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The Difference Between Rebelling Against the Establishment and Rebelling Against the establishment (small "e")

Photo by Ana Viegas / Unsplash

My Dad was fiercely conservative. A full-blown WASP, albeit of the first-generation sort, his parents having migrated from Russia shortly before 1917. We used to drink beer at a local dive bar and discuss sundry (and sudsy) topics. During one conversation, I told him I was reading On the Road and greatly enjoying it. I thought he might respond with a funny comment about hippies and the need for underarm deodorant, but no: He said he always appreciated Jack Kerouac and that Kerouac was saying things that needed to be said and that it wouldn't be fair to lump him in with the hippies.

I don't remember any other details, but I've learned my father was right. Kerouac himself loathed the hippies that he helped spawn.

I think I've figured out why Kerouac didn't like the hippies.

Kerouac was rebelling against the left hemisphere.

The hippies were rebelling with their left hemispheres, at least the ones who didn't migrate to northern California in the late 1970s and 1980s to live out their premises.

The hippies, with their dogmatic and occasionally violent beliefs (watch The Trial of the Chicago 7; read David Horowitz's Destructive Generation), were hard-core left-hemispherics with an apocalyptic bent. They were, in other words, gnostics.

Their rebellion against the Establishment wasn't. It was only a rebellion against the then-current establishment that opposed the hippies' preferred establishment: the Communist Party, or at least a Socialist or vigorously Progressive party of some sort.

Most hippies and leftist activists, in other words, never opposed The Man. They merely opposed the man currently in power because they wanted their man to be in power.

All such establishments of modern Western civilization are constructs of modernity, which is, by definition (at least by my definition and understanding), a construct of the left hemisphere. Modernity is the culture of left-hemispheric dominance, and it needs to be resisted.

That's what Kerouac did and the hippies didn't.

And that's why I believe a good man like my father intuitively liked Kerouac but, like Kerouac, loathed the hippies. They could both smell a rogue left hemisphere and its uncompromising dogma from the next county.

Is Oliver Anthony's music a rebellion against the Establishment or merely the current establishment? The heck if I know. We'll see how his career unfolds. If he unfolds like Bob Dylan, his is a rebellion against the Establishment. If he unfolds like Neil Young, his is merely a rebellion against the current establishment.

Jack Kerouac: The Tao on Steroids
Kerouac rejected The Great Rejection

"The Great Rejection" is Western civilization's rejection of the Tao that started with Bacon and Descartes. Modernity's rejection of the Tao was an implicit repudiation, and subjugation of, the right hemisphere. Post-modernist rejections of the Great Rejection are attempts to get back in contact with the Tao and, implicitly, attempts to reassert the hegemony of the right hemisphere.

Neil Young Never Hated the Man
Neil Young never hated the Man. He only hated that Man. And now he is that other Man.
All Gnostics are Left-Hemispheric, but Not All Left-Hemispherics are Gnostics
The difference between political gnosticism and cultural gnosticism