It is a phrase that has slipped into obscurity recently - possibly beacause it is wholly incompatible with the climate of fear in which we are increasingly forced to live. The expression was, in so far as I remember, coined by the mainstream in the late 1960s to describe the changing sexual and other social mores of a world increasingly influenced by the counter-culture of those days. It implicitly suggests an environment of "permission granted" for the freedom to live our lives as we want. It is a banner I would hold high!
There are riders of course. There are laws that do and should exist to protect us from mavericks who would otherwise infringe upon that freedom or do us harm. But no law is worth its salt when it ceases to serve the common interest - legislation that suppresses minority views would be a case in point, having no validity once its target achieves the status of "significant minority". Minorities can grow, and when repressed, have an unfortunate habit of evolving into majorities. Then, the farce of authoritarianism becomes truely apparant.
We are given to believe that Bush has been learning to read recently. Whether he has the intellectual capacity to interpret what he consumes is open to debate! Nonetheless, back in 1993 the author Myron Magnet published a book called "The Dream & The Nightmare". It is a mis-guided but horrifically intelligent tome which virtually condemned the "permissive society" in every way. Even before he seized the White House, the then Texas governor Bush is quoted on it's cover ...
"This book crystallized for me the impact the failed culture of the 1960s had on our values and society. It helped create dependency on government, undermine family and erode values which which have stood the test of time - which are critical if we want a decent and hopeful tomorrow for every single American."
Clearly he had good copywriters even back then. The book was described as his "road map", second only to the christians' "bible". In other place and time, Bush could equally have been a devotee of the islamic "koran" - such is the imperative of seeking a mission in a soulless void. The fact that he was entering into denial of his own hedonistic, drug-induced, "permissive" past made his transformation into zealot all the more tragic. Yet all the more compelling to the legions of manipulatable consumers ready to follow his doctine. That his own fortunes were themselves to become engineered by others is another story.
In the new Amerikan dark age, "permissions" are no longer granted by society - they are granted by Bush and others in authority, whilst simultaneously dictating an ethic of "non-dependency" on government itself. Talk about having your cake and eating it! The result is an astonishing polarisation in both cultural imperative and individual prospects for self-empowerment. The social divide in Amerika is a calamity, but the imperial pursuit of self-interest on the global stage has threatened the freedom of those elsewhere.
Dissent is in many ways relative. In a "permissive" society it communicates itself with language and protest. In a world where "permissions" are denied, it resorts to more desparate measures. Extremism on one side breed extremism on the other. Fundamentalism feeds its fundamentist counterpoint. It is the stuff of wars and social regression, where reactionary response simply fuels the "enemy" - whether within or without. As the Amerikan administration refuses to communicate with those others who do not subscribe to its own narrow-minded worldview and pursuit of self interest, it should not be surprised when it finds itself up against a wall. A wall with equally adamant "hostiles" on the other side.
Yet here is the new dilemma. The "wall" no longer protects an entrenched, defensive opposition. It hides another absolute which is, to all extents and purposes, a mirror image of the other side. This is the "commonality" I refer to. The christian-led bloc is much the same as the islamic-led bloc. Maybe the zionist-led enclave too. The new relgious wars disguise the similarity of purpose on all sides. It is the quest for dwindling resources and the greed of intransient self-interest on all sides. It has been triggered by exploitation of one by the other and an increasly exagerated interpretation of "tit-for-tat".
Which side you're on now depends largely on where you are lucky or unlucky enough to be located - whose doctrine you are stuck with. One thing's for sure - the "permissive society" seems to be the self-defined enemy of all the new dictators and where it still exists, is becoming eroded by stealth. The media maintains the illusion while governments engineer the mechanics to stifle it. It matters little where you live in the world these days - personal freedoms are under threat and we must work to gain or retain them.
For free-thinking people everywhere, that should be our cause. The real "commonality" of course.