Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Writing - Cultural change and the 1960s

Over the centuries there have been significant moments which have had influence on the course of life around the world. One of those moments was almost exactly fifty years ago.

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The question is did the flower power era have any lasting effects. Well consider some of the events that occurred in the year 1965.
LBJ made his 'Great Society' speech,Malcolm X, Martin Luther King at Selma, the first combat troops sent to Vietnam. All of these actions, along with the political situations a couple of years earlier, generated a counter-culture.

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Bob Dylan

Counter-culture spoke through music, art, novels, theatre, journalism and FM Radio. It was speaking about racial segregation, women's rights, persecution of homosexuals, censorship, nuclear testing and environmental destruction. In short anti-establishmentism.
In music the Beatles went from Beatles for Sale  to Rubber Soul, Dylan produce three albums one of which was Highway 61 Revisited. There were also a plethora of singers and groups who produced protest songs and extolled the virtues of free love and a gentler way of life. Much of the music sounds as fresh and relevant today as it did when we were lowering the needle on to our spinning black albums. 
It is exactly 50 years ago and once again there are voices and political movements decrying the elitism that seems to be gathering pace in this 21st century sighting , environmental destruction, the poor, women's rights, gay rights and many other problems similar to what occurred fifty years ago. However, this is not just a story from recent times.

Image result for mary wollstonecraft                             Image result for Tom Paine
Mary Wollstonecraft                                                             Tom Paine

In the 17th and 18th centuries there were the ancestors of the current counter-culture, such people as the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the radical Tom Paine, not to forget poet and artist William Blake, whose visionary poetry and subversive art influenced so many young people in the 1960s.

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William Blake

One of the quotes which I particularly like is,

I must create my own system
or be enslaved by another man's

He was also linked through his mother's family to a 17th century radical sect The Muggletonian's. This sect met in Finsbury Park, London until the blitz during the 2nd World War and the last sect members died in 1979. The sect was named after one of its founders Lodowicke Muggleton. This protestant christian sect sprang up when two tailors claimed that they were the last two prophets whose coming was foretold in the biblical Book of Revelations.
(I wonder where J K Rowling obtained the term 'muggles'?)
In the sixties the atmosphere effervesced with the new found possibilities felt by the baby boomers in new-found educational, class and economic freedoms. As a result the staid ways of the Victorian and Edwardian societies in some degree were kicked into touch.

Image result for sgt pepper

Fifty years on, I believe that the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the like have really mattered and their influence lives on. To close a link to one of Dylan's famous protest songs,

God Bless