Much has been made of the fact that so many sixties radicals went on to become hardcore capitalists, profiting by the system they once critiqued and wanted to destroy. But no one assumes responsiblity for the shift in values that made the peace and love culture turn toward the politics of profit and power. That shift came about because the free love that flourished in utopian communal hippie enclaves, where everyone was young and carefree, did not take root in the daily lives of ordinary working and retired people. Young progressives committed to social justice who had found it easy to maintain radical politics when they were living on the edge, on the outside, did not want to do the hard work of changing and reorganizing our existing system in ways that would affirm the values of peace and love, or democracy and justice. They fell into despair. And that despair made capitulation to the existing social order the only place of comfort.

It did not take long for this generation to find out that they loved material comfort more than justice. It was one thing to spend a few years doing without comfort to fight for justice, for civil rights for nonwhite people and women of all races, but it was quite another to consider a lifetime where one might face material lack or be compelled to share resources. When many of the radicals and/or hippies who had rebelled against excess privilege began to raise children, they wanted them to have the same access to material privilege they had known—as well as the luxury of rebelling against it; they wanted them to be materially secure. Concurrently, many of the radicals and/or hippies who had come from backgrounds of material lack were also eager to find a world of material plenty that would sustain them. Everyone feared that if they continued to support a vision of communalism, of sharing resources, that they would have to make do with less.

bell hooks, All about Love: New Visions