The Rebelliousness of 1960s Culture

The counterculture of the 1960s, populated by people then known as the hippies, arose in the United States as a whole new movement opposed to the Vietnam War. These young people engaged in various activities of revolt including the use of drugs, participating in student protest organizations, and riots or demonstrations. The atmosphere of this era was directly related to the United States involvement in Vietnam.

Many hippies used and sold drugs, seeing them as "a short cut to reality." (Thompson, Hunter page 73) Young people used drugs mainly to say: We are not part of the system you have created and messed up! The drugs used included, but were not limited to, LSD, marijuana, hashish, mescaline, and peyote. Also, sedatives and stimulants were abused. Examples for drug use were set by rock musicians who used drugs frequently and openly. This is demonstrated in a Beatles composition saying "I get high with a little help from my friend." An abundant number of veterans returned from Vietnam wanting marijuana and other drugs. (TIME, 9-26-69) Some military leaders estimated that marijuana was smoked by as many as half of the soldiers below the rank of captain. (TIME, 9-26-69) Hippies were strong supporters of legalized use of psychedelic drugs, some even went as far as wanting children to use drugs. In 1966, after the banning of LSD, the League for Spiritual Discovery was found, which worked for legalizing LSD and marijuana as religious sacraments. Most hippies were too drug oriented to feel any sense of urgency beyond the moment (Thompson, Hunter page 79). Illegal drug use fell out of favor with the American public after the "war on drugs" began in the 1980s did the movement to provide rehabilitation from drug addiction become integrated into American culture.

Many young people of the 1960s strongly opposed the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Several organizations had developed in the early sixties and those young people who opposed Vietnam could express their opinions in these such groups. Two examples of these organizations are the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Both of these groups had left wing beliefs and wanted the government to make some major changes in the way things were running. The SNCC was founded in 1960 in Raleigh, NC and was primarily a civil rights organization. In 1966, SNCC was the first civil rights organization to disagree with the United States presence in the Vietnam War (1957-1975). Students for a Democratic Society was an organization of mostly college students that believed in radical political views. They opposed the pretense of virtues, benevolence, and religion that existed in American society. (Encyclopedia Britannica p. 331) Just like SNCC, SDS strongly tried to influence the public against the war. SDS used student strikes, mass demonstrations, and propaganda as tactics to express their extreme left beliefs. The organization was accused many times of using or instigating violence to get their points across. By 1965, SDS grew militant about issues relating to Vietnam, like the drafting of students. ( New Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus page 983)

During this time in history, many demonstrations were taking place in the United States. These demonstrations were done in protest to the U.S. being involved in the Vietnam War, and started peacefully, then turned to riots when the police overreacted and used violence against the protesters. For example, in 1964 and 1965, there was a rebellion at the University of California's Berkeley campus. It started as a free speech movement in Berkeley, then spread quickly and seemed like an outburst of student activism in politics (Thompson, Hunter page 78) In 1968 thousands of people gathered during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago protesting the war and the US involvement. McCarthy's presidential nomination was also supported because he was a critic of the war (New World Book page 353).

Young Americans in the 1960s influenced the rebellion taking place during the time of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam War. Results of this included drug use, involvement in student organizations, and violent protests. Due to these factors, the image of the 1960s has carried through to the present day.

Essay By: Megan C., Jennifer K., Stacey R.

TIME magazine 9-26-69
Collier's Yearbook 1968 Thompson, Hunter page 79,78
Encyclopedia Britannica 1993 Volume II page 331
New Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus 1992 page 983
New World Book Encyclopedia 1993 page 353

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