North American counterculture
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The North American counterculture of the 1960s began in the as a reaction against the conservative social norms of the 1950s, the political conservatism (and perceived social repression) of the Cold War period, and the US government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam.
As the 1960s progressed, widespread tensions developed in American society that tended to flow along generational lines regarding the war in Vietnam, race relations, sexual mores, women's rights, traditional modes of authority, experimentation with psychedelic drugs and a predominantly materialist interpretation of the American dream.
New cultural forms emerged, including the pop music of English band the Beatles, which rapidly evolved to shape and reflect the youth culture's emphasis on change and experimentation. This was accelerated after 1964, when the Beatles were introduced to cannabis in a New York hotel room by Bob Dylan, another youth culture icon.
Civil Rights Movement
Free Speech Movement
Opposition to the Vietnam War
LSD and other Drugs
Black Power Movement
Black Power was a political movement among persons of African descent throughout the world, though it is often associated primarily with African Americans in the United States. Most prominent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the movement emphasized racial pride and the creation of black political and cultural institutions to nurture and promote black collective interests, advance black values, and secure black autonomy.
Beginning in San Francisco in the mid 1960s, a new culture of "free love" arose, with millions of young people embracing the hippie ethos and preaching the power of love and the beauty of sex as a natural part of ordinary life. By the start of the 1970s it was acceptable for colleges to allow co-educational housing where male and female students mingled freely. This aspect of the counterculture continues to impact modern society.
The role of women as full-time homemakers in industrial society was challenged in 1963, when American feminist Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, giving momentum to the women's movement and influencing the second wave of feminism.
Underground newspapers sprang up in most cities and college towns, serving to define and communicate the range of phenomena that defined the counterculture: radical political opposition to "The Establishment," colorful experimental (and often explicitly drug-influenced) approaches to art, music and cinema, and uninhibited indulgence in sex and drugs as a symbol of freedom.
During the early 1960s, Britain's new generation of blues rock gained popularity in its homeland and cult fame in the United States. Folk singers like Peter, Paul & Mary ("Puff the Magic Dragon") and Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan) influenced the British groups, and popular music became more closely aligned with the counterculture.
Counterculture environmentalists were quick to grasp the early (i.e., 1970s) analyses of the reality and the import of the Hubbert "peak oil" prediction. More broadly they saw that the dilemmas of energy derivation would have implications for geo-politics, lifestyle, environment, and other dimensions of modern life.
Technology and the rise of NGOs
The counterculture had representatives in the sciences, the trades, business, and law. Many counterculture participants were stable, dedicated, and persistent. Much was done in the area of the human interface with the natural environment (in connection with science, technologies, community planning, parks, and other spheres). While ad hoc action groups sprang up frequently, usually fading away just as quickly, some established themselves as ongoing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated to working toward particular goals. The counterculture gave rise to many lasting NGOs.
The legacy of the 1960s Counterculture is still actively contested in debates that are sometimes framed, in the U.S., in terms of a "culture war." Jay Walljasper, a commentator and the editor of Utne Reader — though not himself from the so-called '60s Generation, and having grown up in American-Heartland farming country — has written, "From the great gyrations of the counterculture would come a movement dedicated to the greening of America. While many once-ardent advocates of radical ideas now live in the suburbs and vote Republican, others have held fast to the dream of creating a new kind of American society and they've been joined by fresh streams of younger idealists."
- Weather Underground
- San Francisco Renaissance
- Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers
- Counterculture of the 1960s
- European counterculture
- La Onda Chicana in Mexico