Hippies

Hippies, a term (possibly a variation of "hipster") coined in the mid-1960s to describe the adherents of a subculture (or counterculture) associated with the political and social protest movements of that decade. Although the hippy culture originated in Greenwich Village, New York, and in San Francisco, California, it spread throughout North America. In Canada hippies congregated primarily in the Kitsilano district of Vancouver and around Yorkville Ave in Toronto. They were characterized by long hair, beards and unconventional clothing, by their celebration of drugs (in particular LSD and marijuana) and rock 'n roll, by their affinity to non-Occidental religions (see New Religious Movements) and the cultivation of "self-awareness," by sexual experimentation, by their language ("trips," "acid," "flower power"), by economic marginalism and by their youthfulness and middle-class origins. Although they were widely disparaged and ridiculed, their ideals corresponded to the effort of the New Left in general to propose political and cultural alternatives to the institutions of capitalist society; they upheld Pacifism, communal life, egalitarianism, self-help and the inviolability of the person, and were hostile to private property, bureaucracies and technology. Many of their ideas were inspired by Marshall McLuhan and his notions of the postliterate tribal society. In Vancouver, hippie culture was associated with the Easter "be-ins" at Stanley Park, with the underground newspaper Georgia Straight and, briefly, in a cross-fertilization with political activism, with the Vancouver Liberation Front. In Toronto, hippies gathered at "love-ins" in Queen's Park, Digger House, Rochdale College (an experiment in "free education") and a mass sit-in on Yorkville Ave. As a mass phenomenon the hippies were short-lived. The Festival Express, a coast-to-coast rock 'n roll festival on board a train in 1970, was probably the last major hippie event. In the end, hippies were unable to devise a strategy that linked the forms of cultural protest to those of mass political action, and they faded into solipsism, anti-intellectualism and varieties of personal therapy. Some of their ideas were subsequently taken up by the ecology movement and community-based urban-action groups of the 1970s.