The Hippie Movement That Arose From Vast Political Changes

Massive black rebellions, constant strikes, gigantic anti-war demonstrations,
draft resistance, Cuba, Vietnam, Algeria, a cultural revolution of seven hundred
million Chinese, occupations, red power, the rising of women, disobedience and
sabotage, communes & marijuana: amongst this chaos, there was a generation of
youths looking to set their own standard - to fight against the establishment,
which was oppressing them, and leave their mark on history. These kids were
known as the hippies. There were many stereotypes concerning hippies; they were
thought of as being pot smoking, freeloading vagabonds, who were trying to save
the world. As this small pocket of teenage rebellion rose out of the suburbs,
inner cities, and countryside's, there was a general feeling that the hippies
were a product of drugs, and rock music; this generalization could have never
been more wrong. The hippie counterculture was more than just a product of drugs
and music, but a result of the change that was sweeping the entire western world.
These changes were brought about by various events in both the fifties and the
sixties, such as: the end of the "Golden Years" of the fifties, the changing
economical state from the fifties to the sixties, the Black Panther Party, women
moving into the work force, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and
John F. Kennedy Jr., the war in Vietnam, the Kent State protest, and finally the
Woodstock festival.

The electric subcurrent of the fifties was, above all, rock'n'roll, the live
wire that linked bedazzled teenagers around the nation, and quickly around the
world, into the common enterprise of being young. Rock was rough, raw, insistent,
especially by comparison with the music it replaced; it whooped and groaned,
shook, rattled, and rolled. Rock was clamor, the noise of youth submerged by
order and prosperity, now frantically clawing their way out.

The winds of change began to sweep across America in the late fifties. The
political unrest came with fear of thermo-nuclear war and the shadow that had
been cast by Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. The civil rights leaders were unhappy with
President Eisenhower's reluctance to use his powers for their cause, in spite of
the fact that the nation was becoming more receptive to civil rights reforms.
With black organizations becoming more militant, Eisenhower needed to
acknowledge the growing movement, and govern accordingly.

World politics were still dominated by the conflict between the capitalist
nations, led by the USA, and the Communist countries, led by the USSR. The bonds
that were keeping people loyal to their leaders were breaking down. In 1960
there was a major split between Russia and China. The Chinese decided that the
Russians were betraying Communism and set off on what they hoped would be the
world revolution against capitalism.

During the fifties, the economic situation was in a constant state of growth.
The United States were prospering and the government was clinging to the
"golden years." The rise of the giant corporations had a profound effect on
American life. A few hundred corporations controlled much of the nation's
industrial and commercial assets and enjoyed a near monopoly in some areas. The
mega corporations dominated the seats of economic and political power. They
employed millions of workers, a large percentage of whom populated the suburbs
that were growing across the country.

The changing American economy also experienced dramatic shifts in the
composition of the work force. Fewer workers went into traditional fields such
as manufacturing, agriculture, and mining, and more went into clerical,
managerial, professional, and service fields. In 1956, for the first time in the
nation's history, white collar workers outnumbered blue collar ones, "and by
the end of the decade blue collar workers constituted only 45 percent of the
work force." The sexual composition of the work force also changed as more and
more women entered the labor market. The influx of women into the work world
that had been accelerated by the Second World War continued in the postwar

The political groups, and the negative feelings that they harbored towards the
present administration, only kindled the flames of revolution. The previous
generation was clinging to the "good times" of the fifties, and the youth were
looking for a niche to call their own. With the drastic change in child
population after the Second World War, divorce became less taboo. As a result,
single mothers were forced into the labor market, and with these jobs came
independence. The 50's and all its political, and social change, was only the
breeding ground for the free thinking generation that was to follow.

In America, a group of militant blacks called the "Black Panther Party" had been
dubbed "American's Vietcong." They were tired with the roadblocks and
discrimination that were plaguing the civil rights leaders,