One cannot undertake any study of the 1960s in America without hearing about the struggles for social change. From civil rights to freedom of speech, civil disobedience and nonviolent protest became a central part of the sixties culture, albeit representative of only a small portion of the population. As Mario Savio, a Free Speech Movement (FSM) leader, wrote in an essay in 1964: "The most exciting things going on in America today are movements to change America" ("Takin' it to the Streets," 115). His essay is critical of those that maintain the status quo and oppose change in America. It seems quite obvious that change has occurred as a result of the efforts of this highly vocal minority and few would argue that these changes were not good and just, yet historical perspective allows us to also consider the "flaws" and contradictions of this sixties subculture.
It is rather ironic that a group so dedicated to fighting for societal change could also be part of a resistance to change in other aspects of the same society or could be a part of maintaining the status quo. Savio also stated: "The most crucial problems facing the United States today are the problem of automation and the problem of racial injustice" (113). A group seeking to change America, Savio and the minority he represented seem to be both advocating and resisting change. While fighting for changes in attitudes toward and the treatment of racial minorities, the group also opposed automation. It seems obvious that automation has been a highly instrumental force in changing American society and to oppose automation would seemingly be a definite resistance to change. While opinions...
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...n 1968, Reagan condemned student militants, saying: "There has been general incitement against properly constituted law enforcement authorities and general trampling of the will, the rights and freedom of movement of the majority by the organized, militant, and highly vocal minority" ("Takin it to the Streets," 346). It seems rather obvious today that "the great and thoughtful majority of citizens" to which Reagan referred in the same address are not always correct in their beliefs and that the laws that have been created by this majority, as well as the enforcement of such laws are not always just.
Biner, Pierre. The Living Theater. Takin' It To The Streets: A Sixties Reader, pp. 288-293. ed. Alexander Bloom and Wini Breines.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Kerouac, Jack. The Dharma Bums. New York: Pengiun Books, 1958.
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