HOW USEFUL IS THE TERM CULTURAL REVOLUTION WHEN APPLIED TO THE SIXTIES? I propose to define and to argue the question How useful is the term Cultural Revolution when applied to the Sixties? My objective is to include examples from history, history of science and religion. History Mainstream Culture Let us first consider Arthur Marwicks decision to periodise the sixties from 1954 to 1975 and Eric Hobsbawms periodisation (within his book Age of Extremes, written in 3 parts) with the sixties contained in the Golden Age. These dates of periodisation are certainly interesting hypothesis. War dominated the culture existing at the beginning of the 20th Century, i.e. the 1914-18 War, followed a few years later by the World War II 1939-45.
Europe and Britain suffered massive losses of life. Then came the spread of Communism after the World War II. America became paranoid about the spread of Communism, and because of this entered into a war with Vietnam; with disastrous consequences; they lost hundreds of thousands of young men; and completely failed to stop the spread. The Vietnam war came to an end through people power. Country-wide mass protests were held; people were sickened by the numbers of lives lost, and they questioned the futility and morality of war Then came the many threats of global annihilation by the so-called super powers (America and Russia). In Britain, children born at the end of the World War II were brought up in a stultifying economic and cultural environment. They were taught not to question; seen and not heard. Adherence was given to the churches strict moral teachings; and the class system was still very deeply entrenched in society.
Sex was not discussed openly; therefore, many young people were sexually inexperienced and had little or no knowledge of contraception. Young unmarried women who became pregnant outside marriage were ostracised. The working classes at this time were quite poor, with little or no modern amenities; for example housing was poor, without bathrooms, electricity or inside toilets. History – Counter Culture Now let’s look at what happened in the sixties, which will help explain how historians have concluded that the huge social changes that took place in the sixties could be termed Counter Culture. Was it only a matter of time before young people rebelled against such repression? Look at social oppression throughout history – this type of regime almost inevitably fails. America, Europe, and Britain were experiencing the first stirrings of opposition to authority; young people started to question, authority.
Universities staged protests against many things, e.g. the Vietnam War, civil rights etc. In 1955 Rock and Roll music came over to Britain from America. This caused a great transformation in popular music. The staid BBC radio were forced (through the popularity of illegal pirate radio ships), for the first time, to broadcast popular music all day.
The fight for civil rights by black Americans began in Montgomery, Alabama. The taking of recreational drugs such a marijuana and LSD began. The masses could now afford to buy a television This made a huge impact on peoples lives in the widest cultural sense. They could see what was happening throughout the world, they were more informed and educated through this medium. The recovery of the post war economy brought a brighter future as there was more money available, people began to buy large household items on credit (the never never) they filled their houses with (all mod cons) the like of fridges, vacuum cleaners and washing machines; at last women were liberated from household drudgery They started to fight for equality (Feminism), and certainly the discovery of the pill gave them freedom from unwanted pregnancies and therefore greater sexual equality with men.
Was this discovery the most important social change in the sixties, undoubtedly it had a great impact and effected the attitude of young people towards sex in the sixties? Education saw more working class people attending University. There was a new entrepreneurial surge especially by the young. Even the clothes the young wore were novel and highly distinctive. In looking at some of the historical happenings mentioned, it is obvious that a great deal of opposition and shift in culture was happening in a way that had never occurred before, but through the use of periodisation you can see distinct similarities to other periods in history. For example the Feminist cause could be said to be a natural follow-on from the Suffragette Movement. The fight for civil rights in the deep south of America is related to the fight to abolish slavery as this area was where the greatest concentration of slaves lived and worked in the cotton fields, therefore there was still a large population of blacks living in this part of America.
Was it these circumstances that brought about the Counter Culture of the Sixties? They could be asserted as the trigger for the shift in culture, but again many other things must be taken into account that had a huge influence on the lives of people throughout the period of the sixties. History of Science By the end of the 19th Century science seemed to have managed to shake off the restrictions placed upon it by religion. No doubt this did not affect the working class as in this period they would not question, because of insufficient understanding of science, through lack of education. Those that were interested in science were the educated, i.e. the clergy, middle and upper classes. The scientific profession seemed to have survived the dogma, that the likes of Darwin and Wallace were unable to escape.
Science in the Sixties seemed to advance in a markedly rapid way. Russia beat America in the space race by launching Sputnik I. America soon followed and was the first to land a man on the moon. In Britain, Sir Christopher Cockerill invented the Hovercraft; and Christiaan Barnard carried out the first Heart Transplant in South Africa. America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) with hundreds of thousands of people wiped out at a stroke. This act brought science into question, how could it justify its involvement with something so amoral. Did Science travel too fast; did it reach a peak and topple over in the sixties? To reiterate, the sixties was the time of the sceptic, and certainly science or technocracy did not avoid an assault. The American academic, Theodore Rozak, believed that science had t …