Sixties Counterculture: 10 Pg Proposal Essay, Research Paper
The sixties were turbulent times for America, both domestically and abroad. During the
sixties America witnessed the assassination of a president, the assassination of a civil rights
leader, a ?conflict? in Vietnam, and a counterculture revolution among the youth. The
counterculture would peacefully protest and rally against the government early on, but as the
decade progressed, the counterculture would split into various factions. Some of these splinter
groups would carry out violent measures to make themselves, and there opinions, known. While
the violent actions were carried out by a strict minority, they attracted much attention from the
The purpose of this paper is to establish a connection between the peace movement and
the violence perpetrated by the counterculture. I feel that it is important that we find out how a
movement that was peaceful in the beginning could end up being so violent. The fact that
Americas youth could get caught up in such a frightening and violent situation should be of
concern to all of us. The music, and music festivals, of the era are also worthy of consideration.
Did the music contribute to the violence, or was it a just reflection of the turmoil felt during the
In order to understand the violent groups and their connection with the counterculture, we
first need to understand what the counterculture was. The sixties were full of groups which lived
outside of the norm, one of the earlier and most famous groups to form were the hippies. ?In
1965, Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle labeled these people ?hippies,? as if they were
apprentice hipsters. The young insurgents called themselves ?freaks? or ?heads,? and they called
their ?here and now revolution? a counterculture.? The hippies were into living a communal life,
a life of peace and tranquility and they were blowing the world?s mind. According to Stern, ?The
dazzling thing about them was that they were so happy. They did not reject the perkiness that
suffused the early sixties. They smiled and danced and got high and loved everybody. They
wore flowers in their hair and painted their bodies like freaky Easter eggs. Their program for a
better world was one where everyone was mellow.?
The hippies embraced music and drug, especially marijuana and LSD. The hippies felt
that LSD would help free their mind, and they embraced the effects of the drug. Burton Wolf, a
contemporary of the hippie scene, wrote, ?Several times, I saw barefoot hippie girls in a big pile
of dog excrement, calmly walk to the curb, and scrape it off like you would from your shoe, ?I
used to worry about things like that before I took LSD,? one of them told me. ?Now my mind has
opened, and I see that it?s all part of life: dirt, feces everything. Feces are groovy.?? The hippies
were peaceful people who were trying to make the world better, this, however, would change. A
large portion of the hippies would be brought into radical groups and unknowingly be turned
1967 marked a change in the way of protesting. ?After 1967, countercultural activists
followed two major paths: the revolutionary ?magic politics? of the Yippies, and the ?here and
now? revolution of rural communes.? The break from the hippies way of thinking is in part due
to the ineffectiveness of their ?here and now? revolution. They were tired of peaceful protests as
the means to their end and they were sick of the interminable theorizing of the New Left. They
wanted results. The Yippies (an acronym for the Youth International Party),?. . .were conceived
by Abbie Hoffman, Paul Krassner, Dick Gregory, Jerry Rubin and friends on New Years Eve in
1967 to coax, goose, entice and dazzle thousands of freaks to Chicago for the August Democratic
Convention, create there a ?Festival of Life? against the ?Convention of Death,? a ?blending of pot
and politics. . . a cross-fertilization of hippie and New Left philosophies.?
The Yippies were a radical group, a group that wanted to shake up all of the ?straight?
people. Be it the way they looked or the way they spoke, they wanted to challenge the
establishment. Jerry Rubin describes the prototypical Yippie, ?a street fighting freek, a dropout,
who carries a gun at his hip. So ugly that middle class society is frightened by how he looks. A
longhaired, bearded, crazy mother*censored*er whose life is theater, every moment creating a new
society as he destroys the old.? Yippies favorite way to alienate the majority culture was by
saying ?*censored*.? Rubin explained the power of profanity by complaining that the establishment has
taken all the good words and destroyed them. ?Love, how can I say, ?I love you? after hearing
?Cars love Shell?? Fuck is the solution. It?s the last word in left in the English language.
Amerika cannot destroy it because she dare not use it. It?s illegal! Fuck is a dirty word because
you have to be naked to do it. It?s also fun.?
At the ?68 Democratic Convention, the Yippies put forth a plan, they were egging on
?Chicago with threats, such as slipping LSD into the cities water supply, setting off smoke
bombs in the convention hall, having sex in the parks and on the beaches, releasing greased pigs
in the hotels, drugging the food of the delegates, etc..? Most of these threats were hollow, but
they did carry out the smaller actions, such as the smoke and stink bombs, and the spreading of
feces on the floors of hotels. The Yippies received the response they wanted, the city delayed,
and refused permits to the Yippies and other groups, and ?Mayor Daley had the entire 12,000
man police force working in twelve hour shifts, five to six thousand National Guardsmen were
mobilized and put through special training with simulated longhair rioters. A thousand FBI
agents were said to be deployed within the city limits, along with innumerable employees of
military intelligence. Six thousand U.S. Army troops, including units of the crack 101st Airborne,
equipped with flamethrowers, bazookas, and bayonets, were stationed in the suburbs.? The
actions of the Yippies and the response by Mayor Daly and Chicago set the tone for what was to
While out on recruiting trips, Dave Dellinger, a member of the editorial board for
Liberation magazine, wrote, ?. . .the two questions I was always asked were: (1) Is there any
chance that the police won?t create a bloodbath? (2) Are you sure that Tom and Rennie don?t
want one?? Tom Hayden, the founder of the SDS, wanted exactly that, a bloodbath. David
Horowitz explains why, ?One of the conspirators, Jerry Rubin, admitted a decade later that the
organizers had lured activists to Chicago hoping to create the riot that eventually took place. This
fit with the general strategy Hayden had laid out in private discussions with me. When people’s
heads are cracked by police, he said more than once, it “radicalizes them.” The trick was to
maneuver the idealistic and unsuspecting into situations that would achieve this result.?
The move worked, ?After the convention, tens of thousands of applications for membership
poured into the ramshackle building on the West Side of Chicago that served as national SDS
headquarters.? With a dozen activist in 1962, the SDS grew to over 8000 members at it?s
height in 1968.
The SDS, or Students for a Democratic Society, also became very active at this point.
They were a leftist student organization, an offshoot of the Student League for Industrial
Democracy. The SLID was a socialist organization that dated back to 1905, after dying out in the
fifties, it was reconstituted in 1959 and then renamed the SDS in 1960. The SDS of the early
sixties were using civil disobedience, sit-ins for civil rights, demonstrations at the nations capital
that questioned military spending. As the sixties wore on the SDS began entertaining ideas of
violence and became infatuated with the Black Panthers. Both the SDS and the Panther felt a
connection with the third world revolutionary movements that were against American
While the SDS deteriorated, the most militant and destructive movement of the
counterculture emerged, the Weatherman, which later became the Weather Underground.
Roszak laments that while he is against such groups, the counterculture stands for letting people
make their own decisions, and take their own actions, no matter how muddled or ill-conceived
they may be. The New Left by what they stood for could not turn away militant members.
While the Weather Underground was known for causing general chaos, ie. fighting, disrupting
businesses, breaking windows and the such, they were better known for their terrorist actions.
Between September 1969 and May 1970, the Weather Underground could be linked to at least
250 major bombing attempts, and according to government figures the number could be as many
as six times as great. On August 24, 1970, the Weather Underground planted a bomb in the
army?s mathematic lab at the University of Wisconsin. The bomb ended up killing a graduate
student who was working late. Roszak feels that the tendency towards violence was not due to
the counterculture, but instead due to the extremist Black Powerites, he felt that the factions of
the counterculture were romanticizing the black militants guerrilla warfare.
The Panthers were supported by white radicals, and their motto was ?By any means
necessary,? this included riots, fights, and murder. They modeled themselves after the Green
Berets, their bylaws were strict and required that all Panthers be well educated in the ever
changing political structure under which they live and be fair and polite to their fellow black
man. ?Big Bob, a Squad member in the Black Panthers, confided to a former Panther that in
the three years he had been in Oakland, the Squad had killed a dozen people.? Bobby Seale,
former leader of the Black Panthers, had close ties with Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman as well as
the other leaders of the left. They were all tried together during the Chicago Seven Trial after the
Chicago riots. It was this connection that saved Seale?s life when he disappeared; his friends
would not disclose where he hiding.
The music of the era, along with the music festivals played a heavy part in the shaping of
the counterculture. The Monterey International Pop Festival, held in 1967 was one of the first
major music festivals held, it marked an end of top 40 music and the beginnings of underground
?acid? rock. Monterey along with Woodstock, which followed two years later, created a
mythical society, as Abbie Hoffman would call it, a Woodstock nation. The Woodstock nation
was a state of mind, an anarchy realizing itself in the act of anarchic rebellion. Shortly after
Woodstock, Hoffman?s dream was badly wounded if not destroyed by the Rolling Stones and the
Hells Angels at Altamont. The Stones had hired the Hells Angels as security for the show, and
from the start the vibes were bad. Gitlin recalls that the majority of the crowd was on acid and
having bad trips. This along with the Angels fighting and shoving anyone who got to close to
them or the stage caused a riot to break out during the Stones set. During the riot, a black man
was stabbed and killed, all because the Angels took offense to him being there with a white girl.
In response to the Altamont disaster, Jefferson Airplane released ?Somebody to Love,? a plea to
the people to bring back the love and peace.
Jerry Hopkins tells of Jim Morrison, of The Doors, inciting riots during their shows. In
Chicago, Morrison wanted to conduct an experiment with the crowd, he wanted to see if he could
invoke them to riot. The Doors performed all of their ?violent? music at the show, playing songs
such as Unknown Soldier, The End, Five to One and others. Morrison?s experiment was a
success, he had caused a riot in Chicago.
In the lyrics to Five to One, released in 1968, the message of rebellion is clear, Five to
one, baby/ One in five/ No one here/ gets out alive/ Now You get yours baby/ I’ll get mine/ Gonna
make it, baby/ If we try. The old get old and the young get stronger/ May take a week and it may
take longer/ They got the guns but / We got the numbers/ Gonna win/ Yeah, we’re takin’
over/Come on. This song demonstrates the idea behind the youth movement, it clearly states
that while the establishment has the power to oppress the youth, the youth have the sheer
numbers to overcome. Morrison also uses this song in The Doors infamous Miami concert of
1969, where Morrison is arrested for inciting a riot among other things. The Doors Box Set has a
recording of this performance where Morrison egged the crowd on, he mixes statements like this
with in the already militant song, ?Your all a bunch of slaves! You?re a bunch of *censored*in? idiots!
Letting people tell you what to do! What are you gonna do about it?! What are you gonna do
about it?! What are you gonna do about it?!.? Morrison is calling for the people to rebel, he
wants them to become violent in their ways, and that is just what they did. While most music
was a social commentary, a few songs were inciting. It is these few inciting songs that the
radicals in the New Left adopt as their themes.
As Roszak stated, the violent radical groups, no matter how much you were against them,
were still a part of the counterculture. They may not be representative, but they must be
included. I would like to continue my study of this fascinating era by going through transcripts
of speeches given by the leaders of the counterculture movement and reading articles written
about them at the time. I am searching for diaries of members of the counterculture, so I may
take a look into what they were thinking and feeling at the time. I also plan to meet with some of
the musicians of the time, and interview them in regards of how they feel their music effected the
youth movement and whether or not they had regrets over what their music did or did not do.
I have not yet been able to find interviews with Abbie Hoffman or Jerry Rubin as I had
hoped, but I plan to continue searching for them. I would also like to read more into the history
of the militant groups, such as The Black Panthers and the Weather Underground. My father
went to high school with a member of the Weather Underground who was involved in some of
the bombings that took place, I intend on locating her and interviewing her to find out what kind
of influences caused them to become violent.
Bessman, Jim. ?Rhino Compilation Recalls Monterey Fest? Billboard. vol. 104 August 29, 1992.
Bromell, Nicholas. ?Both Sides of Bob Dylan; Public Memory, the Sixties, and the Politics of
Meaning,? Tikkun (July-August 1995): 13-21.
Burner, David. Making Peace With The 60’s. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996. This
book allows the reader easily find out about radical movements of the sixties. It traces
the path of the movement of the silent majority and the counterculture.
Collier, Peter and Horowitz, David. Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties.
New York: Summit Books, 1989. This book provides valuable information on the
extreme radical parties, Horowitz was a member of various factions and helps the reader
to understand the mind frame of the people at the time. One also needs to keep in mind
that Horowitz is now a right wing believer, so his views may be biased.
Diggins, John P. The American Left in the Twentieth Century. New York: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, Inc., 1973. Diggins provides an up close look at the history of the Leftist
movement throughout the 20th century.
Dowling, Claudia. ?Kent State,? Life (May 1990): 137-143.
Farrell, James. Spirit of the Sixties: Making Postwar Radicalism. New York: Routledge, 1997.
I have used the extensive bibliography in this book to help find additional sources.
Farrell also investigates the counterculture lifestyle in a thoughtful and effective manner.
Foner, Philip S. The Black Panthers Speak. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1970.
The Black Panthers Speak tells the Panther story in their own words, it tells you their
beliefs and their actions from their point of view.
Garofalo, Reebee. Rockin the Boat: Mass Music & Mass Movements. Boston: South End Press,
1992. Traces the path of music in revolution, does not cover sixties very well, makes this
a weak source.
Ginsberg, Allen. ?Testimony of Allen Ginsberg in Chicago Seven Trial?
www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/Chicago7/Ginsberg.html. This allows the
reader to better understand the riots at the 68′ Convention.
Gitlin, Todd. The Whole World is Watching: Mass Media in the Making and Unmaking of the
New Left. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. Shows how the media helped
shape the counterculture, and how they were viewed
Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. New York: Bantam Books, 1987. This
book provides vast information on the sixties, Gitlin focuses on all of the factions
throughout the decade. His views seem unbiased, and he provides a number of footnotes
Harrison, Benjamin T. ?Roots of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement,? Studies in Conflict and
Terrorism (April-June 1993): 99-110.
Hayden, Tom. Trial. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1970.
Herman, Ellen. ?Being and Doing: Humanistic Psychology and the Spirit of the 1960.? In Barbra
L. Tischler, ed., Sights on the Sixties New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press,
Hoffman, Abbie. Revolution for the Hell of It. New York: Dial Press, 1968.
——————— Steal This Book. Worcester, Mass: Jack Hoffman Presents, n.d.
———————. ?Abbie Hoffman on the Chicago 7.? Woodstock 69 Program Guide.
A printing of Hoffman on riots/conspiracy to riot taken from the Woodstock Program.
——————— ?Testimony of Abbie Hoffman in Chicago Seven Trial?
www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/Chicago7/Hoffman.html. This allows the
reader to better understand the riots at the 68′ Convention.
Hopkins, Jerry. No One Here Gets Out Alive. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1997. Jerry
Hopkins provides a look into the life of Jim Morrison, in this look he demonstrates the
power that music holds over the people.
Horowitz, David. Radical Son: A Generational Odyssey. New York: Free Press, 1997.
Horowitz, David. ?Scenes From the 60’s: One Radical?s Story,? The American Enterprise (May-
June 1997): 28-37. In this article, Horowitz discusses some of the more controversial
events of the sixties, he discusses the Chicago riots, the Black Panthers, and more. This
article provides a look into the radical movement not normally seen. Must be read with
caution, Horowitz may be biased.
Kimball, ?The Project of Rejuvenilization,? New Criterion (May 1998): 4-12.
Kuwahara, Yasue. ?Apocalypse Now!: Jim Morrison?s Vision of America,? Popular Music and
Society (Summer 1992): 55-67.
Maratta, Pete. Counter Culture. New York: Topper Books, 1989.
McClellan, Grant S. American Youth in a Changing Culture. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1972.
Morrison, Jim. ?Five to One.? Waiting for the Sun LP. Released July, 1968.
Morrison, Jim. ?Peace Frog.? Morrison Hotel LP. Released 1970.
Morrison, Jim. ?Five to One.? Without a Safety Net-The Doors Box Set, Track #1. Recorded
1969, Released 1998.
Pratt, Ray. Rhythm and Resistance: Explorations in the Political Uses of Popular Music. New
York: Praeger, 1990.
Prochnicky, Jerry and Riordan, James. Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison.
New York: Quill, 1991.
Roszak, Theodor. The Making of a Counterculture: Reflections of the Technocratic Society and
its Youthful Opposition. New York: Double Day, 1969. Roszak provide a definitive look
at the counterculture and that it came to be. Doesn?t include black parties as part of the
counterculture though, keep that in mind.
Rubin, Jerry. Do It; Scenarios of the Revolution. New York: Schocken Books, 1970.
Sargent, Lyman T. New Left Thought: An Introduction. Homewood, Illinois: Dorsey Press, 1972.
Stern, Jane and Stern Michael. Sixties People. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990. Jane and
Michael Stern give brief looks into the movements of the sixties. They cover everything
from pop culture to counterculture and try explain what exactly was happening in
America at the time.
Stoper, Emily. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee: The Growth of Radicalism in
the Civil Rights Organization. Brooklyn, New York: Carlson, 1989.
Szatmary, David P. Rockin? in Time: A Social History of Rock and Roll. Englewood Cliffs, New
Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1991
Thompson, Hunter S. Hells Angels: A strange and Terrible Saga. New York, New York:
Random House, 1966.
Tillinghast, Richard. ?The Grateful Dead: Questions of Survival,? Michigan Quarterly Review
(Fall 1991): 686-700.
Voirst, Milton. Fire in the Streets: America in the 1960’s. New York, New York: Simon and