Understand counter culture from the 1950s by understanding world as it was: the parents who’d won the war and believed they’d saved the nation from evil, who’d bought into the suburban dream. Next generation soft and unsympathetic reject the life hard won: there’s no good German mentality in the baby boomers.

Hippie with its suggestion of loose character mincing a catch-all covering a spectrum. Easy Rider, a hippie movie, notes but rejects the stereotype that survives – free love, till the soil, communes asking no hand out – conservative government’s ideal citizens ironically. The movie instead chooses On the Road riding motorcycles filled with money and fucking in New Orleans. Selling hippie wigs in Woolworths “We Blew It.” ending in the detonation of the Beat America. Kerouac called it sympathetic. War victors had a justly  earned often sympathetic if hard-line personal reaction to counter culture. It’s the next generation of conformists who lack the personal experience and the war-derived sympathy but ape a rejection, well able spot the difference between toiling crew cuts and free loving androgyny: thus a neat example of the easy but comprehensible transition from parental hostility with substance to prejudice as aspiration – fascism which is, after all, just enforced conformity without currency of care.

Baby boomers said no to being retired – as an individual curious and free – virtually at birth into habitual consumerism. They lost faith in the life inherited, whatever had once threatened it, much to the ire of their parents who’d risked life and lost much to combat that threat.

On the Road and the beats lit a wanderlust that stoked a zeitgeist that sent the young criss-crossing America in search of who knew what. Small wonder so many ended up fucking. It took Kennedy’s assassination and realities of the Viet Nam draft to extend the horizon beyond the American continent into the flourishing European culture capitals. The draft took the wind out of the veteran-parents sails – enough knew the horror of war. Patriotism was seldom so tin horned.

Shame the new consumers of culture – exchanging white goods for wheat grass – got no further than the smorgasbord colour of half-understood Hindu mysticism.

Leave a Reply