Achievement versus Failure
The Baby Boomers, born during and after WWII, will be the wealthiest generation to ever exist in America and Europe. When people criticize the boomers, they generally do so on the basis of their selfishness. Unlike any other generation, the Baby Boomers - the "Me generation" - were the most focused on themselves and their personal wants. They were also the most politically active in recent memory, although all of their political impetus was directed at achieving more individual "freedom."
This "freedom" came in the form of an individualism that said collectivity and a shared goal should be forgotten and replaced by the pursuit of happiness of the individual, which rapidly translated into the pursuit of unique and individualized experience. This included a large amount of personal conceit, being the construction of a novel personality-object reinforced through purchases of art, daily objects and literature that together were taken as a construction of the values of the individual. Universal or objective truth was out; personal identity and the ego were in.
It is no surprise then that the Boomers chased egalitarianism and "freedom," because their goal was ultimately one of selfishness: they wanted to be able to construct whatever identities they desired and in order to do this, they needed to remove any external standards which might point out that egomania is not productive and does not help society as a whole. "Freedom," sensu Boomer, is an antidote to having any kind of goal to civilization against which individual actions can be compared and found wanting.
For all the protesting and drama that the hippie era generated, it produced few lasting changes. There were civil rights revolutions, more "freedom" for blacks and women. Public standards of behavior and appearance were relaxed. Even marijuana is now more socially accepted. But did the overall course of society change? We're still wage-slaves overpopulating a planet and thus committing a profound ecocide, but the Boomers only gave this lip service, since to stop ecocide requires we lose our selfish "freedom" and start having standards in common against which egomania can be compared and found wanting.
Keith Kahn-Harris, an academic writer who studies among other things heavy metal music, wrote a paper in which he tried to answer the question "Why do subcultures and youth culture make a lot of noise, but ultimately, produce no lasting changes?" He might as well have been writing about the hippies/Boomers. Here is his abstract:
This article examines an enduring question raised by subcultural studies: how youth culture can be challenging and transgressive, yet 'fail' to produce wider social change. This question is addressed through a case study of the black metal music scene. The black metal scene flirts with violent racism, yet has resisted embracing outright fascism. The article argues that this is due to the way in which music is 'reflexively antireflexively' constructed as a depoliticizing category. It is argued that an investigation of such forms of reflexivity might explain the enduring 'failure' of youth cultures to change more than their immediate surroundings. - Keith Kahn-Harris
Poor Keith has to labor under the behavioral constraints of academia, and thus there's a lot of what appears to be doublespeak in the above excerpt; in fact, it is manipulation of symbols carefully coded by academics to represent behavior. When he speaks of "reflexive" behavior, he means a rejection of social constraints, and with that in mind, we can see that what he is saying is that youth culture is too selfish to embrace a plan that requires actual effort and accomplishment of its goals. The unstated meta-goal of youth cultures is egomania, and this translates well into a kind of anarchy that accepts the idea "I don't want other races near me" but will never accept the burden of collective responsibility.
His point is well taken, especially now that black metal has wound down into a three quality bands surrounded by 30,000 imitators and generic mediocre ones. The original artists had a conception of what values were higher than a society they found wanting, in part because it is so selfish it has banished reality in favor of personal novelty and other egomaniacal pursuits. The artists who follow are in it for the popularity, even if in a tiny subculture, and the sense of "belonging" rather than making waves. Like the Boomers, they have confused dislike of society's poor choices with being "oppressed" by the fact of having to make values choices at all, and thus for the most part have cast aside value choices and instead trumpet what personal accoutrements they desire.
For most black metallers, nationalism and a better form of society are inaccessible ideas. To understand nationalism, one has to look at the pattern of society as a whole and thus conjecture a better design of civilization. It is not a personal pursuit or conceit, but a question of doing what is best for everyone, at the cost of some personal sacrifice. While black metallers recognize that our society is dooming itself by its lack of vision and divorce from reality, they fail to escape the same mental trap that got it there, and therefore only think of their own wants and desires. This is the nature of youth culture: shallow, selfish and impotent.
Does anyone remember Ritual? They were one of the first black metal bands from the United States after the surge of great work from Europe. Their music was wholly derivative, as was their image, and to those who were black metal fans at the time, what Ritual recorded was downright stupid and a dumbing-down of the black metal idea to make it more like rock and radio metal (Metallica). To a fan today, Ritual is not as offensively terrible. Standards have relaxed, and the mediocre has supplanted the great, because black metal today is a selfish popularity cult based on belonging. Because of this, any "ideology" it has is purely personal and reflects lifestyle choices, not a widescale idea of what a better world might be like. People adopt "ideology" as part of their self-image, to justify themselves or to have a place with others, and have no intention of working on achieving it.
It is for this reason that the press and academics consider black metal to have "failed." It did not achieve its goals. In fact, it became absorbed by the same forces it detested. Where it could have found a sensible philosophy, derived from the Romantic/Gothic beliefs of the original black metal bands which include nationalism, instead it opted for the selfish, which resembles anarchy, self-pity and bigotry. Black metal has failed, just like the hippies before it, because it became a popularity contest instead of an ideological movement. The next time someone tells you to be tolerant of the stupid ideas of other people because "it's just their own way of life, and it doesn't affect you," remember that they're wrong and the failure of black metal is proof of their delusion. http://www.anus.com/metal/about/metal/fail/