‘Doing your own thing’ seemed like such a simple, straightforward idea. It captured the whole idea of freedom in a form to which no one could object. It was not subject to any limits. You drew the red line where you believed it should be; you placed the limits to your own behaviour in accordance with your own values.
Peace and love, baby! They’re my values. And the best thing about ‘values’ is that they don’t mean a thing. They are only feelings, so you can change them. No sex before marriage became free love because, well man, you gotta experience everything and, like it feels so good.
And peace is a value, cause you might die in war and that doesn’t feel good; so why not have both: ‘Make love not war.’ And fighting to prevent war is peaceful. As is fighting the military/industrial complex and resisting the draft and so many other things that the government demanded us to do.
Getting high was the ‘thing’ to do, a value, so people smoked weed. Not smoking was so woke that San Francisco banned the smoking of cigarettes; but in the spirit of some people’s own thing, permitted sodomy. Texas, on the other hand, allowed smoking but banned sodomy.
Timothy Leary coined the mantra of that age, the beginning of the ‘movement era’ in San Francisco, the only place to be in 1966: ‘turn on tune in drop out.’ The hippie movement; the peace movement; the psychedelic movement; the feminist movement; the anti-war movement; the free speech movement (Berkeley); and, of course, the free love movement and the corollary of that, the abortion movement: all you need is love, baby; love is all you need.
But the movement era didn’t start with ‘Doin’ your own thing.’ It actually started with the rejection of a common human nature for all mankind. A common nature that everyone could observe meant understanding what preserved it and what destroyed it, what promoted its potential and what retarded it; an objective standard for what was good and what was bad.
The rejection of nature by Immanuel Kant left humans with a history, but no objective standard to judge between right and wrong. Along came Nietzsche whose superman would create values for us out of thin air. Hitler made free use of that theory. And even easier still, along came Martin Heidegger whose theory of existentialism allowed us all to create our own values; to do our own thing. Did I mention that Heidegger was a member of the Nazi party appointed rector of Freiburg University and affirmed his continued belief in National Socialism after the war.
Go figure. From 1939-45, the West, which includes the US, waged a successful war against Nazism. Within 20 years, the intellectual roots of Nazism had totally captured the minds of young Americans and Australians. 50 years on, and it occupies everyone’s mind. Decisions are made on the basis not of what is right, but what the majority feel is ok, of their values – their own thing – values that have no resemblance to the moral principles that make a democratic society different from mob rule.
Everyone has values. The left at Their ABC has the same values as the right at Rugby Australia although one practices them and the other admires them. Both of them have attacked Israel Folau for expressing his values and it seems that Izzy, who is probably the best rugby player in Australia will lose his job because he has principles but not values.
Obviously, one of Rugby Australia’s values is not inclusion.
David Long is a retired solicitor, economist and PhD candidate at Griffith University, School of Law.
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