Woodstock represented the youth counterculture of the late 1960’s that emerged in response to inequality of minority groups, the Vietnam War, and political divisions. The people of Woodstock Nation embraced antiauthoritarianism “in pursuit of utopian visions”, using rock and roll as the ultimate symbol to rally around. The music festival, starring some of music’s biggest names, shocked the country and left a legacy of peace, love, and nonviolence. Despite bad planning, Woodstock represented the collective values of a new generation in America.
The children of the 1960s adopted a set of values that clashed with traditional ones, rebelling against society through dress, behavior, and beliefs. They rejected American culture as too restrictive, unjust, and boring after seeing their parents working jobs with monotonous tasks. This “counterculture” became extremely evident in metropolitan areas such as the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco and New York’s East Village.
From the youth counterculture emerged “the “New Left” - a term used by 1960’s radicals to distinguish themselves from their radical forerunners”. Children of the 1960s denounced the “liberalism that informed the policies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson”. Believing that success was measured in the wrong way, evident in the materialistic tendencies of society, counterculture embracers felt that personal relationships had lost their sincerity. The youth saw the public image of leaders like John F. Kennedy as a façade, feeling that leaders like him were lacking a genuine desire for social change. To the youth, racial discrimination, for example, was evidence of this as segregation and racism continued to oppress millions of people in America.
The New Left and the counterculture were influenced by professors, the Beatnik poets and writers, civil rights workers, Eastern mystics, and especially folk/rock singers such as Bob Dylan. After being inspired by these influences, a minority of the youth became social and political radicalists and activists as they became increasingly disillusioned with policies like “JFK’s…gradualism” and nearly “liberalism” all together.
The influence of the Beatnik poets of the 1950s, or “the Beats”, played an important role in the development of the counterculture. The writers glorified “drifty rebels” who resisted the temptation to conform to the acceptable and traditional norms of society. In addition, the poets denounced materialism and middle-class mentality as false and short-sighted. They looked for ways to expand the consciousness by embracing sensual pleasures through drug use and sexual experimentation. Finally, the embracing of Eastern mystical religions became an influence on the children of the counterculture, as it they had been on the Beats.
In addition to the influence the Beat poets had on the development of the counterculture, the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s also played an important role. The Civil Rights...