it seems to me that the evidence is shaky not least because the premise is even shakier.during those warm summer days of hippie culture,that are probably warmer in memory than in fact-certainly in britain,we all seemed to believe that we could all drop out,and live vaguely by the terms of peace and love.i have no fault with piece and love but overall we were very muddled about the 5(or6)"h's"or"w's"=the key questions of how we got to peace and love other than thinking about it.the fact that dylan sang about and reflected what we may have been thinkinmg moved us forward very little.if his songs were our anthems,there had to be some social force behind it.
if it did not evaporate,then it fragmented and recombined and collided violently with a status quo.so how did dylan sell out then.
a number of cultural and political groupings thought he sold out when he went electric.sections of,if not the main tghrust of the communist party in britain saw his use of electricity as symbolic of selling out to mass,therefore american,therefore imperialist culture.i think that view is based on asimplistic view of economics and politics that neither allows for culture or resistance or transformation or recombination.
perhaps in the united states he might be seen to sing the headlines of slogans of liberal thinking,perhaps even a hard edged liberalism.but then that liberalism seems to buckle under the slightest pressure of harsh electoral realities,let alone anything else.so what does a dylan sell out in th 19802,19902 or the 21st century(so far)look like?
why do some,perhapsmany of us assume that any of these artists-dylan or anyone else is a fully paid up member of our own organisations? how and when did we recruit him?
besides which in a culture in which art is alienated,commodified,fetishised like anything else why should his music let alone the musician carry us to revolution any more than a secretary or machinist?what does a revolutionary secretary do,what does a machine part from a revolutionary machinist look like.
i suggest that revolutionaries should seek to influence,learn from and create "art in struggle" even if there might not be any revolutionary pure form of proletcult.we can learn from and celebrate the music of dylan in that struggle but to view him as a banner of our struggle is misplaced and misleading.of course,if we worship or follow the music of dylan it will be at best a holiday side-trip.it is not our destination,it will not take us to the better world we have to win.it is at best-it is what it is-a soundtrack to our struggle.understanding dylan in the culture will teach us more....
to misaply pink floyd,dylan is at best a "brick in the wall"of the socialist world we seek to build.