sixties counterculture 10 pg proposal



 The sixties were turbulent times for America, both domestically and abroad. During the
sixties America witnessed the assassination of a president, the assassination of a civil rights
leader, a “conflict” in Vietnam, and a counterculture revolution among the youth. The
counterculture would peacefully protest and rally against the government early on, but as the
decade progressed, the counterculture would split into various factions. Some of these splinter
groups would carry out violent measures to make themselves, and there opinions, known. While
the violent actions were carried out by a strict minority, they attracted much attention from the
press.
The purpose of this paper is to establish a connection between the peace movement and
the violence perpetrated by the counterculture. I feel that it is important that we find out how a
movement that was peaceful in the beginning could end up being so violent. The fact that
Americas youth could get caught up in such a frightening and violent situation should be of
concern to all of us. The music, and music festivals, of the era are also worthy of consideration.
Did the music contribute to the violence, or was it a just reflection of the turmoil felt during the
sixties?
In order to understand the violent groups and their connection with the counterculture, we
first need to understand what the counterculture was. The sixties were full of groups which lived
outside of the norm, one of the earlier and most famous groups to form were the hippies. “In
1965, Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle labeled these people ‘hippies,’ as if they were
apprentice hipsters. The young insurgents called themselves ‘freaks’ or ‘heads,’ and they called
their ‘here and now revolution’ a counterculture.” The hippies were into living a communal life,
a life of peace and tranquility and they were blowing the world’s mind. According to Stern, “The
dazzling thing about them was that they were so happy. They did not reject the perkiness that
suffused the early sixties. They smiled and danced and got high and loved everybody. They
wore flowers in their hair and painted their bodies like freaky Easter eggs. Their program for a
better world was one where everyone was mellow.”
The hippies embraced music and drug, especially marijuana and LSD. The hippies felt
that LSD would help free their mind, and they embraced the effects of the drug. Burton Wolf, a
contemporary of the hippie scene, wrote, “Several times, I saw barefoot hippie girls in a big pile
of dog excrement, calmly walk to the curb, and scrape it off like you would from your shoe, ‘I
used to worry about things like that before I took LSD,’ one of them told me. ‘Now my mind has
opened, and I see that it’s all part of life: dirt, feces everything. Feces are groovy.’” The hippies
were peaceful people who were trying to make the world better, this, however, would change. A
large portion of the hippies would be brought into radical groups and unknowingly be turned
towards violence.
1967 marked a change in the way of protesting. “After 1967, countercultural activists
followed two major paths: the revolutionary ‘magic politics’ of the Yippies, and the ‘here and
now’ revolution of rural communes.” The break from the hippies way of thinking is in part due
to the ineffectiveness of their “here and now” revolution. They were tired of peaceful protests as
the means to their end and they were sick of the interminable theorizing of the New Left. They
wanted results. The Yippies (an acronym for the Youth International Party),“. . .were conceived
by Abbie Hoffman, Paul Krassner, Dick Gregory, Jerry Rubin and friends on New Years Eve in
1967 to coax, goose, entice and dazzle thousands of freaks to Chicago for the August Democratic
Convention, create there a ‘Festival of Life’ against the ‘Convention of Death,’ a ‘blending of pot
and politics. . . a cross-fertilization of hippie and New Left philosophies.”
The Yippies were a radical group, a group that wanted to shake up all of the “straight”
people. Be it the way they looked or the way they spoke, they wanted to challenge the
establishment. Jerry Rubin describes the prototypical Yippie, “a street fighting freek, a dropout,
who carries a gun at his hip. So ugly that middle class society is frightened by how he looks. A
longhaired, bearded, crazy mother*censored*er whose life is theater, every moment creating a new
society as he destroys the old.” Yippies favorite way to alienate the majority culture was by
saying