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What really happened in the 60s

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There is a very tiresome and tedious ritual of either demonising the 60s (the 60s are to blame for our present day pathologies) or romanticising the 1960s (that is when it was good to be alive). The beginnings of cultural change were not stimulated by the Sixties’ kids growing their hair or dropping LSD but are found somewhere further back, in the period belonging to the insupportable greyness of the post-war Fifties. There were those who w provided a space in which to breathe. (Kerouac, Genet, Burroughs and John Coltrane) before there was Timothy Leary, Marcuse, Germaine Greer and the Beatles. The batallions with their long hair, tabs of 'window pane' (acid), rizla rollers for their spliffs (cannabis) and liberated genitals blowing in the wind, may have been the vanguard, but they were not the army. Mind muddling dope (supposedly liberating)and the resulting half-arsed prounouncements are only a very small part of the 60s vista. Most accounts of the 60s decade, Sandbrook states, ‘concentrate overwhelmingly on the activities of this relatively small, well-educated minority, usually people who were in their teens or twenties at the time and went on to become well-paid writers, journalists, publishers, rocks musicians and so on. It wasn't all duffel-coated students waving their little Red Books, 'The Thoughts of Mao', dropping tabs of acid, watching nouvelle vague French films while they affectedly smoked Gauloise cigarettes and pondered the world’s iniquities Hallucinogens and the Pill was very slow to reach the North of England or the Scottish Highlands. Besides all cultural change have their roots in earlier periods, where they come to full fruition, so the cause of the 60s rather than the effect might be a more interesting study. The so-called permissive society provoked as much unease and anger as celebration, and the counterculture and the New Left had little lasting influence. Life at the end of the 1960s was much more like life in the early 1950s than is generally presumed, notably in the areas of popular culture and leisure activities, in which Britain remained doggedly committed to traditional tastes and pursuits. In summary, the millions of people who passed through adolescence in the late 1950s and 1960s should not all be judged by the antics of a wealthy and well-educated minority, by the posturing of the most radical, by the violence of the most disaffected or by the promiscuity of the most wanton. The teenagers of the 1960s, after all, were also the estate agents, insurance agents,refuse disposal operators, post-office workers and car park attendants of the 1970s. Source David Edgar

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