Is This the Dawning of the ‘Age of Direct Democracy’?

by on September 14, 2020 · 1 comment

in Election, History, Ocean Beach

By Colleen O’Connor

Historians, writers, journalists, astrologers and even amateurs sometimes coin a phrase that perfectly describes an entire epoch.  Or a decade.

Many of these “Age of” descriptions come long after the fact. For example, the “Age of Exploration” or the “Age of Empires.”

The truly magnificent titles capture so much than just a decade. Some span centuries.   Others end quickly. The “Enlightenment.”  “The Age of Reason.”  “The Dark Ages.”

And they are defined and remembered in multiple forms; all personal. Literature, sports, music, art, movies, economics and politics.

Take the “Gilded Age” known for the lopsided wealth and extravagance generated by railroads, industrialization, with cosseted nouveau riche existing alongside abject poverty.

Or Edith Wharton’s, “Age of Innocence.”  The writing of which, she said allowed her to find “a momentary escape in going back to my childish memories of a long-vanished America… it was growing more and more evident that the world I had grown up in and been formed by had been destroyed in 1914.”  And the first “world” war.

Then there are the obvious ones.  The “Atomic Age.”  The “Industrial Age.”  “The Space Age.”

Better still, are the “Ages” named with more poetry or zest and subcultures.

The “Roaring Twenties” that covers the “Jazz Age;” the “Gangsterism;” The “Speakeasies;” “Prohibition;” the Stock Market mania; sporting legends like Babe Ruth; new found talkie talent like Charlie Chaplin; and the animation wizardry of Walt Disney who developed his Mickey Mouse character in 1928.

Disney, himself, crossed one century into the next with his use of sound and technicolor and eventually into whole worlds of global Disney-lands.

What about the indelible, undefinable sixties?  The legendary folk and rock bands, singers, and performers? That “Age” was popularized with the 5th Dimensions’ recorded version of “The Age of Aquarius,” first performed in the musical Hair—which dreams of a future that:

“When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

Such was the dream of most folk songs and singers; of those disillusioned by the Vietnam war and the racism, sexism, and intolerance that also “gilded over” the reality underneath.

Remember the reality of just one year: 1968.

The Prague Spring
North Korea
Tet Offensive
LBJ Bedeviled by Vietnam
Martin Luther King, Jr.  Assassinated
Students Protest All Over the World
Robert F. Kennedy Assassinated
Chicago Democratic Convention
Olympic Protests in Mexico City
Nixon Wins the White House
Apollo 8 Orbits the Moon

“Aquarius” is a metaphor;  a lovely response to those times. The young generation then wanted change, a better world, full of peace and love.

What we got was 1968. Remember that? Starting with the Tet Offensive in January, it’s all downhill.  But this song remains. Maybe it was too delicate, too sweet to be an anthem, but the world could use some peace and love.”


That is the best definition of naming an age that sticks.  It is a metaphor.

What metaphor would you choose for this decade, this era, this year? Currently, several are in contention.

The “Age of Disorder” has already been proffered by financial writers. “Habituated Horrors” also already taken. The “Dark Ages, Again” is a possibility.  “Extinctions” comes to mind. The “Aggrieved Era” a bit limited.  The “Age of Despair” suggested.

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism; a 2019 non-fiction book argues convincingly, that digital companies like Google and Amazon represent a new form of capitalist accumulation that profit off massive data accumulation and surveillance. They aren’t the only ones.

“Pandemics” is probably already a movie title. “Age of Chaos” is too trite.  Artificial Intelligence or “Age of Robotics” too limited.  Same with “Endless Wars.”

Which is why politics reigns as the supreme nightmare.

The era of the Great Depression, World War II and the years that followed come under the caption of FDR’s “New Deal.”  Acknowledging that the dark side exists, and instituting repairs swiftly, remains the Gold Standard of political leadership.

So, too, today.  The “Green New Deal,” is an attempt at a comprehensive solution.  The #MeToo and BLM movements are others.

But, COVID-19 dwarfs them all and unmasks catastrophic shortcomings.  Governmental institutions are crumbling. Elections and democracy are in jeopardy.  The Electoral College is obsolete. Fake everything abounds.

Yet, perhaps, this ugly era will usher in a new, golden “Age of Direct Democracy.”

Possible or just, “California Dreaming” on such a winter’s day?

You name the Age.










{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Frank Gormlie September 14, 2020 at 10:28 am

And don’t forget “The Age of Plastics”.


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