Truth to tell, I was a bit too young, and my school’s rules on hair length were a bit too strict, for me to have ever been a proper hippy. (I thought Scott Mackenzie’s San Francisco was the real deal, for goodness sake.)
But the counterculture left its mark, and a whole VW Microbus-full of experiences led me to believe that the world would be a better place if only The Man would get off our backs and leave us all to be cool and beautiful.
I must admit that even at the time, I found it a bit tricky to reconcile this view with my simultaneously-held political conviction that the big reason why we need socialism is to make sure that we do the right thing collectively when we won’t necessarily do the right thing individually. But on the whole, as the decades slipped away, I didn’t worry about the contradiction too much. And more recently, when the Internet established itself as pretty much the last significant bastion of old-style hippy laissez-faire libertarianism, the old Scott Mackenzie fan in me tended to say (or at least think) “Right on!”
But then came today. Hush-puppy-wearing, jazz-fan Minister of Justice Ken Clarke has published legislation to slow down, or maybe even stop, the loathsome practice of trolling on the Internet. And I realise, finally and definitively, that I’m not a hippy libertarian at all any more, if I ever was. Too many people are just too horrible. If you give them freedom, they’ll abuse it and abuse it and abuse it past all sense and past all reason, until other perfectly innocent people end up horribly hurt or even worse.
Ken Clarke is no socialist, but his proposed legislation is exactly the kind of thing that explains why socialism is important. In all honesty, I never was a proper hippy. But I always was, and still am, a proper Pinko.