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Hippie Counterculture

Lyndon B Johnson

Hippie Counterculture: Lyndon B Johnson was the 36th American President who served in office from November 22, 1963 to January 20, 1969. One of the important events during his presidency was the emergence of the Hippie Counterculture.

Definition and Summary of the Hippie Counterculture
Summary and definition:
The Hippie Counterculture began during the 1960's. Disillusioned young people, concerned about the threat of nuclear war and disenchanted with inequality, began to openly criticize and reject the conventional political and social system.

The Hippie Counterculture challenged the existing system, society and values by expressing their ideals in a simple message "Turn on, tune in, drop out". The Hippie Counterculture represented a movement, that was 'counter to', or opposite to, the accepted beliefs and conventions of American middle class society, by creating a completely new lifestyle. The hippies adopted colorful, flamboyant, hippie fashion styles, long hair and experimented with the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD and smoking marijuana. The Hippie Counterculture promoted the Utopian idea of a free, independent and peaceful life, living closer the nature as hippies, hence the term "Flower Power". The Hippie Counterculture faded in the 1970's as hippies returned to mainstream society.

What is the definition of Counterculture? The definition of Counterculture is a group of people whose values, beliefs, styles and attitudes differ, or are counter to, the prevailing, accepted culture.

What is the meaning of Hippie? The meaning of the word 'Hippie' are from the terms hipster and hippie and derive from the slang word 'hip' meaning knowledgeable, fashionable, up-to-date.

When was the Hippie Counterculture active? The Hippie Counterculture, or Hippie Movement was active from the 1960's - 1970's, originating on college campuses in the United States.

What was the Hippie Counterculture? The Hippie Counterculture, or Hippie Movement, was a revolutionary youth movement that rejected mainstream American life and values, that were dominated by materialism, consumerism and violence. The Hippie Counterculture developed its own distinctive, freer lifestyle based on the Utopian ideals of Peace and Love

Facts about Hippie Counterculture
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Hippie Counterculture.

The end of WW2 led to a booming postwar economy for middle class Americans and a subsequent rise in materialism and consumerism. The population in the U.S. exploded, and the 77 million babies born between 1946 and 1964 were referred to as the Baby Boomers.

Many more Americans were able to send their children to college, leading to a boom in higher education, and saw enrollment in colleges and universities increase from just over 3 million in the 1950's to nearly 5 million in the early 1960's.

The new found prosperity did not apply to all, and the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum as African Americans sought equality with white citizens. The period also saw the rise of Feminism in which women sought equality with men.

The nation was in the midst of the Cold War and people were living with the constant threat of a possible outbreak of a nuclear war.

The vast number of new students, away from the conformity, constraints and conventions of their homes, began to enjoy the freedom and independence of college life. Colleges and universities provided a forum to openly discuss politics, society, inequalities, poverty, racism and their fears about the future.

The Hippie Counterculture had its roots in the Youth Movement and other organizations such as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Free Speech Movement. Free Speech activist and Berkeley grad student Jack Weinberg coins the phrase "Don't trust anyone over 30".

Many students used the new youth-led organizations to politically challenge the system. Others were so disillusioned by politicians, the threat of war and a life dictated by materialism that they choose the option to 'drop out' and build their own society.

The new society, based on peace, equality and Utopian ideals was called the Hippie Counterculture. The universal calling for youth to "Turn on, tune in, drop out" was popularized by Timothy Leary in 1966. Other counterculture era phrases were "Make Love, Not War".

The young people who adhered to the Hippie Counterculture rejected conventional lifestyles preferring a free, independent and simpler way of life, that was closer to nature.

Many young people literally dropped out of society,  choosing to live together in communes. Others lived together in city apartments. The most famous, and popular, for hippies was the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.

Living together in unconventional groups, free from any traditional restrictions, the Free Love movement emerged based on the idea is that people should be free to love each other with no commitment, such as marriage.

Second Wave Feminism and the Women's Rights Movement emerged to liberate women from their designated roles as housewife and mother. The "Pill" and other forms of contraception allowed women to have sex, without concern of unwanted pregnancies.

The Pop Art movement had exploded on to the scene during the late 1950's and early 1960's. This was followed by the Psychedelic art movement which was inspired by psychedelic experiences, and altered states of consciousness, induced by taking drugs such as LSD during the Hippie Counterculture era.

The Psychedelic art movement strongly influenced fashion during the Hippie Counterculture era. Fashion and clothes during the period were dominated by bright and highly contrasting colors, repeating motifs often accompanied with lettering, stripes and unusual patterns using spirals and concentric circles and, of course, flowers.

Hippie clothing was often loose and made of natural fibers like cotton and hemp. Other materials with paisley or kaleidoscopic designs were popular as were velvets and satins.

Hand-made clothes and fashion was popular. T-shirts were customized using the Tie-Dye process of dying sections of clothing to create random circular patterns and changes in colors.

Hip hugging bell-bottom jeans, adorned with flower patches and fringes at the ankle, were worn by men and women. The jeans were accompanied by T-shirts and waistcoats and women wore loose peasant blouses, or skimpy halter tops.

The older generation was shocked by some of the outrageous 'anything goes' fashions, but none more so than the adoption of the mini and even micro-mini skirts. The mini skirt was often accompanied by suede knee-high boots or sandals.

Another fashion that shocked the older generation related to hair. Short, tidy haircuts were the norm for the men of the older generation, many of whom had experienced the clean shaven styles and discipline of the military. The young men of the Hippie counterculture rebelled, grew their hair long and often wore beards, which completed their unkempt look. Long hair was the ultimate symbol of defiance and popularized by rock groups such as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.

Flower Power: Flowers were very emblematic of the Hippie Counterculture. Hippies believed it was important to display as much natural beauty as possible, in a world that had been made ugly by materialism and the threat of nuclear war.

Flower Power: To the hippies, flowers represented peace and love were seen everywhere. Real flowers were worn in the hair and flower images were painted on the face. Day-glo, a florescent paint, was used to give a psychedelic effect.

Rock music was also important to the Hippie Counterculture and the lyrics of the era reflected the ideals of the movement with strong messages of peace and anti-war lyrics. Famous folk and rock artists of the era included the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Who, the Grateful Dead and Joan Baez,

The term 'Happening' was used to describe many performances and events of the era such as art and music festivals. 1967 saw the 'Summer of Love' as 30,000 hippies gathered for the "Human Be-In" at Golden Gate Park and the Monterey Pop Festival saw a massive attendance of between 25,000-90,000 people. The 1969 Woodstock Festival attracted 400,000 people and changed the history of Rock and Roll and was followed by the Altamont Music Festival.

Spirituality and Religion: New Religious movements emerged during the Hippie Counterculture era including the Unification Church (the Moonies), the Transcendental Meditation (TM) led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the Hare Krishna movement. Other hippies embraced unconventional beliefs such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Native American mysticism. Astrology was also popular, and the period of the Hippie Counterculture was often referred to as the Age of Aquarius.

The Hippie Counterculture shocked the world and was branded by the older generation as immoral, revolutionary and anarchistic.

Charles Manson was the leader of a hippie commune and, whilst exhibiting many of the outward appearances of hippie identity, used his twisted logic and use of hallucinogenic drugs to manipulate his followers the 'Manson Family' to commit nine murders.

The Hippie Counterculture began to slowly decline during the early 1970's. The Utopian ideals and the concept of peace and love declined as the prolonged Vietnam War dragged on. Hippie communities turned into seedy places with high crime rates. The use of illegal drugs led to increased drug addiction, overdoses and deaths.

The Hippie Counterculture collapsed as disillusioned hippies were unable to topple the establishment or reform the materialistic society.  Hippies were unable to create ideal communities or support themselves and gradually returned to mainstream society. 

US American History
1945-1993: Cold War Era

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