March 18th, 2015
Cults and Counterculture
During the 1960’s, America was going through a drastic change in political participation, religious involvement and traditional American values. Young Americans saw this as the
“Golden Age of Change”. The Civil rights movement was in full swing and had the support of the white house while the idea of fighting a domestic issue, the War on Poverty seemed hopeful to Americans. Unfortunately, the war in Vietnam took priority and sent the War on Poverty back to the streets. While the urban redevelopment and community projects got left in the dust, youth uprising against the Vietnam war ran rampant and attracted a new type of patriotism, standing up for your rights and against government authority. This ideology formed a new generation, a generation where conformity was looked down upon and radicalism was praised. These groups included black, white, men, women, upper class, working class, anyone that wanted the political power to change. As the 1960s progressed, so did the radicalist and activists. After feeling defeated by the war, the government, and fellow Americans. These people were dropping from the political sphere and finding themselves rootless. These rootless people did not have any ties to their family because they made their political group their family. They did not have any jobs because their jobs were protesting in the streets behind a leader. They did not have anything else to believe in, because what they believed in so strongly was seen as hopeless. These rootless people felt lost and displaced in a society where they rejected the idea of conformity yet didnt fit in anywhere else. This counterculture asked the question “where do we go now?”. These were
the traits of the 1960’s hippie trying to find their next purpose. These rootless people found a sense of belonging in new religious movements such cults.
The counter culture made cults popular due to the search of a natural and alternative way of life that didn’t include them conforming to the mainstream lifestyle of their parents and what society believed was normal. While this gave power to cults, it made this generation a target for brainwashing and manipulation. These beliefs and lifestyles would eventually end with an unhealthy state of mind and be placed in drastic circumstances that would potentially lead to their demise. The rootless people that came out of the political and radical 1960’s needed a place that fit with their ideas and find what they lost after the political involvement they were striving for and what they lost; purpose, a cause and a leader. Jim Jones and his Religious movement,
People’s Temple, was able to give the counterculture generation that security in return their lives.
Post World War II brought on a whole new generation and American culture. The economy was booming while consumerism was at an all time high along with the American dream that appealed to a majority of the public. Some of the younger generation had already had anticonformist views and rejected the reserved standards of living. This generation go the name the Beats, a group of writers willing to explore things such as religion, sexuality and drugs which in return gave them confidence to freely express themselves to the public. America was moving out of the war and into a society that prided itself in the idea of being a stand up citizen but only by the American ideal standard. The beats in the 1950’s challenged the American norm and appealed to young americans who took their ideals and values to a new extreme. Famous singers such as Janis Joplin felt she connected with writers, Kerouac and Ginsberg, being beat by the
American dream and feeling as if there is more than the white picket fence. She dressed in all
black and hung out with the boys while writing poetry and listening to Jazz music. Janis Joplin soon became an icon of 1960s rock and the hippie