Originally appeared in The Spectator Australia: https://www.spectator.com.au/2022/02/the-real-hippies-are-with-joe-rogan/
I have been trying to avoid writing about Joe Rogan since everyone has a take on the old hippy rockers vs Joe Rogan affair.
Today I caved to my resolve, not to add to the noise, but because the last year and a half in my hometown in many ways highlights the division between the ‘old left’ and the ‘new left’ that finds its expression in the Joe Rogan controversy.
At the start of 2020, and for the first time in my life, I had my own flat in Melbourne. Up until this point, I had lived in shared houses. I had put some love into the decor and stocked the bar ready to invite friends.
Alas, instead of being a proper adult living alone in 2020, I ended up doing the most millennial thing of all and going back to my parent’s house during what was meant to be the six weeks I waited out the second lockdown in Melbourne. This turned into a full year and a half, and only now I have moved out again and back to Sydney.
My hometown is in the North Rivers of New South Wales where the infamous hippy towns of Byron (though it is more ‘bougie’ than Bronte these days), Mullumbimby, Nimbin, and the Channon reside. Being back in the area, I reconnected with friends from the hippy primary school I attended and spoke to older friends and acquaintances of my parents. What struck me is the extent to which the inner-city lefties might follow the fashionable causes, but many of the aging hippies and those living in the area do not.
From climate change and environmentalism to free speech to Australia’s Covid response – a conservative convert like me found more common ground with the old lefties around the area than I do on many of my Hinge dates in Sydney (and I even put my political persuasion in my bio to screen out anyone too Woke).
That is why I am confused by the actions of the likes of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. They might have embraced the views of the modern elitist left, but I am willing to bet that their fans have not. A bunch of leftie millennials and Gen Zs may have just learned who they are, but it is the old lefties who actually listen to their music and their views have not necessarily had an update in the intervening years.
We have seen the same dynamic play out in Australia with the axing to Leunig who, for all intents and purposes, is an old hippie that holds the same views he has held since his days protesting the Vietnam war. It is just that the views of those that read The Age have changed dramatically.
Likewise, we have seen companies who once would have taken the side of those fighting vaccine mandates, like supplement company Blackmores, actually impose mandates above and beyond what is demanded by the law on their staff. Again, this seems like a move fit to anger the Boomer naturopaths who have been purveying their products for years for the sake of appeasing the vaccine virtue signallers.
As British reactionary feminist commentator Mary Harrington pointed out this week, that it used to be the left concerned with what went into their bodies and the corporate interests that promote new-fangled health and nutrition technologies such as vaccines to GMOs. But today the left is on the side of Big Pharma and Big Fake Meat who successfully mass-market highly processed meat alternatives to the extent of pushing vaccine mandates and advocating the phase-out of meat and animal products.
Again, the old hippies living in Northern New South Wales haven’t got the memo and flock to anti-vaccine mandate rallies and local farmers' markets (markets are one of the things the area is known for) alike.
Those that wish to silence Joe Rogan or Leunig or mandate the Covid vaccines have one thing in common – a mistrust of ordinary people to make decisions on what podcasts they listen to, cartoons they view, and medical decisions they make. Those that oppose all these moves – no matter their politics – trust people to make their own choices and take responsibility for their own lives. That is the true dividing line at the moment.
So, I’d like to shout out and join forces with the residents of Nimbin – some of which I know subscribe to the Speccie – to oppose those that would dictate to others how to live their lives.