Study Shows 6 Is 9, After All
On January 15, 1968 the Jimi Hendrix Experience released its second album, Axis / Bold As Love, containing what would become the genre-defining psychedelic rock song, “If 6 Was 9.”
The song was not only a statement of Mr. Hendrix’s compositional innovation and his prowess on the electric guitar, but with it he also gave voice to the growing disconnect between the realities of life perceived by members of The Establishment and the mostly-young members of American society whose influence was then on the rise.
Today, the testimony of General David Petraeus and American Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker before a joint session of the House Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, marks as finished the influence once held by those who would see the world as it is.
When Hendrix sang, “Go ahead on mister businessman, you can’t dress like me,” implicit in his rejection of Establishment thinking was the understanding that “businessmen” are incapable of seeing the world as he did. The song also proved prescient in the lyric “I’m the one that’s gonna die when it’s time for me to die, ” given that Hendrix was dead of a drug overdose less than three years later.
However, the independent vision and spirit that informed the song’s world view, its refusal to “copy” the beliefs and values of then-mainstream people also helped to end the political career of Lyndon Johnson, and served as inspiration for the waves of social and political change that swept the country and the world in the ensuing decade.
Fast forward nearly forty years, and we can see the social and political pendulum has swung back to a point on an arc that some would argue is more regressive than the one extant in the so-called Summer of Love.
Pundits and opinionists will disgorge torrents of verbiage — and have been doing so now, going on four years since the Bush administration committed the U.S. to war in Iraq — concerning the testimony of Mssrs. Petraeus and Crocker today. Statistics will be parsed, methodologies critiqued, goals assessed, benchmarks measured, alternative strategies weighed, and consequences pondered.
It will all be for naught. It will change nothing. It will save no one. It will neither rectify nor prevent a thing.
The Unites States of America has already lost the war in Iraq. The Iraqi people have yet to begin the task of forming a stable or secure or independent nation. American soldiers will continue to die in the desert for nothing (nine more died there today, most not as a result of “enemy” fire, but rather in traffic accidents).
Once the shining light of freedom and democracy, the sweet land of Liberty to which oppressed souls the world over looked for hope and inspiration, the United States of America is today run by torturers and war criminals who ply their deadly trade in the name of all that is good and righteous and holy.
6 is 9.