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Were the Radicals of the 1960s Anarchists or at least similar?

+1 vote
I’ve noticed there are many strong similarities. Fighting against the hierarchy , wanting a revolution , power of the people , etc. I would say from observation of studying footage of 1960s culture , listening to the lyrics to certain songs , adult political satire comic books of the time , The Yippies like Jerry Rubin — are Radicals “Anarchists” ?

Hippies and the spiritual movement plus the radical movement together regardless of differences , any one can see that a “Revolution” could have happened.

But was it really close to happening , was it really an Anarchist revolution , or was it just a music fad dying down ? Because it really seemed like everyone was so serious about the revolution not just fighting against the war but global peace and anti-capitalism. So what happened ? And is it even related to Anarchism even a little bit ?

And since it's been about 50 years later , what can we learn as Anarchists in terms of what works and what doesn't just from studying this history.
asked Jan 2 by anonymous
In regards to what happened in the 60s, it might be useful to note that the radical right or the rise and rebirth of conservatism was occurring as well. Groups like the Young Americans for Freedom or the Birchers were quite large at the time. There are various reason for that, but not related to your question.

1 Answer

+1 vote
To be sure, certain segments of the '60s counterculture had anarchistic tendencies and some may have even consciously adopted the label. As you point out, the general attude of contempt for authority that was prevalent at the time is an illustration of this fact.

As for what lessons can be learned from that period, I am of two minds: on the one hand, the fact that the Yippies of the 1960s turned into the yuppies of the 1980s serves as a cautionary tale of how easily dissent can be recuperated by global capital. Any effort to learn from this period must think long and hard about how this was able to happen so as not to repeat the same mistakes.

On the other hand, I have to admit that I chuckle everytime I think of the Yippies running a pig for President, and I find it unfortunate that today's anarchists take themselves way too seriously to ever attempt something like this. One lesson to be gleaned here might be to lighten up a little and explore the possibilities of incorporating this playful sense of humour into more radical forms of direct action.
answered Jan 2 by Matt Dionysus (820 points)
They didn't call themselves anarchists, so i wouldn't either, but as MD said, and as you, anon, imply, there were certainly anarchist tendencies.

The only thing that i would add to MD's response is that there was a group in the 60s and 70s that really changed anarchist theory (at least for some anarchists) for the better (as far as i'm concerned). that group was the situationists, and the two things that i would say they added to anarchist thought (again, they weren't anarchists themselves, but i would argue were closer to anarchist thinking than many anarchists are) were first that current society is bad for everyone, not just the most downtrodden. so even the rich and powerful are miserable and powerless (in some significant ways). Second, that every day life is where real struggle happens, not (or not just) in history-recognized rare events. (there was overlap here with the feminist line that "the personal is political," which has been subverted to mean the exact opposite, but that's for a different post.)
Yeah, I debated whether to bring up the Situationists in my answer, but I didn't simply because I got the impression that the OP's question was about the American rather than the European context. I get the fact that there was cross-pollination going on, but any influence that the Situationists had over the '60s counterculture in the US would have been 'imported' from France. Thus, it would have been a minor current compared to the "peace, love and flower power" tendency that was in vogue at the time. Nonetheless, it's certainly worth mentioning.

Some (Black Mask/Up Against the Wall Motherfucker) were explicitly anarchist. I am pretty sure it was in this time that Bookchin started to use the term, and while I am not into his brand of anarchism, I don't think I would exclude his work (at least at that point from falling in the big tent). In the UK there was King Mob. Probably lots of other stuff I don't know about.

Though he was explicitly not an anarchist, if you are interested in stuff from this era, I really liked the book ​For Worker's Power​ by Maurice Brinton, who was a libertarian socialist from the UK. The book spans a larger span of time than that, but even though I disagree with his perspective, I liked reading his stuff.

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