The Sixties: Why The Young Rebel

Discussion in 'Health and Lifestyle' started by PoliticalChic, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    Many people attribute the student frenzy, civil disobedience, and violence of the Sixties to the Vietnam War. It would seem logical to see same as the provenance, except that during the same period other countries that had no such involvement in the conflagration, France, Italy, and Germany, in particular, also saw serious student rebellions. In fact, student unrest in France came closer to toppling the government than the radicals in the United States ever did.
    So, how to explain this world-wide phenomenon? Attitudes, human nature, and the crossroads of history.

    1. One interesting explanation involves the numbers of individual coming of age at the time, who must be civilized by their families, schools, and churches. A particularly large wave may swamp the institutions responsible for teaching traditions and standards.

    a. “Rathenau called [this] ‘the vertical invasion of the barbarians.’” Jose Ortega y Gasset, “The Revolt of the Masses,” p. 53. The baby boomers were a generation so large that they formed their own culture. The generation from 1922-1947 numbered 43.6 million, while that of 1946-1964 had 79 million. Would it surprise anyone if this culture was opposed to that of their parents?

    2. The human attempt for self-gratification is usually kept in check, within bounds, by religion, morality, law, and, by the necessity to work hard based on the fear of want. Much of the former was removed by the French Revolution, and in modern America, another restriction was removed by the rising affluence of the last century; suppressed by WWI, and then by the Depression, but released by the 9-year expansion of the 1960’s. The effect of affluence was increased, multiplied, by the fact that parents, who had known the hardships of the Depression, and WWII, were determined to give their children every comfort that they could.

    a. A leader of SDS wrote :” Without thinking about it, we all took the fat of the land for granted.” Todd Gitlin, “The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage,” p. 104

    b. Rage fueled by money, unlike previous generations, they cared not that either lack of study, or unacceptable behavior, were barriers to their futures. They would travel, organize, incite from campus to campus.

    3. Affluence brings the boredom of a life built on consumption, devoid of meaning. The only thing many were wanting for…is ‘want’ itself and saw suburbia as a great wasteland. The power of boredom is a much underrated emotion. The anodyne for this ‘ache’ often includes alcohol, narcotics, cruelty, pornography, violence…and zealotry in a political cause.

    a. A Peter Berger quote of the times: “…not so much motivated by sympathy with black people in slums and yellow people in rice paddies as by boredom with Connecticut.” Berger and Neuhaus, “Movement and Revolution,” p. 60

    4. Gitlin, once a leader of SDS, revealed that his generation was, to a degree, shaped by the understanding that it’s a “rock bottom fact that life ends.” (Gitlin, p. 34) Having lost the meaning that religion often gives, radical politics became a substitute, a way to seek meaning. With the understanding that modern liberalism is, to its proponents, a matter of faith, one can understand why rational argument is less than persuasive. Nor, even, is experience.

    5. Not to be underestimated, the severe criticism of American propounded by liberal-to-left professors.

    a. The wave of vilification of bourgeois culture received impetus from “The Authoritarian Personality,” by Adorno, et. al., “The Authoritarian Personality,” which identified antidemocratic indicia such as obedience and respect for authority. Conservatism, of course, was another name for fascism, and represented personal pathology. In another work, they blame the Enlightenment itself and reason for the rise of fascism, but fail to see the repudiation of religion as a major factor.

    b. Daniel Bell described in “The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism” as the rejection of traditional bourgeois qualities by late-nineteenth-century European artists and intellectuals who sought “to substitute for religion or morality an aesthetic justification of life.” By the 1960s, that modernist tendency had evolved into a credo of self-fulfillment in which “nothing is forbidden, all is to be explored,” Bell wrote."
    Whatever Happened to the Work Ethic? by Steven Malanga, City Journal Summer 2009

    6. Nor should we neglect the influence of Communist Party members, whose children, ‘red diaper babies,’ brought family philosophy into the public arena, and took the rhetoric of revolution into reality. See James Q. Wilson, “The Moral Sense,” p. 109

    7. And if you place your faith in the art of psychology, one study of the New Left found that radicalism correlated with a personal drive for power. Rothman and Lichter, “Roots of Radicalism: Jews, Christians, and the New Left,” p. 389

    a. These true believers, while a more expressive generation in contrast to authoritarianism and repression of traditional American society, tended to exhibit a marked narcissism and enhanced need for power. Ibid.

    b. Sociologist Helmut Schoeck discusses a young man whose repressed envy of his hosts and their possessions, made him extremely uncomfortable at their dinner party. “This type of personality can help us to understand the world-wide rebellion of youth since 1966. As the ‘envious guests,’… these young people lack the maturity to be the ‘guests of our affluent society.’” Helmut Schoeck, “Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior,” p. 337-338
     
  2. Ravi
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    Ravi Diamond Member

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    Pity bump.
     
  3. bruzz
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    bruzz marauder

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    I hate the cultural revolution because it gave us gay men who were free to be out of the closet. The two world wars had a lot to do with it also, as the staus quo was broken and it was found women could do the work of men. It also didn't hurt that women enjoyed their work, and that enthusiasm spread after that.
     
  4. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    Welcome to the board.

    The term 'Cultural Revolution' usually applies to the slaugher of Mao's China...so I am not certain of your reference.

    I wrote the monograph because I thought that the Vietnam War was the impetus for the unrest of the sixties...and was surprised when I came across the idea that the size of the baby boom generation was considered more directly responsible.
     
  5. Mr Clean
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    Mr Clean Gold Member

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    So you would rather have stayed in the closet?
     
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  6. bruzz
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    bruzz marauder

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    Nice spin ace. I gotta admit that was funny.

    Okay for the record, i am a guy who is a straight as an arrow.
     
  7. bruzz
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    Thanks for the welcome.

    And with that, it's probably best i be quiet before i add foot in mouth disease to my list of negative qualities.
     
  8. Madeline
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    I was there, almost. I graduated high school in 1971. All I can say is, the Civil Rights Movement was much more of a catalyst for me and my friends than any other factor. I suppose every single factor you listed could have contributed as well, but there is just no overstating how clearly this brought the need for change into relief.
     
  9. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Diamond Member

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    I must admit to having only a second-hand relationship to the events...and while you may disagree with 3a above, I wonder if you grew up in suburbia, and if you feel the OP correctly gauges your feeling about same?
     
  10. Madeline
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    No, I grew up (in high school anyway) inside the ghetto. The Civil Rights Movement was not a televised event for me. The federal court in my area handed down a de facto desegregation order when I was a sophmore, and I watched white parents burning school buses on the lawn of my high school.

    The War in Vietnam was a cataylst as well, but it was nowhere near as immediate for me till I got to college and the boys I knew had draft cards, and the vets returning from the War began showing up.

    We had the intoxicating notion that we could change the world. There just is nothing more empowering, especially when the adults seem to cling to morally bankrupt ideas.
     

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