Hippies’ culture and development of subcultures on the mainstream American culture in the 1960s influenced the popular American culture. Emergence of the hippie subculture has left a lasting legacy on various aspects of the American culture such as the music, clothing, hairstyles, anti-war and anti re-establishment activism and the attitude towards sex and drugs. The contemporary lasting legacy due to hippies’ attitudes and involvement in politics, sexual behavior and music has a lasting influence on the modern American life. These subcultures have had a lasting effect on the American mainstream American culture, due to their counter culture beliefs. The hippie subculture was developed in the 1960s through formulation of some of the public and private rituals. It was a term developed and derogatory used by the veteran hipsters towards newly recruited hipsters.
The hippies group developed through traversing into influential groups in the society like the street looming house people, family Dog commune and the red-dog saloon gang. In their development, they received more press coverage, which expanded their popularity among the people. The emergence of these groups led to the formulation of the hippie dance costume and the oral traditions. This paper seeks to evaluate the survivalist counterculture of the hippie subculture and their effect on the mainstream American culture. This will extend to their perspective on their oral tradition, fashion, politics and their re-establishment activism. The hippie sub culture presented a counter culture and counter ideology, which were represented through more coverage in the social and political events. The society reaction to the development of the hippie subculture and increased media coverage amplified the counter ideology represented by the hippie subculture. The followers of the hippie subculture were educated with literacy skills, which facilitated the use of vocabularies articulately in presenting of their counter-ideology to the educated working class.
The contradiction of this sub culture with the mainstream American culture came into the lime light in the summer love of 1966, where the culture advocated for spontaneous friendship and friendship. Music and dance was done on the streets in the hippie districts with increased fairly tales of romanticism. The survivalist hippie subculture introduced counter ideologies, which were health hazardous in the society. This resulted to police harassment and exploitation off the people by the landlords. This shows the counter ideologies represented by the hippie sub cultural, which have affected the modern American culture substantially. They developed their own political beliefs and ideologies where they appointed their police officers, judge and executioners.
In the hippie subculture self glorification was a major part of this drop out community, which had been cultivated by increased use of drugs and adoption of the new life style. There was a suffusion of superiority illusion among the hippie subculture in their identity to the new culture. According to the hippies “existence of differences of the normal society and the hippie sub culture meant that the subculture had a superior way of life and superior insights in the nature of the universe” (Miller, 26).
The hippie sub culture advocated for an individualistic approach to politics and increased use of art in looking for solutions. They overlooked the availability of a political solution through involvement of relationships in the political economy. The hippie subculture had the hazy belief that art had the power to change the world and liberalism approach to the political world. These advocacies were enforced by the belief that revolution in the political scene and the society would only begin in an individual rather than the society. Art and music was the major source of inspiration to the hippie sub culture, and it became commercially viable, which was transformed into a commodity for the larger society. “This was due to the introduction of the rock n roll in San Francisco and increased pornographic films syndicates, which were produced massively” (Powe-Temperley, 12).
This subculture of the hippie was divided into two, which included the mystic and politicos. The classification of the politicos involved the combination of new politics and lifestyles while combating the old Puritanism political approach. The hippie subculture was substantially involved in the community and patriarchy politics, which largely involved individualism. “They developed a new mode of expression, which was a counter culture and counter ideological rather than the political movement” (Wolfe, 7). The hippie culture was a shift from the patristic instrumental culture to an artistic, expressive culture, which resulted to a cultural gap. The hippie values and beliefs represented an emotionally and rationally difference from the expectation of the parents. One of the major counter ideologies among the hippies was the use of drugs especially the hallucinogenic like the LCDs. Less emphasis was put on education and academic qualification among the hippies; this was due to development of conceptualization that academic qualifications were just mere experimentation in life. The hippie subculture is a representation of the overlapping of communities’ values putting more emphasis on leisure rather than production in the economy. This represented a shift from production oriented economy to consumption oriented with a shift of the middle consumers who emphasized on autonomy and individualism. “Hippies were not concerned about the materialistic development of the economy but lived their life on the basis of the welfare system in consumption of surplus and wage through the provision of labor” (Stone, 29).
The popularity of the hippie culture was the development of music and lyrics while the media houses promoted the music. Small business such as craft shops and restaurant were run by the people collectively and depended largely on wages provided. Health hazardous behaviors prevailed among the hippies, such as cruel sexual exploitation, violence and rape. “There were several areas where the hippies inhabited in the United States of America” (Miller, 17). However, the most common areas inhabited by the hippies included the San Francisco Haight-Ashbury and in New York in the Greenwich Village. However, “these hippies counter culture and ideologies flourished across the country, and the idea that San Francisco was the epicenter of the hippie movement was only developed, since in Haight-Ashbury the media coverage was higher than other areas” (Kawakami, 9).
The hippies’ culture, which emerged in the 1960s, followed the counter culture movement of referred to as the beat generation. It emerged from what some researchers refer to as the cold war hysteria, which swept across America (Jedick, 32). The social environment had become exceedingly conservative and oppressive with various government directives to censor artistic design and oral literature and other form of expression. There was a rise in consumerism among the Americans, which was a social complex phenomenon affiliated with obsession for material gain. This resulted to the rise of rebellious movement by young people called the Beat generation popularly referred to as ‘Beatniks’. They advocated for liberalism in both politics and lifestyle from the common norm perspective of the society. In addition, the counter culture was supported by various groups in society, such as students’ activists’ anarchist groups and civil right groups like black panthers. All the groups merged to form the hippie culture, which was a departure from the normal culture with the development of counter cultures and ideologies. “This has led to development of uncertainties of the future of the American culture with increased counter culture revolutions” (Issitt, 19).
The hippie counter culture ideologies were blended with political activism, which included antiwar protests in campuses and streets. This heightened the environment of anti-establishment with development of attitudes and lifestyles blend in cultural and political liberalism. This counter culture beliefs offered the young people an affluent free style life, where they could be free from education and parent control. The counter culture represented another perspective of life and society different from what had been represented by the intellectuals. The counter culture arguments differed with the moral teaching of the parents. Increased violent confrontations of the counter culture supporters with the law enforcement authorities became the common practice in the counter culture era. The law enforcement officers became the lexicon of the counter culture proponents, since corruption among the police officers increased. In addition, the police could always indict false evidence entrap the proponents of the counter culture in drug cases. The counter culture supporters were against the Vietnam War disillusioned the young people who were the majority in the counter culture proponents. Majority of the counter culture proponents became an activist for the plight of the poor in the country. The proponents of the counter culture in the United States of America increased the use an abuse of drugs. “This represented a moral decay according to the parents while the young people saw this as an opportunity for freedom from the society order” (Blumenthal, 30).
The culture of the hippies is one of the oldest cultures known to exist. It can be traced back in the Ancient Greek traditions. The culture of the hippies to a certain extent is a combination of the Jesus Christ, Buddha, Hillel the Elder, Mazadak, Henry David Thoreau, St Francis of Assisi, and Gandhi. The culture of the hippies were first known as proto-hippies. In the year 1896 and the year 1908, the youth culture called the Der Wandervogel and moved to Europe and then to American. The culture of the hippies can be described from the around mid 1960s in America. Small group of young people in the mid-1960 can trace the history of the hippies back from the United States where it was formed. The hippies’ culture was easily recognizable because of their different hairstyle, dress code and the way they communicate with each other. A hippie follower could be easily recognized by their clothes with bright colors with inclusions of the Native American, Indian, Asian, Latin American or African motifs. The community of the hippies wore jeans, and they kept long hair. Most of the hippies have an average age of 15 and 25. They was mostly white middle-classed American, and they could believe that the society was not understanding them. Many of the hippies did not any activity to earn their living nor did they go to church. They wanted to just to do their own activities and liked to participate in sexual issues freely. The culture of hippies believed so much on the wearing of the sandals or rather wearing shoes that could allow proper breathing of various parts of their body. The community to a certain extent walking bear footed and always had the nomadic life style. The culture of the hippies’ people had no social interaction restriction. People were allowed to interact freely with all people whether naked or not and could choice their life the way they want it to be. Hippies restricted people from any religious activities, because the community aimed at higher spiritual experience. The community reached its highest peak of issues at around 1966 in America during the summer of the festival of love. The cerebrations were held in the St Francisco, and it was estimated that around 100000 people attended the festival. Many people attended the cerebration with flowers in their hair. At the end of the session, majority of people who attended become homeless, increasing the war and the quarrel with the law.
Summer of Love
The summer of love was held in 1967 and organized by Michael Bowen. The later helped in popularizing the culture of the hippies in the United States. Many of the hippies attended the function as stated above and introduced the rock music that marked the start the summer of love. “The main speakers during the summer love were the leaders of the burgeoning Cultural Revolution like the Allen Ginsberg, Richard Alpert who later become the Baba Ram Dass, Dick Gregory who was a comedian, Jerry Rubin, Gary Snyder and Timothy Leary. The wine during the party was in pretty and cheaply served to people” (Jedick et al, 21).
Politics and Hippies
The new left and hippies’ community had some overlapping issues. The two cultures shared the most of the enemies in that most of the hippies’ enemies were also enemies of the new left. The people, which followed the culture of the new left, valued the socialist state and represented many of the community, which required political and economic movements and were ready to use all means to gain it. The community did not oppose the government nor the laws of the country but was only against the capitalist government and law. “Hippies believed that they will be able to change the whole population through one person at time” (Jedick et al, 30). They planned to impact change in the institution and consciousness and the idea of the counterculture before they allowed Age of Aquarius to dominate. In the Age of Aquarius hippies were so much dominated by love and co-operation that it replaced the stereotypical issues of war and competition, which manifested in the community. The community of the hippies believed that if the community of the new left, which consisted of the white ideological, believes was allowed to have the power to lead, and then their community would be the first to be wound up. Rubin, one of the hippies’ followers, believed that, if the new left came into power, the hippies’ people would be forced to cut their hair short every week. “The authority would also not entertain the dirty word spoken by the community and many of the hippies’ people would find themselves in jail for the most of their activities would be considered illegal” (Jedick et al, 23).
Drugs and Spirituality
Hippies’ people made use of LSD and the cannabis to protect themselves from the questions of the people in the society. Many of them did not worry about taking drugs, since this was their way of life. The hippies community believed that the time believed that the years of the oppression we long gone and people required the freedom to live in the social world. “Many of the hippies believed that by taking drugs they would be able to be in contact with the spiritual side that is hidden underneath some layers of programmed behaviors” (Blumenthal,30). The community wanted to have a mind, which will be able to hold parts of consciousness that will enable them to have spiritual identity and enable them to be independent of the cultural and social background. In addition, “hippies believed that society prohibited things that were pleasurable with simple reason that pleasure was equal to sin and wanted to protect people from the sin” (Kawakami,19). However, hippies believed that those prohibitions put by the society had no basis and were just meant to protect people from enjoying what is rightfully theirs. Hippies’ people used various drugs such as the marijuana, mescaline, psilocybin, the LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). Many of this people did this to escape from reality, and were able to concentrate on what they believed was right for them. Some of the hippies went further and used amphetamines and opiates, but many people who had used them before looked down upon them because they were harmful and it was not easy for a person to stop them once you start (Blumenthal, 09).
Effects of the Movement
Many of the people who followed hippies movements were student from colleges who were so much happy the activities about activities being done by the group. “Many of the colleges where these activities tied to introduced by the student did not give them space but rather most of them were threatened with expulsion and criminal records” (Wolfe,24). These ideas that they claimed wanted to express could not be tolerated. Moreover, the movement of the hippies brought many changes in the society, and many freedoms being enjoyed today were because of the persistent of the group. More importantly, hippies strongly support the idea of breastfeeding that did put a lot weight on the commercialized baby formula. The opinion of the hippies people was later proven by scientist be very healthier for both the child and the mother. It is currently believed that if the society accepted what the hippies wanted to be follow, the current problems that the society is facing could not be there. Problems like the social issues and the environment (Blumenthal, 12).
Most of the hippies were musicianand many of them composed and wrote music. Hippies expressed their thought, feeling, beliefs and ideas through music. The hippies’ people used to hold many different concerts in various place and practiced their activities (Miller,34). During this concert, hippies used to drink, smoke, sing, make love, dance and do all manners of things to make each other happy. The largest and the most well known of this concert that this people used to hold was the Woodstock that was held in the Sullivan Country, New York. The concert attracted very many people and caused one of the largest traffic jam in the history. “The traffic that governs most of the American roads were formed after this situation” ( Blumenthal, 23).
Current Situation of the Hippies
After the end of the Woodstock concert, a person by the name of the Richard Nixon becomes the president while Ronald Reagan became the governor of California. This made most people who supported the activities of the hippies to go underground. Many of the hippies went back to the mainstreaming while a few went to “back to land” movements and lived with the communities.
In conclusion, hippies were a culture that viewed the life in a different way from what the society could see. They believed that people were not supposed to be restricted in any social aspect and should be allowed to interact freely. The group wanted radical change for the society.