The sixties on Redline

Posted: January 18, 2015 by Admin in 1960s, Blog News
France, May-June 1968

France, May-June 1968

New British revolutionary paper reflecting the spirit of the "children of 68"

New British revolutionary paper reflecting the spirit of the “children of 68”

The sixties was a period of dramatic social change.  Upheavals took place across the world and crusty regimes and social norms were challenged almost everywhere.  In Vietnam, the people fought US imperialism and its allies to a standstill and a mass anti-intervention movement developed in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries.  Students around the world rebelled against archaic rules and regulations and over the big political issues of the day, like Vietnam.

In the United States, an increasingly radicalised civil rights movement brought the already-antiquated system of segregation (‘Jim Crow’) in the southern states to an end and exposed the racist structures and practices of the rest of the country.  New Zealand saw a resurgence of Maori rights activism, around issues of te reo, land rights, police brutality and the capitalist structures which put Maori at the bottom of society.

Around the world, a new, dynamic movement for women’s liberation, founded by left-wing women who had been active in the civil rights movement, the student movement, and the anti-Vietnam War movement, emerged.  In Britain, struggles by working class women were a crucial factor in inspiring the new movement which tended to define itself as socialist.

Leila Khaled

Leila Khaled

In many parts of the Third World, struggles by workers, peasants and students broke out against brutal and corrupt regimes which did the local dirty work of imperialism.

Revolution was in the air.

The people most admired by large swathes of young people were revolutionaries like Che Guevara, Leila Khaled and Bernadette Devlin.  Marx, Engels and Lenin were in vogue again.

Places that had seemed highly stable politically saw mass revolt.  In France, the regime of General de Gaulle, and indeed the capitalist system itself, was shaken by the biggest general strike in history. Ten million workers and two million peasants went on strike, along with massive student actions.

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

Julie Driscoll

Julie Driscoll

Across the world a cultural revolution also took place.  Old Mississippi delta blues musicians, and the brasher Chicago blues artists, inspired a new generation of white working class and lower middle class youth to take up instruments and revolutionise popular music.  The cultural revolution produced the Beatles, Cream, the Rolling Stones and other musicians and singers who repeatedly challenged and broke existing social norms.

Folk, blues and bluegrass/country revivals took place because many young people were looking for more ‘authentic’ forms of cultural expression than the dreary, homogenised products turned out by the tiny handful of companies that monopolised the music industry.

New types of cinema also emerged, challenging old social and political conventions and expressing the standpoint of working class and middle class youth in rebellion, for instance British social realism and the French new wave.

What young people wore became much less formal and more colourful.  Men’s hair grew longer, women’s often got shorter as did skirts. Young people experimented with drugs which, it was suggested, would open up minds to different ways of existing.

Far from wanting to be safe – the 60s generation had gone through the stultifying safeness of the 1950s – young people wanted to take risks and live life to the full.

Everywhere, ideas, social relations and social institutions that seemed set in stone – or ‘just the way it is’ – were rocked to their foundations and often changed dramatically.

Working class women at Ford Dagenham fighting for equal pay

Women workers at Ford Dagenham fight for equal pay

Below are some of the pieces Redline has run so far on some of these events and changes.

France May-June 1968: the glimmer of revolution

The 1968 student rebellion in Mexico

The October 1968 Olympics and the spirit of freedom

Class, gender, the 1960s and Made in Dagenham

Mandy Rice-Davies and Christine Keeler

Mandy Rice-Davies and Christine Keeler

The Profumo Affair: a moral panic between austerity Britain and the swinging sixties

The legacy of Che Guevara

Che’s message to the Tricontinental (1967)

How successful was/is Gandhian peaceful disobedience

Remembering the Kent State and Jackson State killings

My Lai

My Lai

Martin Nicolaus 1968 speech: Sociology as apology for capitalism

My Lai and the real American war in Vietnam

Australia and the Vietnam War

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