What caused the sixties?

My theory that Vatican II caused “the Sixties” (see parts I, II, and III) has been aired on Steve Sailer’s blog here.  The reasoning is pretty much the same as mine:

And the big problem, or mystery, is that 1968 happened most everywhere. There was a ’68 in France, in Germany, in the U.S., in Mexico City, in Japan, and even—one could say—in Prague. There were smaller eruptions in England, in Canada, in Italy, etc. In each of these countries, the political narrative focuses on pretty much local concerns: In the U.S., it is a matter of racial justice and the Vietnam War. In Germany, it is a matter of the sons coming to realize the sins of the fathers during WWII. In France, it is a combination of Algerian decolonization and sexual freedom for students. And so on. The problem is that there are so many discreetly local “causes,” and yet there is a single, global “effect”—revolution by the young. For there to be so global an effect, there must be a global cause, I should think. What can it be?…

The only original speculation I could offer is that it might have had something to do with Vatican II. The thought would be that, ever since 1789, the West, broadly, had sought a happy medium between the poles of Revolution and Reaction, and the Catholic Church represented the latter pole. In Vatican II, the Church seemed suddenly to leave the field, or indeed, seemed to throw itself on to the other pole. This created a disorientation of the entire political spectrum—for where is the golden mean between the French Revolution and a no-less Revolutionary Church?

Conciliar apologists often excuse Vatican II for all of the bad effects that directly followed it by saying that the Council just had the bad luck (pure coincidence!) of immediately preceding an unrelated anti-Christian cultural movement.  If I’m right, the evil wrought by the Council extended even beyond the Church. The Church was (and, to an extent, still is) the only large institution pushing our civilization in a reactionary direction.  When the Church let up in the fight, the culture lurched Left.

48 thoughts on “What caused the sixties?

  1. One thought from Pascal that has stuck with me for some time:

    …God has set up in the Church visible signs to make Himself known to those who should seek Him sincerely, and that He has nevertheless so disguised them that He will only be perceived by those who seek Him with all their heart…

    Vatican II strikes me as a function of this Divine prerogative described by Pascal. If the Church didn’t change her forms and manners in some drastic ways through the Council, she would contrast too greatly with the degradation surrounding her, and it would become too easy too find the truth, easy enough to find it without putting one’s heart into it, easy enough for some shallow traditionalists to find it in fact. To this end Vatican II had a camouflaging effect on the Church in relation to the rest of society.

    I realize this goes somewhat against your theory on the cause of the sixties, which I find worthy of more thought and consideration on my part.

  2. But the same stuff happened in Japan, and it would be foolish to say that Japan even remotely looked to the Vatican as a bastion of traditionalism.

    I think the usual explanations are more than sufficient: massive increases in prosperity, the maturation of various forms of mass media, and a large bulge of young people, who tend to be more open to experience and hence more liberal.

  3. I had not considered Vatican 2.

    I personally would look at all those countries that you mentioned, and connect them with a single thread- WW2.

    The people of the 60s were the children of those who fought in WW2.

    There are many threads that can be chased from there…

    • Indeed, I find it ridiculous to blame the 60’s on Vatican 2. The 60’s would have happened regardless of it. Indeed, if there was a stronger reaction our society could fracturate deeply into 2 sub-societies, which would be better then our current outcome, but still nothing would prevent a large part of the population from joining the liberals. I think that the 60’s are rooted in the WW2. In WW2 the west fought for liberalism, together with comunists and against nationalist countries. So naturally the west fought for an evil side, but still widely promoted this as being a good side and the press and hollywood made sure to demonize fascism. The young people simply wanted to fix the contradiction: If we read and see movies that say that we are liberals and we fight wars against fascism, let’s stop pretending we are anything close to traditional, let’s be 100% anti-fascist, which means being 100% liberal.

      If Vatican 2 hadn’t occured I can see that today people would do the opposite argument: “Oh, if the church had compromised instead of closing itself, maybe it would have more influence in the society”

      I think that the only way for not having the 60’s would be to not have WW2, or finish it with a status quo ante-belli instead of with the aniquilation of the opposing side. A status quo ante-belli would have brought a greater ideological balance, Germany and Japan would probably not attack again after having lost and things could go on in a more equilibrated way.

    • I think that the liberal theology that led to Vatican II and similar reform/ecumenical movements in the early 1960s — driven by a bunch of German religious existentialists and phenomenologists who escaped the Nazis — led to an apostasy.

      This flowered into Vatican II and the loosening of structures in the mainline denominations (while the RCC had the council, the mainline churches were heavily involved in the civil rights movement).

      And that move had fruit in the destruction of most mainline denominations. The US RCC almost succumbed — the parts that went “full liberal” no longer exist. The same thing has happened in the Anglicans (the evangelicals and anglocatholics remain, the liberals are dying) — but it destroyed the Methodist church in my country.

      So Vatican II was a consequence of changes, not the cause.

  4. The source of the problem is at the heart of Gaudium et Spes, where we read:

    “Thus, the human race has passed from a rather static concept of reality to a more dynamic, evolutionary one.”

    By definition, that part of the human race is the revolution. That is, knowledge is now incomplete and will only be revealed in the future, whether through the natural sciences, social action, or “planning”. That leaves out totally the other part of the human race which never passed on (or else passed and returned), so the document has nothing to say to them. The Church is supposed to hold the deposit of revelation that was fully revealed in the past, not in the future.

    As for the “accident” of social change, that document proves otherwise:
    “we can already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has repercussions on man’s religious life as well.”

    So at Vatican II, they were quite aware of this social transformation. Rather than resist it, they went along with it. There is no question of bad luck.

  5. I’ve always seen V2 as a reaction to, and not a direct cause of, the degradation of society. It didn’t even finish until 1965, when the cultural changes were well underway.

    They made it worse, I agree, but I don’t see them creating the problem to begin with. The ’68ers in Germany had already been agitating for years by them, and most of them were Protestants or atheists. The Catholic region didn’t alter much at all until the movement made its way south over time, not really hitting in a big way until the late 70s.

  6. I have just finished re-reading Thomas Molnar’s book, The Counter-Revolution (published in 1969). 1969 was too close in time for Molnar to completely evaluate the effects of Vatican II. But on the next to last page he wrote this: “To sum it up, the relentless and organized revolutionary assault has finally reached the United States as the embodiment of the pre-1789 political order. Our civilization will no doubt come to an end the day the Catholic Church and the United States join the revolution.”

    Thus Molnar puts the remote cause of the ’60’s at almost 200 years prior to the ’60’s. The (French) Revolution contained within itself the seeds of all subsequent revolutions.

    As the last two elections have shown (along with the shameful irrelevance of the Catholic hierarchy in the Western world), the United States and the Catholic Church have indeed “joined the revolution.”

    And as Lawrence Auster says, “It’s their (i.e. the revolutionaries’) country now.”

  7. The brilliant (and originally feted but then disowned) Jewish sociologist, Philip Rieff, writing at the time in his book ‘The Triumph of the Therapeutic’

    Chapter 1
    ‘Toward a Theory of Culture’ [1966]

    In the final chapter of the same book he inserts the quip ‘nouvelle vague’.

    I really need to read his ‘Fellow Teachers’ [1975]

    On a similar theme:

    Georges Bernanos (1888-1948) [Greatest of Catholic writers C20th] is essential on what was happening just prior to the Council. [Reading Hans Urs Von Balthasars “Bernanos: An Ecclesial Life” at the moment.]


    a)The hijinx that preceded the opening of the Council, something about the original guiding papers being howled down by a faction and never admitted into deliberations, or something?


    b)And then of course there is ‘The Peasant of the Garonne’ Maritain trenchantly ‘coming home’ after seeing the debacle of the Council. A ‘pseudo-angelism’ was dominating.


    c)And then there is Rene Girard who believes we’re in apocalyptic times, would like to understand his point on this a bit better. And then there’s DB Hart’s ‘Christ and Nothing’ . . . similar to Rieff explaining how ‘nothing’ literally no-thing has replaced the ‘uniquely unalterable’ sacred.


    The Church is a city, it has to accomodate all types, the imbecilic and the mediocre and those who give scandal – Jesus in making Simon the Rock – is clear he wants all comers inside. I think Maritain concludes, in reaction to the presence of mediocrities, city walls were pulled down (or widows opened ‘John XXIII’) might have, in a pseudoangelism, turned the city of God into a suburb of the city of man. Did this give spiritual succour to the sexual revolutionaries? the therapeutics?

  8. Has anyone ever heard of the ‘Situationist International’? One year prior to the events of 1968, a book was released by its leading political theorist. In the book he developed a theory which is believed to have had a great influence upon the developments in Paris. The youth organization formed was actually run by members of this organization. I believe the theory they developed was correct but now it is being used as a weapon of the Left rather than the “Right” (they believed modern capitalism and liberal democracy to be the Right).

    This book was made into a film by its author called ‘The Society of the Spectacle’. It is certainly worth looking into.


  9. @Bonald

    I think the bast way to look at these phenomena is in terms of exponential processes or trends which are almost invisible during their early doublings (1 percent, 2, 4, 8 percent); but as soon as they become visible, obvious and undeniable will grow quickly to dominate (16, 32, 64 percent).

    So that the sixties (late sixties, specifically) were the point at which some social trends became so obvious as to be undeniable, and from that point the growth to dominance was very obvious and rapid.

    The ultimate cause of these trends was the decline of Christianity, and the cause of that was manyfold – which is why it has proved so hard to stop or reverse.

    Ultimately, the causes are the usual: the world, the flesh and the devil.

    And hardly unexpected – it was prophesied that this kind of thing would lead-up to the end of this world – at an unknown rate and on an unknowable timescale – unless there was sufficient repentance, which would delay matters.

    But these really are extraordinary times since the sixties: in which known sins and evils are relabeled virtues and openly advocated, the whole process driven and imposed by the intellectual elite *including* the Christian church leaders… this is not *normal* human evil, not at all!

      • What do you mean? Japan started from a different place and followed a different trajectory (in some, but not all, respects following the US lead) – presumably there will be a different explanation for what is a different phenomenon.

      • It seemed to me that Sailer and Bonald were saying that essentially the same thing happened in Japan as in the West and I was noting that Japan is not Christian.

      • I imagine a generation of angry, American-educated leftist Japanese fools coming to power in Japan would certainly have an effect on things there.

    • I agree with Dr. Charlton. In the Sixties, a “critical mass” was reached, when enough people supported, or at least were sympathetic to, liberalism, and therefore the leftists decided to begin making an open bid for power.

      (The weakness of the Establishment also played a role. The Establishment was getting weaker, and the leftists were getting stronger.)

      That this phenomenon was global (at least among many of the advanced societies) was basically because of the influence of the West over the entire world. Whatever foolishness is popular in the West soon becomes popular in the advanced nonwestern societies, which still tend to look on us as powerful and therefore worthy of emulation.

      There are, of course, many other local and partial causes, and these causes are noteworthy. But the fundamental cause was the reaching of “critical mass.”

  10. @BB – I don’t know much about Japan – but on the face of it there seem to be a large number of significant differences between modern Japan and the Anglosphere and Western Europe. I don’t see why there should be a common explanation for the two cases.

    • The differences are notable, but things like feminism and low birth rates are the same. Also, abortion was legalized much more rapidly in Japan than many other countries.

      • There’s little to no feminism in Japan. In fact Japan is the country that really makes me question the feminism-low birth rate connection.

        You can’t look at things like legalization of abortion to get an idea of “liberalism” in Japan. Most of the culture is so relatively untouched by Western religion that left/right morality comparisons just don’t match up. The pill being legalized less than ten years ago, for example.

      • Oh, and the reason the pill was not legalized sooner in Japan than it was is that abortion is much more profitable for the physician than the pill. Repulsive, I know, but there it is.

    • MacAuthur imposed a feminist constitution on the Japanese, one that explicitly includes women’s suffrage. The enfranchisement of women is a huge factor in the spread of liberalism.

      Contra C., there actually is a lot of feminism in Japan. Women have moved into the workforce en masse, and legislation has required companies and the government to provide maternity leave, on-site child care, and other such feminist impositions. However, feminism in Japan is very different from feminism in the West; there is (thank God) no Japanese Andrea Dworkin.

      By the mid-sixties, Japan had largely bounced back from the post-war period of privation. This supports my theory that liberalism can only gain significant power in a prosperous culture: only when the people are freed from the worries of day-to-day existence can they fret about liberalism’s ideals.

      I don’t know why liberalism hit Japan and the West at the same time, but it did. Is it part of God’s plan? Is it due to the devil? I don’t know.

  11. “What caused the sixties”?

    The same thing that caused the 20’s granting of the female’s right to vote.

    The 60’s were the great grand children of the braindead rebellious ones of the 20’s.

  12. The Japanese are certainly not going in for mass immigration, but how much of that is simply because they are right next door to a country of a billion people, which has long been their traditional enemy? Israel is yet another example of a similar phenomenon.

    • There is, fortunately for the Japanese, a significant percentage of the population who would be called “racist” in the West. Their “sin,” of course, is to believe that they are a people, to believe in themselves as a people, and to think that they should continue to exist as a people.

      Many of their social trends, such as low birthrates and high abortion rates, work against that, but even so, they believe in their own continued existence in a way we seldom see in the West.

  13. You noted correctly that the Sixties affected the entire West. As the West, at that time, was an American-led military/political/economic bloc, the explanation logically lies within the United States. The answer is Vietnam. As a result of preoccupation with Vietnam, the Johnson administration failed to sustain what had been the foundations for American global preeminence from 1945 to 1965 – namely, strategic weapons superiority, the containment structure around the USSR, and international economic hegemony.

    The reason Vietnam affected countries in Europe and Japan who were American allies but not directly involved in the Vietnam War is simple. They were members of an American-led alliance, and Vietnam called into question America’s leadership of the alliance both by sapping America’s power and by destroying the political consensus that supported the alliance. The rise of Soviet strategic nuclear strength and the rise of German and Japanese economic strength over the course of the decade quite naturally caused the Europeans and Japanese to re-evaluate their dependence on American military and economic power, and to push for greater political independence from the United States.

  14. Still going with Marxist boil-over on this. While Marxism still infects whole chunks of society today, in the late 60’s it was ubiquitous. It is like in the film, The Way Back where the escapees from Siberia make it to the Chinese border thinking they’re home free, but soon see the communist symbols and their hearts sink: “It’s everywhere.” Given that, it is amazing that the Church survived even if horribly battered. And Dr. Peters likes to remind us that we are a bit spoiled because he remembers parish life in the early seventies when it was all felt and burlap banners. Now I happen to be sympathetic to the view that the new translation of the Mass is but propping up something that is ultimately unsustainable, but the fact remains that a translation that moved away from the childish language the old “new” one was unthinkable just ten years ago.

  15. “The Sixties” was not an entirely bad phenomenon. If it had been, The Lord of the Rings would not have been the great success that it was. LOTR is an arch-conservative book. Yes, I know that it wasn’t read as such by many of its fans. Yet I think it helped to open minds to a wholesome conservatism as opposed to belligerent right-wingery. What is today one of the greatest hopes for us — homeschooling — was originally related to a “Sixties” rejection of government schools. While obviously many “Sixties” types wanted (and got) a long march through the institutions for the sake of Leftism, others rejected big government and would (more in the Seventies, as with homeschooling) turn back-to-the-land and efforts at self-sufficiency and a wholesome simplicity. If there was a great deal of exploration of (Westernized) Asian or Asianesque “spirituality,” the occult, and outright satanism, there was also a new interest, in some people, for authentic (no scare quotes!) Christianity* — manifested, again, in Seventies interest in Eastern Orthodoxy, for example — see the story of Peter Gillquist and his bunch. If there was a deplorable exploration of drugs, there was also some turning from a way of life unduly beholden to tranquilizers and alcohol. Some of the pursuit of racial justice was actually a legitimate enterprise. I was there, on the fringes, and no thoroughgoing generalizations about the Sixties as *entirely* detestable will move me. I would be interested in seeing here some discussion of the Sixties-Seventies as a period of recovery of some Christian and conservative or even reactionary good things.

    *I remember, as a little example, how in my southern Oregon small town there was a “metaphysical” bookstore, The Golden Mean — sure, drop by and smell the incense, and you could buy all the Ram Dass your little heart could desire. But this was also the store wherein I found paperbacks of medieval classics such as The Cloud of Unknowing, Lady Julian, Hilton’s Scale of Perfection — books about which C. S. Lewis had something to say. Also The Way of a Pilgrim.

    • What is today one of the greatest hopes for us — homeschooling — was originally related to a “Sixties” rejection of government schools.

      Homeschooling was originally what everyone did before Mann imposed the Prussian model on America.

      no thoroughgoing generalizations about the Sixties as *entirely* detestable will move me.

      OK, so the West moved 100 steps to the Left but five steps to the Right, so it wasn’t all bad? Feh. The pernicious net effect of the era should be obvious to all.

      • Your comment about homeschooling supports my sense that *one element* in the activity of *the Sixties* was, in fact, a reactionary one — a reaction to modernity and an interest in pre-modernity. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dr. Bertonneau could comment on this.

      • Well, I can comment on it. One of my earliest memories is of an afternoon at my grandparents’ house in Connecticut, with my parents and my little sister and brother. My Dad and his Dad watched football on TV, talked and laughed; my Mom and Grandma hung out in the kitchen and talked, and chuckled and clucked at their men, and at us. It was a small house, so there was a fair bit of converse between the kitchen and the living room. My sister and I went outside and played in the fallen leaves. It was a quiet autumn afternoon in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Perhaps it was Thanksgiving. No cars were moving on the streets. My sister and I played, throwing the leaves into the air and laughing. Then Gramma called us in for dinner. There was a fire. I was happy.

        The one thing from that experience that I could never recreate for my own children is this: in the late fifties, when that visit took place, I had a strong sense as a young boy that *everything was basically where it ought to be with the world.* The war was over, although everyone was still only just getting over it; and things were normal again (“thanks be to God”). I was safe in the world, and it would continue on its present course. Eventually I too, at some incomprehensibly distant time, would like my father drive a roadster with a rumble seat to Yale.

        Then, when Kennedy was assasinated, the whole shooting match was suddenly turned upside down. Nothing was ever the same after that; everything was up for grabs. From then on, things went steadily to Hell.

        I know now that if things had stayed the way they were in the fifties, that would have been good. But things don’t stay the same. And I know also that if things had stayed the way they were in the fifties, I would never have come to be a monarchist, or for that matter a serious Christian. It was the fact that the world was turned upside down when I was eight years old, that opened in me the intellectual room – the vast, limitless, disordered room of an inquisitive earnest young would-be hippie, circa 1972 – to even consider the possibility that the Marxism I had adopted with my parents was, not just false, but perverse and foolish – stupid even; or that Christianity was, not just a pro forma thing that people did because it was customary, but the bloody heart of life, the very center of reality.

        It is because the world went to Hell in the sixties that I can now see that the weltanschauung of the fifties was bankupt, already weakened with the cancer of liberalism, and so therefore eventually doomed.

        None of this is new, or was new at the time. It was foreseen by Guénon, Schaeffer, Eliot, Yeats, et alia. And by Plato.

        The sixties were to me as an earthquake in Plato’s cave, that shattered my shackles and forced me to run up toward the light. This was a fortunate outcome, for me, but only because I made it (so far); many of my friends were lost along the way to the surface. Overall, like any serious earthquake, it was a terrible cultural disaster. But it made me a radical. And it is because I am and have been a radical, that I am now able to be an Orthospherean. If the sixties had never happened, I would now be a democrat, and a Democrat, and a papier mâché Christian.

        In a sense, I think the sixties had to happen. The crisis pregnant in the fifties had sooner or later to floresce. So it did, and has, and is now. At the time, this feeling of logical inevitability was just in the air. Things fell apart with the utmost logic. Not until Reagan and Thatcher did it seem as though they might be cobbled back together.

        The thing to remember about history of the sort that we are accustomed to living in – i.e., history at hyper-speed – is that cultures are always in the process of dying, and being replaced by something novel. It’s just that for us, the death and replacement is happening several times in each lifetime, whereas for most people throughout history it happened with imperceptible slowness, so that things seemed stable.

        But they weren’t.

        On, then, shall we?

    • The romantic side of the sixties had some good aspects to it: not everything can be reduced to science and reason. Unfortunately, concepts like the good and the beautiful are difficult to apply directly to public life in a straightforward way, so you need tradition, not just flashes of individual insight to help integrate them into society at large. So, ultimately romanticism ends up reinforcing utilitarian technocracy, because only the latter can ultimately decide which individual insights will prevail.

      Here is a great article describing how one environmentalist has given up on the movement because of how it has been co-opted by utilitarian rationalists:

      • Thanks — good thoughts.

        A great deal of a good life is just cheerful obedience to the Lord and gratitude for His mercies, and conservatives should value humdrum goodness more than anyone. But when we read Sir Thomas Browne — “Now for my life, it is a miracle of thirty years, which to relate, were not a History, but a piece of Poetry, and would sound to common ears like a Fable” — I think many of us think this too should be an aspect of our lives. “The Sixties” almost always looked for this in the wrong places because of the sway of its lusts, resentments, tainted imagination, etc., but I think it was “the Sixties” more than the norms it rejected that would have resonated with Browne. Drug use, sexual promiscuity, Dionysian music may have cast, for a time, a spurious sense of wonder upon disordered and meager lives. But at least “the Sixties” sensed that life should be more than consumption.

        By the way, I think (and fear) that we are probably heading into an age when “spirituality” will absorb people’s attention; but in some ways it will be like the “spirituality” of Canaan before God judged those peoples.

        See Baue’s The Spiritual Society, which works with the thought of Pitirim Sorokin to show us as headed for a “Therian Age” (religion of the apocalyptic Beast).

        Positively, though — I see even something like the Orthosphere as a manifestation of how people of the Lord are sensing the need for the Christian imagination in arts and society — starting with ourselves, e.g. with the imagination of the Christian family. For some of my further thoughts on this, I would point to my paper, presented by Dr. Charlton, “Bright Lights Under the Shadow of the Hideous Strength.”


  16. I should say that in the context of my remarks above, “The Sixties” is perhaps more like circa 1963-early Seventies.

    I hope we can have an interesting discussion here.

  17. One last remark before I wait to see if anyone wants to respond. “The Sixties” was in many ways a dreadful turning against sound reason. On the other hand, it was not entirely a bad thing that a sense emerged that we needed something far wiser than scientistic, statist,bureaucratic thinking to guide ethics. And if you wanted something better than that you might have to do some digging on your own, you might have to take the responsibility to do some reading. I know, I know — look at the stuff they did read, Wilhelm Reich and all that! But sometimes people dug into much more wholesome things too. And there was the sense — sometimes — that we needed God; such an idea could actually be discussed, and not with utter derision. May I suggest a reading of the biography of Seraphim Rose?

    • That “sense” that we needed something far wiser than scientific, statist, bureaucratic thinking to guide ethics might have emerged among very few people on the Right. But, in the real world, the sixties marked an explosion of scientific, statist, bureaucratic thinking that guided not merely ethics but everything else. The state and its bureaucracy began to meddle in every aspect of human life, and this was widely accepted. I don’t see how one can argue that it is “not a bad thing” that only a few people doubted, but nobody ever effectively opposed, the explosive growth of statist and bureaucratic thought and action that started in the 1960s and subsequently accelerated. It really isn’t much consolation that a few voices in the wilderness were “actually right” even though everyone ignored them.

  18. I’m assuming Orthosphereans will continue to show me the courtesy of responding to what I actually say.

    While most of “the Sixties” was bad, I think part of what was going on was a desire to live in such a way that life could be “poetic.” There was a belief that American life had been “poetic” — a life more free of bureaucracy, nationalistic militarism, glaring-lights materialism, inculcated conformism. Again — hence the appeal of Tolkien. There was a sense that life should be “poetic” — and before you scoff at that, revisit your G. K. Chesterton. Dr. Charlton talks about what he calls “animism” — a sense that we ourselves and nature are alive and meaningful. In a more narrow sense of “poetry,” poetry was felt to matter. Hobbits sing. Any old kid could learn to play guitar, flute or harmonica for himself. Sure — certainly I know how cringe-making *so much* of this was. But I daresay one could find something akin to this in the laments of Burke for the poetic chivalric way of life. So I see an enormous amount of misguidedness, of opportunism disguised as idealism, as envy disguised as aspiration for justice, etc. But the world, the fresh, and the devil were mixed in with, sometimes, some more worthy things. “The pernicious net effect of the era” is “obvious” here. I’m suggesting that, if there was *anything* good to come out of “the Sixties,” maybe we could actually recognize that — ?

    • It is hard for me to say. I never lived through that time. Some of the folk music revival was good, but a lot of it was run of the mill hackery. (Like Simon and Garfunkle adding war lyrics to Scarborough Fair.) They, along with Lead Zeppelin and Robert plant had some good points of course.

      Francis Schaeffer discussed some of this:

    • In reading your post, I am reminded of Lawrence Auster’s approach to public figures: it does not matter what someone “really” thinks; what matters is what they do. Intentions count for nothing; results are what should be judged.

      So it doesn’t matter that many in the 60s had their hearts in the “right” place. What matters is that the net result was horribly, perhaps fatally, destructive.

      I don’t believe that everything the 60s produced was bad, but the bad did outweigh the good—significantly.

  19. Ran into the same problem as Anymouse. You need to forward to part nine: the link takes you back to the beginning of the series.

    FWIW, Alte and Bruce’s points were made by Schaeffer in the 1950s and early 1960s — and Schaeffer did see good points in the 1960s, Dale.

  20. I agree with the folks who say it was World War II. Specifically, the 60’s were caused by people too young to remember the war reaching adulthood.

    There’s a whole theory of history called Generational Dynamics that explain not only the 60’s, but other eras of youthful rebellion occurring at intervals of 70-100 years prior to the 60’s. Many societies experience great existential crises also at intervals of 70-100 years (for the US those are the War of Independence, the Civil War, World War II, and probably World War III against China)–these “Crisis Eras” occur when all the people who remember how awful the previous crisis was die off. “Awakening Eras” reliably start about 20 years after a Crisis Era ends, when the kids who don’t remember the hardship grow up. So the 60’s are not a unique phenomenon. On the other hand, many previous Awakening Eras were religious revivals, whereas the 60’s were more of a satanic revival.

    Generational Dynamics is not a perfect theory, but it makes a lot of sense to me that there is a huge psychological generation gap between those who experienced WWII and those who didn’t. It also explains why you would find the same thing in Japan, France, and Canada–World War II synchronized large parts of the world that had previously been on different generational timetables.

  21. I’m fond of the Vatican II theory (the timeline works out too neatly to my imagination for it to be anything else) but let’s be clear what we mean. Doctrinally or theologically there aren’t really any issues with the Council’s teachings. The supposed doctrinal rupture of Vatican II is badly overstated. There was a rupture, however, in the Church’s strategy for interfacing with the world. I think the consensus on the Orthosphere is that a change was necessary, but the Church chose exactly the wrong one: abandoning its style of commanding and condemning rather than doubling down on it; tearing down the walls rather than building them up higher; etc. This change in strategy was experienced by the modernist elements in the Church (probably a majority at that point) as a capitulation and promptly exploited as such; the chaos surrounding the ill-advised and unduly-rushed change in the form of the Mass gave them cover to do so.

    I recall a discussion once on Throne & Altar between Bonald and Bill. The former argued Vatican II represented a collapse in priestly discipline. The latter argued, in contrast, that it represented a collapse in episcopal orthodoxy — that the priests were still in good discipline but that they were disciplined in the service of liberalism. I see a lot to recommend that view. Bishops have plenty of means at their disposal for disciplining wayward priests. The problem is that *they* get to decide who counts as “wayward priests.” And a bishop who thinks ad orientem is a bigger abuse than liturgical dance is going to be a problem regardless of the character of priests in his diocese. The crisis in the Church has always been (and probably every such crisis has always been) a crisis of bishops.

    Thankfully we are seeing modest, incremental improvements in the quality of bishops. It’s slow progress, though. My own is such a bland, milquetoast man that I can barely even remember his face or what he’s talked about during the many times I’ve heard him speak. And his priorities were made clear to me when, speaking with a diocesan vocation director over dinner, I was told that training in the traditional Latin Mass was a “not a pastoral priority” and so available only as a “post-ordination option” available to “some” priests “at the discretion of the bishop.”

  22. The problem with Vatican II is it negates the pressure from
    the Left that was already in the Church and Western society in the
    late 19th century. Leo XIII was made Pope as a reaction to
    relativism within the Church. Society as a whole had no
    reaction–indeed, it embraced Nietzsche. I blame it mostly on
    Marxism and those who set the youth up for it. People such as the
    Seegers and their Folk music, Students For A Democratic Society,
    etc., but also Timothy Leary and LSD itself. LSD was widely used by
    those in college and out of it. During the years it was legal, the
    number of “hits” of acid being dropped numbered in the tens of
    millions annually and it most likely went up after it was made
    illegal. And LSD was not the only drug being used.


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