Why were Hippies portrayed as enemies when their views were based on love, peace, and America’s most fundamental principle: Freedom?
Hippie movement was born in the USA. From 1964 to 1972, America was at war in Vietnam. This was the first war in American history, hated by Americans. This is the heyday of the pacifist sentiments in the world and the birth of the hippie movement. Hippies grew not because of fashion, but because of the strong personal belief in the injustice of the rules of the society: materialism, boredom, wealth and satiety, lack of spirituality. All this was the cause of the new youth movement in the USA.
For the first time the word "hippie" was used in the transfer of one of New York's TV April 22, 1964, where the word has been given to a group of young men in T-shirts, jeans and long hair, protesting against the War in Vietnam. At that time, it was a popular slang term to be hip, meaning "to be aware". In this case, the TV people used the word hippie pejoratively, hinting at claims by deliberately badly dressed demonstrators, who came from the suburbs of New York. Mid 60's can be considered to be the dawn of the hippie subculture.
The main slogan of the hippie was pacifism: nonviolence and peace loving, rejection from military service, protest against the war. Pacifism was first directed against the Vietnam War, and then spread to all spheres of life. The protest against order, the denial of rules and formal social institutions were peculiar to hippies. Hippies refused to be a part of the existing social system, and created their own alternative system without social hierarchy. Political apathy was typical for hippies. They strived to change the world with the help of their art not through military coups. The revolution, in their opinion, should occur primarily in the mind, and not in the society. Hippies preferred spiritual values to material ones: self-improvement and creativity to career, moral satisfaction to money. Hippie welcomed naturalness in all. "Back to Nature" – they proclaimed, believing that civilization had come to a standstill and the only escape from this was recalling their roots and unity with nature. They chose a flower as their symbol. It expressed the protest against the wars and all kinds of inequality and meant youth and naturalness. The beauty and world full of feelings and joy came up to the top. But it was not without negative consequences. Among hippies taking drugs, alcohol abuse and free love were common things. And thanks to the hippies the "sexual revolution" was born. The important parts of the hippies’ life were drugs. They were considered as renunciation of life pillar of ordinary people, and the most important way to expand consciousness. Many hippies believe that drugs cause spiritual liberation and opened space for creativity.
But first of all, the government considered hippies as enemies because of their numerous protests against their policy, war, social system and rules. Their anti-war movement was not so much against the abstract majority but against the government. And the government left little space for disagreement with its foreign policy. It was a question of national security. Disagreement with the USA foreign policy was very dangerous even for citizens – one of the reasons was also the "cold war." So in the situation when the USA decided to invade Vietnam in order to fight down communism and the USSR, for the citizens it was very difficult to argue. The strength and power of the peace movement most clearly manifested itself during many anti-war demonstrations held across the country. Students, teachers, children, women, veterans, writers, musicians, pacifists, radical elements, even parents and elders have made an effort to stop the war in Vietnam. While many of these protesters were never considered to be hippie at home or at work, however, the government and the conservative elements drove all under one label – “hippies”. This labeling caused only greater division of the country. And looking back, it is clear that, applying the label of "hippies" for all the protesters, politicians could consider them as not the true Americans, and thus ignore their opinions and reckon them as enemies. The Vietnam War was not the only problem that hippies were opposed to. In 1969, in an accident near Santa Barbara oil was spilt. The event drew their attention again to the subject of the environment. Hippies were furious at the lack of government initiatives to clean up the environment and its condescension to the corporations that polluted it. This protest raised awareness among the Americans, attracted the audience to this point and irritated the government more.
But not only the government wanted to portrait hippies as enemies, but a great part of citizens in puritanical America considered their way of living and principles to be not acceptable. The generation of 50-60’s was taught that sex was only for those who loved each other, and married with children. Sex, love, marriage and children were given in a single package, and they couldn’t be separated. In any other case, sex was considered to be abnormal and could lead to undesirable consequences such as illegitimate children, diseases, mutilation and even death. Sex was represented as neither funny nor intimate. The hippie movement had a significant impact on sexual freedom in the USA and anywhere else. This revolution in sexual attitudes was more than a reaction to the puritanical morality of 50's and early 60's. For hippies real freedom meant a complete freedom from all social taboos. The concept of free love, according to the beliefs of hippies meant that you were free to love anyone, anywhere, anytime. It promotes spontaneous sexual activities and experimentations. Free love rejected that entire package of love, sex, marriage and children. Love was no longer limited with one person; hippie could love everyone he wanted. Love was created to be shared with others. However, meanwhile sexually transmitted diseases were the main problem caused by an active sex life. Teenage pregnancy has also become quite common. Due to the sexual openness that created these problems, soon the company has started to solve these issues that resulted in the opening of free hospitals, sex education at schools, the law on permission of abortions and advertising sexual products. All this was a direct result of hippies’ behavior that had relieved the society.
But the biggest release of inhibitions occurred through the use of drugs, particularly marijuana and psychedelics. Marijuana is one of the best aphrodisiacs, one of the best exciting substances ever known by the mankind. It increases the sensitivity, as opposed to alcohol, which dulls it. The most important point is that psychedelic drugs, especially LSD were directly responsible for the release of hippie sexual complexes. After LSD trips a man realizes all his own sexual nature without any restrictions.
The term “hippie” causes even now much anger, fear, hostility and resentment in the society. Being hippie meant accepting a universal belief system that was superior to the social, political and moral norms of the establishment of any structure such as class, church or government. Each of these powerful institutions intended to control people. Each of them had to protect themselves from the threat of real or imagined enemies. So we see that the history is full of endless conflicts between classes, religions, countries.
The hippies’ way was opposite to the overwhelming power structures, because they were contrary to the objectives of hippies, such as love, peace, freedom. Therefore, the establishment feared and suppressed the hippie movement in the 60's as the revolution against the established order. This was the reason of the fact that the hippies had failed to unite and to turn the system, since they had refused to create their own power base. Hippies did not impose their beliefs upon others. Instead, hippies wanted to change the world living in agreement with what they believed.
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