The Swinging Sixties Is this a fair statement of the 1960(TM)s? Essay

The 60’s decade is often seen as a time of optimism and a youth led cultural change seen throughout the west. It follows the decade before, the 50’s, which was seen as a very conservative and probably, best known for the Cold War. The 60’s were a complete contrast to this however; many governments, which were once led by right wing conservatives, shifted to the left for example John F Kennedy in the United States. However in Great Britain a conservative government remained and this began the rise of younger generations rebelling against the norms and materialistic fashions of the time and began to set their own trends.

The 60’s had many positives mainly because of the shift in political ideologies, the racist attitudes of generations before where being challenged, and public figures such as Martin Luther King began to spread their message of equality. There was exposure of Police Brutality and the decade saw a huge change in civil rights for the better.

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More challenges to the norm became apparent particularly by the youth as the “Hippy Movement” gained huge popularity. This youth movement had a liberal stance on society by taking part in the Sexual Revolution which was before seen as a taboo, they listened to new genres of music especially Psychedelic Rock while taking drugs such as LSD something that had never been seen before. Bands such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd & Cream popularised the Psychedelic culture further causing the ideas to be widespread.

Along with social developments new technologies became available such as the contraceptive pill (coincides with sexual revolution), colour TV, the first video games and probably the most significant was the first human lunar landing.

Protest against the Military became more frequent in particular opposition to drafting to the army by the youth and strong opposition to the Vietnam war which overshadowed the decade, the youth attempting to spread an idea of peace and love.

Although the 60’s had many positives particularly with the challenging of the norm it also saw negatives including feuds between countries. In the 60’s two major conflicts happened The Vietnam War & the 6-Day War in the Middle East, which changed the political state of the planet for years. The Vietnam War was between South Vietnam and it’s anti communist allies particularly the United States who was defeated by North Vietnam and it’s communist allies including China and The Soviet Union. Both conflicts caused many lives to be lost and saw the widespread use of chemical warfare on Vietnam by the US, which continues to effect the country today with children born with birth defects, widespread disease and a poisoned food chain.

Racism was still widespread particularly with segregation and the unfair treatment of blacks in the US but civil rights protests began to change things and by the end of the decade nearly all-racial segregations were removed in the west.

Civil rights protests often had negative consequences as seen by the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico where the governments police shot and killed many student protesters.

The economy in the 60’s saw massive inflation in the west with the cost of living soaring perhaps caused by the radical changes seen across the world.

Overall I believe the 60’s was the decade that completely changed the world, it is debatable if it was for the better but certainly civil rights victories were for the better and to some degree so was the libertine attitude of many causing a lot more freedom and subjects that were once taboo to become acceptable. I feel the “Swinging Sixties” is a fair description of the 1960’s.


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