Inside America: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10


Many people like to say that, the Sixties in America, was a period of wild sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. But this is really a simplification. Easy divorce, relatively easy access to contraceptives and an openness to sexual promiscuity was common in earlier periods of American history such as the 1920's. What was new was the change in attitude. The displays of nudity and promiscuity in new films, plays and in hippie life had shock value because it did not speak for all Americans. The majority of Americans were still sexually conservative. Yet this change in attitude would have profound effects in later decades for many Americans.

Before the 1960's, drug use was already rampant in America. Just before 1960 arrived American doctors had prescribed 579 tons of tranquilizers to Americans and millions of dollars worth of barbiturates, amphetamines, anti-depressants, and other mood-altering drugs. Before the Sixties marijuana, heroin, and cocaine were most commonly associated with low-life people or the Beatniks. In the Sixties the use of illegal drugs would finally spread to the American middle class and to the American soldiers fighting in Vietnam.

Marijuana became a form of cultural protest for young Americans and when LSD or " acid " became popular, it led to an expanded awareness among young Americans, that the human mind had many unknown dimensions that deserved further exploration. Many young Americans then became interested in different kinds of meditation that could copy this mind expansion without the use of drugs. Even before LSD became popular, the CIA had shown interest in the drug in many secret experiments using unwilling civilians. When LSD became illegal, it became like marijuana, an intense form of social protest.

Many know that Rock "n' Roll had started in the 1950's with Elvis Presley, but the lyrics of the music were often tame and had little to do with social protest. Love and fidelity were usually extolled and it was only in the mid-Sixties that many Americans realized that something was now happening to popular music. Singers like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez began singing about intellectual rebellion. Music was becoming more political and complex . The Beatles, recently, influenced by drugs and Eastern religion then pioneered the " psychadelic " or " drug " sound. The words of the music now became strange and nonsensical. This drug music was no longer about broken hearts and relationships. But about strange dream landscapes that were no longer rational.

Pop art which later had an artistic kinship with the new drug music was even older and had begun in the 1950's. Many artists bored with traditional styles of painting began attacking the American materialist culture by using its symbols in strange new ways. Andy Warhol painted consumer items like commercial soup cans in strong colors and exaggerated sizes. American comic books and the American flag were also portrayed in exaggerated ways by other pop artists which forced many Americans to reject the new art as unpatriotic and strange. Indeed, the majority of Americans did not get to participate in the cultural revolution of the Sixties until much later and often this participation would be in a very watered down form. But the ripples of Sixties revolution would have profound effects, nevertheless.

01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10

All contents of this site copyright by Michael Arthur Finberg