December 5, 2012

What caused the Sixties?

From my new column in Taki's Magazine:
The great mystery of my lifetime has been the 1960s. It’s worth returning to this vast subject periodically as new perspectives unveil themselves. 
The closest thing to a successful prophecy of that era was made by science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in his 1941 Future History chart, in which he foresaw the coming “Crazy Years” when there would be a “gradual deterioration of mores, orientation and social institutions, terminating in mass psychoses….” (By the late 60s, hippies were so drug-addled that they made Heinlein’s self-indulgent 1961 book Stranger in a Strange Land into a cult novel.)

Read the whole thing there.

118 comments:

Paul Mendez said...

The Strauss-Howe Generational Theory, is the best explanation for The Sixties as I've every come across.

Strauss and Howe postulate a 4-generation cycle stretching throughout Anglo-American history, with each "Turning" having a similar personality.

From Wikipedia:

The Second Turning is an Awakening. This is an era when institutions are attacked in the name of personal and spiritual autonomy. Just when society is reaching its high tide of public progress, people suddenly tire of social discipline and want to recapture a sense of personal authenticity. Young activists look back at the previous High as an era of cultural and spiritual poverty..

If you buy into their theory, we are currently overdue for the Fourth Turning, which is Crisis. This is an era in which America’s institutional life will be destroyed and rebuilt in response to a perceived threat to the nation’s survival.

Anonymous said...

I have long thought that Pierre Boule's 'Planet of the Apes' (no crude racist stereotypes here, but the tale of a supposedly 'advanced' people being beaten and enslaved by groups they looked down upon as 'cheap immigrant labor unable and incapable of organizing anything, let alone over-throwing and running a society in their own interests), was right on the money.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why liberals/"progressives" are so obsessed with the 1950's. It was the transition period between weak liberalism with traditional conservative trappings and full blown liberalism out in the open.

The ideal is actually for a man to work part-time and for a woman to work somewhat, both near the home or near their families.

And no. Men who hold children are NOT child molesters or rapists! Isn't it weird how people think it's creepy for a man to socialize with a kid?

The whole idea of an alpha male who never sees his own children is distinctly modern liberal. As is the idea that a man should do nothing and just stay playing video games, watching porn and eating a bag of chips. That is also modern liberalism.

The lazy rich housewife and the alpha career woman are mirror images of each other as well. In fact, they're part of the same socio-economic class. LOL!

What caused the 1960's? People from the upper middle class all the way to the upper class (those pesky white liberals), and the professionals, were pissed off about how "strifling" society was for them. And they are what? 1 to 10% of society? At MOST?

Serves them right that America is dead. The system doesn't work for 90 to 99% of society!

Henry Canaday said...

Weren’t the 60s, in a way, just a continuation of the 1920s, after the temporary restraints imposed by Depression, World War and early Cold War were lifted? In other words, isn’t this just the direction that a society increasing its standard of living by 2.5 percent a year, with the concomitant reduction in required self-discipline and parental discipline, is always headed?

Another way to look at the 60s is backward from the present. Many 60s eruptions were just extravagant versions of customs that are now normal, especially in sexual behavior, improvisational or non-existent work habits and crime in the ghetto, asserted against an adult society that was still resistant, rather than accommodating as it is now.

Luke Lea said...

Based on Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-aid Acid Test, I'd say Ken Kesey was the single most influential individual behind the hippy phenomenon, hence the cultural dissolution of the age. Dylan, the Beetles, the Stones, Hendrix, Joplin, Jim Morrison, the Chicago Seven were all under the influence.

Of course the anti-Vietnam war movement and Kennedy's assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald were also important contributing factors.

Of course the sixties were bound to be different than the fifties if only because of the pill. But without Oswald and Kesey and Lyndon Johnson they would have been far less decadent than they turned out to be.

josh said...

Steve have you read the "Inside the LC" series about Laurel Canyon in the 60s?

http://www.davesweb.cnchost.com/

It's crazy but contains enough facts to be incredibly fun. I'd certainly never heard of Vito and his freakers before.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

And what about the influence of the Frankfurt School in Southern LA? And what about the Jewish instigation of those times and the pushing of certain memes? Wasn't the sixties not German at all but Marxist?

John Derbyshire said...

TV

Anonymous said...

Seems to me your analysis misses demographics. There was a huge bulge in like-minded kids who'd been denied nothing by their WWII-winning dads; they were further isolated from mainstream by rock and the transistor radio which took "entertainment" out of the family context and made it rebellious. Marketers soon learned that treasure lay on the ground for those who ID's and pandered to this group. Then their dads told them they had to go fight a war in which they had no palpable investment. THAT'S where the 60s came from. I might know, as I was there for it all.

Canadian CIncinnatus said...

I think you are on to some things, but your explanation is incomplete. There are other factors.

One is the rise of permissiveness and civil rights in law enforcement, ensuring that those rioters weren't effectively punished, as they would have been a decade before.

Another is the dramatic rise of the welfare state under LBJ, subverting wholesale, the bourgeois sensibility undergirding social stability.

The best explanation I have yet heard is that the sixities were the first time in history where average people became rich enough to carry on like decadent aristocrats, so many of them did.

My own theory is that at any given point in time there are many forces at work pushing society this way and that. Normally these force vectors are not alligned, with the result that society meanders on. But sometimes, due to randomness, the otherwise independent force vectors more or less allign to shift society over in some significant yet unexpected direction. The classic example is the Frence Revolution. The Bolshevik Revolution is another. A more recent example is the spontaneous rise of the Tea Party in 2009.

I believe the sixties were one era where the force vectors were alligned.

Immigrant from USSR said...

One of the jokes of Armenian Radio (AR) series
from former USSR,
where Listeners (L) ask stupid questions,
and AR gives equally stupid answers.
…………………………
L: What would happen if in 1963 terrorist killed Khrushchev,
instead of killing Kennedy?
AR answers: NEVER!
L: What “never”?
AR answers: BY NO MEANS!
L: What “by no means”?
AR answers: NEVER and BY NO MEANS
would Onassis marry Nina Petrovna (Khrushchev’s widow.)
…………………………
It was assumed that every listener of AR
(and of the joke) had the image of Khrushchev’s wife –
stout, very plain-looking woman.
………………………..
The comment by Jackie Kennedy above:
“He didn’t even have the satisfaction
of being killed for civil rights.
It had to be some silly little communist.
It robs his death of any meaning.”,
makes this AR joke even more rele

josh said...

As for your question about the negro reaction to their "liberation"..

First, most of the uptick in rape was among a small part of the black population.

Second, these people were encouraged by white liberals who promoted the ideology of Franz Fanon and Eldridge Cleaver.

Third, the Ford Foundations Grey Areas Project which became the basis for much of the Great Society actually put thugs on the payroll.

Forth, the courts clearly intentionally tried to deny certain populations police protection from certain other population.

Fifth, there was a war on the family and the community which manifested in planned parenthood, social workers, community organizers and housing projects determining the new way of life in a completely artificial world.

I don't mean to deny moral agency to evil thugs nor to imply that blacks aren't particularly prone to crime, but black people were liberated the way a bullet is liberated from a gun, aimed at northern Catholics and racist southern whites. There was nothing spontaneous about any of this.

x said...

the 50s, 40s, 30s, 20s, etc. the 60s didnt just 'happen'. they were the culimation and the final collapsing of the floodgates holding back the intellectual and social forces that had had been swelling in the prior decades.

SFG said...

What a fascinating column! German counterculture (remember Rudolf Steiner)? Victory riots? There are two good columns in there, you should expand both topics ;)

staffanspersonalityblog said...

I think the 1960s was caused by the fact that the WASPs lost their dominance. Every country seems to need a dominant tribe.

This can be seen in other countries too. Belgium may well split in half, the former Yugoslavia exploded when the Serbs lost their dominance. Today's Iraq is in a similar situation, Lebanon and many others. Africa, the most war torn continent is full of multiethnic states with civil war, guerillas and similar types of conflicts.

Aaron Gross said...

A tiny correction: if I remember correctly (it's been years since I read the book), the professor in Disgrace was not an Afrikaner.

Mercer said...

"See Gone With the Wind and The Birth of a Nation for what Americans remembered of life in the defeated South."

If you are going to claim widespread black rape occurred during Reconstruction you should back it up with something other than works of fiction. GWTW and BOAN description of Reconstruction is vastly different from most historians on a wide range of matters. They are works of propaganda used to justify taking away the voting rights of former slaves and attacking the southern GOP.

Anonymous said...

So Steve agrees with feminists on rape when it's politically convenient?

Just dumb. Political circumstances might make the act more thinkable, but rapists are not acting out of sociological or political motives. It's such an anti-evo psychology and anti-HBD position to take, whether made by Steve Sailer or by feminists.

deconstructingleftism said...

The social change of the 60's happened very suddenly, but the groundwork for it had been laid long before- intellectually in the 19th century, among the upper classes in the early 20th century. Some of the change seemed to be becoming widespread in the 1920's, but may have been stopped by the Depression and WWII. Only widespread prosperity of the 50's got it rolling again. At first people used the prosperity to reestablish traditional norms, but almost as soon as that happened they were abandoned.

Just as the hippie movement originates largely in German culture, the political excesses of the 20th century, both communist and fascist, may originate in German romanticism. Faust Part II spells this out even more than Nietzche- the idea that the striving man exists under no limitations, and all his crimes and sins will be erased.

Thursday said...

I'm wary of local explanations. The sixties happened everywhere in the West, not just in the U.S. Was the end of the Protestant-Catholic divide important in France? In England? Did England have a perpetual spring?

Anonymous said...

Kids, well, at least white ones, rebel against their parents. I think that's always been the case. There were more 18-year olds in 1964 (1946 +18 = 1964) than there had been for a while. So there was more rebellion than previously. Then we should consider the effects of TV. In past centuries most kids got most of their information about how the world works from their parents, who tended to wish them well. This changed in the TV age. The very large number of people who became 18 in 1964 were to some extent raised by TV. In the currently accepted view 1950s TV was conservative, but this merely means that it wasn't as liberal as modern liberals would have liked it to be. Obviously its view of things was far more liberal than the one these kids were getting from their parents.

Subsequent generations were also partly raised by TV, were numerically smaller than the boomer generation, and have rebelled to a smaller extent than the boomer generation, but to a greater extent than any pre-TV generations. To me all of this makes sense.

The victory riots idea - yes, that makes sense too. I think it's true about lots of revolutions and rebellions in lots of countries and periods. People don't rebel in response to oppression. When faced with a greater power telling us what to do, we do what we're told. And we tend to love it. It' so silly to pretend otherwise. Why do guys sign up for the army, why do guys join gangs?

People rebel when they see weakness and laxness, not oppression. Roissy talks a lot about this dynamic in women, but men have similar impulses. We're disgusted by weakness, we're tempted to push boundaries when we see them weakening, and we respect power.

dearieme said...

But The Sixties spread to countries without black ghettoes, so some other explanation is probably required. I blame The Beatles.

Dutch Boy said...

Simple: the 60s was the period when the long march of Jews to cultural power in America came to fruition.

Anonymous said...

@Steve,

What do you mean by this statement, from your article:

People need divisions around which to organize themselves, and in that mostly racially homogeneous era, age differences briefly became central.

I take it that you do NOT mean to say by this that an effective (or necessary) manner of organization toward a goal is to divide responsibilities a la division of labor.

What you seem to be saying that internal-external division is necessary for people to organize toward a common goal. But is this really true? Consider any number of human units from families to tribes - these groups obtain many benefits for their members by organizing work, but they don't always need an external "other" to do so. The benefits of organizing alone, e.g., cleaning a kitchen, clearing a field for planting, building something, are often enough incentive to organize.

You may be confusing, in this line of thought, cause and effect. People need to organize themselves to make it, to defend themselves, to survive in conditions of internal-external human group divisions. It is the divisions that create a need for tribal organization out of self defense. It isn't that organizing toward a common (non-tribal) purpose gives rise to a need internal-external division.

(Your premise that America was race homogeneous in the 1960s is anyways false.)

Anonymous said...

"It turned out that JFK had been murdered by a communist whose father-in-law was a KGB officer."

Marina's father was not in the KGB, Steve. Her uncle, however, was in the MVD.

whoresoftheinternet said...

I'm usually one who mocks conspiracy theorists, so I fully expect some kind of take down here but...

I think "the 60's" can be explained by communist propaganda.

Look, pre-1960s, America had twice gone on a major rampage against Communist spying: the 1920s and the 1950s. And, if you read up on the history of these times---not just the propaganda disseminated by left-wing sympathizers---you find that, behind the demagoguery of McCarthy (who was a classic "pick a target, freeze it, polarize it" idol for pre-Alinksyites) were very scary, very Anti-American actions by left-wing sympathizers within the U.S. Terrorism and spying for Mother Russia being two major items. These were not "scares" or panics---they were based on very real infiltration of the U.S. by Communist agitators.

But, by the late 1950s, the KGB/CPUSA were honing a successful counter-offensive to any prosecution of organized left-wing agitation:

The more I study the history of communist spying (thanks James Bond!) and the power of news-entertainment propaganda, the more this hypothesis moves me: the "60's" was nothing more than a massive and very successful propaganda campaign by KGB/CPUSA forces to demoralize and discredit U.S. anti-communists.

(expanded upon at my blog).

whoresoftheinternet said...

I've posted a long response at my blog. Click on my name to read.

DPG said...

Nice article, Steve.

I was thinking the other day about which President did the most damage to the country. LBJ seems like the right answer. FDR got the ball rolling, but FDR was often stumbling in the dark searching for a way out of the Depression. LBJ, on the other hand, was a full blown social engineer hellbent on putting blank slate egalitarianism into practice.

Of course, on the Republican side it has to be Dubya.

agnostic said...

The most basic cause was the Baby Boomers entering their adolescent years. No other factor can explain the geographical breadth of the Sixties.

The Victory Riots idea is interesting, but that must have just been dressing, even in the minds of the rioters. There were a lot of young hot-headed males who wanted to stir the pot and get rowdy.

White students who stormed the 1968 Democratic convention were not part of a victory riot, nor were the Paris students of the same year. The 1960s also saw the rebirth of the Klan, and they certainly weren't celebrating in a victory riot -- their side had lost in the Civil Rights movement of the '40s, '50s, and early '60s.

We see the same thing in the Arab Spring -- lots of hot-headed young males who are looking for an outlet for their testosterone, in a risky way that might earn them glory in the eyes of their in-group. Or Iran in the '70s and '80s, which got struck by a youthquake.

You don't see that where young people's share of the country is flat or falling, like in Jordan or many of the Gulf states.

There's two distinct phases of a rising-crime period, the first like the '60s and earlier '70s, when the young people are taking things apart for the first time.

Then the youthquake continues, as does the crime wave, through a second phase when the next group of young people modulate the craziness of the initial phase. That's like the later half of the '70s through the late '80s and early '90s.

There was still a very youthful vibe throughout the culture, and it was more exciting than the '60s -- but by then, enough time had passed for young people to have judged what was successful and what was a failure of the '60s / early '70s, retaining the better parts (the surfer dudes) and junking the lesser parts (the hippies).

Anonymous said...

That column goes all over the place to no say much of anything...

Hunsdon said...

Steve said: Victory Riots are similar to the orgies of pillage and rape that conquering armies notoriously engaged in after a long siege of a city.

Hunsdon replied: The "three day riots" were not only planned, but were policy. Traditionally (in both the Western world and the Ottoman sphere), if a walled city refused the terms offered by an aggressor, and a siege was commenced, the victorious besieging troops would have three days to loot and pillage.

This not only rewarded the troops for having to endure the hardships of seizing a city, but also served as an inducement to the city fathers to consider terms very carefully.

I realize this is tangential to the point of your article, but it's interesting to me.

Anonymous said...

Sheldon Adelson: ‘I’m Basically a Social Liberal’

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/12/05/sheldon-adelson-im-basically-a-social-liberal/

"“Look, I’m basically a social liberal, I know nobody will believe that,” Mr. Adelson said, as Dr. Adelson nodded."

"...Mr. Adelson continued on his list of liberal leanings.

On immigration: “I’m pro-Dream Act, I’m pro the Dream Act. My parents were immigrants to this country,” he said. “What are we going to do ? Listen, I’m sure a lot of my parents generation …..snuck onto the ship and they came into the country.

“So – people will do anything to leave massacres and to leave the economic conditions – they can’t put food on their own table.

“There has been in our history a lot of illegal immigration. Do I approve of it? No, but it’s here.

“It would be inhumane to send those people back , to send 12 million people out of this country to disrupt a whole potpourri of family issues” over what happens to the children.

“I mean it’s all ridiculous. So we’ve got to find a way, find a route for those people to get legal citizenship,” he said.

Finally, he said casually: “And by the way I’m in favor of a socialized-like health care.”

Asked he was sure he was in the right party, he and his wife laughed.

“Look, nobody agrees with 100 % of their planks” in the GOP platform, he and Dr. Adelson both said.

His interest in health care comes from his wife, and Israel’s national medical-care system, he said, as well as his Judaism.

“I think that to take care of everybody is part of Tikkun Olam” the Hebrew motto meaning “repair the world,” he said. “And to deprive somebody for money of heath care or [medical] testing is bordering on criminal.”

But he said, “I’m against this Obamacare because it’s making the [medical] decisions based upon money.” If one goes to Israel, he said, one chooses among four or five HMO’s. “You go in there you get all your health care from cradle to grave.”

“When I learned about that [Israeli] system, to my own surprise I said, ‘Oh, I’m in favor of socialized medicine’– which is such a bad word here,” he said.

Why does he favor it? “Because everybody pays” into the system, and the doctors don’t deny the elderly health treatments like hip surgery just because they are old, he said.

He added that he used to be a Democrat—like most Jewish Americans, he noted –until he attended the 1988 Democratic convention. He said he was appalled at the self-interested politicians he says were all over the place.

He then went to the 1992 Republican convention in Houston — where, he said, people were less concerned in what they were going to get from the presidential election, and more focused on helping the country."

Anonymous said...

There's a professor at one of the UC schools who has a theory on what was the driving force behind the 1960s counterculture movement and the dismantling of traditional American society. I don't think he attributes it to age divisions. Name is Kevin MacDonald.

Anonymous said...

The efforts of the American majority to preserve itself in the 1960s were "scotched" by. . .Big Oil and The Corporations, both of which wanted to divide the American populace in order to undermine their position in the market economy and reap greater profits.

No blood for oil.

Anonymous said...

The most basic cause was the Baby Boomers entering their adolescent years. No other factor can explain the geographical breadth of the Sixties.

But cohorts are constantly entering their adolescent years. Besides, many of the leaders and members of the 1960s movements were pre-boomer.

Geographic breadth? A lot of other factors have "geographic breadth." Television, other media, subpopulations...

Anonymous said...

The most basic cause was the Baby Boomers entering their adolescent years. No other factor can explain the geographical breadth of the Sixties.

Uh, it's called the mass media. With mass media and open borders for media flows, youth in the US and Western Europe were consuming roughly the same media. The youth behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe were shielded from it.

Anonymous said...

John Derbyshire said...

TV


What what was it about television, John? Was the content of television and cinema of the time a kind of random non-man made natural occurrence, like Hurricane Katrina? Or was there human agency behind it?

Anonymous said...

I think the 1960s was caused by the fact that the WASPs lost their dominance. Every country seems to need a dominant tribe.

But what caused the diverse Northern Europeans to lose their dominance in the United States? And why isn't that "the" cause?

Steve Sailer said...

There are lots of reasonable explanations for the Sixties, I just wanted to air out a couple of ideas related to the JFK assassination, since it is widely believed by people who were there at the time that the Sixties didn't start until after 11/22/63.

For SFG, who was interested in my theory about the hippie movement as having to do with old-fashioned German counterculture (nudism, health food, etc) encountering perpetual California sunshine, see the link to my Taki article last summer about the 1948 hit song "Nature Boy."

Steve Sailer said...

For example, Charles Murray's "Coming Apart" starts with a portrait of the pre-Sixties America during the week before the Kennedy Assassination.

A theory like Kevin Drum's of the gradual buildup of inhibition-loosening lead in the environment can't be dismissed out of hand. Yet, it doesn't seem helpful in explaining the widespread recognition of inflection points in the 1964-65 period.



Baloo said...

Before your time, Steve, but geezers like me should remember those B&W PSA's in the 1950's urging us all — they were in cartoon form, so mainly aimed at kids, I guess — to be tolerant of immigrants and minorities. I even remember part of one ditty: "Said the peach pit to the apple core, the color of the skin doesn't matter any more." Anybody else remember these? Anyhow, great stuff as usual. Linked and commented on here:
http://ex-army.blogspot.com/2012/12/timing-your-riot.html

Anonymous said...

The 1960's were a truly disastrous decade.

Anonymous said...

Uh, it's called the mass media. With mass media and open borders for media flows, youth in the US and Western Europe were consuming roughly the same media.

Is there something about the "mass media" medium that causes viewers to attack authority and tradition? How much does the message, the content factor in? And how is the message/content determined? Is it market driven by the same consumers whose behavior we see as the effect of the "mass media's medium or message? Do the consumers/viewers determine the content and the content then determines the behavior of the consumers/viewers?

agnostic said...

"But cohorts are constantly entering their adolescent years."

The Baby Boomers came from a Baby Boom, though, unlike other cohorts. So when they hit their adolescent years, there was a bulge in the age pyramid.

The fraction of the population that was 15-24 began rising during the 1960s through a peak in the early '80s. Similar, often identical, patterns hit the entire Western world during the same time.

With a larger fraction of the population in their wild child years, you'll see more hell-raising behavior, no matter the domain of life, and for better or worse.

"A lot of other factors have "geographic breadth.""

But not the right timing. Newspapers are mass media, and had been out for a long time. Radio had become a dominant mass medium by the 1940s and early '50s. TV was fairly mainstream during the '50s.

If people are going to argue for TV playing a role, they have to make an awkward argument for why radio had the opposite effect during the mid-century, which became less and less wild compared to the Jazz Age that ended in the early '30s.

And anyway, there's a long rich history of mass movements, crime waves, riots, iconoclasm, revolution, and so on, way before TV or other mass media.

The only thing that links all of them is a surge in the fraction of the population that's in their rowdy years. It doesn't totally explain all the variation across time and space, but it's the only one that shows up wherever you look.

Anonymous said...

Perfect storm of various trends and elements. Likewise in Europe with May 68 generation.

agnostic said...

"inflection points in the 1964-65 period."

The snowball may have been speeding up by that point, but it started at least in the late '50s. The first year of the rising murder rate is 1959, after 25 years of decline, and illegitimacy rates were increasing by then as well. Not to mention rock 'n' roll becoming mainstream, girls and even grown women sporting larger hair-dos, and so on.

When a process like an epidemic begins, it isn't very noticeable at first, even though it's increasing exponentially. Soon it passes a threshold and we become aware of it, as it continues to soar.

But the overall process has stayed the same throughout. We don't need to search for special triggers of the inflection point, or when it hits our conscious awareness. The Typhoid Mary causes had already been operating for a little bit before then, and continue to have their effects throughout the epidemic, compounding one another and causing exponential growth for awhile (until it slows down and then turns down).

Anonymous said...

Leaders of France's 1968 generation: Dany the Red

Auntie Analogue said...

I agree with Mr. Derbyshire's succinct answer: "TV." TV being, I suspect, shorthand for the effect of mass media, which is why I must say that I've seldom read a more illuminating and persuasive book than Neil Postman's 'Amusing Ourselves To Death." Postman's thesis predated the internet, but the nearly sudden pervasiveness of the internet only confirm's Postman's view.

On this topic other books I've found worthwhile are Roger Kimball's 'The Long March' and Diana West's 'The Death Of The Grownup.' West's thesis almost rises to Postman's acute percipience, but her book makes valid points of its own.

So, yes: TV. Which, together now with the internet, I like to call Media-Pravda, as the aim of mass media is mass-manipulation by manipulation of emotion at the expense of rational thought and expression.

Amalek said...

The 1973 book Camp of The Saintsb was Jean Raspail answer to the 1960's.

Anonymous said...

But not the right timing. Newspapers are mass media, and had been out for a long time. Radio had become a dominant mass medium by the 1940s and early '50s. TV was fairly mainstream during the '50s.

If people are going to argue for TV playing a role, they have to make an awkward argument for why radio had the opposite effect during the mid-century, which became less and less wild compared to the Jazz Age that ended in the early '30s.

And anyway, there's a long rich history of mass movements, crime waves, riots, iconoclasm, revolution, and so on, way before TV or other mass media.


The argument isn't about mass media in and of itself. Mass media existed in the USSR and the communist world. Mass media explains the "geographical breadth" of the phenomenon in Western Europe and the US. Youth in the US and Western Europe were consuming roughly the same content. The youth behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe were shielded from it and consumed different content from the mass media there.

Anonymous said...

So, yes: TV. Which, together now with the internet, I like to call Media-Pravda, as the aim of mass media is mass-manipulation by manipulation of emotion at the expense of rational thought and expression.

To what end, this manipulation of emotion?

John Derbyshire said...

To Anonymous at 12/5/12 1:10 PM

Great Trivializer.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the uptake and neurotoxicity of lead is greatly enhanced by fluoride, which was widely introduced into the US water supply in the late fifties to early sixties. That might account for a sudden decrease in inhibition, especially in the youth population. It might also account for the downward drift in SAT scores after the early sixties, when they reached their all time peak.

Anonymous said...

As many commentators have noted, the 1950's (even the late '40s)brought the Beat Generation, rock 'n roll, etc. Adorno published The Authoriarian Personality in 1950.

From the movie Idiocracy: "First to the year 1939 when Charlie Chaplin and his evil Nazi regime enslaved Europe and tried to take over the world! ... But then an even greater force emerged: The un! And the un un-nazi'd the world! Forever!"

In an absurd way, the three line account of History is basically the answer to the question.

Gilbert P.

Anonymous said...

Youth in the US and Western Europe were consuming roughly the same content. The youth behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe were shielded from it and consumed different content from the mass media there.

What was distinctive about the content of media in the West?

Luke Lea said...

Can't believe you don't take the LSD theory more seriously. I was there. Why do you think people started growing their hair long. LSD is a cultural solvent.

Luke Lea said...

Hippies were blithely unaware of Germany in the early 20th century.

Steve Sailer said...

I saw a lot of copies of "Steppenwolf" by Herman Hesse when I was in 7th grade. A bunch of arty kids in Illinois named their theater company Steppenwolf. The first heavy metal hit song was by a rock band named Steppenwolf.

not a hacker said...

Your premise that America was race homogeneous in the 1960s is anyways false.

Think it over. As of 1965, black "liberation" had not yet taken place. John Shaft (a Jew's meme) didn't appear until '71. Since blacks were "in their place," still in the grip of "law and order," they didn't disrupt, and thus the nation was effectively homogeneous.

sunbeam said...

Wow, so many people here seem to hate that period of time.

Different strokes I guess. I would have loved to have been young and have lived through those times. Well I sort of did as an infant.

I think that was the last period where America was a really strong country. The last period where you could look at the future and imagine anything good happening.

The last good economy. The best, brightest explosion of music and culture we ever had, or ever will have.

Now, no matter what you views on any aspect of politics, economics, demographics, you name it, I think we have a common consensus that the future is going to utterly suck.

Apocalyptic thought is kind of the zeitgeist of this day. I have it myself, but it's more like "This is how the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper."

To me at least, the 60's were the last flowering of the "real" America.

You know the one produced by the New Deal and 90% tax rates on the 1%.

It's so sad. No matter how things turn out, I can't imagine ever being thrilled by anything produced by Latin culture for example. It's not really resentment or hate, just a big "Meh."

Anonymous said...

"I saw a lot of copies of "Steppenwolf" by Herman Hesse when I was in 7th grade."

A great novel, which is why I'll always have a soft spot for the Sixties. Sure beats what kids go for nowadays.

From "Journey to the East".

"I tried to make him understand my position. I scorned all evasion. I told him frankly that I was a participant in that great enterprise of which he must also have heard, in the so-called 'Journey to the East,' or the League expedition, or whatever it was then described as by the public. Oh yes, he smiled ironically, he certainly remembered it. In his circle of friends, this singular episode was mostly called, perhaps some what disrespectfully, 'the Children's Crusade.' This movement was not taken quite seriously in his circle. It had indeed been compared with some kind of theosophical movement or brotherhood. Just the same, they had been very surprised at the periodic successes of the undertaking. They had read with due respect about the courageous journey through Upper Swabia, of the triumph at Bremgarten, of the surrender of the Tessin mountain village, and had at times wondered whether the movement would like to place itself at the service of a republican government. Then, to be sure, the matter apparently petered out. Several of the former leaders left the movement; indeed, in some way they seemed to be ashamed of it and no longer wished to remember it. News about it came through very sparingly and it was always strangely contradictory, and so the whole matter was just placed aside ad acta and forgotten like so many eccentric political, religious or artistic movements of those post-war years. At that time so many prophets sprang up, so many secret societies with Messianic hopes appeared and then disappeared again leaving no trace.
His point of view was clear, it was that of a well-meaning skeptic. All others who had heard its story, but had not themselves taken part in it, probably thought the same about the League and the Journey to the East. It was not for me to convert Lukas, but I gave him some corrected information; for instance, that our League was in no way an off-shoot of the past war years, but that it had extended throughout the whole of world history, sometimes, to be sure, under the surface, but in an unbroken line, that even certain phases of the World War were nothing else but stages in the history of our League; further, that Zoroaster, Lao Tse, Plato, Xenophon, Pythagoras, Albertus Magnus, Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy, Novalis and Baudelaire were co-founders and brothers of our League. He smiled exactly in the way that I expected."

Podsnap said...

The rot had set in in England by the 20s in the upper classes - it just took a few decades to filter through to the lower classes.

Read "A Dance To The Music Of Time". Cynicism, promiscuity, hatred of your own country, empty intellectualism are all part of the story well before the 60s.

Anonymous said...

Sheer numbers. In the 60s, youth became the dominate culture because there were more youths.

Anonymous said...

I only wished that the Right had taken the leading role in the Sixties as many German nationalists had done with nature movements in early 20th century. As Goldhagen wrote in 'Liberal Fascism', many of the ideas of the sixties were drawn from movements once associated with the Right.
It made sense for young people with freedom to read and think to finally ask big questions and seek the meaning of life. And to be fair to the boomers, they didn't just challenge the right but the staid truisms of the old left. It was not a good time for Stalinists, and when USSR invaded Czechoslovakia, there was a huge rift on the Left between the old guard loyal to USSR and the new left.

Ken Kesey was difficult to pinpoint ideologically. His anti-establishment impulses were as 'right' as 'left'.
The Old Left was horrified by the sixties--and Eric Hobsbawn wasn't happy with it, as he states in 'Age of Extremes'--, but in the end, the left adopted its energies whereas the right only resisted them.
In fact, there were many legitimate impulses in the sixties to create a more meaningful society.
Had right joined in the creative enterprise of this critique, it might have had more to say in the culture war.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid quoted Sheldon Adelson: He then went to the 1992 Republican convention in Houston — where, he said, people were less concerned in what they were going to get from the presidential election, and more focused on helping the country.

Hunsdon inquired: Did he say which country?

Anonymous said...

The birth control pill (introduced 1960) is widely acknowledged to have mind bending, personality altering effects on a small minority of users.

Perhaps there were more subtle, more widespread effects that we missed.

(In addition to all the obvious civilization destroying effects which kicked in later on.)

ironrailsironweights said...

The only thing that links all of them is a surge in the fraction of the population that's in their rowdy years. It doesn't totally explain all the variation across time and space, but it's the only one that shows up wherever you look.

Perhaps.
Then again, the peak years of the Baby Boom in the United States were later than one might realize. Births didn't cross the 4 million level until 1954 and stayed above that level for a decade. People born during that stretch were too young to have had much if any impact on the national zeitgeist in the 1960's.

If we are to consider 1968 and 1969 as the peak years of the 1960's, and assume young people under age 18 wouldn't have had much effect on the cultural/political/social scene, it's really just the those born in the late 1940's and maybe the first couple of years of the 1950's who were the real movers and shakers, as it were. Their numbers weren't nearly as high as those of people born later in the Baby Boom.

Peter

Anonymous said...

"Kids, well, at least white ones, rebel against their parents. I think that's always been the case. There were more 18-year olds in 1964 (1946 +18 = 1964) than there had been for a while. So there was more rebellion than previously. Then we should consider the effects of TV. In past centuries most kids got most of their information about how the world works from their parents, who tended to wish them well. This changed in the TV age."

The Grand Unified Theory of the '60s.

Anonymous said...

Was the Chinese Cultural Revolution part of this '60s freak-out? If so, I don't see lead poisoning, TV or Vatican II as a factor there. Demographics?

Anonymous said...

Hippies were blithely unaware of Germany in the early 20th century.

Surely its not a crude matter of 1960s types hearing about these early 1900 Germans and emulating them its about them being ethnically and culturally connected to them. Not necessarily being overtly aware of that.

Anonymous said...

"If we are to consider 1968 and 1969 as the peak years of the 1960's, and assume young people under age 18 wouldn't have had much effect on the cultural/political/social scene, it's really just the those born in the late 1940's and maybe the first couple of years of the 1950's who were the real movers and shakers, as it were. Their numbers weren't nearly as high as those of people born later in the Baby Boom."

Yes, but older siblings and TV had a profound impact on millions of younger boomers.

Anonymous said...

Victory Riot or Victory Remorse?

By the 1960s, US was on the top of the world. Americans should have been proud and many were. But then, a lot of people began to feel that US shouldn't be the victor, shouldn't be rich, shouldn't be powerful, and etc. They were hoping would finally lose a war in Vietnam, finally be attacked by rioting blacks in cities, etc.
They were acting like they wished the Indians had beaten the cowboys.
"We're sorry we won."

But did the sixties win? Yes and no. The world today looks more like the 80s and even the 50s. Though heirs of 60s political legacy are in control, they are into crass 80s materialism and repressive 1950s controllism. There is nothing to call authentic or organic anymore. The music, movies, and pop culture are more packaged and sold as formula than ever. Students are ever under greater control through dogma and codes. It's like we're living in the world of 50s conformism instructed with 60s radicalism softened by 80s commercialism. Stillman's brilliant 'Damsels in Distress' caught this cultural schizophrenia beautifully. It's difficult to tell what decade the movie is taking place in.

And I'm not even sure political correctness really derives its spirit from the 60s.
Maybe boomers eventually turned against 60s freedom because they remember all too well how much of a pain in the ass they'd been to the older generation. Now that they are older and don't want to be challenged by young ones, they've turned freedom into 'freedom', something that they get to define and impose on others. So, if free speech in the 60s meant any speech, 'free speech' now means whatever is permitted by the institutions. Steven Pinker seems to indicate the cultural shift in his book. From Hell's Angels to Better Angels.

Grandin said...

I'll take Eloi for a 1000, Alex....

Stephen Edkins said...

Apart from demographics how about the technology argument?

Technology drivers were
1. TV and so end of studio system
2. Electric guitar and end of big bands
3. Air travel and knowledge of the East and Eastern philosophy
4. The pill and the beginning of female choice

Note that both demographics and technology were unleashed having been bottled up after the Second World War.

Anonymous said...

"Sheer numbers. In the 60s, youth became the dominate culture because there were more youths."

There are so many Mexican-Americans now, so why isn't our culture becoming Mexican-Americanized?

Jews were only 2% of the population in the 60s, so why did they play such a crucial role?

And among youths in the 60s, the majority were not radicals or hippies, so why did radical culture define the 60s?

Where youths did matter was in spending power.

Anonymous said...

In the 60s, how much the kids leading and how much were they being led?

True, French youths were going wild in 68, but their inspiration came from older men. Philosophers like Althusser. And Sartre was still relevant in the 60s with his condemnation of the Vietnam War.

And in America, the media were controlled by older people, not youths. YOung people didn't come up with all the stuff they were spouting. They read books by guys like Marcuse and turned them into slogans.

Andrew said...

To the commenter noting causes stretching back to 1959, it should also be noted that the dramatic economic collapse in 1957-1958, which permanently destroyed a huge number of businesses in New England and what became the rust belt, was eye-opening to many people regarding what their future would be. And the introduction in 1957 of something called the oral contraceptive pill.

So what their future was not going to be was living in a tight knit ethnic neighborhood up north, the husband working at the local mill, and having between 4-9 kids with a stay-at-home mom. It wasn't going to be that because suddenly many of those mills were gone and the girls were on the pill.

Anonymous said...

True, French youths were going wild in 68, but their inspiration came from older men. Philosophers like Althusser.

And Daniel Cohn-Bendit. And that guy who was recently France's foreign minister. Bernard Kouchner?

Hunsdon said...

Regarding the 60s, and the Pill. Around or about 1968, after the birth of my sibling, my Mother went on the Pill. After a month or so, she noticed that there were holes in her vision. That is, there were spots where she COULD NOT SEE. By shifting her focus, she could more or less get by, but it was, as one could imagine, somewhat disconcerting.

She went to her OB/GYN, and he essentially said, "This kind of thing happens with women your age."

She went to her brother the chiropractor, and he asked, "So, what has changed since you could see like a normal person?"

She went off the Pill the next day.

Faith in Science and Reason can lead a fellow (or a maid) astray. Today's birth control has vastly lower levels of hormones, and I simply offer this up as yet another data point.

Anonymous said...

The more I’ve dwelled on the timeline, the more it seems that the black liberation of the first half of the 60s was greeted in the decade’s second half by something like the Victory Riots that follow sports championships.

When I read this, I recalled a post at Chris Roach's blog where he quoted Alexis de Tocqueville. I think it fits your observation.

I”m reminded of Tocqueville’s remarks on why times of progress–such as the material and legal progress of black Americans since the 1960s–often do not create greater comity and social solidarity, but rather increased resentments and friction by the erstwhile oppressed:

"Going from bad to worse does not always mean a slide into revolution. More often than not, it occurs when a nation which has endured without complaint–almost without feeling them–the most burdensome laws rejects them with violence the moment the weight of them lightens. The regime destroyed by a revolution is almost always better than the one that immediately preceded it and experience teaches us that the most hazardous moment for a bad government is normally when it is beginning to reform. Only a great genius can save a rule who is setting out to relieve his subjects’ suffering after a long period of oppression. The evils, patiently endured as inevitable, seem unbearable as soon as the idea of excaping them is conceived."

Anonymous said...

Perhaps.
Then again, the peak years of the Baby Boom in the United States were later than one might realize. Births didn't cross the 4 million level until 1954 and stayed above that level for a decade. People born during that stretch were too young to have had much if any impact on the national zeitgeist in the 1960's.

If we are to consider 1968 and 1969 as the peak years of the 1960's, and assume young people under age 18 wouldn't have had much effect on the cultural/political/social scene, it's really just the those born in the late 1940's and maybe the first couple of years of the 1950's who were the real movers and shakers, as it were. Their numbers weren't nearly as high as those of people born later in the Baby Boom.


Abbie Hoffman wasn't even a baby boomer. He was born in 1936. And I thought the 60s kids weren't supposed to trust anyone over 30.

candid_observer said...

I think that an era like the sixties was pretty inevitable, and at its core was the rejection of religion as defining right and wrong, and the full embrace of secularism, at least among a very good portion of the youth of the time.

Once the strictures of religion are discarded, a rather random search through different ways of living one's life is the next logical step. Why not drugs? Why not free love? Why patriotism? Why follow authority?

New mistakes needed to be made.

Vendikar said...

I've always traced "The Real 60s" from 8/8/1962 to 8/8/1974.


The burial of Marilyn Monroe to the political burial of Nixon.

Anonymous said...

"Daniel Cohn-Bendit"

He was not a thinker but an agitator running with the ideas of others.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the 60s happen earlier? Wasn't there something like the 60s during the Jazz Age? It was good times after WWI, especially with stock market boom in the US. Europe was more depressed, but even Germany was able to borrow tons of money and keep their economy afloat. Weimar Period was pretty wild and creative.
And there were lots of hedonism during the Jazz Age. And Hollywood movies before the code were getting a bit racy and raunchy. And gangsters were becoming heroes and celebrities. Of course, the middle class wasn't big enough and youth consciousness was, as yet, nonexistent, but those were wild times when people were willing to try out new things. Boom times.

But then came the stock market crash of 29. Hard times sobered people up. Fun times were over. America got more moralistic. So did Germany, especially with the rise of Nazism. And then came WWII. So, from 1929 to 1945, the world got very dark, sober, and frightful. Not a time for social experimentation.
And after the war, there was a lot of rebuilding to do. Though American economy was booming in the postwar era, people had memories and scars of the old times. They played it safe, and this was true of liberals as well as conservatives. But as wealth, freedom, and good times expanded, people loosened up and their kids were allowed unprecedented freedoms(and spending money too). And then freedoms of all kinds built and built until it reached the critical mass that created the 60s.

Anonymous said...

If any theme dominated the 60s, it was freedom, and so, we need to consider how it came about.

There are several factors/forces that hold back unfettered freedom. Laws, taboos/community pressure, social conventions and values, means, attitudes, prejudice.

Laws can prohibit certain things.
Taboos suppress certain expressions and acts even if they are not illegal. For example, there is a taboo against burping and breaking wind. It's not against the law, but most people don't do it because it's considered embarrassing to do so in public. Like dogs, humans are products of obedience schools that teach certain manners and taboos, but if such social control weakens or goes out of favor, things can grow wild pretty fast.

Means also limit behavior. If most people don't have much money, they are gonna spend it carefully on basic needs. If your means are limited, you're gonna spend it on rent and food than record albums and rock concerts.

What led to the 60s were the weakening or abolishment of laws and taboos that had held back certain kinds of behavior, expressions, and deeds. Also, the rising means among the populace allowed more people, especially the young, to do more stuff. Woodstock wouldn't have happened if so many kids didn't have their own cars and could afford gas to drive all the way to Ny. The highways allowed for greater and faster travel, gas was cheap, and car ownership was rising even among the young; or they borrowed their parents' cars, and some parents were crazy enough to lend their cars to their kids. In The Graduate, the parents even buy their son a sports car as graduation gift. Benjamin Braddock couldn't have pulled off his crazy stuff if he had no car.
And kids had their own rooms and even own tv and own stereos and own record collections.

Laws against racial discrimination were abolished. (This seemed only just in the name of social equality, but as it happened, blacks are naturally wilder and more aggressive if allowed full freedom.) And other laws restricting freedom of speech and expression were also ended. It was getting more difficult to drag people to court on obscenity charges, and so writers, artists, comedians, and etc got bolder.

So, that allowed greater freedom of movement and expression.
Even so, things didn't change overnight since social conventions and taboos still existed. And there were certain social controls outside the law. I don't think there had been a federal law that prohibited Hollywood from using F words, gory violence, and nudity, but there was an understanding between Hollywood and Catholic League and other organizations that the movie/Tv industry would be socially responsible. That agreement dissolved by the early 60s. One thing led to another, like in an avalanche.

Anonymous said...

In the early days of more freedom, newer expressions had a kind of intellectual cachet since artists were pushing for in the service of truer/better art. So, nudity was championed in European art films as artistically necessary. And Psycho was defended by Sarris as artistically significant. Bonnie and Clyde really blew the door wide open with blood splattering violence, but critics defended it as artistically relevant, and then came the Wild Bunch and Clockwork Orange. One thing led to another. The strangest cultural phenom was maybe the Exorcist, the most gory and perverse-looking movie ever made--up to that time--but defended by the Catholic Church as spiritually uplifting. Funny that. Catholic groups had been railing against such violence and gore, but when a film used that stuff to romanticize priests battling the devil, it was suddenly Okay.

People are likely to blame leftism for the 60s, but if so, why were the USSR and Red China relatively puritanical and repressive in the 60s? 60s libertinism and hedonism owes more to the logic of capitalism and democracy. But since man doesn't live on bread alone, young people sought meaning by grabbing onto radical ideologies, and so, as Godard said, the generation of Marx and Coca-Cola--brilliantly portrayed in Maculin-Feminin.

In a way, the 60s were irresistible since freedom is irresistible--until it grows so out of control that people long for order(which led to the election of Nixon and later Reagan).
Even conservatives who were offended and outraged by the increasing vulgarity, lewdness, and libertinism of the 60s had to admit it opened the door to lots of fun, entertaining, and thrilling stuff. More freedom allowed movies like Dr. Strangelove, Bonnie and Clyde, Wild Bunch, French Connection, Dirty Harry, Midnight Cowboy, Harold and Maude, The Godfather(with violence and language that wouldn't have been allowed in the 50s), and much else. And rock music. Even conservatives found themselves liking the music of Beatles, Stones, Who, Grateful Dead, Dylan, and etc. It sure beat the Ballad of the Green Beret and same old When the Moon hits the eye like a pizza pie that's amore or something like that. Or Andrew Sisters for heaven's sake. I recall when Closing of the American Mind came out, some conservative guy who wrote for the Dartmouth Review said he agreed with Bloom on everything but the Rolling Stones. Stones were great!! And even Ann Coulter loves the Dead. Irresistible freedom and cool stuff. I still get a kick out of Easy Rider, and Pat Buchanan says in Right from the Beginning that the anti-establishment movie Cool Hand Luke is one of his favorites.

There were new ideas and expressions about everything in the 60s, and one was either on the side of more freedom to express more ideas or less freedom. Naturally, a people in a booming economy with more money spend and more leisure time wanted more freedom and more choices. They didn't want anyone telling them they couldn't see this, read this, listen to this.
So, the dam of freedom burst.

Many people were worried that all these freedoms and loss of inhibitions would lead to social chaos and anarchy--and they had the right to worry--, but the fact is most people got used to expecting more freedom.

Anonymous said...



And with fading taboos on many subjects--sex, radical politics, attitudes, and etc--, there was a sudden explosion of new kinds of behavior. And given the way of human nature, it wasn't difficult to predict where it would go.
People are NATURALLY driven by instincts of sex, aggression, will to power, pleasure, laziness, and irresponsibility. So, once the laws and taboos were eased on human behavior, naturally there was gonna be more f---ing, fighting, partying, doping, moping, and acting like a tard. But hey, it was fun. And in a way, not all parents were opposed to their kids having fun. Many parents who'd grown up in tougher times wanted their kids to enjoy their youth and find meaning than just dive right into adulthood and responsibility. It's like Mr. Robinson tells Ben Braddock to sow his wild oates after graduation. Of course, he regretted it later but that's another story.

Dam holds the water, but if you make holes in the dam and if it breaks, it's easy to predict what will happen. Water is gonna flow down. American freedom used to dammed by laws, taboos, conventions, greater means, pressures of all kind. They began to weaken and the dam burst in the 60s.
Taboos on race and sex were weakened by rock n roll and race music and that stuff.
And increased means(wealth and spending power) meant young people could put off the future and do their own stuff and follow their own dream. But then, adults were looking for fun stuff too. Peckinpah and Kael weren't exactly youngsters when they wrote outrageous criticism or made outrageous movies in the 60s.

Also, youth culture changed very quickly since youth didn't last long. Adult culture could last for decades, from late 20s to old age. Youth culture lasted from 14 to 20. So, prior to the rise of youth culture, someone could go from the 1940 to 1960 listening to the same musical artist like Frank Sinatra. Youth culture didn't work that way. The culture of mid 50s youth had to give way to culture of late 50s youth which had to give way to culture of early 60s youth which had to give way to culture of mid 60s youth which had to give way to culture of late 60s youth and so on. And artists who wanted to survive had to be mindful of this trend. Sinatra pretty much sang the same kind of songs from 1940s to the day he died. But Beatles drastically changed from early 60s to mid 60s to late 60s. So did Stones, Dylan, Who, and etc. You had to swim with the tide or sink like a stone for the times they were a changing. (This was probably one reason why 60s radicalism failed. It kept changing too fast. It went from Castro-ism to Maoism to Black Pantherism to feminism to gayism, etc. Radicalism only gained power in the late 80s when the boomers become entrenched in institutions and carefully enforced their ideas on the all of society.)

Anonymous said...



When a dam bursts, it makes a tremendous display of its power but eventually the water flows and ebbs away, and that seems to have happened by the late 60s and early 70s. The thrill was gone, and the 60s kids had to grow up and find jobs and couldn't rely on parental allowance anymore. And there were too many bad trips, and the draft ended. And too many blacks were beating up white folks. So, by the time the greatest political triumph for liberals came in the early 70s with the downfall of Nixon, liberals were too tired to cash in on it. Despite the Watergate scandal hanging over the GOP, Carter just barely defeated Ford. The era of retrenchment took hold.

The power of taboos can be understood by considering what happened in the late 80s. Having worked as a video clerk, I know can attest to this especially well. There was no law banning interracial stuff in movies, music, and tv in the 80s, but it was one of those unspoken taboos. And anyone who worked in video stores in late 80s and 90s knows what happened. A huge revolution took place with rise of hip hop, the movie Jungle Fever which broke the dam on interracial stuff in movies and tv, and the advent of interracial porn. There was maybe a handful of interracial porn at the video store I worked at up to the late 80s and then a sudden flood of them. And then, suddenly just about every soap opera had to have interracial stuff.
But why did this happen? Why this explosion of black male/white female stuff in movies, music, and etc? Partly because the powers-that-be promoted it but also because it was the natural outcome of human nature if let loose from taboos. If human sexual nature favors the mating of toughest male with prettiest female, the breakdown of racial/sexual taboos could only lead to black male and white female interracialism. And so, we now have Obama, the product of mating of black man and white woman.

Similarly, the weakening of certain laws and taboos finally broke the dam in the 60s and unleashed a storm of social and political energies. And the boom times expanded the means of the people. And welfare checks allowed black people to work less and spend more time on fun stuff, and that led to a lot of craziness. Black women, who used to be too busy working as maids in the 40s and 50s were having kids and watching TV and shaking their butts while feeding off foodstamps.

Michael Medved's book What happened to the Class of 65 is interesting and may answer some of the questions.
http://www.amazon.com/What-Really-Happened-Class-65/dp/0394400747

The movie Four Friends is kinda retarded but interesting on the topic of the 60s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kktCZJpS464

And the movie Diner... the 50s before the great fall. But the signs of things to come are there.
I love the argument about Sinatra, Mathis, and Elvis.

Anonymous said...

Partly because the powers-that-be promoted it but also because it was the natural outcome of human nature if let loose from taboos. If human sexual nature favors the mating of toughest male with prettiest female, the breakdown of racial/sexual taboos could only lead to black male and white female interracialism - (The commenter formerly known as 'Angela Freiboden' I believe)

Yet interracial couples are still less common than they 'should' be.

IHTG said...

LOL at all the passive-aggressive comments from Anonymous posters.

Come on guys, just spit it out.

sunbeam said...

Anonymous said:

"There was maybe a handful of interracial porn at the video store I worked at up to the late 80s and then a sudden flood of them."

Look I don't know squat about porn other than that I have somehow acquired the names of famous porn stars in my memory bank (John Holmes, Ginger Lynn, Linda Lovelace, etc.)

I'm curious as to the context of this interracial porn.

Just as a guess:

1) Zero Asian Men
2) Zero Hispanic Men?
3) Mostly Black Male/White Female?
4) White Men/Asian Women?
5) White Men/Black Women?

Also who was renting this stuff? Black Men? Or White Men? Hispanic or Asian Men (West Coast thing I guess).

Because I also have the assumption most porn at the video store was rented by men.

Cail Corishev said...

"I think "the 60's" can be explained by communist propaganda."

That relates to Steve's other post about Vatican II, because the communists worked hard to infiltrate the Catholic Church, as they did with other important organizations. Bella Dodd alone claimed to have gotten over a thousand communist sympathizers into the seminaries. That was in the 1930s and 40s, so they were in positions of power by the time of Vatican II.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the central role played by California had something to do with histo-geography, namely that California was the furthest frontier of the advanced world.
The old world of Europe was steeped in ancient traditions and roots.
The East Coast of America had its own old roots going back to the pilgrims. And the South became rooted in plantation economy and mindset. There wasn't much to do in the midwest but farm and slaughter hogs as the land was mostly flat. And it too was settled long before the West Coast.
West Coast was the youngest part of Western Civilization. It was part of the advanced world but also separate from it. It was like the new world within the new world. People in the East went west to find new stuff and once they reached California, the new was to be found in the imagination.
This may explain why some of the most independent spirits came out of California. Pauline Kael had roots in California. So did her friend Sam Peckinpah. Neither were hippies but tended to be bolder and more pioneer-spirited than others of their kind in other parts of the nation.
This goes for Ken Kesey too though his formative home was in Oregon. But again, it was relatively new territory without deep roots. One could be what one wanted to make of oneself.

They were part of and connected to the advanced world but also independent of its social/cultural controls. They had access to the advantages of the modern world without being anchored to its conventions.
And this goes for George Lucas too. His movies are about fascination with technology as vehicle/instrument of limitless freedom(travel at light speed!)and fear of technology as the prisoner of the human soul(Annakin turned into Darth Vader). Lucas loved fast cars but feared the technological prison. THX 1138 is about a guy trapped in such prison and he breaks free by speeding away in a race car.

And California gave the GOP a new life with Reagan, a sunny kind of conservative who promised the future than crusty conservatives of the East Coast and South. He was no hippie but he was also playing on the theme of 'best is yet to be' or something.

Then how ironic that California, the place where Americans went for more freedom, more opportunity, and to start afresh, eventually became the place of statism, regulations, and etc.

California was also a world unto its own. Just on its own, it would have just about everything. It has great farmlands, great mountains, great nature, great seashore, great cities, great industry, and etc.
Most states have something but not everything. Iowa has farmlands but not much else. Utah has mountains and deserts and not much else. Texas has oil and flatlands but not much else. California has everything, and on its own, could almost be an ideal nation-state with something for everyone.

The Legendary Linda said...

Nearly a hundred comments and no one has mentioned the obvious: The Flynn Effect

With higher IQ's, kids were questioning authority, religion, and taboos and with superior moral reasoning, were empathizing with the oppressed whether they were African Americans or poor Vietnamese civilians.

The 60s didn't happen earlier because not enough people had previously reached the required intelligence level for such movements to reach critical mass.

Anonymous said...

The first heavy metal hit song was by a rock band named Steppenwolf.

If you mean "Born To Be Wild", that was the first rock song with the words "heavy metal" in its lyrics. BTBW was by no means heavy metal itself.

Anonymous said...

I have some of my own theories on what caused the Sixties (the cultural phenomenon as opposed to the chronologic decade of the 1960s.)

I'll expound one here: TV. Specifically, black and white TV.

Huh?

It is difficult for modern people to appreciate that television started out as black and white, and for many people with middle class budgets, remained that way for over a decade. So there was a generation whose formative years were spent watching hours and hours of black and white moving images.

All that exposure to monochromatic images must have had some effect on the developing mind. I'll call it "colour hunger". It affected a whole generation of kids, literally made them hungry for colour, and was one of many causes of the Sixties.

Modern art, op-art, psychedelia, Warhol, beatnik art - all symptoms of colour hunger. Acid trips made up for all those hours staring at a colourless screen. Add to that exoticism, orientalism, and tropicalism. There is a reason the tropics are so colourful as opposed to the "boring, leaden" temperate West; plants have more energy to put into pigments.

Anonymous said...

"With higher IQ's, kids were questioning authority, religion, and taboos and with superior moral reasoning, were empathizing with the oppressed whether they were African Americans or poor Vietnamese civilians."

But they weren't doing it intelligently.

'All You Need Is Love' is intelligent?
It was an era of slogans, not thought.

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhabYduqQ_A

Anonymous said...

Is California Teenager the offspring of surfer dude and hippie chick?

Anonymous said...

"I'll expound one here: TV. Specifically, black and white TV."

I like it, I like it. But people had been watching tons of mostly b/w movies since the 1910s. And listening mostly to mono recording. So, 60s shoulda happened earlier.

Maybe it did. Wizard of Oz was the first psychedelic movie, esp when b/w turns to color.

Then, there was Fantasia and Alice in Wonderland.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOEq-ImGWJ0

LOOK, DOROTHY HAS THE MUNCHIES.

Anonymous said...

I like it, I like it. But people had been watching tons of mostly b/w movies since the 1910s. And listening mostly to mono recording. So, 60s shoulda happened earlier.

Movies and TV are not the same.

Having a television set at home meant having the ability to watch hours and hours of programming on end, without paying anything more than the cost of the box, or doing anything special. People did their homework and housework with one eye on the screen.

Movies meant going to the theatre. It was possible to buy a projector and buy/rent the movies, but that was expensive. Mostly the "buy/rent" the movies part. Home projectors were for home movies, unless your name was Howard Hughes.

Mr. Anon said...

"The Legendary Linda said...

The 60s didn't happen earlier because not enough people had previously reached the required intelligence level for such movements to reach critical mass."

I don't think that an increase in intelligence explains the proliferation of new-agey beliefs (most of which started in the 60s if not before) or people sharing tooth-brushes in communes.

Truth said...

"I don't think that an increase in intelligence explains the proliferation of new-agey beliefs"

Do tell, G., you were just about bringing your dissertation to committee back then, weren't you?

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the 60s happen earlier? Wasn't there something like the 60s during the Jazz Age? It was good times after WWI, especially with stock market boom in the US..... And there were lots of hedonism during the Jazz Age.... Boom times. But then came the stock market crash of 29. Hard times sobered people up. Fun times were over. America got more moralistic. So did Germany, especially with the rise of Nazism. And then came WWII.

How about right before WWI? There was both an economic boom and a baby boom in the Western world, or least the Anglo-Saxon one. It was a time of post-Victorian experimentation, and general confidence and "good times". Communism, socialism, anarchism, and other "alternative" politics became popular.

But WWI happened. Bummer!

If not for WWI and the 1918 Flu, there could have been a mini-Sixties then. More likely than in a Depression-less 1930s.

The Legendary Linda said...


I don't think that an increase in intelligence explains the proliferation of new-agey beliefs (most of which started in the 60s if not before) or people sharing tooth-brushes in communes


Compared to conventional Western religion, new-agey beliefs are very intelligent. Christopher Langen (declared the smartest man in America by the Mega Test) is a huge proponent of Eastern style spirituality, even claiming to have mathematical proof

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5HgghQB6YE

Why 60s happened. The generation gap.

cmcoct said...

Maybe the perceived view is right: the 60's happened after (and largely because of) the JFK assassination.

Someday you'll have to really wrestle with that conspiracy, Steve. You're too smart to keep recycling old Jackie quotes. Ted Sorensen wrote in his last memoir Jackie never believed that Oswald did it.

The FBI director warned the State Department in writing during the Eisenhower era of an Oswald imposter in the USSR.

CIA officers under oath admitted in 1995 that the agency had an operational interest in Oswald two months before the assassination.

The FBI director told the President 22 hours after the assassination that Oswald was impersonated two months before while in Mexico City.

President Gerald Ford said on tv that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren deliberately altered the stenographic record of the proceedings of the Warren Commission to hide the doubts of the members themselves about their own key conclusions.

When Senator(and Warren Commission member)Richard Russell told President Johnson that he never believed "that bullet business" (referring to the magic bullet theory), Johnson replied "me neither."


The autopsy was deliberately botched, and invaluable primary evidence, including the autopsy notes and the first draft, were purposely destroyed by Dr. Humes, but only after Oswald was dead.

Substantive, material changes were made to the final, undated autopsy report now extant by persons unknown and for reasons unknown.

The former director of the CIA informed the Commission that intelligence agents would and should lie under oath about any relationship with Oswald.

The Dallas Chief of Police wrote that the Dallas PD never had any evidence that Oswald really was in that window.

Haldeman wrote that Nixon believed that a true investigation of the Watergate burglary would ultimately reveal a Dallas conspiracy. Why the CIA did agree to mislead the FBI on the investigation of that break-in has never been even remotely explained.

Steve, I don't know who did it or why, but you don't either. There is not now, nor was there ever, any reason to believe the 1964 Warren Commission conclusions.

You keep telling us that "Knowlegde is Good" and that Truth is better than Falsehood.

You're right.

Please stop repeating the hoary old conclusion that LHO did it, and there's nothing else there. To write that requires a leap of faith of biblical proportions.

To examine the actual evidence (not the movie JFK) carefully is time-consuming and really hard, but you can do it. Ultimately it won't shatter your worldview; it will re-inforce it.

You're a great writer and thinker. You're better than this.

sunbeam said...

At this point why does it matter exactly?

All the people involved are either dead or in a nursing home.

All you would get from "exposing" the conspiracy is to get people to believe that conspiracies can exist, and do things like assassinate people.

Most people believe that already in my opinion. Some people don't, and never will even if something did come out.

So as of now I'd say it is only of interest to historians and people who write books.

Anonymous said...

Compared to conventional Western religion, new-agey beliefs are very intelligent. Christopher Langen (declared the smartest man in America by the Mega Test) is a huge proponent of Eastern style spirituality, even claiming to have mathematical proof

It would help if you were more precise what you mean by "new agey". There is a big difference between authentic Eastern religion and what you see at a New Age bookstore. The former is quite unpopular in America because of the cultural gap and effort required. Zen Buddhism is not easy.

Anonymous said...

How big was the Kennedy factor? Would Kennedy have escalated the war? Would the media have been more supportive if he'd been president?
Maybe.

During Bush, there was lots of anti-war noise. Much media hostility.
Under Obamalot, shhhhhhh. Where are anti-war protesters? Where is dissent?

Maybe many in the media really did believe that their liberal king had been assassinated by a conspiracy, and so, it was their duty to oppose the social order.

How big was the drug factor? Suppose LSD hadn't been around?
Would 60s have been different?
Suppose British invasion didn't happen. What would rock music have been like?

Suppose Jewish power/intellect hadn't been anything special. How would 60s have been different?

Suppose blacks weren't any more badass than whites. Suppose there were no figures like Muhammad Ali and King with booming voice and charisma. Would the civil rights thing have been milder?

Anonymous said...

This whole business of associating an age with its young people is misleading. While young people are full of energy, they are followers than leaders of an era.

Greatest generation had no power in the 30s and 40s. They were growing up and doing as they were told. They were soldiers being ordered into combat by much older men.
GG really gained power in the late 50s and 60s.
And boomers, though they made a lot of noise, really didn't have much power in the 60s. They were led by older people who set most of the agenda, policies, trends, and etc.
Timothy Leary, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, Sarris, Kael, Kubrick, Nichols, Penn, Altman, Vidal, Buckley, Russ Meyer, Cassaveets, Malcolm X, King, Ali, Kennedy, and etc were all pre-boomer.

Boomers really gained power beginning in the 80s, triumphing with Clinton's presidency in 92. `
So, in terms of real power and influence, 80s and 90s are the boomer decades.

Anonymous said...

"Haldeman wrote that Nixon believed that a true investigation of the Watergate burglary would ultimately reveal a Dallas conspiracy. Why the CIA did agree to mislead the FBI on the investigation of that break-in has never been even remotely explained."

I think there were all sorts of plots being discussed, but no one was really willing to go all the way and do it. Oswald infiltrated the far-right crowd to play a kind of game of Yojimbo. He hated American government and the far-right, and so, he figured he would play them against one another.
But most people saw him as a loser and told him to get lost, and so, he got all sore and did it his way.


I think Ruby was ordered to kill Oswald because the mob SUSPECTED that Oswald had been ordered to kill Kennedy by either mafia or those connected to the mafia(Cubans), and so, they feared an investigation. Or, the mafia feared that Oswald, a looney, would make up stuff about mafia connections that didn't exist and bring heat on the mob.

But in fact, Oswald did it on his own.

Anonymous said...

It would have been better for the Right in the long run if Kennedy and King hadn't been killed. Kennedy would have had big problems, and King would have become just another Jesse Jackson or Sharpton.

TrialLawyerandSkeptic, LLP said...

"cmcoct said

Please stop repeating the hoary old conclusion that LHO did it, and there's nothing else there. To write that requires a leap of faith of biblical proportions.

To examine the actual evidence (not the movie JFK) carefully is time-consuming and really hard, but you can do it. Ultimately it won't shatter your worldview; it will re-inforce it.

You're a great writer and thinker. You're better than this."

Well said Sir! Thank you. As a long time reader of Steve, and a big fan of his writing ... I must say that when I read him repeating the same hoary old chestnuts about LHO it makes me wince a little.

Steve is better than that ...(maybe the best writer on the web in fact...) and even though most of the players are dead or soon will be the truth is more important than people might think.

I don't think we can fully understand the phenomenon of the 1960s, or get a complete picture, until the mystery surrounding JFK's death is resolved.

I have my own ideas as I am sure many of Steve's readers do.

However, I would love to see Steve dig into the topic and show us his own conclusions or even just his observations.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yUSGvm4BXA

Maybe this song gives us a clue.
People need some kind of faith and 'truth', and old 'gods' were fading fast in the late 50s and 60s, and there was great hunger for new substitute gods. And they were drugs, free love, rock stars, civil rights, ali, 'peace' and 'love'.
But new gods burned out too.

But gradually, a new batch of gods did arise since, and these new gods--esp mlk myth--have unified the nation again.

Anonymous said...

What caused the War on Christmas?

Anonymous said...

What caused the War on Christmas?


Pretty sure it was Phillip Larkin getting laid.