I think the title roughly sums up where I stand?
I hope this piece didn’t confuse anyone — I’m not blatantly against alternative lifestyles, I just don’t like it when it’s an expectation in the Left. Like it’s what you have to be. I also get sort of grossed out by people who engage in such things as a form of rebellion, but do no actual political organizing or activism of any kind.
Given that this “swarm” model of organization is what I’m after, I think the counterculture is actually vital. It’s true that most of the time, an individual person just cannot change shit about how the larger system works, so they turn to other things to express their alienation or explore things that don’t fit in with the mainstream.
People need to find themselves, it’s part of becoming the strong type of person who might actually play a role in real resistance, and countercultures can be a great place to work on that. They also just serve as a place to store and breed dissidence/dissidents in downtimes.
Really, given the Gramscian nature of the swarm as a historical bloc, and politicized art as a socially-saturating, seductive beacon, the counterculture is probably the swarmiest thing there is.
Are countercultures always part of the swarm? Well it depends. In the 1960s I’d say indisputably yes, it was a major part of the antiwar movement. In the 1980s and forward, the punk scene has probably politicized more people than anything I can imagine besides “living in a capitalist economy.”
Apparently the German 1910s bohemian counterculture didn’t turn out so great, it sort of became a recruiting bed for the Nazis. Oops.
So where is the counterculture today? Complicated. For one thing the line between it and the mainstream has blurred. It’s also blended with nerd culture a bit I think, gamers of all kinds. There are also sub-groups within it, it is not monolithic. The LGBT scene occupies a mixed position of maybe being a its own sub-scene of the counterculture, maybe being a general trait of it, or maybe being mainstream. The definition of counterculture pretty much includes “people doing weird stuff.” Everyone’s got their preferences. I’m a bit of an odd bird by hating our culture’s normality but also being attracted to very non-hippie themes of force, hatred, discipline and the general dark side drawing me to the same sort of metal that neo-nazis listen to. So it goes.
If I had to pick one central demographic that was This Generation’s Politicized Counterculture, honestly, it wouldn’t be a style of music or hobby or fashion. Obviously in the “hipster era” pretty much every pre-existing counterculture still has its following, so you’ve got meditating vegetarians and moshing punks living in the same decade, plus all that indie shit that I don’t even know anything about. None of them are the center of our disease, all of them are touched by it and contributing to it.
This Generation’s Politicized Counterculture: Internet Kids.