Get PJ Media on your Apple

Ed Driscoll

Off the Rails: Mad Men and American Liberalism in 1968

April 22nd, 2013 - 12:01 am

Kubrick would go a step further: in his cinematic vision, not only is God dead, man himself was created by interplanetary aliens who four million years ago manipulated our hominid predecessors by inspiring them to use tools. Tools that – with one of the greatest flash cuts in cinema history – would eventually transform us from cavemen to men preparing to conquer space and literally meet our makers in the film’s mystical last segment. But the men depicted in Kubrick’s 2001 were, with the exception of Keir Dullea’s character, who undergoes his spiritual rebirth (itself a recurring fascist leitmotif), Nietzsche’s fabled last men:

In Thus Spake Zarathustra, the eponymous hero predicts the coming of the last man: “Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man. What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star? Thus asks the last man and blinks. The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man who makes everything small.” The last man is timid, enervated, self-enclosed, and self-satisfied, an industrious economic animal who always finds it in his best interest to go with the flow, to conform to the dictates of common opinion. Yet he does not regard this conformity and passivity as slavish because there is no one person to whom he submits. In following the majority, he does but follow his own will. Zarathustra expatiates, “No shepherd and one herd. Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse…. One has one’s little pleasure for the day and one’s little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.” When Zarathustra speaks these words to ordinary citizens, instead of being insulted by his images of their shallow and petty souls, they clamor, “Turn us into these last men.”

In stark real life contrast to the dissipated interstellar bureaucrats depicted in 2001, NASA’s Apollo 8 mission in December of 1968 was the American manned space program’s boldest achievement to date. The previous mission was the first time the Apollo capsule had gone into space with a crew onboard. The January 1967 launch pad fire that killed the crew of Apollo 1 was still fresh and raw in the minds of everyone at NASA. The lunar module wasn’t yet ready for manned testing in space. But there was a Saturn V ready to go – which itself had yet to be flown on a manned mission – and another Apollo capsule. Why not send three men to orbit the moon, George Low, then manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, proposed? It was the very definition of Tom Wolfe’s Right Stuff – if the accident that would later cripple Apollo 13 had happened on this mission, the three astronauts onboard, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, would very likely have been doomed. Instead, they achieved what some in NASA thought was the Apollo program’s greatest moment; the moment where man left Earth entirely for the first time.

In Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox’s beautifully written 1989 book Apollo, the authors wrote:

Reflecting on it years later, Mike Collins [later the command module pilot on Apollo 11] wondered whether the most historic moment in the Apollo Program might have occurred not on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men on the moon, but at 9:41 A.M. C.S.T., December 21, 1968.

Collins [serving as “CapCom,” the communications liaison between Mission Control and Apollo 8], a man with a sense of both poetry and history, felt even as he spoke that the words weren’t enough. Here is one of the most historic things we’ve ever done, may ever do, he thought to himself, and there ought to be some recognition of it. And what do I say? “Apollo 8, you are go for T.L.I.” But in the MOCR, that’s the way you said, “Mankind, the time has come to leave your first home.” The S-IVB relit as programmed, firing for five minutes. It increased the spacecraft’s speed from 25,000 to 33,500 feet per second, sufficient to take the spacecraft out of earth’s gravitational field.

* * * * * *

For many of the people in the Apollo Program, Apollo 8 was the most magical flight of all, surpassing even the first landing of Apollo 11. For some, like Mike Collins, Eight’s momentous historic significance was foremost. For John Aaron, an EECOM, it was simpler than that: “When you’re twenty-five and caught up in the thing, and the MOCR’s the only environment you know, you don’t tend to view things that way.” For Aaron, it was the sheer excitement of going to the moon for the first time. Or as FIDO Jay Greene put it, Apollo 8 was the time that they stopped “just running around in circles. Apollo 8 went some place.”

And when they got there, orbiting the moon, the Apollo astronauts did something that would be utterly inconceivable in today’s leftwing multi-culti obsessed overculture. In addition to the sheer guts of the mission, if anything spotlights the difference between the NASA of 1968 and the exhausted organization that bears its name today, it’s this:

On Christmas Eve, in lunar orbit, Frank Borman read a prayer for the congregation at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church back in Houston. Later, on their television broadcast, the three crew members took turns reading from Genesis. [Audio here -- Ed] It came as a surprise to the controllers in the MOCR, as it did to the millions watching on television, and it was just as overpowering to the controllers as to the rest of the world, this magnificent poetry about the creation of the earth, read by the first men to see the earth whole. Frank Borman, the commander of Apollo 8, had the last verses: “And God said, Let the waters under the Heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas, and God saw that it was good.” Borman paused, then concluded: “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with goodnight, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.”

Rod Loe, sitting at his EECOM console, working this last special flight as a controller just as Arnie Aldrich had promised he could, found his eyes welling over with tears. He bent over his flight log, embarrassed, hoping that no one would notice.

But one person certainly noticed the reading. As Fox News drolly put it, when they looked back at the mission forty years later, “Notable atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair sued NASA over the Genesis reading, but the court ruled it had no jurisdiction over events in space.”

Heh, indeed.™

After the mission, an unknown admirer sent a telegram to Borman that read simply: “Thank you Apollo 8. You saved 1968.”

Not much else good happened that year.

<- Prev  Page 6 of 6   View as Single Page

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
This is a wonderful examination of those years and you touch on so much that was the germination point for the fields of fetid cultural debris we have to make our way through on a daily basis now.

I was a teen-ager during the JFK presidency and vividly remember those years. The media created the same giddy expectations for the Kennedy administration that they did for Obama, and they focused only on the superficial as they did in '08. With John and Jackie the media whetted the national appetite for a kind of insidious façade of glamour and sophistication that everyone felt they needed in order to be fulfilled. This reverberated throughout the culture and was the beginning of the know-nothing intellectualism and the ravenous consumerism we live with today. The brain dead intellectuals are now everywhere, running everything and consumerism has created nothing but greed, envy and great unhappiness.

The Camelot myth was not a fairytale, it was a nightmare and - as young as I was - I was mildly shocked that everyone around me totally believed it. The beginning of the dumbing down of America, I guess - a task that was completed with the introduction of massive amounts of drugs into all levels of society in the mid-'60s.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The intellectuals poisoned the well in the 1950's. Norman Mailer's "White Negro," not Port Huron, is where I trace the rot.

Mailer celebrated rape, rioting and race hatred by minorities towards anyone of accomplishment in any race. The whole thing unfolded just as he wished. Generations of hip young leftists treated that essay like a roadmap and Soul on Ice as a validation of their deepest wishes. Rabbit Redux captures the essence of this better than any other book, but you have to start with Rabbit Run to undrstand how much we lost.

35 years later, illiterate minority children raised by illiterate mothers are taught by white leftist teachers to celebrate the fact that Bill Ayers tried to bash in cops' heads, and they aren't taught anything else.

It is just as Mailer wished it would be.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Actually I feel you have to go back to the late 20's as the Communist infultration of the Federal Government got going. You need no other author to describe the future other than William Z. Foster and his unknown tome "Toward a Soviet America." He says what they will do under a National Dept. of Education, they have done it and nobody really knows. For the unknowing, Foster was alternatlly #1 & #2 in the CPUSA and is buried in the Kremlin, great American, Not!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's bad form to remind people still alive, and "fundamentally" instrumental in the management, of the past if less than laudatory.

That's tantamount to placing blame. HOPING? for at the least a mea culpa from the miscreants. Instead with the fashion in non-judgement, personal feelings of "guilt "in the miscreants sufficient unto the day.

That same non-judgement of course does not apply to inhumane passive smoke killers, , patriots, members of "that vast right wing conspiracy" or critics and opponents to means, methods and aims of the present "holders" of the civic torch.

1968 So Yesterday. That's history. Only wrinklies could possibly care about anything that long ago. Unless of course "crimes against humanity" by people as offender and recipient who have been dead for over a century.Those we insist their progeny must pay for their crimes, as unto the fourth generation?

After all the catchword is "history begins with us". And we have the scions of the Mad Men and their managers in Media, Entertainment, Education and government ofthose days of yore in 1968 and following to whom we are grateful every day. Grateful, otherwise exiled from "good society" for their having showed us the right path.

No NOT the Right Path. "The Left Path". That ancient traditional path to righteousness and guilt free life.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Great post - the links very informative. I was a toddler in 1962 so the background was great to put things into perspective.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1968
Ya, I'm agonna have nightmares for awhile. It was an interesting post, and from the comments it reads like the blind men describing an elephant; it depends on what part of the creature you touched.

Aw hell, what difference does it make?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For future reference, Mr. Driscoll, it's either Daniel Patrick Moynihan or, if you want to be familiar, Pat Moynihan. No one ever referred to him as Patrick Moynihan.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let me, as concisely as possible, say this about that.

First, I think you push the timeline somewhat, the real turning point certainly did not preceed the end of the Nixon administration and the moral and political depression after the war in Vietnam ended as it did.

Second, you omit an important point that liberalism, socialism, and even communism held some degrees of academic credibility until the USSR imploded and the Berlin wall fell. This colored the debates in the 1960s in ways hard to recall today.

... suppressing urge to add another two or twenty points ...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It has been said that if you claim that you remember 1968 clearly, then you probably were not part of the action. But who knew that 2001 was Fascist? What the hell does that mean, that it had some tribute to deep forces beyond our own individual ability to control? If it were about "pure" evolution, rather than monolith controlled stuff, would it be less or more Fascist? How does the use of that word here, advance anything?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is a wonderful examination of those years and you touch on so much that was the germination point for the fields of fetid cultural debris we have to make our way through on a daily basis now.

I was a teen-ager during the JFK presidency and vividly remember those years. The media created the same giddy expectations for the Kennedy administration that they did for Obama, and they focused only on the superficial as they did in '08. With John and Jackie the media whetted the national appetite for a kind of insidious façade of glamour and sophistication that everyone felt they needed in order to be fulfilled. This reverberated throughout the culture and was the beginning of the know-nothing intellectualism and the ravenous consumerism we live with today. The brain dead intellectuals are now everywhere, running everything and consumerism has created nothing but greed, envy and great unhappiness.

The Camelot myth was not a fairytale, it was a nightmare and - as young as I was - I was mildly shocked that everyone around me totally believed it. The beginning of the dumbing down of America, I guess - a task that was completed with the introduction of massive amounts of drugs into all levels of society in the mid-'60s.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Funny about Sammy Davis and his Nehru jacket. Today, visit a bookstore in Silicon Valley on a Saturday night and you'll see plenty of young, single Indian males, presumably on H1B visas, and not a one of them is wearing a Nehru jacket.

I guess that's progress!

As to the 1972 GOP convention in Miami, one under-reported dirty trick kept it from being a repeat of the 1968 Democrat convention - Quaaludes.

As a young hippie dude in Florida at the time, I can say that the state was awash in illegal Quaaludes - what would be called a date rape drug today except then, hippie chicks lined up for an evening with them - no force or deception required.

If there is one thing a young radical loved more that smashing faces in the street and "getting his fair share of abuse" in return, it was hippie chicks drugged out on aphrodisiac downers.

I've always admired Nixon's team for that approach to potential civil disorder. Pure genius!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Gee, I've never heard that before. How did they hand out the 'ludes? Did they wander the crowds bearing them on silver trays? Maybe they just carried little baskets of them to distribute to the hippies, who always did appreciate "natural" stuff like baskets. Oh, I know! They tossed them from a helicopter!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Similar to the method here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdfPrkw_V3M (about 0:35).

(They added the goat leggings for the '76 convention. )
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
...and let's not forget the Tet Offensive and the siege of Khe Sahn. Before that Vietnam was "winnable," after that the antiwar movement really became mainstream. 1968 was a terrible year.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And you know what's doubly-crazy about that? Both Tet and Khe San became the biggest American victories of that war. Militarily, each of those debacles dealt the Communists serious defeats. But because they were hard fought and highly visible, the media focused on the negatives.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All