What was life really like in the late 60s?

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CockneyRebel
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05 Jan 2024, 11:25 pm

What was life like from 1966 to 1969? Was it as groovy as it seems in the movies? Were you a hippie back than? Do you think I would have like to have been there? Do you think I would have survived?


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06 Jan 2024, 12:47 am

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way

-- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
-- by Charles Dickens, prologue to Tale Of Two Cities

I remember the late 1960s as a time of confusion.  While the White Male Establishment was publicly backing escalation of the war in Vietnam (up to and including the use of nuclear weapons), most of the people I knew were privately denouncing America's involvement.  The end of that conflict was both celebrated and mourned.  All I cared about was that I would no longer risk being drafted into it.

People of the previous generations were trying to hold on to their old way of life in the face of wave after wave of civil rights advancements.

Thus, women gained some measure of reproductive freedom with the advent of The Pill, and people of color could no longer be officially discriminated against in education, employment, and housing (although passive resistance among the White Male Establishment could still be effective).

Also, when "Darkies" (my grandma's favorite term, not mine) moved into traditionally white neighborhoods (my grandparents', for example), they were either openly tolerated as "Tokens" or subversively treated as invaders (usually both, and by the same people).

As a pre-teen, I was trying to make sense of the contrasts between: (a) the Constitution and what our politicians were saying and doing; (b) our Christian Bible and what our parents were saying and doing; and (c) our textbooks and what our teachers were teaching.  All this in addition to the changes puberty wrought upon me.

There seemed to be no proper behavior for a kid my age -- very little I said or did was considered 'proper' by everyone in authority.  Somehow, I muddled my way through it all and later graduated high school.

Now I'm in my sixties and retired. Throughout my professional career, I witnessed just about every form of discrimination and hypocrisy imaginable, both inside and outside the workplace.  If anything, our current times are just like the late 1960s, only more intensely so.


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belijojo
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06 Jan 2024, 12:49 am

^same


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CockneyRebel
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06 Jan 2024, 1:29 am

I remember things I've read about the Late 60s and the documentaries that I've watched and things seem to be strikingly similar today. There are hippies everywhere in my area. Old ones and young ones. They say that history repeats itself. Man, does it ever. I see all the Mods, rockers and hippies in my town and I feel like an old soldier. I've tried to change twice over the past 8 years just to fit in with the young souls of my city. The Mods, Rockers and hippies. I didn't really get anywhere. I've figured that it was easier just to enjoy the music from that time. I'm watching Hogan's Heroes as I type this. I've come to the conclusion that hippies are meant for me to appreciate and not for me to emulate. I love my cloth helmet and Germany too much for me to be a flower child. I don't even know if my favourite colour is green or blue some days.


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nick007
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06 Jan 2024, 2:22 am

I think the 60s were probably a lot worse than it's often portrayed. There was the Vietnam war, sh!tty economy, & protests & riots. We were starting to making lots of progress on issues but once the millennium hit we started rapidly backtracking. We really need another punk rebellion :skull:


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Fnord
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06 Jan 2024, 2:25 am

Another punk rebellion?  Was Trump's coup attempt not enough for you?


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belijojo
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06 Jan 2024, 2:31 am

For the first time, I really realized that Trump is a punk :lol:


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06 Jan 2024, 5:33 am

I was a small child and I didn't live in the US, but I did not see or know any hippies. From what I understand the hippies were actually a fairly small percentage of the population. Most people were conservative, at least in their social ways even if not politically conservative. What was acceptable was actually pretty narrow. People were shocked by hippies and counterculture types, and being one was a daring thing to do, because most people would be disapproving.



naturalplastic
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06 Jan 2024, 5:34 am

nick007 wrote:
I think the 60s were probably a lot worse than it's often portrayed. There was the Vietnam war, sh!tty economy, & protests & riots. We were starting to making lots of progress on issues but once the millennium hit we started rapidly backtracking. We really need another punk rebellion :skull:


The economy was GREAT in the Fifties and the Sixties. Better than ever before. And better than than at anytime since.

It got sh***y in the Seventies with "stagflation". And its never gotten back.

Despite the affluence we were at war in Vietnam, and young men had to worry about being drafted. And the country was polarized politically.



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06 Jan 2024, 8:44 am

First of all documentaries leave a false impression that what they are documenting goes on all the time. Second of all most of the counterculture was limited to big cities and college campuses. Third of all there was nothing like the persistence of the BLM and Palestinian protests where it has been an everyday occurrence for months. We used to joke about spring being demonstration season.

Similar include two very different views of patriotism. The older generation fought in WWII no questions asked and viewed the protesters as traitors. The protesters as viewed their opponents what we call sheep today to the military industrial complex/establishment. There was a culture war over casual sex and rock music.

Like today most of the time and effort was spent dealing with family and work.


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06 Jan 2024, 9:18 am

At the risk of doxxing myself, I grew up in Baltimore, MD. In 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. Baltimore was then brought down by rioting that destroyed civil society in the large black community. Since then, Baltimore has been considered a dangerous city to visit. It didn't have that reputation before the riots. 1968 is widely seen as the worst single year in "modern" US history.


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08 Jan 2024, 11:55 am

I wouldn't know because I wasn't born yet, which makes me almost feel young when I say that. :) But I'm sure like every past generation including my own, most people who remember the 60s have their nostalgia filter up too high.



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08 Jan 2024, 6:16 pm

belijojo wrote:
For the first time, I really realized that Trump is a punk :lol:


That's really unfair to punks.

Unlike Donald Trump, punks contribute to society. :nerdy:


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08 Jan 2024, 6:26 pm

I seem to remember that the late 60s were pretty good, though I was only a primary school kid at the time and had a limited overall perspective. I also don't think the 1970s were anything like as bad as many people these days, such as Neo-Thatcherites, like to claim. I'd certainly rather be living in either of those eras than our present time.

One thing I'm a bit sceptical of is the notion of the 'Swinging Sixties' and especially of 'Swinging London'. I once heard someone say that 'Swinging London' was largely a media and showbiz phenomenon, and that the vast majority of Londoners were not part of it. I think I only heard the phrase for the first time in the mid-1970s.


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funeralxempire
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08 Jan 2024, 6:28 pm

DeepHour wrote:
One thing I'm a bit sceptical of is the notion of the 'Swinging Sixties' and especially of 'Swinging London'. I once heard someone say that 'Swinging London' was largely a media and showbiz phenomenon, and that the vast majority of Londoners were not part of it. I think I only heard the phrase for the first time in the mid-1970s.


Sounds a lot like how the social significance of hippies is vastly overstated in American media.


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08 Jan 2024, 6:38 pm

Fnord wrote:
If anything, our current times are just like the late 1960s, only more intensely so.

I agree with most of this except for what I just quoted. Less violent activism today, less racism (although not less enough, and shifted in direction - and racism toward Jews hasn't changed in 5800 years) and reverse racism has increased. Vaccines were newer back then, and nobody I knew was questioning them. The way I would describe how things have changed is "paradigm shifting without pushing the clutch pedal."


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