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Disillusioned Youth: The Youth International Party

2276 words - 10 pages

Loyola University New Orleans

Disillusioned Youth:
The Youth International Party

Roth Hainkel
The American Left
Dr. David W. Moore
May 1st, 2014
The turbulent and pivotal 1960s birthed a new breed of radicalism, political dissidence, and activism. Incubating in the early years of the Sixties, this new breed did not emerge until the middle of the decade. Non-violent direct action of the Civil Rights Movement was reaching the end of its shelf life and young radicals and student activists alike were growing increasingly frustrated with their inability to free themselves from the constraints of the status quo. Herbert Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man (1964) was circulating among these young radicals and student activists, and quickly established defying the system—rebellion—as the solution for true liberation to occur (DeGroot Street). Simultaneously, the Free Speech Movement at the University of California, Berkeley was victorious in allowing political activities on campus, a triumph in which the student’s right to complain was recognized. The escalation of the Vietnam War in May of 1965 gave these young radicals and student activists new legitimacy. Anti-war activism was quickly hurled to the center of American politics and especially the media. Such a notion should not come as a surprise, considering that the forefront of anti-war activism was headed, to the dismay of many, by egotistic sensationalists, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and their Youth International Party (Yippies).
The 20th century was marked by unremitting conflicts and the development of technology capable of human destruction on an unprecedented scale. Half of the population of the 1960s was under the age of eighteen (PBS). Military conflicts continued well into the Sixties with the Vietnam War, which in the eyes of the youth validated American megalomania (Ankony). Young idealistic Americans were rapidly becoming discontent. They began to feel powerless, and lose faith in their parents, their government, their society, and the institute of science (Ankony). The American youth of the 1960s was quickly becoming alienated. They were being driven to paranoia and hostility towards American society. Such feelings would manifest themselves in youth counterculture—hippies—defined by the repudiation of traditional values of respect for marriage, elders, authority, the rule of law, the work ethic, delayed gratification, patriotism, technology, Western society and Western religions (Ankony). Advocates of counterculture would use any opportunity they could to mock traditional American values: sex, drugs, dress, dialect, and demeanor were the most apparent. For Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman this was a chance for exploitation. Evident in Rubin’s DO IT! Scenarios of the Revolution, the Yippies wanted a political movement fused with this new counterculture, one that went beyond just anti-war activism, one that would capture the attention of the American masses, one that would challenge...

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