Hippies and their Rebellion Against the Technopoly
Modern alternative cultures: rock, rave, metal etc are an indispensable part of our society. Often people who are part of them behave in a specific manner, wear specific clothes and share similar attitudes towards the society and the universally accepted norms. All these trends can be collectively referred to as “countercultures” and their origin can be traced back to the hippies of the sixties. The first person that coined the term is Theodore Roszak – a historian and a social critic who tried to find the roots of this movement and its cultural background.
In his book “The Making of a Counter Culture” the author claims that the youth movement was not spawned out of thin air and is a logical progression from the dissent of the established order of the adults. He goes in details about thinkers and poets (Herbert Marcuse, Allen Ginsberg) that inspired the protests, antiwar philosophy and various other aspects, often associated with sixties generation.
Technopoly and Established Order
According to Roszak the hippies are turning to mysticism and psychedelics not because of their desire to be entertained (although that is valid for some) and pure curiosity. He states that their natural desire for freedom is due to the fact that they saw how conformist the older generation had become. In other words, they did not want to participate in the technopoly, where everyone is a mere cog in the wheel. That elegantly explains why the counter culture of the sixties was characterized with many often contradicting trends – peace, left-wing ideology, mysticism, Zen, etc. One compelling argument that is present in the book and reminds us of Jacque Ellul is that the people in power (state and corporations) consider themselves only managers. They would never accept the reality that they are in fact agents of totalitarian control.
When the East Meets the West
It is not a coincidence that many of the people involved in the youth revolt in the hippies era were fascinated by the eastern thought, especially Zen, Taoism, Hinduism or theosophy. Roszak proves that Allen Ginsberg and Alan Watts have had a deep impact on the generation that challenged the status quo of the affluent technocracy. The author sees the established elites: scientific, military, financial as the modern preachers who speak in obscure terms, such as “variables”, “parameters” to pretend that they are unbiased and objective. What is the expected outcome is a new generation that will not be satisfied with the prevailing dogma and will look outside the box for alternative ideas. That’s why their spontaneous interest in Oriental religions is a natural reaction to liberate their minds from the shackles of secular social order.
Hope for the Future
Rather than scoff and ridicule, Theodore Roszak sees in the hippies and similar movements a way to escape from the dogmatic, reductionist materialism which discards anything related to consciousness. He speculates about their role in the future society and even goes as far as to say that their cry may be one of the last attempts before the technocratic state becomes a total tyranny.