IN AN ESSAY I wrote a while back, “The Hippies as Contrameritocracy,” (DISSENT, July—August 1969), I argued that the movement was essentially a response to meritocratic pressures bearing down not only upon youth but upon the society as a whole, and that it represented a first-line structural response that probably would not endure in its initial form. This argument seems to me still decidedly to the point, but I would now like to go a little further. As of the early 1970s the hippie movement has divided itself into four major cultural streams and organizational patterns: the commune, the drug culture, the music culture, and the political youth movement. While all of these could be found in some form prior to the rise of the hippies, it is the hippies who provided them with momentum, style, and legitimation, so that the hippie look came to serve as their badge of allegiance. Various writers have described this phenomenon under the generic term of “counter culture&...
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