How appropriate are the words “Stop the War” right now, the words chanted by the hipsters at Woodstock. Now, when the world sits on a knife-edge and the Balkans and the Levant burn. Sure the context in 1969 was different, with youngsters being shipped off to Vietnam to fight a proxy war, but the sentiments are identical.
War seems to have been the constant backdrop to the twentieth century. Right from the war to end all wars to conflagrations in various places around the world today, there has been constant carnage. And somehow it is left to the youngsters to try to change things as politicians sit on their hands for fear of offending voters. Woodstock was primarily about that impetus. It was about young folks having the moral courage to expose the bankruptcy of politicians and their fascination with the military-industrial complex. This same impetus influenced the demonstrations in Warsaw in 1956, Paris in 1968, Prague in 1968, Tiananmen Square in 1976, and Cape Town in 1989.
The Arab Spring was a further manifestation of this sense of political impotence that politicians were displaying. No longer is the young electorate prepared to put up with the lack of delivery by elected and unelected politicians. Again, it is the youth, admittedly using different ways of operating from their counterparts 45 years ago, that are providing the moral backbone to the world.
Where are the statesmen and stateswomen, the moral leaders of the world? Where are the public intellectuals, providing thoughtful guidance? Where have all the young men gone? Where have all the flowers gone…?