It was not a marginal protest group but a collection of thoughts and attitudes from those that were central to society. However, the thoughts of advancement differed, some thought Science was not at fault – only those that used it ill, whereas, Roszak’s proposition of abandonment of Science does seem to be rather an extremist viewpoint. Multiple events accumulated and converged until the Vietnam War and in 1968 it was stated that student undertaking graduate or post-graduate studies could also be called to serve.
Science was becoming a moral/political problem as the counter-culture rejected the imperialist nature of the war and the chemical destruction. However, some scientists could not distinguish the moral from their technical research. Questions were being raised as to what restrictions should be placed on scientific research and how to distinguish between the moral and political problems that were inextricably being tied together. Rather than accepting what the ‘authority’ had to say, a counter culture was rejecting their claims and raising important points.
The counter-movement in Science was about constructing a more democratic society that was not dominated by a scientific-technological elite and wanting to assemble a more humanitarian society. A new demand for women to play a greater role in Science was fuelled by feelings that they were being ostracised from an exciting and rewarding career. One reason for these feelings were that the research laboratory quite often represented the gender roles that were expected in the home. Alice Rossi remarked in 1965 that there was a social responsibility to help women manage family, home and profession and that ‘conflicts and difficulties […
] can be a spur to creative social change. ‘ (B6, Resource Book 4, page 51) The Cultural Revolution did see a rise in the roles of women in Science, particularly in the area of Primatology. For women, their research questioned ideology and politics in a way that hadn’t been challenged before. It was found that the female primates were not as docile as expected and that they did take an active part in the construction and maintenance of a community – frequently ‘juggling’ tasks such as childcare, feeding, eating and protection.
It is also interesting that Frances Kelsey’s previously radical claims about the embryo and mother reacting differently to drugs was also found to be conclusive during the Thalidomide tragedy. RELIGIOUS STUDIES Theodore Roszak stated in The Making of A Counter Culture, published in 1969, that the ‘cultural constellation’ was changing in favour of ‘ the psychology of alienation, oriental mysticism, psychedelic drugs and communitarian experiments. ‘ (The Sixties, Block 7, page 122) Some or all of these aspects can be seen in the New Religious Movements (NRM’s) of the Sixties.
Some of the conceived attitudes of the counter-culture, such as desire for self-enhancement and spiritual quests, were appropriate for the expansion of religious innovation. In Wallis’s typology (The Sixties, Block 7, page 127) we see religion categorised as ‘world rejecting’ on one level and ‘world affirming’ on another with a balance of ‘world accommodating’ religions central to these. These divisions are based on the attitudes of each particular religion towards society. The eastern religions such as the Spiritual Regeneration Movement (SRM) were seen as world affirming as they openly celebrated the ‘world’.
The various Jesus People Movements (JP’s) quite often represented the world rejecting religions as they favoured community alienation and researched the Bible as their doctrinal teaching in a very literal sense. The use of mind altering drugs were advocated by Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary in an effort to bring the individual closer to religious experiences. Huxley saw drugs as a tool into a non-verbal consciousness, which he saw a spiritual state and Leary remarked that ‘The LSD trip is a religious pilgrimage.
‘ (The Sixties, Block 7, page 131) It is easy to see why this would appeal to people searching for spiritual truth – ease of effort and time, a quick-fix religious experience. This aspect could most definitely be seen as a ‘Cultural Revolution’, drug use and direct path to enlightenment, a stark contrast to the mainstream dogmatic teachings, which often rested on guilt and redemption. The search for self-fulfilment and identity fitted easily into the low-commitment SRM. This movement did not demand rejection of Western lifestyle or self-denial and fitted easily into the consumerist counter-culture lifestyle.
(The Sixties, Block 7, page 139) The idea of god being within the individual and unity through transcendent experience is analogous with Leary’s hypothesis for LSD use. The SRM preached that suffering was a result of world-wide neglect of meditation and that through meditation, like TM, one could reach a plane of existence which was mystic and benevolent. Joan Harrison explained in The Cult Explosion that a practice of TM did produce ‘superficial results right away’. Her quest was parallel to that of the counter-culture in that she ‘was a seeker looking for ultimate answers.
‘ (C7, Resource Book 4, page 80) The JP movement covered a number of different groups. They all emphasised a conversion of youth culture – away from the drug culture and into the arms of God. The thing that binds them together is that they preached a set of universally true values that were seen as averse to the materialistic mainstream culture. David Berg, leader of the ‘Children of God’, had a standard letter to send to the parents of the teenagers that followed his teachings. ‘The kids are rebellious against society because society is anti-God.
‘ (C8, Resource Book 4, page 81) However, some may argue they exchanged one addiction for another. Previous members and family members built the image of the ‘cult’ which scared people into actions such as deprogramming. However, there is no doubt that in many ways the communal environment and military style living helped those who were previously part of a sub-culture re-establish themselves back into a normality. The religious movements were an influencing aspect to the Cultural Revolution as they encouraged diversity and experimentation.
Although many of the movements lost public interest and changed direction they nonetheless left an important message about tolerance, personal choice and fulfilment through the individual which I believe has stuck within society today. CONCLUSION Overall, I think the term ‘Cultural Revolution’ is absolutely appropriate to describe the events of the ‘long sixties’. This essay is not exhaustive by any means and alongside the disciplines discussed there were great changes in music, art and other areas which all contributed to each other. It does seem that the situational causes picked up a momentum for the counter-culture.
The sixties counter-culture had a ‘domino effect’ – each new thought or idea fuelled a more extremist view and this fed into all disciplines, not just religion and science but also in literature, art and music. I feel that the vision of the counter-culture, of a more tolerant and democratic society did reach its realisation, though some may disagree. Jim Haynes’ autobiography, ‘Thanks for Coming! ‘ shows the deflation felt by many after the era lapsed; ‘The end of the sixties came as an incredible collapse [… [we weren’t going to change the world. We could only maybe change ourselves a bit. And I think that this resulted in a depression.
‘ (A4, Resource Book 4, page 24) I think what he says about ‘changing ourselves’ is perhaps the most significant. These people grew to be adults, a generation older and these are now the elders of society, the people that fought for freedom and did ‘change’ themselves. So through the change of each individual comes a change of community, to a change or a society, to the change of the world. This tolerant attitude has been fed down to two or three further generations. So, surely this was the ‘Cultural Revolution’ – a culture we live in now, celebrating the individual, which is far removed from that prior to the ‘long sixties’.
TOTAL WORDS: 2079 BIBLIOGRAPHY The Open University (1998), A103 Block 7, The Sixties: Mainstream Culture and Counter-culture, Milton Keynes, The Open University The Open University (1998), A103 Resource Book 4, Milton Keynes, The Open University The Open University (1997), Illustration Book, Bath, The Open University The Open University, A103 TV25 The Open University, A103 TV26 The Open University, A103 TV27 The Open University, A103 TV28 The Open University, A103 TV29 The Open University AC2342: Music in the 60’s.