Inside America: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

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No doubt about it. Big changes were now occurring in America. A new group of Americans was emerging. One with different values than other groups in America. The Ritchie family was being split into two pieces.

Chad: "All these hippies are making me sick. They dress in such a weird way. Also all this talk of free love. They don't seem to have any real values.

Deborah: Well, now Chad. We need to see what it is these young people are trying to tell us. They say they simply reject our shallow materialism. But I think nobody really understands what's going on anymore. "

Chad: " I know what's going on. They're just lazy and they don't appreciate anything we give them. "

Deborah: " But look at all the things they're exploring. New kinds of music. New kinds of clothing. Some even want to live out in nature. They want to grow their own food and just live in harmony with others. "

Chad: " Yes, they also want to ' turn on, tune in and drop out. ' All this drug use and meditation nonsense. How is the next generation going to run the country? Our education system is being destroyed. "

Deborah: " But our culture maybe growing richer. I think Mara is right. Things are becoming too complex and we may need new ways of thinking. "

Chad: " Yes, but how are we going to get anywhere if everyone is getting stoned and not doing any responsible work? All this loud music and lack of respect for anything. "

Deborah: " But what kind of a world is it when we could all have everything ended by nuclear war or perhaps some great ecological disaster? "

Chad: " We have science to give us all the answers we need. "

Deborah: " But can science teach us wisdom? "

Chad: " Maybe that's for religion to tell us. "

Deborah: " But no one goes to church nowadays. People are too busy making money or having fun."

Chad: " I'm not having any fun. I'm working far too much. "

Deborah: " Well, I got a job at the retail store. I didn't have to take it, but I wanted to. "

Chad " Where is Mara anyway? "

Deborah: " She went to the rock concert with her friends. "

Chad: " Did she finish her homework? "

Deborah: " Yes, I think so. "

Chad: " I hope she's not staying at a crash-pad "

Deborah: " I told her to be back by midnight."

Chad; " How is your mother and father doing? "

Deborah: " They just moved to a retirement community in Arizona. They say they're too old to work now, but also too young to die. "

Indeed, many Americans were now living longer. It was not only the young who went through changes in the 1960's. Older people too were creating new lifestyles. Retirement towns sprang up in places with a warm, sunny climate-such as Florida, Southern California, and Arizona. Older people retired to these places and golfed, bowled, danced and did gardening. Retirement towns even had their own medical centers, but nobody under the age of fifty could live in them. Also many seniors would benefit from new medical assistance given recently by the government.

American Slang Corner:

Getting stoned: Taking drugs.
Turning on: Taking drugs.
Tuning in: Going into an altered mind state.
Dropping out: Leaving society and work.
Crash-pad: Place to sleep after taking drugs.


October 22 1963: Cuba. President Kennedy addressed the American people on television about Soviet nuclear missile sites under construction in Cuba. The beginning of one of the most dangerous moments of the Cold war had started. By 1962 the United States had 2,000 nuclear missiles ready to strike the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union only had 340 missiles. But with missiles in Cuba the Soviets now had a strategic advantage over the United States. Nuclear war seemed imminent. Ultimately after a few tense weeks the Soviets quickly withdrew their missiles, but the dangerous moment left a deep imprint on President Kennedy.

We now know that during the Korean war American generals had urged President Eisenhower to bomb China with nuclear weapons, but he refused. Eisenhower remembered the horrible atomic bombs dropped on Japan and he warned the American people before his retirement in 1961 about the American " military-industrial " complex. What exactly was this? President Eisenhower saw a powerful and new alliance between the military and private U.S. industry. This " complex " had many weapons and a great deal of money. As such it held tremendous power.

The military created a demand for more weapons from private industry which then grew rich with taxpayers money. This private sector could afford to make huge financial contributions to politicians and thus have the U.S. government buy more weapons and make them even richer. This partnership between the military and American private industry was a serious and uncontrolled force in American life. It was frequently attacked by anti-war groups during the Sixties. Thus President Eisenhower in naming the new threat helped set the stage for questioning the Vietnam war and the economic reasons for fighting it. President Kennedy was so shocked by the Cuban missile crisis that he eventually negotiated a ban on further nuclear testing with the Russians in 1963. A few months later President Kennedy was shot to death.


If television refused to show cultural diversity during the Sixties other arts in America did. Movies began to portray the new spirit of internal searching. Four movies in this era stand out. The Graduate, Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Graduate starred a new movie actor called Dustin Hoffman who portrayed a confused young man who did not know what career to choose after graduating from college or whether he should even be seeking a career. Dustin Hoffman's character was also plagued by sexual confusion concerning his friends and members of his parents' generation.

Easy Rider was about traveling in America on motorcycles with drugs as your new traveling companions. This contrasted strongly to Midnight Cowboy, a movie about life in the big city where money dominated all values and the individual was made insignificant. This feeling of insignificance was finally given a new twist in 2001:A Space Odyssey. A science fiction movie about manned space exploration, artificial intelligence, and the place of human beings in the universe. In one memorable sequence, the film compresses billions of years of evolution into an instant: A bone tossed by a pre-historic ape is transformed into a spaceship slowly spinning in space. This movie pioneered so many special effects that it quickly became a favorite for watching while under the influence of drugs.

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All contents of this site copyright by Michael Arthur Finberg