Flashback to 1968: Rolling Stone attacks the counterculture

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

Depending on your age, you may (consciously or not) hold the belief that, at some point in time, Rolling Stone magazine had some sort of political "edge." I know I did, until I came across this article (below) by Jann Wenner actively discouraging readers from taking part in the historic protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Wenner deplores the "recklessness and thorough lack of moral compunction that characterize" the protests organizers, the Yippies including Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. The cops beat up protesters, he argues, so why would you want to go? Wenner also seems to resent the fact that the Yippies broke the rules of organized dissent and cleverly used media to their ends. They want to hold a press conference at the Hotel Roosevelt instead of a church because it plays better with reporters = outrage!


Wenner wrote:

"The spirit of rock and roll…or the new youth, whatever catch-all phrase may be used to denote this mood wants no part of today's social structure, especially in its most manifestly corrupt form, politics."

In other words, rock and politics don't mix. This, in the middle of the Vietnam War, one year before Woodstock would prove just how wrong Rolling Stone was.

For their part, the Yippies claimed that Wenner was bribed by Xerox magnate Max Palevsky (a Rolling Stone investor with ties to McGovern) to discourage participation in the protests. Evidence of this collusion, however, is scarce.