believes in no buzzwords like "progress" and "change," because life is always changing and progressing, and eventually it's for the worse.  He analyzes things bit by bit, time after time; weaving truths in his mind to a pattern only he sees, mixing policies and experiences as only he sees fit, blending utility and idealism in ways that shock both scientists and pastors, asserting his individuality when necessary and quietly conforming when it suits the general purpose.  His ideology is both taken from the ages and homespun, new and old, timeless and temporary.  His primary concern is not whether his ideas are rebellious or herd-like, "good" or "evil," offensive or acceptable.  He worries about whether they're true.  His joy is in their discovery.  His mission is in their expression.

There is a myth in American society that in order to be a rebel, you have to be a leftist.  So far as I can tell, it's the opposite.  To be a leftist is to be against all rebellion, against everything like inequality and failure and rugged individualism that makes all rebellion successful.  Like the hippie, the leftist claims rebellion for himself while doing everything to crush it, and in doing so, he smothers the people who would have been heroes and champions.  Leftists don't like property rights because they can't handle others' success, and they can't handle free speech because they won't let us learn from their pet people's failures.  They claim to be rebels because rebellion is appealing.  They spurn real rebels because successful rebels hate them.

Jeremy Egerer is the author of the troublesome essays on Letters to Hannah, and he welcomes followers on Twitter and Facebook.

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