What triggered the counterculture of the 1960s?

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    Jun 08, 2013 1:32 PM GMT
    I have a fascination with the 1960's. It seems to me that it was the trigger of modern man's final stage of self awareness, new ways of looking at our selves in far reaching philosophies that for the first time could be shared by society as a whole on this planet.

    I personally think we take the times we are living in for granted, with the advent of cell phones and the internet the last 15 years, and the 60s seem so deep and mysterious to me growing up in the 21st century, with the first mini skirts and modern music and alternative lifestyles, but I wish I knew what exactly brought it about.

    End to post far rationing, the pill, the baby boomers, JFK etc.

    Any theories?
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Jun 08, 2013 3:11 PM GMT
    Hey, you're talking about 'my' era. I turned 20 in 1968 -- which was truly a year like no other has been since.

    But the 60s weren't all one thing, it was a confluence of many different things. Not one 'cause' but many. The early Sixties were different from the mid and late Sixties, too. In many respects you had to be there to understand it because, in large measure, it was what was going on inside people's heads that mattered. It was how things LOOKED TO US. Looked at from the outside, from the point of view of what people were 'doing', especially from the vantage point of the present, it makes less sense. From our point of view it was a global upheaval.

    One good place to start is to watch the documentary "Berkeley in the Sixties" (part 1 of 12, so this is a time commitment). This docu is only focused on one geographic local (where I live) but it does a pretty good job of sketching out what was going on HERE.

    To get a handle on "The 60s" you might also need to consider the role of electronic media in shaping human social and cultural experience. In 1964, Marshal McCluhan's "The Medium is the Massage" (you can DL a PDF version from the link) played an important role. Note the book is mostly images.

    McCluhan coined the phrase "the global village," and it expressed how many of us young people felt at the time. Electronic media were making us all aware of ourselves and one another in a way humanity had never been aware of itself before. We -- meaning those of us who were young -- were no longer only concerned with the 'goings on' of our family, our town, or our country. Information was coming to us from all around the world on an hourly basis.

    This was new in human experience and we began to "see ourselves" as a "generation" unique from our predecessors. "We" had our own music, our own way of thinking and looking at the world. "We" were very optimistic and believed the world could be changed for the better. Many of us felt the need to EMBODY the changes we wanted made. These included (but were not limited to) the need to end racial (and other forms of social) discrimination, the need to bring an end to war (at the time, the Vietnam war), and the need to expand human consciousness in general.

    LSD played a very important role in all this as well. It is difficult to understand now but back in the early to mid 60s, LSD was not illegal. Its use was talked about openly in (among others) LOOK magazine. Those of us who experimented with it at the time began to understand that our social constructs are just that *constructs* and, as such, they can be deconstructed and reconstructed however we want. So, it begged the question, "What kind of world DO we want?"

    I'll leave it at this. Feel free to ask questions in thread or to email me privately.

    ETA:

    Almost forgot: No discussion of the 60s would be complete without bringing up The Whole Earth Catelog.

    Since there was no internet, no web sites, no FB etc., PRINT MEDIA was where it was happening. The WEC was a meeting place for counter-culture ideas, tools and 'know how'.

    Underlying it was this "global village" idea... and it made use of the fact that for the first time in human history we SAW OURSELVES (through images taken and distributed by electronic media) as human beings all existing on a very small planet surrounded by the cold, black night of infinite deep space:

    Wh-earth-69-cover.jpg
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jun 08, 2013 3:16 PM GMT
    The rise of the middle class, women's liberation, civil rights, the Vietnam war, pop culture, rock and roll, drugs, all converging on the last gasp of an old era of super rich and super poor.... In many ways, we're going back to that era. Those aged hippies are now against free speech.icon_evil.gif
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Jun 08, 2013 3:24 PM GMT
    HottJoe saidThose aged hippies are now against free speech.icon_evil.gif

    I know that's how you want to spin it, HJ, but it isn't factual. What I'm against isn't free speech but irresponsible speech and especially hate speech. It's unfortunate some can't make the distinction.

    Edit to add this video. This is Mario Savio, one of the leaders of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) in Berkeley, in the 1960s. The beginning monologue is perhaps one you've heard before. But, if you don't want to watch the whole thing, fast forward to about the 8:30 mark. The FSM has won its victory over oppressive policies of the University of California and now Mario talks about "Responsible Speech". Just pointing out this isn't a "revisionist" or "old hippy" perspective. It's been with us from the beginning.

  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Jun 08, 2013 3:31 PM GMT
    The question brings on such a flood of memories and ideas that it is hard to reply. The 50's may be a deeper part of the answer toyour question that we normally think. In a sense, like post modern design responds to its predecessors, the 60's responded to the 50's. Change became less feared and, at the same time, the war in Vietnam tore us apart. Boomers broke into adulthood. So much........

    PS--I still have my Whole Earth Catalog and marvel at its comment that it was based on inspiration from L. L. Bean. Grok that!
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Jun 08, 2013 3:52 PM GMT
    no offense, but you sound like someone who's never took a college course in history or read a textbook
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Jun 08, 2013 3:59 PM GMT
    calibro saidno offense, but you sound like someone who's never took a college course in history or read a textbook

    The past participle of "take" is not "took" but "taken".
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    Jun 08, 2013 4:09 PM GMT
    Stealing Researching ideas for a college paper?

    I came of age in the 70s at the end game of bellbottoms but pretty aware of the 60s and always felt I was born 20 years too late. I would have made a good beatnik.

    I agree with some of Mike's global explanation. I never thought of pinpointing one trigger but my first thought on it goes to the airplane, the mixing of people, just like the great American immigration experiment, just as we're being propelled again now by the internet.

    airplane_xlg.jpg

    The conscious raising, which I think is the most remarkable aspect of the 60s, was not drug induced. Granted, drugs might have helped to break some people from neurosis that trapped them but drugs were just a tool, not the moving force and certainly not the destination.

    To get a better idea of that you need to read from that period materials about altering consciousness. And then go back to what set up that movement: the advances in science and psychology. The Freuds of the world, the James brothers (two of my very favorite thinkers).

    I think a lot of the 60s was this mixing of east and west. The east had been studying consciousness for a long time. The Tibetans had been systematically studying dreaming for at least a thousand years. And the west was bringing science up to the launching pad. Then the movement of people brought those two trains of thought together and it was time to rock and roll.

    I've changed my mind. It was the Beatles.

    image-3-for-the-beatles-style-gallery-69
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jun 08, 2013 4:12 PM GMT
    MikeW said
    HottJoe saidThose aged hippies are now against free speech.icon_evil.gif

    I know that's how you want to spin it, HJ, but it isn't factual. What I'm against isn't free speech but irresponsible speech and especially hate speech. It's unfortunate some can't make the distinction.

    Edit to add this video. This is Mario Savio, one of the leaders of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) in Berkeley, in the 1960s. The beginning monologue is perhaps one you've heard before. But, if you don't want to watch the whole thing, fast forward to about the 8:30 mark. The FSM has won its victory over oppressive policies of the University of California and now Mario talks about "Responsible Speech". Just pointing out this isn't a "revisionist" or "old hippy" perspective. It's been with us from the beginning.



    I was a kid in the 80s and grew up celebrating the enlightenment that came from the 60s. Then came 9/11 and I was disillusioned. I realized that people who were once anti war had grown up to be war mongering..... If only John Lennon hadn't been shot!!! The movement died with him. Free love and free speech have been replaced with a culture of assimilation. Even the gay community often seems more desperate to assimilate than to be valued for who we are.
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    Jun 08, 2013 4:14 PM GMT
    MikeW said
    calibro saidno offense, but you sound like someone who's never took a college course in history or read a textbook

    The past participle of "take" is not "took" but "taken".


    I suspect he was emphasizing what he perceives as a lack of education. (the took was kind of the offense part of no offense)
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    Jun 08, 2013 4:15 PM GMT
    This title sounds remarkably like someone's homework assignment!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 08, 2013 4:18 PM GMT
    LJay saidThe question brings on such a flood of memories and ideas that it is hard to reply. The 50's may be a deeper part of the answer toyour question that we normally think. In a sense, like post modern design responds to its predecessors, the 60's responded to the 50's. Change became less feared and, at the same time, the war in Vietnam tore us apart. Boomers broke into adulthood. So much........

    PS--I still have my Whole Earth Catalog and marvel at its comment that it was based on inspiration from L. L. Bean. Grok that!


    Absolutely the 50s, as I mentioned also. And I'd go back further at least to stream of consciousness writings.

    I used to have a screen name utilizing grok.

    And I still have my copy of

    9780394710563.jpg
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    Jun 08, 2013 4:19 PM GMT
    Outlands saidThis title sounds remarkably like someone's homework assignment!


    Yup, my first thought too.

    Fuck it, still a fun topic.
  • calibro

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    Jun 08, 2013 4:33 PM GMT
    MikeW said
    calibro saidno offense, but you sound like someone who's never took a college course in history or read a textbook

    The past participle of "take" is not "took" but "taken".


    the guy is from birmingham, uk. i stick by my use of the english slang form of english.
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    Jun 08, 2013 4:35 PM GMT
    Those who are remembering the Beatniks of the 1950s, sorta proto-hippies, realize that the 1960s didn't happen instantaneously in a vacuum. "Counter culture" and societal rebellion & restructuring began almost immediately after WWII.

    You see it in the movies of Marlon Brando and James Dean, even in motorcycle gangs, in novels and plays. And it wasn't just in the US, but in Europe, too.

    Plus another part of the puzzle was the Black civil rights movement of the 1950s-60s, which also caused a reappraisal of the existing order. Before long everyone seemed to be part of some movement for change, Feminism being among the most significant.

    We remember the 1960s most because that's when these things became activist and at times violent, and moved into the streets. War protests & urban riots. And when the changing culture moved out of coffeehouses and private settings and became the popular music and entertainment on our TVs, radio, films and records. It was visible to us 24/7, no longer some sideshow to mainstream culture. It had BECOME the culture.

    But it took more than 1 decade for that to happen. The 1960s were the visible flowering of that long-term cultural change.
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    Jun 08, 2013 4:37 PM GMT
    HottJoe saidI was a kid in the 80s and grew up celebrating the enlightenment that came from the 60s. Then came 9/11 and I was disillusioned. I realized that people who were once anti war had grown up to be war mongering..... If only John Lennon hadn't been shot!!! The movement died with him. Free love and free speech have been replaced with a culture of assimilation. Even the gay community often seems more desperate to assimilate than to be valued for who we are.


    I wouldn't have thought you to be so ageist selective in your perceptions. That might have woken up you but the right wing didn't form on 9/11. There's still plenty of us who live for peace.

    Keep the faith.

  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Jun 08, 2013 4:47 PM GMT
    Grace Slick said in a VH1 behind the music video from the 90s that they were stupid for thinking they could take acid and change the world.... How did she become so misguided as to forget that they DID change the world and they were on acid??? She is the definitive sell out!!! Acid is underrated. People today just take drugs like ecstasy and meth to have sex, and it's pathetic, but acid isn't a sex drug. It opens doors in your mind, man. I wish for a 60s revival, with tons of LCD. No peer pressure, it's just for the ones who want it. We need to discover a new way of seeing the world.icon_eek.gificon_twisted.gificon_biggrin.gificon_cool.gificon_wink.gif
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    Jun 08, 2013 4:47 PM GMT
    Aristoshark said
    ART_DECO saidThose who are remembering the Beatniks of the 1950s, sorta proto-hippies, realize that the 1960s didn't happen instantaneously in a vacuum. "Counter culture" and societal rebellion & restructuring began almost immediately after WWII.

    You see it in the movies of Marlon Brando and James Dean, even in motorcycle gangs, in novels and plays.


    rebel-without-a-cause.jpg

    Very true. This is from an iconic movie of the time, "Rebel Without A Cause".

    Exactly. In the 1930s and 40s, especially during the War Years, there would not have been the character of a rebel without a cause. By the 1950s rebellion was becoming a fashionable concept, that by the 60s was nearly mandatory.

    Not to be confused with a more lighthearted and often comical contrariness often seen in the entertainment of the preceding decades, the harmless & zany nonconformist. These 1950s rebels were conflicted and troubled, even disturbed, a different breed altogether.
  • HottJoe

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    Jun 08, 2013 4:51 PM GMT
    theantijock said
    HottJoe saidI was a kid in the 80s and grew up celebrating the enlightenment that came from the 60s. Then came 9/11 and I was disillusioned. I realized that people who were once anti war had grown up to be war mongering..... If only John Lennon hadn't been shot!!! The movement died with him. Free love and free speech have been replaced with a culture of assimilation. Even the gay community often seems more desperate to assimilate than to be valued for who we are.


    I wouldn't have thought you to be so ageist selective in your perceptions. That might have woken up you but the right wing didn't form on 9/11. There's still plenty of us who live for peace.

    Keep the faith.



    We've been at war for 12 years. There has been no 60s revival.icon_sad.gif
  • HottJoe

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    Jun 08, 2013 4:52 PM GMT
    I'm not an ageist. I'm like the only hippie of my generation.icon_confused.gif

    Ironically, the hippies were ageist. The movement represented a generation gap.... At any rate, I'm liberal enough to seem crazy to most republicans.
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    Jun 08, 2013 4:55 PM GMT
    HottJoe said
    We've been at war for 12 years. There has been no 60s revival.icon_sad.gif

    Neither has there been a US draft. Anti-war convictions tend to be much more passionate and demonstrative when you're the one who has to involuntarily do the fighting & dying.
  • HottJoe

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    Jun 08, 2013 5:03 PM GMT
    ART_DECO said
    HottJoe said
    We've been at war for 12 years. There has been no 60s revival.icon_sad.gif

    Neither has there been a US draft. Anti-war convictions tend to be much more passionate and demonstrative when you're the one who has to involuntarily do the fighting & dying.


    It's sad though, because the message of the movement transcended the draft. John Lennon said give peace a chance, and we're like, no, we just didn't want to get personally involved. We're all about drones and war these days, and the enlightenment of the 60s was about peace. I feel that was an important message and it's been trivialized and viewed as a music fad, but at the time it stirred imaginations. Now we just ignorantly, and fearfully, support the war machine.
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    Jun 08, 2013 5:04 PM GMT
    Sweetie pie, wake up. We've never not been at war, at least not generally speaking. Specifically, my American generation was possibly the most peaceful, if there was one, and I'd imagine not by anyone's doing, just worked out that way, as I came of age between the Vietnam and the Gulf wars. Surely there was other crap going on, but as far as major conflicts affecting the American public, that possibly was the most peaceful time I can remember.

    But just because Vietnam stopped before I got to college didn't mean we didn't protest conflict. I was involved with the peace movement on campus. Where are your campus protests today, online? How's that working for us?

    I don't really think you are an ageist. I know you are not. But here you call yourself the only hippie of your generation. Well, we were the only ones of ours.
  • HottJoe

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    Jun 08, 2013 5:06 PM GMT
    theantijock saidSweetie pie, wake up. We've never not been at war, at least not generally speaking. Specifically, my American generation was possibly the most peaceful, if there was one, and I'd imagine not by anyone's doing, just worked out that way, as I came of age between the Vietnam and the Gulf wars. Surely there was other crap going on, but as far as major conflicts affecting the American public, that possibly was the most peaceful time I can remember.

    But just because Vietnam stopped before I got to college didn't mean we didn't protest conflict. I was involved with the peace movement on campus. Where are your campus protests today, online? How's that working for us?

    I don't really think you are an ageist. I know you are not. But here you call yourself the only hippie of your generation. Well, we were the only ones of ours.


    That's why I'm on this thread.icon_smile.gif
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    Jun 08, 2013 5:07 PM GMT
    HottJoe saidIronically, the hippies were ageist..


    No. Being a hippie wasn't about blaming our parents, it was about creating change.