Beyond the Barricades: The Sixties Generation Grows Up

Beyond the Barricades: The Sixties Generation Grows Up

Beyond the Barricades: The Sixties Generation Grows Up

Beyond the Barricades: The Sixties Generation Grows Up

Synopsis

Challenges the conventional wisdom, which holds that the Sixties Generation soon outgrew their political ideals and channeled their energies into building lucrative careers and accumulating material goods. This study grows out of the student activists' own assessments of the events at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Excerpt

What happens to youthful idealism as people leave their youth behind? Can an identity centered on active dissent be sustained over the long haul? Where do young revolutionaries go when the revolution doesn't happen? These perennial questions in our culture are usually raised most forcefully by those most dubious about the possibility of transforming either individuals or the world for the better. in every generation, voices of "realism" and "maturity" say to those who are questioning established ways: "Wait till you grow up. You will inevitably come to accept things the way they are." in such dialogue, the fact that youths ask questions and challenge authority may be tolerated and even welcomed, but it is assumed that "radical" protest and "idealistic" commitment are developmental phases that precede adulthood. in this view, the mental soundness or patriotism of older radical activists is questioned, since they are perceived as adopting a stance inappropriate for their age and station. Oddly enough, a very elderly radical whose moral consistency has been sustained over a lifetime typically is relabeled. Yesterday's "crazy" might be regarded as a saint if he or she lives long enough. Saints, however, are also deviant. If saints are the only people who can remain principled throughout life, then the notion that youthful idealism is normally abandoned is not challenged.

Such beliefs about the ephemerality of idealism have gained force since the end of the 1960s, when young people led a wide-ranging revolt against established authority and conventional culture. Defined in large measure as a generational rebellion, this revolt differed significantly from those in previous periods, since, for the most part, earlier protest movements were based in classes (farmers, industrial workers) or in . . .

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