In the 1960s, prosperity and cultural radicalism were symbiotic: easy access to money and other resources fueled social and cultural experimentation, while an ethos that valued freedom and pleasure encouraged people’s sense of entitlement to all sorts of goods, economic and political…With a fifty-dollar-a-month rent-regulated East Village apartment, I could write one lucrative article for a mainstream magazine and support myself for weeks or even months while I did what I liked, whether that meant writing for countercultural publications that couldn’t pay or going to political meetings. When I did have jobs, I didn’t worry overmuch about losing them, and so felt no impulse, let alone need, to kiss anyone’s ass. There was always another job, or another assignment. At one point, while I was living with a group of people in Colorado, the money I made writing (sporadically) about rock for the New Yorker was supporting my entire household.
Since the early ’70s, however, the symbiosis has been working in reverse: a steady decline in Americans’ standard of living has fed political and cultural conservatism, and vice versa. Just as the widespread affluence of the post–World War II era was the product of deliberate social policy—an alliance of business, labor, and government aimed at stabilizing the economy and building a solid, patriotic middle class as a bulwark against Soviet Communism and domestic radicalism—the waning of affluence has reflected the resolve of capital to break away from this constraining alliance."
— Scratch magazine excerpted one of the most frighteningly relevant essays in “The Essential Ellen Willis.” So happy it will be online forevermore!