COVER STORY : IN SEVENTIES HEAVEN
The Seventies: what can we say about this ten-year period? Set between the swinging 60s and the wretched 80s, with the hopes of the ‘free’ 60s and the hopeless and bleak 80s, it was a time of radical change, a time of political unrest, a time of ghastly – nostalgically amusing – fashion and dubious music, yet a time of genuine hope. So, what went wrong? Or maybe, what went right in this time of literal and material darkness and a time of technological light?
In a sense the 70s encapsulated our species great dilemma: a growing love affair with technology and a disillusionment with our collective spirit, self-belief and possibility for progress in and for ourselves as human beings.
The decade was still fresh with the aftermath of our doomed sojourn into space: landing on the moon became a symbol for a giant leap for mankind, yet measured our severe limitations in a universe so vast as to be frighteningly inconceivable in material terms, being too much for even our most advanced technological measured gismos. We recoiled into a foetal position out of irreconcilable fear of nothingness. This might explain the popular music scene, also the imploding political system which saw our chance to establish dialogue that included more of society pass in to self-destructiveness that foreshadowed the death of the working-class. Although, while the working-class were dying, they could wear ever more outrageous clothing and dance to songs of gross sentimentality and performance rebelliousness.
The 70s followed mankind’s pinnacle of material achievement in space exploration. After the moon, realistically, we had to return to Earth and develop technology to re-invent and record our dream of being anywhere other than on Earth! Psychoanalytically speaking, the 70s was a decade of realisation that there was, as the song said, no particular place to go’, except maybe the disco and the dole queue.
Manufacturing of the dream became technology based, so, inevitably, we as human beings were systematically pushed down the slope towards zero hours contracts. At least in the 70s we could wear stack heels and appear to be able to look at our superiors on an eye level. However, while we were dancing the nights away, our superiors were contriving an eternal darkness of the human soul: capitalist economics. Our jobs would be replaced by ever more sophisticated Pong machines, and we would become the game played by those in possession of the dream – the capitalists – rendered ever more sophisticated and calibrated to make our lives and our demise ever simpler and easier to take part in.
We would be Franz Klammering to go downhill ever faster, ever more efficiently, and see the prize being usurped by corporate sponsors and those owning the game, the slope, and ultimately us as mere counters, mere pixelated participants in their game of life – Sims as it became later. We, during the 70s became a simulacra of our own life. We became a technological replicant of a human being, given a pull-chord lexicon of progress where our downhill race was inverted as a profit chart that showed we were going uphill!
The 70s saw us buy in to the dream retail. Plastic cards became our plastic identities, citizenship became customership, and as our naively self-destructive megaphone voice was taped, pressed on to so-called indestructible laser discs the systematically erased, reformatted and digitally remastered by big business and then resold to us as our own. Market Research was on every street corner, gathering information so they could sell us what they wanted us to want to save costs. Cost reduction of production of the fashionable accoutrements of simulated rebellion – a hollow metal guru – through extension of their corporate chains of commercial power. The odds were being stack-heeled against the working class and the elephantine collars were a growing yolk we didn’t understand: we laughed when we should have cried out; we danced when we should have marched. Speed became a significant political weapon. Materialism became the eternal suckling’s answer to the human dilemma and technology became a significant arbiter of our so-called progress.
The 70s was a decade characterised by a mock happiness, a form of mild hysteria masking our mortified anxiety, angst over the human condition.
The 70s became a lost opportunity for collective progress and growth of co-operative freedom. Instead we were progressively co-opted in to selling our collective and consequently individual freedoms at a knockdown price, whilst being presented with products that appeared progressive. Material wealth appeared to grow, yet we didn’t see the smallprint in the Hobbesian contracts that said that the contract could be altered at any time by those in possession of the real power.