The Sixties MovementIn this essay I am going to examine Arthur Marwick??™s argument that the sixties werecharacterised by counter-cultural movements across a number of areas. I willconsider the extent to which counter-cultural movements can be identified, see whatimpact they do or do not have or have not on mainstream culture and see if there isany evidence to support Marwick??™s view. The areas I am going to use to analyse hisargument are history of science and religion. In this essay the 1960s will include theperiodisation of developments and movements of Britain, France, Italy and Americabetween 1958 and 1973.
So how can counter-cultural movements be identified To be able to identify acounter-culture we must first define what we mean by ??? culture??™ and define what??? mainstream??™ culture is. Marwick describes ??? culture??™ as a totality of attitudes, valuesand practices of a group. This could be a small and specific group like ??? youth culture,??™which could refer to important issues involving the young in a period like the sixties, orbig like the ??? Western Culture,??™ which describes the Western way of life through thetwentieth century.
Mainstream culture is the attitudes, values and practices that areestablished in Western countries. The counter-culture of the sixties, as described byMarwick, is something that counter??™s or significantly modifies, what had been prior to1958, the ??? mainstream??™ (or dominant) features of Western culture. Marwick suggeststhat in the Sixties the mainstream culture included, almost other things; a rigid socialhierarchy, subordination of women to men and children to parents, repressed attitudesto sex, respect for authority and complacency over technological advancement. Therefore we can identify counter-culture in the sixties as something that is opposedto or trying to challenge some part of sixties mainstream culture in some way.
I am going to look briefly at history of science and religion to see if any counter-culturalmovements can be identified, to begin with looking at if there were any scientificcounter-cultural movements. A103 ??“ TMA 08During the sixties there was a science counter-cultural movement that emerged, inopposition to the scientific community, with the claim that science was becoming moremilitarised. This accusation was more widespread in America as prestigiousinstitutions like MIT worked alongside the armed forces to develop new weapons onuniversity campuses. There was prolific growth in the number of universities whowere funded and given contracts for research by the military during the sixities inAmerica. The opposition to this militarisation was some scientific teachers andstudents who believed that the universities had sold out. They were ??? strong[ly] againstthe involvement of science within the military and ??¦ bitterly critical of the scientificestablishment, which includes universities??™. 1 But it was not just the scientificcommunity that were part of the counter-culture, other members of society were alsoexpressing their concerns.
Scientific counter culturalists like Theodore Roszak hadextreme views of science, his solution to combat the ideology of sciences, which heclaimed was an instrument of domination, was to abolish science altogether. Howeverthe counter cultural movement was not just driven by extremists, journalist EdwardShils, stated that ??? Scientists??¦are indifferent to the well-being of man-kind, basicallybecause they are subservient to the ruling powers of government, the military andprivate industry.??™2 and the former president of America, Dwight Eisenhower, alsosupported the opposition with his concerns of the growth and influence of the ??? scientificelite.??™ Some of the opposition took form as protests that arose throughout Americanuniversities expressing opposition to America??™s involvement in the Vietnam War.
Thisincluded the students of MIT who had worked with the military developing weapons forthe war. In a statement signed by MIT graduate students for strike action theyrequested that ??? technology should be redirected from destructive to constructiveends??™3. Another scientific counter-culture that emerged was created when youngwomen discovered the pill. The counter-culture hostile to science through warmaking,??? embraced science in its love making??™4. Previously illegal, oral contraceptives1 SHILS, E (2006) Resource Book 4: Section B ??“ Religion and Counter-cultures , B3: ??? Anti-science??™??™Page 45, Milton Keynes, Open University Press2 SHILS, E (2006) Resource Book 4: Section C ??“ Religion and Counter-cultures , ??? Anti-science??™??™Page 45, Milton Keynes, Open University Press3 NELSON, B (2006) Resource Book 4: Section B ??“ Religion and Counter-cultures , B4: ??? Scientistsplan research strike at MIT on 4 March??™ Page 47, Milton Keynes, Open University Press4 An Introduction to Humanities, DVD0111 (2006), 27 ??“ The Copulation Explosion, Milton Keynes, Open University Press. A103 ??“ TMA 08liberated women by giving them the control of their own fertility. Themanagement of their own body gave them a freedom that had not been previouslyexperienced, and this was welcomed by ten million women by the end of the Sixties. The promotion of the pill was spread by sexual active young women at University.
Previously only available to married women, the Universities helped spread the pill tosingle women by supplying oral contraceptives to protect their female students. Sex inthe sixties did become more free and experimentation of all types took place, this wasquite a widespread occurrence with 40, 000 people attending ??? love fests??™ where drugtaking and sexual experimentation took place. One of the counter movements in science was opposed to the links with science andthe military; it believed that science should be geared to liberating society notdominating it. Changes that had an impact on mainstream culture were taking place inthe relationships between science and society, society wanted science to becomemore responsible socially and politically with its power. Student protests did have alimited effect, although the protests did not sever the ties between the military anduniversities, it did help reduce military contracts and have military scientific fundinginvestigated.
The other scientific counter-culture I examined did help to make sexualliberation public and political, but the pill did not start a sexual revolution, it was just anaccompaniment. It may have been a scientific innovation at the time but this changedin the 1970s when criticisms regarding the safety aspects of the pill were raised. During the Sixties we have evidence that the attitudes to sex were already changing, more sexually explicit material, such as Lady Chatterley??™s Lover was published in 1960in Britain. The pill might have helped to liberate attitudes towards sex, but we can??™tsay that society wouldn??™t have changed its attitudes anyway if the pill hadn??™t beeninvented. It could be theorised that in every decade there has been an argument aboutthe moral responsibilities of science and technology. The Sixties were no different andthis argument will continue into future decades whether the scientific counter-culturalmovements of the sixties had happened or not.
I have identified only two of thecounter movement in science; there were others such as abortion and challengingwomen??™s roles in science which should also be examined to get a fuller picture ofscientific counter-cultures during the Sixties. A103 ??“ TMA 08So were there any religious counter-cultural movements Susan Mumm suggests thatin the 1960s the religious counter-culture was a reaction towards typical mainstreamvalues of western materialism and political systems. Love, acceptance and personaltransformation was the messages broadcast by the New Religious Movements(NRMs) which sprang up everywhere during the 1960s. Several thousand counterculturalcommunes were formed at this time in North America alone, and over half ofthese were religiously motivated. (Bates and Miller, 1995, p. 371). These movementswere popularised by celebrities such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and theyouth culture ??? turned on, tuned in and dropped out??™ to these NRMs for many differentreasons. All the NRMs offered its recruits an alternative lifestyle compared to thetraditional mainstream lifestyle they had previously experienced, whether it be throughoriental mysticism, psychedelic drugs or communitarian experiments.
Mumm argues that the counter-cultural youth liked the fast results to spiritualknowledge that could be reached by using drugs such as LSD. ??? It could be arguedthat what really launched the counter-culture as it is commonly understood was itsinterest in the expansion of consciousness through chemical and psychologicalmeans??™5 On the other hand Roszak argues that this sort of interest in drugs is not acounter-culture, ??? One does not unearth the wisdom of the ages by shuffling about afew exotic catch phrases ??“ nor does one learn anything about anybody??™s love orreligion by donning a few talismans and dosing on LSD??™6. Drug experimentation wasonly linked to some alternative religions and began to become more disagreeable astime went on for many drug users. Some former drug users turned to more disciplinedreligions to try and make sense of their overwhelming experiments with drugs. Many of the more disciplined and fundamentalist NRMs offered Jesus as a cure foraddiction. ??? Many of the converts have come to Christ from the fraudulent promises ofdrugs.??™7 These groups originally aimed at drug addicts, street people and counterculturaldropouts, held communal experiments, which demanded total commitmentand discipline from its devotees. Many of these groups preached to the young a worldrejecting message against the mainstream values of society, but were not counterculturalas they also rejected the parts of counter-cultural activities such as drug use, 5 MUMM, S (2006) The Sixties: Mainstream Culture and Counter-culture ??“ Block 6 , Page 130, Milton Keynes, Open University Press6 ROSZAK, T (2006) Resource Book 4: Section C ??“ Religion and Counter-cultures , Page 56, MiltonKeynes, Open University Press7 Resource Book 4: Section C ??“ C11 , Page 91, ??? The Jesus revolution??™ From Time magazine, 21stJune 1971, pg 56, 59-63, Milton Keynes, Open University PressA103 ??“ TMA 08promiscuity and feminism.
Nolan states one of the problems for those caught up inthis sort of NRM, ??? once Jesus has brought them down from drugs, what??™s going tobring them down from Jesus??™8It was world rejecting religions such as the Children of God, who were out of thecounter-culture and the mainstream culture that created public hostility towards NRMs. They were labeled as ??? cults??™ who posed a threat, especially to the young who theybrainwashed asking that devotees relinquish all possessions and family ties. ??? We goby no name, but we are Christians living the way the Bible teaches, clinging only to theLord??™9 During the early seventies there were several anti NRM groups formed as moralpanic swept through society, but as Eileen Barker??™s statistics show, cults never posedany real threat as their ideologies were too extreme to be accepted by themainstream. These religious counter-cultures did have any impact on the on mainstream culture. There was a vast surge of interest in NRMs who were ??? offering a series of alternativesto the traditional life patterns and the tensions over life choices.??™10The drug culture was a counter-cultural didn??™t have a great impact on the mainstream, it was practiced by many and could be argued to have led counter-cultural members toreligion but as Wolfe argues ??? it was quite easy for an LSD experience to take the formof a religious vision, particularly if one was amongst people already so inclined.??™11 Healso suggests that there was nothing intrinsic to LSD and that people found what theywere looking for in drugs either spiritually or religiously because they were alreadylooking for it. Even though drug use was publicly advocated by people like Tim Learyand novelist Aldous Huxley, LSD was still made illegal in the mid 1960s, it was notaccepted by the mainstream and still isn??™t accepted in today??™s society.
The sixties was a significant cultural phenomenon for many of the young peopleof the time, religion could provide a sense of belonging, an escape from drug abuse, family deprivation, or guidance for someone looking for the answers to the meaning oflife. 8 NOLAN, J (2006) Resource Book 4: Section C ??“ Religion and Counter-cultures , ??? Jesus now; hogwash and holy water??™ Page 88, Milton Keynes, Open University Press9 Resource Book 4: Section C ??“ C10 , Page 88, ??? From R. Enroth (1977, British edn) YouthBrainwashing, and the Extremist Cults??™, Milton Keynes, Open University Press10 MUMM, S (2006) The Sixties: Mainstream Culture and Counter-culture ??“ Block 6 , Page 161, Milton Keynes, Open University Press11 WOLF, T (2006) Resource Book 4: Section C ??“ Religion and Counter-cultures , Page 134, MiltonKeynes, Open University PressA103 ??“ TMA 08It could be argued that some of the impact from the religious counter-culture on themainstream culture was the fact that some liberal mainstream churches did acceptsome of the aspects of counter-cultural religions as they saw it as hope for the futureof belief. ??? The NRMs of the 1960s and the early 1970s can be seen as closely linkedto the counter-culture, and it is also possible to argue that some later NRMs are inpart, successor movements to the counter-culture.??™12Another argument for counter-cultural impact could be that belonging to these religionsmeant that children were no longer subordinate to their parents. On the other hand, world rejecting religions could break family ties, encouraged the subordination ofwomen to men and repressed attitudes to sex that the counter-culture was trying tochange.
Looking at Marwick??™s argument again, did some events, structures and attitudesbecome more distinctive and significant during the sixties To really examineMarwick??™s statement that counter-cultural movements emerged across a number ofdifferent areas in the sixties we would need to analyse all the disciplines included inthis module about the sixties. I do believe though that there is evidence that supports Marwick, that the sixties were??? a period of exceptional cultural and social change??™13 characterised by counter-culturalmovements and that these movements can be identifiable as points of change. Aswas suggested earlier, in the Sixties the mainstream culture included, amongst otherthings; a rigid social hierarchy, subordination of women to men and children toparents, repressed attitudes to sex, respect for authority and complacency overtechnological advancement. We have seen all these values challenged by the counterculturalmovements I selected in the history of science and religion. Not all thecounter-cultures were successful, such as the drugs culture, but some of thechallenges made have had a significant impact, like the empowerment for women inthe terms of contraception and abortion, which is now accepted by mainstreamsociety. 12 MUMM, S (2006) The Sixties: Mainstre