There's something happening hereThose words were written in 1966 by Stephen Sills, of the band Buffalo Springfield, in reaction to attempts by law enforcement to enforce a curfew against young club-goers on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles County, California.
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
The song, entitled For What It's Worth, was recorded by the band, and became an anthem of the nascent protest movement, at that time just a blip but destined to become years filled with highly charged confrontations. The way politicians, the police, and other authority figures are viewed was changed forever, everywhere.
I lived through this period as a young adult, and was reminded of it as I read about the recent riots tearing Greece apart, and the Occupy Wall Street and 99 Percent movements that are now spreading to other cities in the U.S. and Canada, not-too-distant cousins to the Arab Spring uprisings that put dictators on notice.
The 60s protest movement started in much the same way --- unfocused, without high profile leaders, just young people feeling that something was wrong and that government was unable, or unwilling, to fix it. Its intent was to to shock the rich and powerful out of their complacency.
Leaders eventually emerged, of course, as they inevitably do, and the agenda for change became more crystallized.
Will history repeat? A large component of these new movements is the widespread frustration of young people, savvy and often well educated, who are having great difficulty getting their lives started in the current economic mess.
At an age when they should be embarking on careers, and forming families, they are stymied, struggling to pay off student loans with their minimum wage paycheques.
If this gets traction, something will happen.
Hang on tight.