Five Characteristics Of American Exceptionalism In The 1960's

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“The 1960s arguably inflicted more devastating blows on American society than any other decade of this century,” writes journalist Richard Stolley (Brash 1). A majority of conservatives may dispute the sixties… hence the nickname: “The Turbulent Years.” However, a balanced examination must not only take into account the contentious aspects but also the positive impact this decade had on America’s future. Alexis de Tocqueville stated that American Exceptionalism was propelled by the following five characteristics: liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism, and laissez-faire economics. One similarity amongst the five is that they pertain to the welfare of people and as a result: the country as a whole. For many people, the sixties is synonymous …show more content…
Individualism is a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual, and the counterculture of the 1960s was a clear example of that. Many young people in the 1960s rebelled against society not through political protest or activism, but by rejecting middle-class values in dress and behavior in their personal lives (Dudley 193). Deeply disturbed by the direction of American society and convinced that they could find alternatives, the youthful rebels became symbols of their generation. Most cultural radicals, whom the mass media labeled hippies, preferred to “do their own thing.” (Epstein 36). The counterculture rebelled against a dominant culture that was perceived to be narrowly rational and biased against the subjective reality of the individual. This dominance was thought to be especially unfair to women, ethnic minorities, and the poor (Epstein 34). America’s cultural civil war was ignited by a tremendous surge in the popularity of expressive individualism. This undeniably resulted from counterculture, but did not continue further than the 1960s as peaceful demonstrations gave way to urban riots. Although the counterculture’s utopian world of complete individual freedom did not materialize, the counterculture succeeded to a great …show more content…
The Vietnam War was the nation’s first and only defeat (Brash 110). Even so, the anti-war movement reflected the coalescence of the common people. They were a widely varied group of citizens, gathered together in numerous groups. An advocate of populist ideals, the anti-war movement involved a great majority of Americans. Those who flocked into or associated with one or several of the organizations were just as varied and hailed from all ranks and areas of American life: clergy, teachers, suburban housewives, students, union members, and country folk (Dudley 131). The movement against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War began small–among peace activists and leftist intellectuals on college campuses–but gained national prominence in 1965, after the United States began bombing North Vietnam in earnest. Anti-war marches and other protests, such as the ones organized by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), attracted a widening base of support over the next three years, peaking in early 1968 after the successful Tet Offensive by North Vietnamese troops proved that war’s end was nowhere in sight (Brash 110-111). The anti-war movement was, contrary to stereotype, a diverse grouping of various organizations and individuals aiding to influence U.S. policy in Vietnam despite its

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