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: 72198, Michael Krol
The Hippy Movement: Did Cultural Revolution take place?
Student number: 72198 Course: Level: Date: Lecturer: Word count: BMus in Commercial Music Performance 5 07/06/2013 Richard Lightman 3,181
Student No.: 72198, Michael Krol The focus of the current study is the hippie movement started in the sixties. The sixties are still celebrated and discussed, but for most only the highlights are remembered: the drugs, the War in Vietnam, and this colourful bright image of longhaired young people, called ‘hippies’. Our addiction to categorization and poor memory gives birth to stereotypes. Popular TV shows typically boost those stereotypes even more to make us laugh harder and think less. ‘South park’ is a classical case: in the Episode ‘Die Hippie Die’ hippies are pictured as a sort of social parasitic disease, group of passive young junkies who do nothing, but rapidly replicate themselves and mumble some nonsense about ‘corporations trying to use you to take you down’ (T. Parker, M. Stone, 2005). This is a good example of a simplified description of the movement, possibly representing a majority opinion. The goal of the current work, however, is to avoid such simplifications, and to study the movement in depth in order to estimate its impact on Western society. The main question to answer is did or did not the so called Cultural Revolution of the sixties ever take place. To answer this question, we’ll examine the key facts about the movement in three countries: USA, UK and USSR. Next, the major opinions on hippies will be studied. Finally the facts and the opinions will be analysed in order to reach the conclusion on the subject.
The Hippie Movement in USA
The ‘Seeds of the 60s’ documentary (1991) clearly depicts the historic background of the sixties: the widening generation gap, the War in Vietnam, and frustration with the establishment - all that resulted in various forms of youth rebellion: the anti-war movement, the Women ‘s Liberation movement and the hippie movement, it all happened during the decade. While the anti-war and the Women’s movements organized protest actions, boycotts and demonstrations, the hippies did something completely different: they simply decided to retreat:,
1967) ‘The immigration departments of Europe record a constant level over the past few years of something like ten thousand dishevelled “flower children” (mostly American. 1969.: 72198. experimenting.1991) The nature of the movement Most of the hippies were young people. But for the most part they never did. to come and search for something new and significant for themselves. and Scandinavian) migrating to the Near East and India .’ (Making Sense of the Sixties. or could be if they wanted to. you have to see them for what they were – they were people who had most Americans convinced that hippies and political activists marched hand in hand.’ ‘The kids of Haight Ashbury are not poverty stricken: many of them have gone to school.’ (Roszak. most of them come from middle class homes. 3 . and so it might seem that there was a connection between the movements.Student No. They typically lived in large communes.usually toward Katmandu (where drugs are cheap and legal) and a deal of hard knocks along the way. p. the most famous of them in San Francisco. 1967) Hippie lifestyle can be expressed in a famous formula: “Sex. Drugs & Rock ’N Roll”: their rebellion was global: inside their own microcosms they broke all the boundaries of the conservative society: gaining sexual freedom and liberation (the famous hippie concept of ‘Free Love’). and for some reason they run away from home and go to Haight Ashbury. Michael Krol drop out of society.33) Sometimes there is a tendency to mix all the protest movements together calling them a ‘60s counterculture’. which was not true for most part:: ‘To understand the effect Jerry Rubin and others like him had in America. Haight Ashbury district. on the average they are well-educated. mostly from middle-class: ‘Most of these people are young. others preferred to travel East: ‘Their [hippies’] main colony has grown up in a low-rent district of San-Francisco which is called Haight Ashbury”… “The place has become a Mecca for young people all over the nation. German.’ ( The Hippie Temptation.’ (The Hippie Temptation. come from good homes. British.
for hippies the drugs was not an entertainment but a gateway to become a better person: ‘The fascination with drugs was not fun and games in the sixties. 2005) Drugs were another key element of the movement. 1967) But the most relevant feature for our discussion is the hippie idealistic belief that they were about to reform the existing society into a Love-Peace paradise: ‘Hippies preach altruism and mysticism. it was the way we communicated with one another and it was where all of our prophets and leaders were .’ (Roszak. listening to music (typically Rock). Yeah.Yes. 1969) Hippies seriously believed that the World would be better is everybody would take drugs. 4 . I think personally that the more people turn on. the better World is going to be We were talking before about a way of being. philosophy and Eastern religions. I would say that it’s a large part of the framework. but it’s not a dope movement.Student No.: 72198. Here is a short interview with members of Grateful Dead band. like a secret knowledge they could not share with the older generation: ‘I think for people my age back then radio was the great secret. who actually lived in Haight Ashbury: ‘. honesty. joy and non-violence… Their professed aim is nothing less than the subversion of Western society by "flower power" and force of example. Most of the people who are hippies now came to this through drugs. According to Theodore Rozsak. 1967) ‘Many of the residents of Haight Ashbury were seriously trying to construct an alternative society. Michael Krol trying to discover themselves through drugs. Music was particularly important: it was something that they had in common.it was where Bob Dylan and the Beatles and The Supremes and Aretha Franklin were. common ground. changing yourself And most of use have given up.’ (Davis and Talbot. and one of the ways of achieving that being is through drugs. expanding your consciousness. something that projected their state of mind and their ideals. for many people it was a way to see reality differently and hopefully therefore to change your values. with psychedelic drugs anyway… temporarily.‘ (The Hippie Temptation. and they were all singin quite revolutionary messages.’ (‘The Hippies: Philosophy of a subculture’. we’re not trying to spread dope.
a triumph of Love-Peace ideal (‘The 1960′s Hippie Counter Culture Movement’.’ (Making Sense of the Sixties.’ (‘The 1960′s Hippie Counter Culture Movement’. the hippie movement didn’t die – there are ‘neo-hippies’ who are very similar to the ‘original’ sixties’ hippies: ‘Neo-hippies. The Charles Manson murders also contributed to the public hatred of the hippies. the hippie movement began to wane. and yoga and dance. Michael Krol One with alternative press. 2012) Nevertheless. 2012). with alternative business and enterprise. punks.: 72198. and Jim Morrison. including Jimi Hendrix. Soon. The events at the Altamont Free concert shocked many people including some who had supported the hippie movement. greasers.1991) The Peak And the End The movement became massive by the end of the decade. and members of other youth subcultures. dietary practices. with alternative religions. meditation. Many believe Woodstock Festival in 1969 was the most successful moment.Student No. and others reject drug use in favor of alternative methods of reaching higher or altered consciousness such as drumming circles. although most neo-hippies do not consider it necessary to take drugs in order to be part of the lifestyle. 5 . Unfortunately the movement lost its popularity in the early seventies due to hippie public image heavily damaged by Altamont festival and Charles Manson accusation: ‘By 1970. Several hippie mega-stars. daughters and grandchildren of the original hippies. hippies were being physically attacked on the streets by skinheads. advocate many of the same beliefs of their 1960s counterparts. athletes. some of whom are sons. community singing. and perhaps most important of all.’ (‘This History of Hippies’. no date) The idea of living in commune is alive as well: according to International Communities website. a culmination. Janis Joplin. overdosed on drugs. Drug use is just as accepted as in the "original" hippie days. the people of the Haight World were committed to new kinds of social welfare.
’ (‘Why I Hate The 60s: the decade’. 2007. 2004) Britain also had its own ‘Woodstock’: the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970. Most do not resemble the sterotypical 'hippie commune' but a few hippie communes from the sixties are still around. wearing hippie clothing and using hippy slang. p. and christian monastery to secular anarchist collective. continued to hold down regular jobs. But according to Dominic Sandbrook. clothes and leather goods. (Sandbrook. a King’s Road boutique named after the wizard in The Lord Of the Rings.’ United Kingdom At the first glance the hippie movement in UK was very similar to the ‘original’ US movement: the slogans. Most people who looked and acted like hippies.441) One of the famous accusations against UK hippies is that it actually only inspired a new form of consumerism instead of bringing in the new ‘free’ society: ‘It became a form of consumerism: at Gandalf’s Garden. urban to rural. shoppers could pick up a handmade pottery.: 72198. not the barricades were the real counter culture. 442) ‘Pop music. 2007. vocabulary and behaviour at evenings and weekends. It can be said that the hippies suffered an ideological defeat. the look. the core symbol of Swinging Britain was big business: the shops. but this is not quite right.’ (Sandbrook. but more as a US fashion craze: ‘Hippies are often described simply as drop-outs. as well as health foods and books about drugs and mysticism’.’ ‘It was a label adopted by young people for leisure purposes. because the Isle Of Wight Festival runs every summer since 1970… and it is far from being free.Student No. They are found throughout the United States and around the world. denoting a certain style of dress. though most of them are not classic hippie communes: ‘These communal groups below range from small to large. 6 . the UK hippies should be seen not as drop-outs. p. and behaviour were the same. Michael Krol There are 1636 communes in USA.
7 . Michael Krol The ideal lives on . famous events include Windsor Free Festival in 1972-74.. Stonehenge Free Festival (1972-84). a working exercise in collective anarchy. whose vision of an alternative society was actually directly inherited from the hippies and beatniks: ‘Initially one of their main influences was the Beat Generation..1992) The Travellers brought an idea of Free Festival. although the festivals were not as massive as Isle of Wight: (The festival site in 1984 .: 72198. © Herb. many of whom headed East in search for enlightenment and alternative lifestyles. 1984) The Travellers movement survived despite various actions of British Establishment that issued various legislations against them (New Age Travellers. From the list on UK Rock Festivals website it becomes clear that free festivals became a long lasting tradition.’ (New Age Travellers documentary.1992).Student No..Free Festivals and New Age Travellers The hippie idea didn’t die in 1969-70: it gave birth to New Age Travellers movement. whose members rejected consumerism and celebrated personal freedom… Their legacy was much larger Hippie Generation.
8 . China. 2004) The impact was substantial: youngsters started to build guitars. Because any youngster living in any country including ideologically friendly Poland. The Soviet hippie movement According to Sopova (2012). organize themselves into rock bands.’ (Kapitanovsky. Makarevich. and not the hair. then The Beatles were surely more than just The Beatles.42) ‘With all the constant bans and almost the total absence of information there was a unique situation when there was a multimillion army of Beatles fans who never saw their idols neither live or on a screen. 2004) ‘If someone wonders who is to blame in what happened June the 1 st 1971 on “Psychodrome”. Their trappings. And we knew very well what’s the meaning of the word “never”’ (A. 2002.’ (Kapitanovsky. not the jeans. Michael Krol USSR The coming of The Beatles In his documentary ‘Blame The Beatles in all’ (2004) Max Kapitanovsky claims that the main catalyst for the Soviet hippie movement to appear was the music of The Beatles. 2004) The Iron Curtain made the impact of Rock-N’-Roll and The Beatles only harder: ‘If a poet in Russia is more than just a poet. grew their hair long. North Korea. of course. the movement appeared in late sixties. We lived on another planet. p. and in some cases – became hippies.: 72198.Student No. breathes the same air and potentially can meet them – the theoretical possibility to come to their concert or buy a new album in a shop made them reachable and so not as magical. at the top of it.’ (Kapitanovsky. but it was big and existed mostly in large cities. As we didn’t believe in God then. The hippies testify: ‘If we’re to recall the things that were the substance of our lives . and our motherland were an exception. Rock-N’-Roll was our religion and The Beatles were. it was not as massive as in America. felt he lives on the same planet with The Beatles.it’s not the bell-bottoms. I think that it’s The Beatles are to blame.
We even didn’t drink often. And that’s why there was a complex illusion [of knowledge] created. What we knew about hippies there [in America] it was mostly the pictures of the musicians. 2012) Another common activity was secret gigs of local rock bands. Michael Krol behaviour and music preferences were very similar to American hippies.’ (Trofimov. the music that we listened on tape recorders. and he raised and went. He could be from any background. The main thing was socializing: talks about music. or a bohemian person. there was nothing anti-social in our meet-ups. but there are no sources mentioning massive drug usage .’ (‘Not Just About Hippies’. meaning – we simply imagined many things. about Morrison. 2004) Due to the strictness of the Soviet regime. 2012) Illusion or not – the resulting hippie ideology was similar as well: there was the same will of abandon the norms of a surrounding conformist society. hippies in USSR could come from any social class: ‘It could be an ordinary Moscow school boy. how it should have been.’ (‘Hippies in USSR’.’ (Sopova. people would come to see each other. and try to gain personal freedom. it was the same thing. tell each other the locations of upcoming concerts or underground exhibitions. something came into his soul. which often was disrupted by militia if the gig was discovered. 2012) Armen Grigorian.: 72198. 9 . about The Beatles. Someone played guitar… Few people smoked “weed” but there were not many of them. an open manifestation would be unthinkable: instead they organized regular happenings in pre-conditioned places: Russian hippie artist Sergey Solmi explains: ‘It was very comfortable – there was no Internet. or a cousin of some diplomat or Party member.Student No. the freedom of expression. Unlike US and UK. lead singer of a Moscow rock band Krematorii explains: ‘…music for us was connected to a certain way of life.cheap wine and music seemed to be good enough: Trofimov quotes ex-hippie Alexander Zaborovsky in his blog: ‘By the way. and no video at all.
Trofimov. Lets examine both opinions in detail and try to understand whose point is closer to objective reality. became other subcultures had appeared. Michael Krol USSR strikes back Soviet establishment didn’t appreciate the fact that some youngsters gathering together in large numbers for some ‘non-Soviet activity’. Propaganda films and sanctions against the long hair took place but were not effective. two people committed suicide. some hippies lost their jobs. and if there were some changes . if at all. The first one is the ‘cynics’ who typically describe the sixties as a decade of decay and chaos rather than enlightenment and progress.Student No. 2012). The opinions can be divided into two major categories. and lost their uniqueness. 10 . The movement sustained a hard blow but survived. (Kapitanovsky. Nesterov. The most famous anti-hippie action was the historic provocation of ‘Anti-war Demonstration’ in June 1971 in Moscow . Another side is represented by the ‘romantics’. many students were expelled out of universities and sent to the Army.: 72198. So was there a Cultural Revolution? There is still a lot of debates about the hippie movement up to this day. Samarsky (2009) explains that hippies became less massive towards the eighties.about 600 hippies who turned up for the demonstration were loaded into buses and taken to militia stations for questioning: after that many had a criminal record. 2004. those who believe that the movement had directly caused the Cultural Revolution occurred in the sixties.the hippies took a very insignificant part in it. some ended up in Psychiatric hospitals or even in jail. 2011.
Also to change a society. Michael Krol Hippies – The Story of Failure The sceptical point of view about the hippies is typically represented in the following statements: 1) The decade that followed after the sixties was the very opposite of hippie Utopian free society. hence their dream never materialized: for example.Student No. 13): the movement was replaced by capitalism: ‘…but what has the 1960s counterculture resulted in and been replaced by? In America. Raszak did try to take the hippies seriously but remained sceptical about possible success of their campaign: ‘It is not ideal. 2) Group of drugged and clueless youngsters could not possibly change a thing: they didn’t have a clear program. according to McKay (1996. p. by the moral majority and by the backlash movement – against feminism. the sixties were followed by the destruction of the unions. It is indeed tragic that in a crisis that demands the tact and wisdom of maturity. 1969. a child of the time who touched a joint but fortunately didn’t inhale. they would be expected to actively participate in it instead of running from it. by deadhead capitalism.’ (Raszak. everything that looks most hopeful in our culture should be building from scratch – as must be the case when the builders are absolute beginners. welfare. 11 . It is too big a job for them to do successfully. it is probably not even good that the young should bear so great responsibility for inventing or initiating for their society as a whole. p. and even if they had it – it would be impossible to carry out without a leader and some kind of hierarchic structure.26) The story of Haight Ashbury presented in various documentaries is a good example of a small alternative sub-society which didn’t survive for long and finally collapsed (‘Hippies’. seemingly endless years of Thatcherism voted in again and again by the English’ As for Russia. political correctness… in Britain. Samarsky (2009) claims that hippies became totally irrelevant since the nineties when USSR fell apart and Russia fell into a turmoil of business and crime.: 72198.
: 72198. in its contemporary form. so. We should not be confused with documentaries and certain books that show all the protest movements of the sixties as one thing named ‘counterculture’. Hippie communes that survived were more an exception than a rule. Swinging Sixties. who had their own fights in the sixties. Indeed. which is simply not true – because these are the exceptions or extreme cases that show. There was never any possibility of a revolution. p. Just as it was not formed by the simple overthrow of the aristocracy by the bourgeoisie. watch commercials. the hippie agenda remained irrelevant for most black Americans. as Riley (2012) calls it – people that simply were not used to live in communes. Later there was another attempt to build an alternative society in the country. one must remember that even in USA the movement always was a minority. and dropped out’. For example. The modern viewer sees many people protesting.Student No. We also haven’t all ‘turned on. for example. and influence. the ‘bourgeois’ society seems to remain intact: we still go to work. authority. there was never any possibility of a `counter-culture' replacing `bourgeois' culture. 3) The very idea of replacing the ‘bourgeois society’ by something else was wrong and unachievable in first place: ‘…but it is to recognize that their [protesters’] ultimate objectives were based on a fundamental fallacy. Michael Krol 2007): it simply was not mature enough: it didn’t have the complex social mechanisms that that the surrounding ‘normal’ society had developed after hundreds of years of social evolution. ‘ (Marwick 1998. tuned in. Modern society is highly complex with respect to the distribution of power.10) We have to admit – we don’t live in a hippie dream: wars have not stopped. and run after money. 4) Cultural Revolution. according 12 . it does not consist simply of a bourgeois ruling class and a proletariat. taking LSD and dancing on the streets. not the overlooked ‘boring’ majority. and Love Generation – no more than a myth cultivated by mass-media. and can start generalizing assuming that almost the whole generation went crazy. This also partially failed due to “structural inadequacy”.
political opinion etc. we are less racist and more tolerant. love. And it’s not just the maxi dresses flooding out of Topshop or the instant sell-out of Glastonbury tickets.’ (Sieghart. as I called them. and also suggests that the recent ‘Green’ movement is a direct implementation of hippie views into modern reality. in UK only a small part of Central London was ‘swinging’. but rather as gradual transformation of values of the society. The values of peace. 2007) The History Channel documentary ‘Hippies’ (2007) gives the movement credit for such inventions as personal computer and the Whole Earth Catalog. greenery. that the new era of Love and Peace is very close. the sixties were the time when young people. for they gave birth to Stadium Rock and modern open air festivals. Sieghart. sexual life. ‘Romantics’. Unfortunately the sixties dreamers had to wake and face the cruelty of the seventies. were living in a sweet illusion that big changes are just around the corner. which could not take place without the hippies. so their idea about a free society was successful to a certain degree. Indeed. and also gave birth to so-called Youth Culture.Student No. for example. freedom of personal expression. makes quite a far going statement: ‘According to YouGov poll for Readers Digest. independence of mind and sexual freedom are no longer alternative but mainstream. The effect of the movement should not be seen as total conversion of the ‘conventional’ society into a hippie commune. Hippies – The Story of Success Now lets consider another opinion – the hippies succeeded in their project. especially the hippies. One must also mention huge music festivals of the sixties. argue that hippies are those who caused all these changes. everything else remained the same.: 72198. 13 . the outcomes of Cultural Revolution are easy to observe if we compare the conformist values of the fifties to values of modern days: today we (the West) enjoy much more freedom: freedom to choose a way of life. Michael Krol to BBC myth slayer documentary ‘Why I hate The 60s’ (2004). According to this thesis. we are all hippies now.
Student No.simply skipping all the political procedures and imposing the changes on themselves. after we have learned the history and the nature of hippie movement in three given countries and main opinions on the subject. unique and draw much attention of mass-media. 2005). ‘Cynics’ depict hippies as clueless drug addicts: indeed.: 72198. Michael Krol All the influences mentioned above are so massive and important. and drugs were one of the causes for the crash of the US movement (Davis and Talbot. so it wouldn’t be a stretch to called it a Cultural Revolution. They were similar in looks. It can be assumed that some part of the movement were drugged youngsters who had nothing to do with revolutions or building a new society. Part One. Diggers. Analysis. behaviour and the core idea of trying to live an alternative lifestyle. we can analyse the facts and try to understand whose point is more valid. even its own free public services. art exhibitions: ‘By the autumn of 1966 Haight Ashbury was a semi-autonomous psychedelic city state with its own lifestyle. and hoping that more and more people will follow 14 . They all gradually lost their popularity giving way to new subcultures like Punks. ) ‘Cynics’ also accuse the hippies in passive. they all met a negative response by the local establishment that tried to mock it. But one should not forget that there was a lot of activity inside the movement: someone built the alternative society in Haight Ashbury with alternative press. They all started in the sixties. We saw that all the three movements were massive. criticise it or even shut it down by force (1971 provocation in USSR).’ (‘The Hippies’ documentary. Hippies Are To Be Taken Seriously Now. But let’s compare the conventional political way of political debates and votes which rarely result in substantial evolutional changes (because modern democracies imply that large majority of voices needed for a serious change to pass) to a hippie way which meant . apolitical behaviour stating that little can be achieved this way. newspaper. the US hippies openly admitted that the ‘trip’ is the doorway to freedom. culture. music.
Michael Krol them. Couch surfing) are based on hippie-like idea of ‘open-source’ – such technologies created non-commercially by virtual ‘commune‘ of programmers. which in fact was working effectively until Manson and Altamont killed it. Indeed. Many of popular modern technologies. The Possibility of Cultural Revolution The answer to the main question about the Cultural Revolution heavily depends on our definition of the Hippie Goal. Part Two.the ‘South Park stereotype’ of hippies is invalid. The author tends to believe that the Goal of “let’s all get high. Although (Sieghart. and live forever in a perfect world with no wars. who claim the Modern World is full with hippie spirit and values. jobs and money” should not even be discussed seriously. Thus we have proved that hippies were too massive to be disregarded and productive and conceptual enough to be taken seriously . or human rights movements. The more practical approach would be to view Cultural Revolution as a gradual shift of cultural values within an existing society: we should try to recognize and examine the changes brought by the hippies and answer two basic questions: 1) Can we prove that those changes were brought directly by the hippies? 2) Are those changes substantial enough to call it a revolution? Lets consider the more optimistic point of view of the ‘Romantics’. who focus on personal freedom. for this is an utopia by definition. in some cases it might be hard to prove a direct connection to 15 . The unusual look and a celebration-like lifestyle served as an effective advertising campaign. Analysis. Wikipedia. 2007) and ‘Hippies’ (2007) present all those achievements as a triumph of hippie ideals.Student No. there are modern organizations like Green Peace. reach enlightenment. Simplest prove to it is the media of sixties: Raszak’s book (1967) and even the sceptical ‘Hippie Temptation’ film (1967) both treat the movement quite seriously and explain their position in details.: 72198. Feminists. products and websites (such as LINUX.
Woodstock and Monterey made music businessmen to understand that youth can be considered as a separate strong market. we are also not living in the Puritan fifties anymore as well. they were many and they wanted an immediate changes.Student No. Although we are definitely not living in a Hippie Utopia. and The Who were not hippies themselves but adopted hippies looks. but unachievable goal of free society that never became reality. The two basic opinions considered have their valid sides: they were young. typically without any drugs involved. which would be impossible without the hippies. The Beatles. gave many artists a nation-wide exposure – the importance of Jimi Hendrix for Rock music is indisputable. As a result. people watch sixties documentary and feel strange nostalgia for the ‘good old times’. As to the fashion: many mega-artists including The DOORS. 16 . Probably the only serious hippie achievement which is easy to prove is their direct influence on mainstream – specifically fashion and music industry. which arguably had a certain psychological effect on their World-wide audiences who watch their concerts until present. the myth of happy idealistic 60s with dancing hippies in the centre only gives hippies a good promotion: many people remember only Woodstock and know less about Altamont or Charles Manson which makes hippies to look more successful than in early seventies. Michael Krol the hippies. Another thing to mention is the media myth brought up by the ‘cynics’. Strangely enough. and mysticism. As to multiple cultural changes that happened – we also cannot clearly prove that hippies alone are responsible for them: they were only one part of the broader phenomenon called ‘sixties counterculture’.: 72198. meditation. The huge music festivals. All this may have resulted in modern New Age hippie-like activities like Couch surfing. Conclusion The hippie movement is much discussed topic which arises arguments and controversies. They had a clear. Indeed.
Michael Krol though it is virtually impossible to prove that hippies were the only reason for that.: 72198. but nobody can tell what the World would be without Woodstock and Monterey.Student No. The mass-media myth suggests we owe hippies our gratitude for the free World as we know it today. 17 .
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