Counterculture - Research Paper

3186 words 13 pages
Counterculture of the Sixties in the USA
Causes and Effects

by Johanna K. Weisz

If the Sixties was the decade of rebellion in America, the preceding two post-WWII decades were characterized by social conformity and trust in the system. “In that era of general good will and expanding affluence, few Americans doubted the essential goodness of their society” (Haberstam 10).
However, this trust in the system changed radically in the Sixties. Many of the numerous youth born during the post-WWII baby boom became teenagers who questioned the cultural values of their parents and refused to assimilate into the established social and moral system. They created their own counterculture that was in opposition to the established culture of
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They used their campuses as arenas of political propaganda. In November 1964, Berkeley University informed the students that they were no longer allowed to use the campus for social or political canvasses. To protest against this new rule, students occupied university buildings. The authorities answered by arresting hundreds of students. The event reinforced the student revolt and the development of the counterculture.
(Carnes and Garraty 840-841).
Cold and hot war
The baby boomers were born into the Cold War. They grew up with “duck and cover” drills to make them ready in case of a nuclear war. In 1962, the U.S. and Soviet Union were on the brink of war due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. This lead to mass protests, especially among the students who felt “not only endangered but insulted when power behaved stupidly”
(Anderson 69).
The Vietnam War made an even bigger impact on the young people of the Sixties.
Many joined political radical groups and participated in mass protests. “Activists waved signs:
‘Get out of Saigon and into Selma’, ‘Freedom Now in Vietnam’, ‘War on Poverty Not on
People’” (Anderson 125). Even if they did not succeed in stopping the war, the anti-war idea became an important part of the hippie culture.
While hippies protested against the mainstream society by withdrawing from it,
Yippies were a political active offshoot of the hippie movement, led by the activists Abbie
Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Hoffman was conscious about using


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