Many of the issues of the '60s haunt us until today. The tragedy of Vietnam and the resulting social crisis was at the root of many of our problems of today with drug addiction and incarceration as our troops were exposed to a wide variety of drugs and lost precious years to an unwinnable war.
A whole generation of our best and brightest were damaged by the draft and its consequences. The biggest consequence, in my opinion, was the loss of respect for our government and institutions as millions of young men fought being drafted with early marriages and other dysfunctional strategies.
Much has been written about the tragedy of Vietnam and what often is not discussed is the waste of time and energy that was spent over the war by its advocates and opponents. Hundreds of millions of men and women hours were lost forever. Time that could have been spent on cancer research, business, or art was wasted by demonstrations and anti-war activity and a whole generation grew up unread in their fields of choice.
For several years, our country teetered near collapse with thousands of demonstrations and staggering loss of life -- over 3 million people died in Vietnam and perhaps another 1 million died from the bombings of Cambodia. Over 53,000 Americans died with millions more damaged psychologically. In my opinion, the communists and the forces against democracy were strengthened by this misallocation of resources and a war that was never officially declared. My own generation has never come to terms with this terrible conflict and by not confronting it, I am worried we will repeat it.
Much of our present financial problems stemmed from the 60s where trillions were spent -- much of it borrowed money that future generations will struggle to pay back. My friend and mentor wrote perhaps the best book on the politics of the '60s, which I think every American should read -- Raven in the Storm was written by Carl Oglesby and published by Scribner in 2008.
Carl had the unique lens of an anti-war activist who became head of the SDS in 1965. What made Carl so unique was his pro-capitalist position. Mentored by Murray Rothbard, an advocate of free enterprise and democracy, Carl combined the best of two worlds -- entrepreneurship and non-violence -- and made it into a national movement. Rothbard spent hours mentoring Carl by phone and reviewed Carl's speech "Shaping Our Future," given on November 27, 1965 at the anti-war demonstration that began, on a national level, the anti-war movement. Considered to be one of the great speeches of the '60s, it is worth reading again now.
Out of Carl's speech on coordinates came the Nolan Chart, a powerful political document that helps people everywhere communicate with each other. Carl Oglesby was an American hero and his work and belief system should be studied by everyone.