Counterculture was a movement that swept the American 1960s and is generally characterized by society solemnly as a wave of emerging hippies.
At its core, counterculture was focused mainly on anti-war protests, specifically against the Vietnam war. These activists protested mainly by boycotting goods, fabricating clothes and accessories with anti-war sentiments, and showcasing signs that promoted “peace, love, and drugs.”
The movement’s origins are based largely on the increasing number of protests that were occurring on college campuses across the U.S. and only continued to grow as America entered the Vietnam war on March 8, 1965.
Hippies were distinguished from general society due to the rebellious acts they performed on a daily basis. A deeper look into the movement explains why it is called counterculture; they rejected societal norms. Instead, many activists chose to typically express themselves with long hair, bright colors, rock music, and an emphasis on environmental sustainability.
Many activists also utilized psychedelics. Hippies pushed the usage of experimenting with drugs; in today’s society, clinical trials with experimental drugs have grown and led to many medical improvements.
Society is much more diverse than the culture of the U.S. 1900s. Most of this era saw women holding domestic lives, a rapid increase in war technology, and the polarization that followed the three wars in the 20th century; because of the traditional culture the U.S. practiced, the counterculture sent shockwaves through the nation.
However, early fragments of the counterculture movement existed prior to the Vietnam war. The Americans that pre-dated this group was called the “Beat Generation.” They existed during the 1940s-50s, and were labeled as “bohemians.” A notable member of the Beat Generation was Jack Kerouac, who pioneered the movement for the utilization of drugs through his novel, “On the Road.”
Much of the counterculture movement picked up from the Beat Generation. Both placed an emphasis on their rejection of capitalism and materialism that arose from the exponentially increasing demand for consumer goods.
Today, the impact of the counterculture still ripples American society. Many historians have marked the decrease in the popularity of religion.
A large portion, if not all, hippies practiced their beliefs in spiritualism, essentially creating a new branch that attempted to answer the existential question of human purpose.
Civilizations have been attempting to resolve why humans exist and what significance they have in respect to the vast universe for millennials. For this reason, the counterculture movement is a significant example of how society is an ever-changing blend of past cultural beliefs and future idealistic goals.