Make Love, Not War
In the first forty or so pages of the book, Kent lays the essential groundwork to his study, defining the 60s generation through a brief introduction to its roots in the Beats and an analysis of both generations' interests in drugs and religious experience. He distinguishes between different strains within the Movement, and places the music of the Movement in context. Providing a brief history of the political activities of the 60s generation, he brings the reader current with the crisis many of them faced after the violence of 1970 and 1971.
Chapters 4 and 5 provide the heart of the book, detailing the syncretic and heterodox religious organizations that attracted converts from among the politically active leaders of the Movement, and sharing the results of his interviews with these converts. In Chapter 4 Kent discusses the Divine Light Mission, the Hare Krishnas, Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and the Naropa Institute, The Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO), Transcendental Meditation, and Meher Baba. In Chapter 5 Kent discusses Scientology, the Unification Church, the Jesus Movement and the Christian World Liberation Front, and the Children of God.
Kent shines fresh and important light on the ways in which these movements appealed to politically conscious and frustrated young people. The most moving section to me was his interview with Tom Wolfe (not the author). Wolfe was part of the student delegation from the University of Pennsylvania to the May Day demonstration in Washington, D.C. in 1971. The protestors planned to bring traffic to a halt by sitting in the streets. Wolfe and his fellow students decided to form the Doughnut Brigade and spend the day handing out coffee and doughnuts to everyone -- demonstrators, police, National Guardsmen, people stuck in their cars, etc. They wanted to spend the day helping people keep their tempers, and putting them in a good mood.
But the day quickly turned violent. Protestors were beaten and gassed while agents provocateurs attempted to start riots. Wolfe paints in vivid terms his experience at the D.C. sit-in:
I just remember marines dropping out of helicopters with the Washington Monument in the background...[with] M-15, or whatever, attack rifles across their chest[s]. There was a full military maneuver. I mean, they didn't fool around. They arrested eight thousand people very fast, but they had, you know, National Guard out there on maneuvers in Washington, D.C. But I just -- I remember that scene particularly vividly because it was war, and I really realized that this was not the arena I chose to express myself in because it was so out of control, particularly the incident with the provocateurs, and then the -- I mean, full battle. I mean, this is helmets and attack fatigues and, I mean, it was war. It didn't matter what we felt about it....Their perception of it was that the nation's capital was under siege. (p. 89)
Wolfe and the rest of the Doughnut Brigade were arrested. By the end of three days, more than twelve thousand people had been arrested and detained in the Washington Coliseum. Like so many of his fellow activists, Wolfe concluded that war was not what he wanted. He describes feeling at loose ends, searching for direction, when he accompanied some friends to the international Meher Baba center in Myrtle Beach. Over time, Wolfe stopped thinking of himself as "political," giving himself over to God instead.