Who are these hippies who changed the western world?

What exactly is the hippie movement?



“Do what you want and don't worry about what other people think. This is how we could sum up in one sentence the whole hippie philosophy. This current of counter-culture advocating love and non-violence was born in California in the 1960s, in an America in the midst of an identity crisis. As the Vietnam War rumbles, part of the youth, old enough to leave to fight, begin to dream of another life, in which there would no longer be any differences between human beings, authority or relationship of domination. . In opposition to the traditional values of their parents, the hippies then reject the consumerist, puritanical and capitalist society. Supporters of initiatory journeys, sexual freedom, psychotropics and rock, its members gathered in thousands of communities from 1963. Well aware of not being able to bring down the system in place, they preferred to revolt peacefully by moving away and creating their own world. For almost ten years the movement will have more and more followers before it dies out (publicly only) in the 70s. In less than a decade, the hippie culture will have influenced a good part of the West and transformed mentalities. If the term is still used today to designate a few marginals or a fashion, it is actually overused and no longer represents the essence of what their state of mind was when it was created. True hippies live in hiding.


How do they live?

The flower children (as they called each other) are, above all, in search of spirituality and authentic relationships. They call for a return to nature and to values such as sharing, honesty and simple pleasures. Non-violent, they do not seek to impose their way of thinking but only wish to be able to be free to act as they see fit.

From the beginning of the 1960s, the hippies settled in autonomous communities on the fringes of society in which they cultivated their own fields and used renewable energies. Wearing long hair, as opposed to the shaved heads of soldiers gone to war, his followers advocate self-love, love of neighbor, tolerance, and sexual freedom. Very quickly joined by artists and certain intellectuals of the time, the movement grew enormously in the mid-1960s. Hundreds of thousands of young people of all social or ethnic origins joined the ranks. In order to reach higher levels of wholeness and enter into communion with the cosmos, journeys into the subconscious are commonplace. The American authorities overwhelmed by the large-scale taking of LSD will eventually ban it in 1966. Yet invented in 1938 by the Sandoz laboratory and used for therapeutic purposes so far, the United States will invoke disturbances to public order to make it illegal. This will not stop the followers since its consumption would have reached its peak during the Summer of Love festival in 1967 then that of Woodstock in 1969. This free rock festival will bring together more than five hundred thousand people and will also mark the beginning of the end of the movement.

Where do their inspirations come from?

Aldous Huxley is designated by all historians as the founding father of the movement. This world-famous writer and philosopher, notably for his counter-utopian novel "The Brave New World", published "The Doors of Perception" in 1954, a work of philosophical essays advocating the benefits of psychotropic drugs on the opening of awareness. Aldous Huxley, deeply humanist and universalist, was himself initiated into spirituality a few years earlier by a friend who taught him meditation, yoga and veganism. Respected by the intellectual milieu, he traveled for years to the universities of the country to awaken young people to spirituality. When he died in 1963, his ideas were taken up by young utopians dreaming of putting his mantras into practice. The hippies will constantly seek meaning in life in Buddhist, Taoist or even Hindu teachings and the 1960s will mark the beginning of initiatory journeys for the general public. Amsterdam, Istanbul, Goa, Kathmandu, or even Afghanistan will see thousands of young people arriving in search of something else.



How did they change the world?

Then at its peak in 1967, thanks to the media coverage of the Summer of Love festival, the movement was exported all over the world. From the student revolution of 1968 in Mexico (which will end in a bloodbath), to May 68 in our country, the hippie culture has, in just a few years, considerably changed the politics and mores of the Western world. It is she who directly inspired the feminist, LGBT, ecological currents or even the New-Age (Western religious current of the end of the 20th century bringing together personal development, spiritual awakening or psychology). It is at this time that many abortion laws will pass, that the contraceptive pill will appear, that the Greenpeace association will see the light of day and that the first Gay Pride will be celebrated. But where the influence of the movement is most remarkable is on the evolution of sexual freedoms. "According to a Gallup survey, the number of Americans who believed it was wrong to have sex before marriage had fallen from 68% in 1969 to 48% in 1973, a change generally attributed to the upheavals initiated by the hippie trend” (source: wikipedia)



And today ?

The recuperation of hippie values, from the end of the 1960s, by politicians or businessmen with the aim of selling music or flared trousers, will sound the death knell.

Increasingly neglected by the media at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the movement ran out of steam to gradually disappear. Radical fringes having forgotten the primary values of non-violence, but also the deaths of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix (openly hippies) following overdoses, will end up tarnishing the image of this counter-culture. (Even though true hippies did not advocate drugs for partying or destructive purposes but as aids to attaining altered levels of consciousness). About 40% of the followers of the movement would have ended up lining up by joining this same society that they previously denounced. And those who did not yield to the calls of power and greed will be more discreet to disappear definitively from our radars in the 70s. Figures speak of 30% of followers who would have joined the mountains or the seaside of the world to live in autarky. If there were thousands of communities in the United States in 1969, and several hundred in Western Europe, today there are not many left. The free municipality of Christiania, created in 1971 in Copenhagen, still exists. There would be about forty in Germany. Some in Sardinia. And, in France, only one would remain, located in Charleval.

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