HIS378 Lecture – “Tune In, Turn Out, Drop Out: Counterculture(s)”
March 20 , 2014
- Difficult to speak of one, unified counterculture
- Difficult to find another decade in which people fought back so hard against
- In many ways, this movement has become something of a modern joke
- More than challenging the hierarchical and patriarchal society, the counterculture
also fought the very foundations ofAmerican society and theAmerican dream
- The definition of success inAmerica is being brought into question
- People believed in a personal protest of mind, body and soul
- Consistent belief thatAmerica has lost its ways
- Felt they were reclaiming the basic tenet ofAmerican democracy: that you can
live however you see fit.
- Other view on the counterculture: People with a transformative urge. Imp.
because dismiss hippies as naïve, but we have to remember that they, and many
other Americans, believed that the world could genuinely change for the better.
- Bob Dylan was the icon of the early 1960s, the “good 1960s.”
- In “The Times TheyAre a-Changin’” Dylan painted a hopeful world.Anthems of
the anti-war and protest movement.
- 1965: Dylan went electric. High treason for the folk community. The guitar
represented everything that they went against.
- Significance of this was that “something” was changing in the youth culture.
Emergence of the Hippies
- Mainly white, middle class
- No real consensus on where the name “hippie” came from
- Haight &Ashbury: Chicken and the egg regarding the Grateful Dead hanging out
- “The Diggers” – community anarchist group – hung out there.
- Is this another version of the “personal is political”? Hippies rejected politics, but
also sought a new society which made a political statement through its existence.
- This is about individual experience.
Aspects of Hippie Culture
- Anti-materialist, status and capitalism
- Rejection of social norms: appearance, clothing, etc.
o Easier in California because it was warmer
- Embrace of Eastern and NativeAmerican spiritual practices: Yoga, Hinduism,
Buddhism, Daoism. Believed in Shamanism, sweat lodges. Talked about astrology
and theAge of Aquarius.
- Genuine belief that non-violence and non-confrontation could make a change
- Respect for nature, in proto-environmentalism. Rachel Carson had written “Silent
Spring” in which she found the pesticides had been damaging the environment.
- Intentional communities with atypical family structures: Communes, kibbutzim.
o Went against the nuclear family - Anti-technology and rejection of industry
- Point of these alternative lifestyles was “safety in numbers”
Summer of Love
- All the hippie dreams came together in the summer of 1967
- Human Be-In
o Invitation for all to come and protest the illegality of LSD
o Attended byAllan Ginsberg and Jerry Rubin
- “IN” becomes a common suffix. E.g. laugh-in, teach-in, sit-in
- The Be-In was the moment when mainstream culture took note of the hippies and
what youth were doing.
- CBS reports on the events
- Vietnam War is in its early stages and civil rights raging, thus it had to be
something special for people to take notice.
- Hippie movement tended to be white for socioeconomic reasons and because civil
rights was still going on
- Part of the problem about the hippies was perceived promiscuity
- Emphasis on gender equality and free love
- Move towards consensual sex
- Equating sex with liberation.
- Explicit undermining of hetero-normative ideas of marriage
- You should be able to experiment sexually
- Number of unmarriedAmericans 20-24 doubled.
o Deliberate steps by women to take control of their bodies
- New sexual practices become common: open marriages and swinging.
- V. serious critique: “Make Love, Not War” how different was this from
- Stanford’s Sexual Freedom League. Elevation of nudity as part of sexual
- Idea that there is nothing wrong with your body.
- Idea of drug use and recreational drug use goes beyond just the hippies
- Anti-anxiety drugs being embraced as “mother’s little helper”
- Not a far leap from that to taking recreational drugs, but the medical community
may not necessarily agree
- Whatever is wrong, medication helps
- Marijuana is becoming popular among the middle class and middle aged
- Real difference h