The following is your essay prompt for The Hippies: A 1960s History, by John A. Moretta, your professor for this course. You can purchase the book online at amazon.com. It is new (only released in early February) so you might have some difficulty buying a used copy. If you can, great. I really don’t write books for the money; just like doing them and after all, I was trained at Rice University to be an historian; that’s why I have a Ph.D. in history!
Be that as it may, you have 8 weeks in which to read this book, which I am confident you will find most interesting and illuminating. It is a fun and easy read, especially if you like drugs and music, which I am sure most of you do.
Your papers are to be a minimum of five typed, double-spaced pages, with no more than one inch margins on the sides and top and bottom of page. 12-pt. font, please. I must receive your papers as a word attachment by no later than midnight, July 29, 2017. No late papers will be accepted. This is a required assignment; failure to do this assignment will result in a failing grade for the course. In order to successfully pass this course with a grade, you must take both exams and complete this written assignment. If you believe you cannot complete the exams and do the paper, then please, do not take this course. I do not want anyone to fail but you will receive a failing grade if you do not take both exams and hand your essay in on time. Eight weeks is more than ample time if you plan your time wisely by reading, for example, a chapter or two a week. It is not a difficult, ponderous, or heavy read at all. There is a lot of cool information about people, events, rock music, etc. You will be introduced into a very fascinating world of drugs, sex, music, and people celebrating life by simply enjoying it in as many creative ways as they possibly could. Indeed, there will be much that the hippies did that many of you can relate to, even now, even if you are a millennial, which I am sure most of you are. Today’s “hipsters” to me, are simply my old 1960s hippie friends “reduxed.”
The 1960s proved to be one of the most pivotal, change decades in the 20th century. Indeed, there was a United States before the 1960s, especially before 1968 (the watershed year of that decade) and a US after the 1960s. One of the reasons why the 1960s was such a crucial decade was the fact that never before had so many younger Americans appeared to have galvanized into such mass protest and resistance not only to the socio-cultural status quo of their time, but against the government led by the Democratic party and its liberal policies. Even before the Vietnam War became the raiso d’etre of the 1960s youth rebellion, other affinity groups found plenty wrong with 1960s American culture and society and decided to try to establish their own alternative community within the macro-capitalist bourgeois consume culture. They called themselves the hippies and through a variety of celebrations, drugs, sex, love, and music, believed they represent the possibility of a “new consciousness” for the United States that would soon embrace everyone and change America for the better.
What was it about 1960s white middle class suburban America–its lifestyle, mores, norms, etc that so alienated many white youth? As the hippies cohered into a movement or subculture, what was their “philosophy” and how did they hope to propagate their new message to the rest of the world? What caused hippiedom’s inevitable downfall? Why was it destined to last but a few years? What were some of the movement’s inherent flaws or weaknesses that ultimately destroyed the hip ideal? However, despite the many flaws in the hip creed, there were moments of genuine joy, celebration, community, peace, and love, where it seemed that for instance the hippies had found their way back to the Garden. What were some of the movement’s highlights? What caused the ultimate backlash to the 1960s youth rebellion?
The mid-1960s proved to be the era of change in the United States since the period is associated with the growth and evolution of young Americans. They emerged and began protesting against the American culture and its impact in alienating the youths (Moretta, 2017). The young Americans, in this case, were referred to as the hippies and they had some unique features such as being wild and long-haired; hence, representing their age and culture. The hippies emerged in San Francisco, California, and revolutionized the young Americans in the country, which later led to the growth and expansion of the group both within and outside the US. They united to rebel against the older generation’s lifestyle, norms, and mores that oppressed the culture of the youth. The group created its counterculture that addressed some issues such as peace, free love, music, and drugs (Moretta, 2017). The ideology of the hippie movement focused on rebelling against the norms and values of society and discovering and exploring new things and ideas. Therefore, this paper will critically analyze why the hippies emerged in the US, their ideologies, highlights, weaknesses, and downfall.
Emergence of the Hippies
The movement began gaining ground in the United States in 1963 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which led to the alienation of the young American generation from the government. Lyndon Johnson, who was Kennedy’s successor, ordered for the strong involvement of America in the Vietnam War in 1965, which was against the Hippies who advocated for peace (Moretta, 2017). Young men in the country were being ordered to engage in the war, which was against their will where this led to their death during the war or they would return to the country injured. The traditional American society had embraced war and continued sending other young men to Vietnam. In 1968, students and youths held massive protests and marches to advocate for their rights and freedom. They argued that it was wrong for the government to force young men into the Vietnam War and that they had the right to education and choice of how to live their lives. The hippies also protested against racism and discrimination, which was a common lifestyle in the US that facilitated the downfall of most young men and women. Social and gender inequalities were evident during the period where African Americans’ and women’s rights were violated; hence, the hippies influencing the Civil Rights Movement. The hippies were also against the lack of unity promoted by the traditional society leading to people being on their own. The group advocated for brotherhood in the country where it had a one tribe mentality which aimed at uniting all Americans. The unity portrayed by the group is among the reasons why it grew both in the country and externally. Therefore, the main objective of the hippies was to eliminate the traditional American culture of war, racism, and discrimination and introduce new ideas and counterculture.
The Hippies’ Ideology and Philosophy
The counterculture, in this case, focused on peace, free love, drugs, and music where it seemed to vary widely with the traditional American setting. The hippies became fed up with the Vietnam War which enabled them to crave for peace and happiness in the country and globally. They also advocated for peace since most of the young men were losing their lives or coming back injured due to the war; hence, reducing the population of the young generation. During the anti-war protests, they had a unique dressing code comprising of colorful clothing, long hair, patched jeans, and jewelry indicating the beginning of an era. The philosophy on free love meant that individuals were free to love anyone who pleased them regardless of gender. Young adults were encouraged to explore their sexuality, unlike the traditional American lifestyle, which opposed it. The hippie lifestyle led to the emergence and growth of public, group, and homosexual sex in the country where contraceptives were introduced to enable the act to be a casual practice other than for procreation. The hippie counterculture also embraced drug use since most of the young individuals were associated with smoking marijuana. The drug use was later abolished in some of the regions in the country due to the negative effects it had on the youth. The hippies used music for entertainment and communication purposes, which were a form of political, spiritual, and emotional expression. Other forms of expression used by the hippies include sex, protests, and drug use; hence, leading to the emergence of new ideas and ways of life in the country which are experienced in the modern world (Moretta, 2017). For instance, sexual openness, nudity, homosexuality, gender and social equality, dress code, and drug abuse are part of the lifestyles in the current world introduced by the hippies.
Highlights of the Hippies
Despite the movement being associated with negative factors such as drug abuse, homosexuality, and nudity, it has some positive memories that enable people to appreciate it. The main factor that influenced its emergence was the Vietnam War where the group opposed the US being involved in it. The hippies advocated for peace since the young generation was falling due to the war. The hippies protested for change and demanded that the choices and views of the young people should be considered in the decision-making process and respected. They also influenced the Civil Rights Movement in the country enabling the African Americans and women to experience equality in the society. Music and dressing code also experienced revolution where new music styles and dressing methods emerged facilitating the growth in the fashion industry. The hippies were also involved in spreading unity and love in the country due to their one tribe mentality. The group embraced brotherhood and sisterhood to ensure everyone experienced a sense of belonging to the society. They organized parties and events that facilitated the creation of strong bonds and ties among them; hence, the unity being among the major highlights of the group.
Weaknesses and Downfall
The hippies experienced some weaknesses during their operations that facilitated the movement’s downfall. For instance, the group had embraced drug and substance abuse in its culture; hence, the drugs having a negative effect on the individuals’ growth and development process. The drugs led the youth into engaging in violent crimes such as rape and robbery due to overdosing; hence, most youth serving jail terms. The effects of the drugs also contributed to massive deaths since overdosing became a common habit among the hippies. Massive property destruction at the hippie capital is also a challenge, which promoted the group’s downfall. Overpopulation of the youth during the ‘Summer of Love’ event at the hippie capital led to social disorders and unsanitary habits; hence, the venue being trashed and abandoned (Moretta, 2017). The group could not continue with its meetings and events at the capital, which promoted its collapse. Poverty is also a major weakness experienced by the hippie community since most of its members consisted of students and unemployed individuals. This facilitated them to engage in social crimes that enabled them to acquire resources. The increased poverty levels experienced by the group meant that the members could not manage its operations in the country; hence, leading to its downfall. The ending of the Vietnam War resulted in the movement’s downfall since the war was the main reason for its emergence. After the war in 1975, members of the group began separating where individuals went their ways since they had nothing to protest about. Lastly, the individuals grew up and abandoned their youthful lives; hence, becoming mature adults with responsibilities in the society.
Therefore, the hippies are an important part of the American history due to the revolution they introduced in the mid-1960s. They are classified as young adults who represented change through opposing the traditional American culture of war, discrimination, and racism. They introduced a counterculture that advocated for peace, free love, drugs, and music. The main factor that facilitated the group’s emergence was the Vietnam War where young men were being forced to fight for America; hence, leading to increased deaths and injuries among the youth. Despite the group advocating for peace, and the rights of women and African Americans, it experienced some challenges that contributed to its downfall. Some of the challenges include drug abuse, crime, and the collapse of the hippie capital.
Moretta, J. A. (2017). The Hippies: A 1960s History. McFarland.