On the eve of destruction—creative or otherwise

I recently caught an interview with historian James Patterson on the topic of his book, The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America.

An interesting fellow and book, which chronicles how quickly America's social harmony evaporated in 1965. But even more interesting to me was his reference to the Barry McGuire song, “Eve of Destruction” (written by P.F. Sloan), that inspired his title. For those of you who have never heard this iconic record, you’re missing a vital artifact of the 60s—the most controversial record of its time which generated acrimonious debate among critics and social scientists.

When I first heard the tune I was concerned that Mr. McGuire might be a few fries short of a Happy Meal. (See the above clip from NBC’s Hullabaloo to make your own assessment.) But I kept my opinions to myself while wiser heads unpacked the lyrics for macroeconomic insights and psycho-historical predictions. Was it a diatribe against Schumpeter’s theory of “creative destruction” (in which old business is destroyed to make way for new business)? Was it a mystical prophecy of the End Times? The Hullabaloo dancers wanted answers.