The First Angry Generation

Bernie Sanders talks about a revolution, especially in the way American politics and Wall Street have conspired to siphon off the majority of wealth from the average citizen. This is not a new idea and Bernie knows it because he’s lived it. Anyone who matured during the ’60s counterculture, whatever their politics are today, was privy to the revolutionary spirit and rhetoric of the times. If they did not actually take part in demonstrations and interventions, they had to have read about it in the underground press. And if they didn’t get around to reading these counterculture papers, there were plenty of books published that sounded the call.

 

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The Open Conspiracy: What America’s Angry Generation is Saying by Ethel Grodzins Romm, published by Avon (1971), was a continuation of sorts of The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution, published in 1928 by H. G. Wells. It was an anthology of writings and cartoons from the underground press on how the world could and must change course.

The format designed, surprisingly, by Ernst Riechl, whose better-known work had little to do with underground press or youth culture aesthetics, was horizontal, which underscored its counter mainstream content. Otherwise, it was more subdued than the underground papers it excerpted. Among other calls for change, a squib by Gerald Holton (below) explains the origin of the Peace Symbol. 1971 saw the ultimate demise of the new left underground, but this Avon (i.e., mainstream) volume serves as one of the capstones.

 

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