Permanent Impact of the Counter-Culture on Today's American Society

Topics: Social movement, Haight-Ashbury, Anti-war Pages: 5 (1942 words) Published: November 7, 2005
"What is not illusionary is the reality of a new culture of opposition. It grows out of the disintegration of the old forms, vinyl and aerosol institutions that carry all the inane and destructive values of privatism; competition, commercialism, profitability and elitism…It's not a "youth thing" by now but a generational event; chronological age is the only current phase". The previous quote was written by Andrew Kopkind in Rolling Stone on the Woodstock festival observing that a new culture was immersing from the roots of the adult American life (1960's 198). Words such as "counter-culture", "establishment", "non-violence", "free-love" and "Woodstock" were not even in the American vocabulary until the war against North Vietnam started in 1965 (Bexte). The counter-culture was a social movement between the late 1960's and early 1970's including generally young people who were opposed to the mainstream values of traditional American culture and life. The people who participated or started this whole movement were called "hippies" who were mainly white, middle-class families' children under 25 years old (1960's 193). Hippies gathered mostly in the Haight Ashbury district in San Francisco (Our Century 5). They were mostly college students or graduates and usually, hippies were the ones who opposed the old American values, culture, politics, the Vietnam War, racism and were concerned about civil and student rights. They wanted to change the things that they did not agree with and also create a new generation, expressing their individuality. Moreover, by moving away from the society, they felt free about using drugs, creating new trends and music (1960's 195). It was not just about hippies, drugs, new trends and rock music, but it was the anti-war movement and the social change. From the 1950's traditional ‘get a job and a family' concept and narrow mind, in the 1960's younger people started considering what happened outside their doors; becoming interested in politics, war and cultural values. The development of the counter-culture in the 1960's actually did have a lasting effect on American society in certain ways such as, alteration in family or society values, a considerable increase in using drugs, alcohol in earlier ages, more free casual sex, politics and opposition to the war even though today that has decreased throughout the nation.

The whole conservative American society and family ideas of the 1950's were changed by the hippies with the growth of the counter-culture. Although the adults of 1960's were mostly conventional, moderate, concerned about money, the hippies did not worry about any of those values. Many of them did not care about working, religion or saving their virginities until they were married. They were all laid-back, carefree about all these things their families wanted. They thought that there was more out there than getting a job and a family. The majority of the hippies left their families and homes and yet they all had different reasons. Most of them did not agree with their families' ideas, some just wanted to get away and some were outsiders anyway so they just fit in with the hippie generation (Hollis). They escaped from the society and its values and wanted to create a new one. As a hipster wrote in 1969, "We are in America, but we are no longer a part of it" (1960's 196). Life was monotonous to them and they wanted to be free and to act and talk however they wanted without thinking what others thought. In older generations, young people were taught strictly about how to behave in public, use an appropriate language etc. But in the sixties, the hippies' behaviors appealed some parents and the society began to change in a less strict but more permissive society (Grey 26). Today in America, families still care about their children but they too feel free and act like that about their children's lives. The American families and the society are now mostly nonjudgmental and relaxed about...
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