"or you'll sink like a stone…"

“for the times, they are a-changing!”

David Mills writes a particularly good piece that I meant to link to hours ago, and I don’t want you to miss:

Countercultural stores popped up all over town when I was young, stores where the revolution in manners and morals was thought inevitable and making a profit and relying on the law were dismissed as relics of the old uptight acquisitive materialistic square world. People congratulated themselves on doing business in a new way, without the materialism and selfishness of the old way.

But it didn’t last. It didn’t last long at all. It lasted about as long as the owners took to pay their suppliers and see how much they had left over to live on, and to find that their fellow revolutionaries would happily slip some small and expensive item into a pocket and walk out of the store. It lasted until they read their first spreadsheet and caught the second thief.

The hippest of the stores—the one that sold obscene “Zap” comic books and various devices for getting high—quickly got a reputation as the store in town that would most quickly and vigorously prosecute shoplifters. Whereas the old man who for years had run the drugstore down the street might let a kid go with a warning, or a call to his parents, the hippie owner of this store would call the police. The store’s clientele regularly called the police “the pigs,” without dissent from people who relied on those policeman—all townies and therefore easily patronized—to keep order.

Oh, yeah, you knew these people, didn’t you? I did, too. Sadly, I have voted for a few of them, over the years. You’ll want to read Mills’ whole piece!

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

    I need more brain cells for this. I’m confused. And I don’t even get high.

  • tim maguire

    I’ve noticed that people who hate capitalism usually have an inflated sense of the value of their time and work. Even the most dedicated members of the co-op grocery in my neighborhood complain (and/or joke) about the endless rules.

  • Steve Colby

    As the saying goes, a Conservative is a Liberal who’s been mugged.

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    The world did change. The song was written during a confluence of folk music and the Civil Rights Movement. And the world is still a-changin’. That’s why the song continues to resonate.

    It’s starts with an allegory to the Biblical flood, a time when the world changed. Most couldn’t hear the flood waters.

    Come gather ’round people
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown
    And accept it that soon
    You’ll be drenched to the bone.
    If your time to you
    Is worth savin’
    Then you better start swimmin’
    Or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    The second verse points out the futility of prognosticators prognosticating about the coming flood.

    Come writers and critics
    Who prophesize with your pen
    And keep your eyes wide
    The chance won’t come again
    And don’t speak too soon
    For the wheel’s still in spin
    And there’s no tellin’ who
    That it’s namin’.
    For the loser now
    Will be later to win
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    The third verse is a clear allusion to the Civil Rights Movement.

    Come senators, congressmen
    Please heed the call
    Don’t stand in the doorway
    Don’t block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt
    Will be he who has stalled
    There’s a battle outside ragin’.
    It’ll soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Times do change, and sometimes they change radically. The Civil Rights Movement was one of those times, and the entire fabric of American society was remade. The Flood was another, and Noah’s world was remade. And it can be said that all times are times they are a-changin’, and there’s a new world coming.

    And the first one now
    Will later be last
    For the times they are a-changin’.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    The world did change, Zachriel.

    And not for the better.

    As for the new world coming. . . what sort of world is it going to be? Given the recent foiled Fed Ex bombing plot, and the massacre of Christians in Iraq, I wonder. The times are always changing—and the more they change, the more they stay the same. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!

  • http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/07/liberal-v-conservative.html Zachriel

    Rhinestone Suderman: The world did change, Zachriel. And not for the better.

    Most people today consider the ending of segregation in America to be an unmitigated good, resulting in a more just society. Historians consider it one of the seminal events of the second half of the twentieth century.

    But every generation remakes the world, and not always for the better.