From the Vaults: P.J.O’Rourke, October 17, 1987

P.J. O’Rourke admits that  during the 1960s he took a lot of drugs, edited an underground anti-war newspaper and took part in a number of riots that involved the police. In 1987 he spoke at a conference in Washington where, along with a number of other former 1960s radicals, he admitted that much of what he got up to in that period was wrongheaded. Below I copy an extract from his speech:

What I believed in the 60s

Everything. You name it and I believed it. I believed love was all you need. I believed you should be here now. I believed drugs could make you a better person. I believed I could hitch-hike to California with 35 cents and people would be glad to feed me. I believed Mao was cute. I believed private property was wrong. I believed my girlfriend was a witch. I believed my parents were Nazi space monsters. I believed the university was putting saltpeter in the cafeteria food. I believed stones had souls. I believed the NLF were the good guys in Vietnam. I believed Lyndon Johnson was plotting to murder all Negroes. I believed Yoko Ono was an artist. I believed Bob Dylan was a musician. I believed I would live forever or until 21, whichever came first. I believed the world was about to end. I believed the Age of Aquarius was about to happen. I believed the I Ching said to cut classes and take over the Dean’s office. I believed wearing my hair long would end poverty and injustice. I believed there was a great throbbing web of psychic mucus and we were all part of it. I managed to believe Ghandi and H. Rap Brown at the same time. With the exception of anything my parents said, I believed everything.*

It seems like he had a good time. I assume it is a coincidence that when the stock markets re-opened after this weekend conference that they took  the biggest one day fall in history.


P. J. O’Rourke, “The Awful Power of Make Believe,” in Peter Collier and David Horowitz eds., Second Thoughts: Former Radicals Look Back at the Sixties, (Madison Books, 1989) p.203.