tv Counterculture and San Francisco in 1967 CSPAN February 12, 2017 10:30pm-12:02am EST
as a public service and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> the american historical association convened a panel of historians who talked about the movements and groups that were part of the counterculture in the 1960's and 1970's focusing on san francisco in 1967. they debate the meaning of the terms counterculture and hippie and discuss the legacy of that time. the association hosted this event at their annual meeting. it is about an hour and a half. >> what i would like to do in this talk is introduce you to some of the literature on the counterculture. i should go back for just a moment. this presentation takes much longer to do thoroughly. i'm going to hit some of the
high points that i want to call attention to the fact that i have the url where the full presentation may be accessed. the final slide will happen again also. that way you could dwell longer on some of the slides, so i will be going over that lightly. the book came out in the last two years. the dust jacket blurb, it reads he gives the story of the american underground revolutionaries and what it has desperately needed. he has sifted the embers of the conflagration of the counterculture. that is what i want to begin with because this term "counterculture" has in recent years come to subsume everything that happened in the 1960's, particularly associated with activities on the left, whether baby of political or cultural origin and intent. you find this term being used in
many different ways over the course of the historiography. sometimes as a compound, two words, and sometimes as a single. it has become an umbrella term for the 60's, perhaps synonymous with that. there is an attempt to establish definitional clarity. hager is the source for anyone who wants to look at the origins of the term. it was originally contra culture and was devised as a way to differentiate culture from subculture and from this other sociological category that was neither. this is something popularized in the book , "the making of a counter space culture," which originated in a series of articles he did during the summer of love and the publisher asked if he would expand it into a book, which he did and that helped popularize the term.
i should mention that his book has never gone out of print. his attempt to make sense of this sociologically is to break off 60's counterculture. they tend to be referring to the 60's formation. but it is a term that has been used and can be applied historically to other sociological phenomenon like this. it is important to differentiate between the version that comes along in the 60's and other variations on counterculture. he makes the point that a counterculture breaks out of a mainstream culture, creates an objective space in which it can critique the mainstream culture and then engages in a low intensity warfare with the delete transform
the dominant culture. if it succeeds, it becomes the culture and maybe spins off its own countercultures. you could make the argument that christianity in its roman catacomb phase was an example of a counterculture with great aspirations and was ridiculed at the time and ended up sweeping its world in transforming norms and values of its own era. peter and i attempted to use this set of theories and invite authors to contribute to the first book historians did on the 60's counterculture. here, we made the attempt to first attempt to collectively analyze the phenomenon as it pertains to the 60's and 70's, not always with agreement as to what this thing is. i think you will hear echoes of
that discussion in our response to your comments to one another today. some of the issues historians need to contend with is what is the relationship between the hippies of the era and this thing we are calling the counterculture. what difference does it make you have a cradle or incubator of the counterculture? typically people associated with the haight-ashbury. hence, the name of our session. but there were multiple centers for innovation that fed into the screen that becomes identified by this term. historians from the 1980's through the 2005 book are attempting to establish the connection between hippies and counterculture. are the beats part of the 60's counterculture? were they distinctly different? there is an argument that can be
made that they were more in a subculture without a vision of utter transformation. the hippies came along with this expansive, utopian scheme. that would be one of the way to mark off the difference between them. it's easier to say when this thing exists because you see references in the primary sources, but some people, myself among them, make the argument that 60's counterculture persists into the present. it is not always easy to recognize because of the ways it has been accommodated by mainstream culture and itself has been transformed in the process. theorizing the counterculture, there are many ways to do this. these are six books have come out in the last 15 years or so to attempt to come up with a variance about the counterculture and assessing
whether it was something that had lasting impact or not. i have attempted to group in the succeeding slides the categories of literatures. there's over 100 monographs and i've tried to cluster them according to categories. one notable category is to look at the literature of neoconservative critiques of the counterculture. i didn't article on this topic for a book david and beth put together for the columbia guide to the 60's which investigated what the impact of the counterculture was from where it was first noticed in the 1960's and differentiated from the beats and bringing it to the present. one of the things that struck me
was writers on the left regarded the counterculture as a gigantic failure in many respects, but it was the people on the right that regarded its impact as catastrophically effective. you would not think you would go there but it raises interesting questions about who's paying attention to whether culture trumps politics, something we might want to take up in the questions and comments. the rest of the presentation is on a seven-second slide loop. you will see a slide out for seven seconds under the various categories. what i wanted you to know is the literature of the counterculture is burgeoning. it treats a whole set of issues, including some i'm sure my colleagues will be addressing having to do with race, class, ethnicity, matters of how the american diet has been
transformed utterly by counter cuisine launched by the counterculture and the food co-op movement and persisting into the present. counterculture humor. virtually everyone who writes the 1960's piece talks about how "mad magazine" presented a frame of reference to people who could be irreverent toward authority and something of that humor became transformative not only within the counterculture, but humor and comedy was transformed as well. the media, we talk about alternative media and the ways that allow access to people who did not own their own presses. there is a literature that roots the current developments with alternative media to the underground newspapers of the era.
art, architecture, and literature. many books on this. i've talked to colleagues at the school of architecture at my university. they say they don't really teach the architectural developments of the 1960's much. recent books are beginning to take these more seriously. environmentalism, countercultural origins of the earth day and other events that were an attempt to bring people together with a vision of transformation. largely by sidestepping politics initially has been , getting its authors as well. communalism persists. there are fewer communal groups noted today than there were in the 1960's. today, the countercultural communes and intentional
communities are a way to show there is persistence and you might say sociological reproductions of the communal living effort. to conclude, the impact this thing called the 1960's counterculture has had on american culture is vast. i've tried to make some sense of it categorically with the literature that is out. going to the powerpoint presentation online will give you more of the specifics on that. but one of the things i want to make as my final point before a by trying to that erase the boundary between art and life, between the public and private by challenging traditional , authority structures, we may seen an unintended consequence by creating the kind of social space currently being filled by trumpism.
so with that, this is where the link where you will be able to find the complete presentation. and with that, now i would like to yield to my colleague, david. >> thank you so much, michael. good to be here. a lot of what i want to say is yes, good point, but i differ quite a bit in what i want to say.
one of the ways to think about what we are doing is making some money off the 50th anniversary of something. that seems to be one of the things we historians get to do. the summer of love is a great opportunity. i'm going to san francisco and santa fe. it is like the stations of the hip cultural cross. so hooray for anniversaries. the summer of love is one of the ways in which we think about counterculture and the 60's that is against how we as scholars should think about the phenomenon. the summer of love was a marvelous event. it drew together some 100,000 people from across the country come to san francisco -- it was a monumental spectacle and a fascinating one. it was produced however to an end by a particular group of people. and the people who produced the counterculture, the council of the summer of love, are more the kind of people we should be interested in as scholars.
what i want to talk about is not so much the counterculture as spectacle or as a series of iconic events or six or eight celebrity figures, but as a project, as a way in which a group of people tried to do something in real time. from 1965 to 1968, the glory years of the counterculture in journalistic terms is probably a misleading way to think about the project of the counterculture as it was crafted by people invested in doing something. i'm much more interested in thinking about the counterculture as a series of productions, not as a spectacle or sociological phenomenon stuck in time that had no diatribe development, but a historical event and an event i don't think we know much about. some of the books are the ones that michael showed.
but some of these are the very best. a song are not on there, apologies. i think what we are trying to say is there are certain things -- themes we are starting to create a historiography of the counterculture rather than a journalistic response or one more descriptive set of pictures of what that should be. these are some of the books i am invested in. when i want you to think about and what these books inc. about is was it people who thought they were crafting some sort of counterculture interested in a project of cultural rebellion that had institutional and personal forms what was it , they thought they were about? they were not something to be described from without but something people did themselves. and to find that archive, to find the sources that reveal the personal projects that lend themselves to alternative
institutions and practices, that is a difficult task. the reason the historiography of the counterculture has been weak is because we are dependent on representations. we use underground newspapers or iconic photos or a series of memoirs from 10 or 12 really well-known people. the hard work has just begun. one of the awesome ways to do it is to move outside of san francisco but stay within the dead. the grateful dead archive is an incredible source. stanford has a whole series of papers about the tech visionaries who came out of the counterculture. there are places to go to do the historical work 50 years later that is yet to be done. while doing that kind of paper trail search, we cannot forget there were lenses through which the counterculture is best
perceived. it is useful to understand that at the core, i would argue in some of the books i is that at the core of what we are talking about is this cultural production process was acid. that was often the key hole through which you had it to enter to create that new project. and how we think about that sensibility that technical tool. ,acid was a technical tool that opened the door. while we have written about it, we have not explored again outside of a few iconic figures. the tech community has been an incredible window as it is shocking how many scientists of all kinds used acid to change the paradigms through which they had been trained as
graduate students. and it is something we could reproduce in disciplinary act after disciplinary act. it is o in those disciplinary eruptions i think the legacy of the counterculture is best perceived and is better understood than thinking about the panhandling dope head sitting on the corner of haight-ashbury. drugs matter, but who takes those drugs and why the drugs have the effect they did in the 60's and early 70's is something we are still wrestling with as scholars to understand. the technology of drugs is imperative as an understanding not just of the 60's but the production of history. what drugs we use at a given time and place have an ability to change the direction of a given society. one of the things people in the 60's talked about before the summer of love was the ways people had to take their drug experiences, their sense of alienation, their sense that
something was in disruption and figure out what to do about it. gary schneider was probably the wisest got to something was in disruption ande counterculture, those who were trying to find rebellion with meaning. there is the turn toward simplicity, the drive to go back to the earth in some fundamental sense. but he also says learn new techniques. tomorrow's that are different. that's what we are still trying to figure out about the counterculture. not that they went back to arcade times and decked themselves out in costumes, but how they try to find new technology and knowledge, new disciplinary forms, new ways of disseminating information and -- in nonhierarchical forms. those new ways of being in the world that let themselves to
institutional change, disciplinary eruptions and real , practices that had a difference in everyday lives those are the things we are , trying to write about all those decades later. and which the history profession has chosen mostly not to write about but are being written about from the outside. and that is something we are really in need of doing. whether it will happen or not, i don't know. i talk to mainstream public -- to publishers and they are not caught by the counterculture. they dismiss it as a subject of great importance. we have to convince them differently and i think our friends and historians, environmental historians have led the way in reframing the counterculture. the history of capitalism, technology, the history of consciousness, all those fields are ripe for a
countercultural re-visitation. that is enough area banks. last slide. -- that is enough. thanks. last slide. look at that. [applause] >> my name is gretchen and i am the author of "daughters of aquarius." which i wrote in part hoping to generate further scholarship and research . that has unfortunately not been the case. but what i would like to do today is talk about the connection between cultural women's --d hit the women's-- hippie post-60's legacy. when women of the counterculture became feminist, i argue they disproportionately adopted an offshoot of radical feminism
that essential items gendered difference and we labeled feminism by second wavers and made sense in the broader context of the counterculture. allen ginsberg was not alone in observing that kindness cooperation, reciprocity, egalitarianisme, , intuitive ways of knowing, and emotional and physical expressiveness, what he termed the affectionate feminine were at the heart of the utopian experience. given this convergence of countercultural variance and gender construct that women presumably possess, the very qualities the counterculture allotted, it should come as no surprise hippie women seized upon the difference to claim power in their own movement. while radical feminists characterized hippie women as politically naive, sexually
exploited dredges, hippie women saw themselves as launching an assault on prevailing class and gender norms. including the suburban domesticity of their mothers. example, their labor while often domestic in character, was performed in communal, rural or rustic environments, rendering it more creative, varied, challenging and undeniably crucial to the well-being of their families and communities. in the end, it was not their roles that they found oppressive it was men's failure ,to value their labor. efforts in more transitory situations ended up sustaining many of the more grand social experiments. third, the affirmation of a different feminist vision was living and working in community with other women,
especially in rural, back to the lan settings. women developed and sustained mutual support networks that reinforced female bonding and identity. out of this environment came a growing realization that their hippie sisters provided greater support and affirmation than the men folk and that they, the women, were the true keepers of aquarian values. as one woman noted -- the values that have been labeled feminine are badly needed in giving birth to and nurturing a new era of greater peace and justice in human history. cultural feminism growing organically out of the women's experience became the feminism of choice. it was not, however, universally accepted or accepted without question. competing feminisms also
made their way into the counterculture. this was particularly the case as the new left and counterculture began to blur with each assuming aspects of the other until they were virtually indistinguishable. hippie women's narratives often conclude with a feminist awakening that not only involves female bonding experiences, but reading the firestone dialectic affects or sexual politics. this richness and complexity of this interplay of competing feminisms in the counterculture really banks for -- really banks egs for further investigation. while the limitations of cultural feminism have been amply documented, we can't dismiss it as an unfortunate diversion from true feminism.
or as having little or no historical impact. nor were countercultural women alone in reviving it. lesbians feminists who launched their own back to land movement also gravitated toward its precepts. what then was the legacy of hippie women's cultural feminism? in the short-term, it led many to demand authority and respect in their own personal relationships and extended communal families. in the longer scheme and in keeping connected with the long 60's narratives and the theme of this panel, hippie women claiming to be aligned with natural, vital and cosmic forces and divine feminine energy, went on to craft and promote new alternativesal that ran the gamut from neopaganism, meditation and buddhismg to tibetan
and the appropriation of native american spiritual traditions. packaged and marketed in various combinations they , provided americans with a veritable smorgasbord of spiritual options and fostered a greater degree of tolerance for religious pluralism. by the early 1980's, counterculture women dominated the holistic healing movement, outnumbering male practitioners in yoga, massage,m aromatherapy, to biofeedback, non-western traditions and creative visualization. these soon became lifestyle options for mainstream americans. their influence was even more pronounced in the home birth and natural mothering movements where countercultural women established practices as midwives and childbirth coaches, and created networks,
advocacy and support groups, websites and retail establishments. as a consequence, childbirth practices once limited to the counterculture are as mainstream as yoga and meditation. peace and environmental activism were two other arenas where cultural feminism and countercultural values converged to heighten women's authority and power. by the mid-1970's, hippie women were asserting they naturally possessed the temperament and values necessary to counter the destructive masculine energies of the piscean age. a few years later when activists initiated protests against nuclear power and weapons, this philosophy permeated their organization and shaped their strategy and tactics. kathleen duffy, an organizer of the 1983 international day of
nuclear disarmament, asserted that it's not the women of this planet who are responsible for this mess. we have been brought to the precipice by a way of thinking that is only scientific and steer i'll don't -- sterile. women could never conceive of an idea like the pentagon. similarly, cultural feminism crept into the radical environmentalism of the 70's and 80's where women claimed leadership roles by virtue of their supposedly deeper connections to nature. as one activist noted, women have always thought to elude the paradigm. there is nothing like the experience of one's belly growing into a mountain to teach you this. in both movements, cultural feminism came up against critiques. of militarism and environmental
degradation. the resulting battle over what should be the dominant feminist paradigm or analysis the organic foods sustainable farming movement is of the final arena in which countercultural's women's influence extended way beyond the 60's. within their communities, hippie women assumed to major responsibility for food preparation, procurement, and preparation and viewing it as a critical element of cultural transformation. as such, they revived sustainable environmental practices and emphasized the health and environmental benefits of organic, locally nonmeat based diets.
they started restaurants and bakeries and even packaged natural food companies. by 1997, it became one of the top selling cookbooks in history. it's phenomenal popularity indicated that countercultural food preferences have gone mainstream. one final thought, despite its reification of gender, a category feminists were intent on deconstructing, cultural feminism allowed many feminists to push their values into the mainstream. whatever our estimation of their legacy and the feminism that it, it undeniably reshaped how americans nurse their body, relate to the
environment, give birth, raise children and conceptualized health, family and community and these two are other areas right for investigation. -- ripe for further investigation. [applause] >> i'm sherry smith. i'm an instructor from southern methodist university and my field is native american history in the native american west. i'm kind of an outlier here, but my interest in policy in the late 20th century led me to the counterculture. in 1967, the summer of love was in full spring. and we interviewed buffy sainte marie. how many of you in the audience know who she is? some of you do. she is a canadian folksinger and one of the most prominent people
in countercultural circles in the day in 1967. what sheter asked her thought about hippies in their fascination with the indians. she was slightly amused but mostly dismissive and quite critical. they will never be indian, she said. the white people never seem to realize they cannot that the soul out of the race. the ones with the sweetest intentions are the worst soul suckers. comparing their sympathetic interests and inclination to mimic what they thought of as , and this included longhair, eating buckskin and peyote. comparing that interest to a weird vampire like impulse, sante marie sent those hippies in a tradition of co-opting
those who they conquered. reading books about indians, reading books are eating peyote would help no one, she said. instead, they should accept their whiteness, be the best kind of white people they can be and understand there are things that white people will never have or become. they should face of their own history, they should accept what they or their nation or ancestors have done and they should do something honorable as white people to address is the consequence of conquest. this critique of countercultural interest was pointed and powerful and ever since it has been the dominant interpretation of how this phenomenon has been understood by the general public as well as by scholars. hippies attentiveness to native americans is seen as little more than mindless cultural appropriation, a continuation of
the colonial process doing more harm than good to indians, representing only a passing fashion among the white appropriators. i will to go on record as saying there is without doubt a good deal of truth to this interpretation and also i completely understand the pernicious this of cultural appropriation. however, it is my contention that to leave it at that is insufficient. there was more going on and more we need to think about as historians about the consequences of this. it ignores the political consequences of the phenomenon and it ignores the smart, savvy way that native american political activists at the time understood this cultural turn toward indians and consciously used it or their own purposes. to ignore the political implications of hippies interest in indians is to erase the
political shrewdness with which indian people played on those sympathies to rally widespread support and effective support for real political gains. it is not actually just a story about why people playing indian. it is about indian people understanding the value to be tapped in those inclinations for their own purposes. what eventually happened, i argue in my book was exactly what buffy sante marie was encouraging. for many of those people originally drawn to indianess, they did get deeper and face of their nation's history of conquest and try to do something honorable. i can only a few ideas to support this contention i made. i want to talk very briefly about why the interest in indians among the counterculture
and where did this superficial interest turn into something more consequential. san francisco in 1957 starting with the be-in and the summer of love was ground zero for the hit the return to indianess. if alternative seekers did not come to california with indians on their mind, they could not avoid them once as they picked up the haight-ashbury newspaper called "the oracle" or looked at rock 'n roll concerts'posters representing photos of indians. the event billed itself as a powwow, a gathering of the tribes. and believe me they did not have in mind federally recognized
tribes. why indians? they offered a living base for a new alternative american identity. both symbols of the potential models for ways and practices that many people were rejecting about white american life. they were more spiritual compared to the materialism of their own backgrounds. they were presumably travel and communal rather than individualistic. they were genuine holdouts against american conformity. people who embraced drugs, as we have already heard, they were supposedly people who embraced drugs because of the peyote cult. and for those already politically engaged, at a time when the world was witnessing global decolonization movement, with the u.s. involvement in
vietnam elicited foreign and domestic consideration of american imperialism abroad, indians were a reminder of american imperialism at home and an opportunity to speak to that. this collection of attributes represented romanticized perspectives of what being indian in america meant and that is why buffy sante marie was so disdainful. in their efforts to know more, some of these 60's seekers are some of the first non-indians of the postwar generation to seek out contact with the native americans and to do so because they wanted to emulate them. i think this is unheard of in the entire scope of american history. there are always people going indian back in the colonial days but this is a mass and social and cultural movement we have not seen before in american
history. you have to member the political context of this which was quite antithetical of celebrating indians. the culture of the 1960's was signed to liquidate reservations and destroyed tribal councils. to eliminate treaty rights. it was to extinguish indian from the united states altogether. the counterculture was it to replicate them. in the process of seeking out actual indian people, whether to the native american church and peyote context or visits to the hopi pueblo in the hopes of creating a hippie be-in in relation to the summer solstice. they began to learn about the complexities of reservation life and their political problems. they began to learn about them
and write about them and eventually many joined them in their fight. on the other side of this, many indian people did not welcome hippies to their communities. they were deeply skeptical of their intent. they were clear eyed about the limitations of these starry eyed youths and they were to about the impact of drugs and sexual practices would have on their own impressionable children. not to mention the antiwar, anti-military sentiment of many hippies which violated native american, and common respect for military service. they ignore that these humans could be useful. there very privilege and bodies be mobilized on behalf of indian interest. without significant non-indian support, trouble calls for right tension of treaty rights,
self-determination and sovereignty would go nowhere. the political context, the demographic realities where indians represent a tiny minority of america demanded non-indian allies. if these not necessarily the most attractive choice, would not have been there first choice but they were the most available and the first who were willing to help. it happened in a lot of different places. let me just give you one example. in the pacific northwest, hank adams who was sioux and semioi, he recruited marlon brando and did gregory to come up to the northwest and engage in protest to bring attention to the problems they were having. he also attracted a cluster of hippies and leftist college aged students to support fish ins on the river. fish ins were civil acts of disobedience.
they were north west corollaries to the sit in in the south but in this case only indian people would engage in the fishing and the white kids with revised material support and transportation and would participate in other types of public protest. they were the ones who were attracting the attention of the media to the story precisely because of their whiteness. which in the long-term lead to more media attention and significant political attention and resolution of this issue in favor of the northwest tribes fishing rights at the supreme court level. a remarkable success story. to be sure the lion share of credit for the success rest on indian shoulders of the support of non-indians was really an absolutely essential element to
the outcome of what happened. i could give you many other examples but i'm running out of time. let me return very briefly to the summer of love in san francisco and the convergence there. the counterculture attraction to indianess began in ignorance and was superficial in many cases, but because of the white -- widespread interest in native americans and the enormous media attention, the summer of love and the counterculture and because of the shrewd political calculations and strategies of some native activist, that interest became of broad importance to the cultural shift that occurred in the 1960's and 70's regarding indian affairs. what began as fashion or posturing turned into serious interest and concern and that has potency as it spread beyond
the hippies and became part of mainstream america. two nights ago i attended a forum in jackson hole, wyoming about standing rock. mostly twentysomething white privileged kids who are currently footloose, they don't call themselves hippies, but they come close. work to dot have any in november and december between the summer and winter tourist season so they organized this event to talk about their pilgrimages to the camp in north dakota which they have done over the last couple of months. they put together caravans full of good winter year collected in wyoming and they also brought tons of firewood and lots of food. they stayed for maybe a couple of days and then they wanted to talk about it. they express amazement at the sense of community and harmony they were receiving while they were there.
as i listened to their testimony, it was clear they have almost no understanding of the issues and to no information about the deeper history of what is happening there, but like the hippies at frank's landing in washington state, they wanted to help the indians and so they did. they showed up with materials and political support and here is the most important thing, they came because of the standing rock sioux tribe asked them to come and join them. that was part of their political strategy. the media been followed. all summer long i kept wondering why is nobody covering this tory, when does this reporting begin, it begins when other people, other indians but certainly other non-indians begin to show up. when they begin to flow to the camp media attention is ratcheted up, that ratchets political pressure and at least until the inauguration of our new president, the pipeline has
been stopped. i find in standing rock the same patterns i find in the 60's and 70's are being repeated with the deep problematic element of cultural appropriation not part of the situation in 2017. these kids were not going to be indian but were going to help them. they are the living examples of the cultural and political turn i took in my book. [applause] >> thank you. i am from the university of washington and i wrote a book called "american hippies." and all four panels and their work and their thinking really helped shape my little project which was to do a short volume and kind of convincing the whole topic something that would be easily readable by an
undergraduate. i think that every time i approach the topic of the counterculture and i would work on one side, i would find something popping up on the other side and ultimately it seems to be a very amorphous topic. it runs in so many different directions. i think that sherry smith in her comment used the phrase seekers and that is the one thing, young seekers of the 60's, certainly some people were out to have a good time and somewhere out for political change. it was not clear that these were in conflict with each other. wanting to have a good time while fighting for political change. and maybe in north dakota that is true, one suspects. sherry said something about that and one of the radical students there was richard white and
richard white took away from this the question of why are things the way they are and he went to the university of washington and had a long conversation with someone who suggested he should be a graduate student. that is how richard's graduate career was launched after living among the lasqually for a while. that was after he graduated from santa cruz, i might add. i don't know, where does one begin with all of this, the summer of love, as david points out, there is a lot of hype involved in the summer of love and i'm sure mike pointed this out too. the summer of love this focus attention on a particular time and place and in one sense of
the media notice it but in another sense the media also hiked it and it created -- media also hyped it and created more people who came. what created this was the california postwar generation boom. their wives had moved to the west coast to work in war industries. they decided the family should stay there and they had children and then they have more children and they had suburbs. california's population went up more than 50% between 1940 and 1950. the baby boomer children in california were different and richard white has commented about this because he was from the new york area and his parents moved to california in
the early 50's at a time when they were having increasing tensions between his mother's relatives and his father's relatives. one way to get away from this was to move to california 3000 miles away from the relative. he describes how california simply seemed to be a much freer place partly because of the numbers of children, just sheer numbers and to not having the grandparents, not having ants and uncles, not having at ethnic neighborhoods. it has higher per capita income but lower housing costs. people were doing well in california in the 1950's. what happens by 1967, the kids grow up and the economy is beginning to slow down just at the time the children are reaching working age and for middle-class families who want children with the neighbors in california, i guess that is a good thing, but for the vast
majority of children who came out of california, they didn't have much. haight-ashbury sounded exciting. this was surplus labor in the most painful kind of way and to making the most about one's poverty by boasting about it was a way to get through the period. and there was the alternative known as the vietnam war. whether that was an alternative you wanted to be part of was another matter. people who went to haight-ashbury made a decision they do not want to be part of the war. haight-ashbury and the counterculture tails off just as soon as of the war tales off. at least in its most overt fashion. by the 70's, the war is in the past and the counterculture is in the past. you can see the influence of steve jobs and high tech and the
idea of feminists and the rise of natural foods and natural childbirth and other kinds of cultural changes that take place. it was any or a where we had an enormous amount of cold rule change and we are indeed living with the consequences of it to this a day. should i into with that, i think so. it is time for people to ask questions. because we are recording, come up to the mic. >> no one wants to come up to the mic? >> i had a brief question. you talked about the 60's a lot in terms of the counterculture but in my experience it seems the early 70's was when this idea expanded into mass culture. just interested in your thoughts on that.
counterculture fits within the long 60's narrative for that reason. their legacy continue to be on the 70's and even into the 80's and blake's work documents of that as well. i suspect my colleagues would be in agreement with me on this one. >> it depends on what you think the counterculture was. if you take a bill's perspective and you write a book called "hippies" and who he is one way of thinking about the counterculture. it goes from 1975 to 1971. most of the stories move in a different direction. if you think the counterculture is more about disrupting disciplinary norms and trying to
find new norms of expression and ways of being in the world, then the. then the periodization changes. based on a great set of photographs by a guy named irving klein, you have this disruption, they dropped the massive and they think, now what do i do? i'm more interested in the now what do i do part counterculture which goes from 1967 at least into the late 1970's when i think things change again. josh clark davis has another new book coming out called "from headshops to whole foods." the divide between counterculture and the mainstream is a false dichotomy.
instead we think about disruption and what happens when society disrupts itself and how does it reformulated health in terms of those new distortionary knowledges. he had a different periodization. it is not about hippies. >> no one like the word hippies except time magazine. >> it was the hype word of the late-60's but when he say this is does not reflect the generation, i think the generational aspect is certainly true in the 60's, there is a generational tension there. i don't mind people using counterculture instead of hippies. >> you see a term like hippies which a means to get great hipsters.
from the process of doing that converted it into something that had the power to insult. stephen gaskin against using the term hippies almost ironically and from that he picks it up so people who would have never called themselves hippies began doing that just as a way to take the power away from the insult. >> and book publishers like to use it in their titles. actually i'm not sure it has stopped. i think about steward brand to influence the people you are thinking about, right? he is still very much the same person he was in the 1960's in terms of trying to change the way one thinks about things and solves problems.
what would you do with him or stewart are -- or peter coyote or some of those people? >> i am a big believer that this yippie to yuppie is totally fallacious about thinking about a generational change. most of those people continue to hold dear to those true. and up to now are very great and have continued to write there memoirs. i completely agree with you, but i don't think that as a phenomenon of a collected experience generating toward a specific project, there is a continuation. in part because of the tremendous successes of those people, not of this thing the counterculture that of those cultural producers and disruptors. the world changed. my big point, if you start thinking instead about how did
we get from general motors to apple computer with its flattened hierarchy and its different way of disseminating knowledge. apple is one of the most accessible corporations in the world. it is not counterculture versus mainstream. everything changed. >> nor was it really the invention of the personal computer per se, it is jobs and others deciding there needs to be a personal computer so ibm does not have control. >> i will just add in terms of stewart brand, he is very critical of the 60's counterculture and yet if you look at the work he continues to do and his values, he embodies it. that is why it is so difficult to figure out who is in or was in and who is not. the people that i study and do oral history with our critical because they saw it as superficial and sensationalistic. they were in for the long march to the institutions but these
were alternative in to teach and. they did not think you could tackle the edifice that the institution has built and was reinforcing with powers it could only control. there has to be a way to find a new set of structures and the disruption david is talking about is absolutely on the mark. >> so why exactly is all the evidence to the contrary that the counterculture was invested in significant cultural change? wanting to build or create utopian alternatives to what existed, why then does this historical profession continue to ignore its significance or trivialize it? i'm not speaking about what i
can enter to be a relatively small number of historians who have embraced it, but i remember when i began "daughters of aquarius" and told my colleagues what i was doing. there were snickers right and left. why would you want to do that? is it because historians have come out of it and left? >> i have a pretty easy answer to that. history graphically we have been very invested in two generations now in the history of struggle, a noteworthy project, the counterculture was mainly white people, it was overwhelmingly overeducated people, it was male-dominated and it was not invested in overthrowing the structures of inequality. it's project was so different that it takes a different historiography.
how do we tell the story of the history of capitalism? do we care about institutional structures? now we are in the territory where the counterculture as a -- has a significance of that hippies doesn't. as we recast of the major fulcrum point of what we do as a business, that is an interesting question. it is still an uphill struggle because we are not writing about an overthrow of inequities. >> i do not completely agree that they were interested in any quality. the late 1960's, people i talked to who are interested in civil rights movement helped pushed out by black nationalism. in the case of native americans, they needed them, right? it is kind of overstating it but nevertheless you have a larger,
very important point that there are other kinds of questions that matter to us now where we can turn to this phenomenon or whatever you want to call it and find some new things to ask about it. i want to say one more thing, i think your question, i just want to piggyback on it to get something -- back to something that michael said. the left sees it as a failure and the conservatives are right that the counterculture has totally affected it -- was catastrophically affected. do they have evidence or were they so fearful about it that
they made it into a bigger thing that it was? >> in order to answer that, i'm trying to debate on whether to engage on the countercultures issuing dealing with cultures of any quality. one of your counter values is egalitarianism, what is that besides taking on inequality? it is the methodologies that perplex us. it is one thing to demonstrate it is one thing to organize a demonstration and another thing to organize a co-op. a co-op is egalitarian. in terms of the question you just post, let me say that, as we look at the new left project of trying to transform american politics up through the 70's one could see the expansion of civil rights, very effective in many respects. if you look at who is in power in the state houses and nationally, it doesn't look like it was the left's legacy, it was the right's. the right to got there by going against the cultural revolution
that was so sweeping that they used that as the way to gain political power which many of the people associated with the counterculture walked away from. they were not interested in getting elected office. they wanted to do something outside offices. you go from imagining that to doing it. >> thank you for a wonderful panel. i always as a historian had contempt for people who would begin by offering their credentials of having experienced the history we are talking about. i went to santa cruz and i was from these coast and i was in san francisco in 1967. without having this as my actual
research field, i actually think that hippies is a term, if i was a historian, i wouldn't shy away from but it was, in my experience, embraced by many people. there was that song -- was it merle haggard's proud to be a muskogie.m while i think the narrative of hippie to yuppie is wrong in many respects, i don't think that most of the people who would have considered themselves hippies or hippies of factors in 1967 did maintain. everybody i know from my cohort has some friend who they referred to as the last hippie. the person in their circle who
actually took drugs longest, did not have a real job longest, and maintained some kind of alternate but 1960's alternate lifestyle. i would just offer those as my random comment. >> notice hippie on the left and counterculture. >> i am from heritage university and this is very close to what my research area is in. i want to go back to mike's definition talking about the counterculture looking to separate and replace something -- and i want to go back to the counterculture building things. the most meaningful ones
required time, leisure, resources and what we haven't talked about here is the fact that the counterculture was emerging in a post-scarcity context and that tends to echo with how the counterculture was critique to a certain extent by people on the left as escapist, as a group of people engaged in a process of consumption and consumption within a capitalist economic system. you can see this in the summer of love by looking at the diggers. the diggers were politically radical. they have radical ideas but i think you can fairly critique them and say their idea of thing free wasings being
contentious on overconsumption. you have to consume free things, they have to be produced somewhere. i am wondering whether you inc. -- where the you think the critique of the counterculture as being dependent on capitalist overconsumption is a fair one? whether that undermines any of the projects you are looking together -- to better engage in and in general how dependent was the counterculture on that context? i think this also relates to the decline of the counterculture in the 1970's. someone mentioned that the quote decline of the counterculture coincides with the ending of the vietnam war. i would suggest is has more to do with the changes of economic circumstances in the united states in the 1970's. to be specific, my question is how contingent was the counterculture on a post-scarcity economy?
>> i think one of the ways to think about the intersection of drug use and the kind of cultural project that emerges is to understand the drugs themselves are disruptors but they disrupt a specific time and place. it is not surprising if you drop acid in the mid-60's in the land of material over abundance that that is going to jump out at you. there is a line about a guy who first takes mescaline and he says it is incredible and a says,ac roles by and he look at this machine. you might not have felt that in the 1933 even if he dropped acid. the world is different. that's overconsumption, that materials lender.
-- material splendor. 1960's was the second longest extended period in the united states. i like your point to think about in 1973 and 1974, when economic shit hits the fan, does it change things? you can look at the grateful dead and they say it costs more money to tour than it used to. it is real. they started charging more money. >> what came to mind as the -- as you are speaking was aivete and lack of real skills in thinking about
the back to the landers, they represented a middle ground. the success or failure of their projects did depend upon over abundance but at the same time i believe that many were genuinely and awfully striving for self-sufficiency and were consciously rejecting the superabundant mentality. what comes to mind is the volunteering simplicity of simple living which grew out of the 60's counterculture. >> the diggers specifically, there is no question in my mind that 1966-68, they are largely accessing surplus in the bay area and redistributing it and they are well-positioned because there are many people shipping out of the local bay terminal not expecting to come home except in a body bag and they are giving their car away. rather than think about doing
this in a goodwill fashion, why do we conceive of a project called free and see where we can go with it. let's turn it into a noun, and an adjective. let's envision what it could lead to. there is a direct line from the diggers project of free to stewart brand, he is saying information wants to be free to the dilemma that we are today where information wants to be free so we have to get it behind a firewall but then it gets hacked. free is out of there. it is come out of pandora's box. it is not going back in. >> just to introduce the element of race, in taos, new mexico and to back to the land, there is this community where white people come in and immediately become the target of a great deal of anger about the fact that they are able to do this
and collect food stamps when these local people, typically hispanic people, did not have hardly anything. my point is that they understood that. the counterculture understood it and they began to think deeply about it and become self-critical of it. none of this criticism is new. all that was circulating at the time and some of them were open and think deeply about what they were a part of. you might want to think about that. >> i would to throw something else out there. their search for meaningful work. i'm thinking of the whole handcrafting movement so that you are creating things of beauty as opposed to mass-produced consumer gimmicks
and gadgets that saturate the mainstream. that too, i think, ran counter to the superabundance of the time. >> i'm like you mentioned the voluntary simplicity movement. there is a new book that is explicitly critical. use locations of social change in the bay area as a failed experiment. being revived today is of this nation that by doing good you can also do well. if you are outside of moneygrubbing and you just want to make a living, how do you do that? this was a clearing house with information on how to move into those sorts of occupation.
>> right livelihood. >> how can you live in a capitalist society without being part of capitalism on some level? of course the people who were doing this are not thinking of themselves as capitalist. they were consumers perhaps but they were not capital producers and they were interested in co-ops and alternative livelihood as they were interested in ultimately changing the system at some level. although exactly what that new system would look like they were not prepared to say. >> i just want to jump in again. that is another one of those half-truths. i think a great many people involved in the counterculture were not anti-capital. they were anti-materialist,
anti-moneygrubbing, anti-greed. what michael said is correct. i think that is quite different than being anti-capitalist. it is reimagining market relations within the market. most of them more entrepreneurial in many ways. it depends on the ability to have social and cultural capital, albeit not necessarily money capital. [indiscernible] >> he is ultimate but he turned his interest in getting better tools to climb yosemite into a multimillion dollar still family-owned -- let my people go surfing for his statements about this.
>> hello. i'm david. i wanted to strongly second the idea that who gets the culture is not necessarily who gets the state house. what strikes me is that there is this tremendous volume of not only writing but also documentary filmmaking about the 1960's. that did not get touched on. who owns the 60's? who owns the counterculture? what does a historography of the 1960's look like and who gets to write it? >> name the two best books that are synthetic versions of counterculture. you cannot, because they aren't any. imagination is an old collection. there is not a synthetic history of the counterculture yet.
isn't that amazing? there are a lot of good 60's books. >> are there any films in particular you think are good, maybe not completely synthetic but i thought in particular berkeley in the 60's was a pretty good film. >> what i want to ask and it relates to berkeley in the 60's. it is the standard narrative now that counterculture and the new left were a diversion initially and then they at some point learned with each taking on characteristics of the other. this is something that comes out quite forcefully in the film
"reclaim the 60's." i have always been a little bit suspicious of that narrative. i wonder what the rest of you -- >> where you suspicious? >> i am not just sure it happened that way. i'm sure there were distinctions between the two that i also think, for example, in my talk i mentioned how women of the counterculture overwhelmingly adopted cultural feminism but not necessarily to the exclusion of other feminisms. they were reading other radical feminist works and i think if we as countercultural historians began to probe more deeply, we will find fewer distinctions and more of fuzzy gray areas.
>> where would you place a film like "easy rider" in your individual narrative of that moment? >> i wish tim hodgson was here who wrote "manhood in the age of aquarius." >> a british film company will have out i think around may of this year a documentary called "the counterculture in hollywood" and it should be pretty cool. >> i think the "berkeley in the 60's" films are excellent.
the reason the filmmaker structures it the way he does is because berkeley radicals date back. they did not think much of the beat generation much less the counterculture of the 60's. at a certain level, in berkeley in the mid-to late-60's, there was a lot of antagonism on the part of earthly radicals toward the counterculture. these are people that critique of the society we critique and should be with us but they have dropped out instead and are not part of our protest and that really irritates us. counterculture on the other side said we think your protest are stupid and ineffective. we would rather live our own lives in our own way and to do things in a totally different way and demonstrate to the public at large that there are alternative ways of thinking
about things. i think he is right that by the early 70's there is increasing contact between the two groups and if nothing else the music crossed over and people started dressing countercultural. the police cannot tell the difference. >> at the same time i think we need to be cautious about using berkeley and san francisco as case studies. if you went to a place like boston or lawrence, kansas that you might find much more of an initial wedding of the two. >> when the psychedelic shop closed at the end of the summer of love someone wrote on the front door "kansas need to more."
>> i teach at kent state and aside from pockets of manifestations outside -- around the united states, most stories are about california. can the counterculture he described as the californication of the united states? given the recording industry, the movie industry in california, how these images are transmitted throughout the united states. >> there is a strong california orientation in san francisco with the summer of love and publicity. i see strong connections between the beatnik culture of the late 1950's and early 1960's which prevailed not only in san francisco but also in new york city. when i talk about the
counterculture in new york city, i haven't done that, but there is a big media in new york and time magazine may have been just as involved with what was going on in the east villages as what was going on in haight-ashbury. >> it was because i felt compelled to talk about the summer of love that i emphasized california but in my homework i talk about how this is from the acidic northwest to california all the way to washington dc. it was a national phenomenon i was looking at. >> i'm thinking of this moment where people are getting old 1940's school buses and going to caravans. the diggers do this and they decide to try this
californication, if you want to call it that, going across the country and seeking out that groups and communal groups. i ran across evidence of than being in liberty, maine and the point of view that the diggers thought they were doing their and what the back to the landers thought they were doing there, there was a conflict. it was much more meaningful to the people who are trying to ekk out a living in that darren soil in maine and they were much more interested in forming alliances with local people who had been scraping by forever. if someone's house burned down, everyone turned out and help one another. those values were part of what the counterculture was trying to revive in other places. they did not think they needed free. they did not have surplus in that way.
>> there is an explosion of policing histories focusing on the 50's and 60's and the hippies are often playing an important role in the story. they are sort of the last chapter. they play a role in my book and establishing community policing. these are all from scholars who are taking the perspective of the state and i was wondering from your perspective, what -- looking from within the counterculture movement, what can we understand about policing and the rise of the cultural change of crime in the 60's and 70's which we are not seeing? >> real quick response has to do with grateful nation -- has to do with racial libation and laws -- racialization and laws.
one of the reasons drug laws get severe in the 70's, it is aimed towards white marijuana dealers. you see in the 1970's a certain effort by the dea to take down the networks that are bringing hash, marijuana and lsd. it is a massive movement. you start to see white kids getting canned 20-30 year jail sentences. if you look at the war on drugs, we didn't always do it right. drug laws and institutional power of the state starts to increase at those white dealers before it becomes racialized. >> i think we have run out of time. that will be the last word. thank you very much. [applause]
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>> next on american history tv. >> monday night on the communicators, the new chair of the house subcommittee on communications and technology, on her priorities for the subcommittee and how she expects communications and take issues will change this year with the republican administration and republican-led sec. representative blackburn is interviewed by the communication editor. >> making sure we address what i view as having been an opportunity, communities that do not have broadband, and they are in and findgo educational opportunity for their students. use -- toot able to recruit new factories and bring new jobs to those underserved areas.
>> watch the communicators, monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. tv, xt on american history historian richard brookhiser discusses how founding fathers like george washington, thomas paine, and thomas jefferson. -- how they influenced abraham lincoln during the civil war. the highlight brings up lincoln's education and upbringing. this was in gettysburg, pennsylvania. it is about 50 minutes. >> i have the pleasure of introducing a speaker whose work has finally entered the lincoln realm and with wonderful impact. he is been for years more of a scholar of the colonial period. alexander hamilton and the play owesot
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