The earmarks of a PSB D-33/2 cultural operation are hidden in plain sight. HAIR may even have been used as a prototype for the so called color revolutions and Arab Springs that followed in the breakdown of the old Soviet bloc. Alongside authors Jim Rado and Jerry Ragni the celebrity arm of the non-communist left was well represented at our February 22, 1970, HAIR opening night in the presence of Peter, Paul and Mary's Peter Yarrow and the Broadway show's executive producer Bertrand Castelli; a member of Europe's cultural cold-war elite that hobnobbed with the likes of Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso. Yarrow's famous song, "Puff, the Magic Dragon", became the anthem of the pot-smoking '60s hippie movement and whether by design or coincidence his Ukrainian-born father Bernard was a charter member of the CIA's European cultural front organization known as the National Committee for a Free Europe. Having served during World War II in the OSS (with distinction) and after joining no less than Sullivan and Cromwell, the Dulles brothers' law firm, Bernard helped to found the CIA-funded Radio Free Europe and became its senior vice president.
Along with numerous members of the early 1960s music scene who wound up in Laurel Canyon, Peter Yarrow played an early and active role in the civil rights and peace movements. He even acted as referee between the Old Left's Pete Seeger and the New Left at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival when Bob Dylan decided to move from "folk" music to rock and roll. In a famous confrontation over what many considered Dylan's sellout, Seeger threatened sound engineer and future Doors' manager Paul Rothchild that he would cut the cable with an ax if he didn't turn off "that" distortion; but the distortion stayed.
Following Vietnam, Yarrow transferred his antiwar activism to the issue of Soviet Jewry and their emigration to Israel-- a major component of the rising neoconservative agenda. Through Yarrow's leadership, by the 1980s the issue had become a key platform of the Reagan administration to use against any de'tente with the Soviet Union. As for HAIR, stripped of its antiwar message, it was reduced to being the poster child of a 1960s debauched hedonism. Or as Bertrand Castelli, the executive producer of the original Broadway production, labelled a revival in 2008, "It's though everything in 'Hair' turned into a nightmare," "Everything that was joyful and harmless became dangerous and ugly."
Everything must be rethought
Dangerous and ugly is not the way we remember our year-long experience with HAIR. Nuclear war and Vietnam were dangerous and ugly and in the intervening 50 years that danger and ugliness has returned to haunt us.
If HAIR was part of a top-secret psychological-warfare campaign to energize the youth of America and the world to political action in the pursuit of peace, flowers, freedom and happiness, it succeeded. But if the ultimate objective of this Hobbesian campaign was to then crush that freedom and numb us to the growing danger of permanent war in a haze of disease, opioid addiction and suicide, it too has succeeded.
At the time, HAIR's success helped us believe that we had changed our future for the better. The war ended, the troops came home and life resumed. But we now accept that as of 2018 that new age we sought was nothing more than an illusion.
War is Insane, Endless War is Suicide
President Eisenhower warned us what would happen if our country dedicated itself to war. War makes you mad. Endless war puts you in a hell of madness from which there is no escape. The madness of that war on the world has come full circle and is now in our schools, parks, bars and homes. It was of course always there as part of our nature but we have given in to it. We have given in to that part of our nature that should have matured and been processed but instead has remained aloof and separate from our humanity. That part of our nature has remained unlearned and untamed. We are the victims of our own design and therefore we can change it.
Through various means the CIA did succeed in redirecting the American peoples' anti-war sentiment towards accepting permanent war (clearly illustrated by the longest war ever in American history in Afghanistan). To paraphrase Hermann Goering's 1946 observation: People don't want war, nobody does, but people can easily be brought to the bidding of their leaders by instilling fear or denouncing the pacifists for exposing the country to danger, no matter where or when and works the same way in any country.
Our only course is to step outside today's war narrative and see where we are in the paradigm. The false narratives that control our thinking will fall away as we replace them with the deep knowledge and acceptance of what we have actually lived through. As the past finally becomes prologue; we can imagine the genuine future we truly want and start to make it happen!