Bombs, Beards, and Barricades: 150 Years of Youth in Revolt

Bombs, Beards, and Barricades: 150 Years of Youth in Revolt

Bombs, Beards, and Barricades: 150 Years of Youth in Revolt

Bombs, Beards, and Barricades: 150 Years of Youth in Revolt

Excerpt

This is a book about the history of the Youth Revolution.

For many, the very coupling of these two concepts--"history" and "the Youth Revolution"--will appear to be a glaring contradiction in terms. The upsurge of youthful dissent that has become such a disturbing part of all our lives often seems (especially to participants) much too recent and short-lived a phenomenon to have a history. Even for those older citizens who recognize that "the Movement" does go back at least a dozen years, to a flashpoint somewhere around 1960, the revolt of the younger generation usually seems somehow sui generis, a unique, almost a-historical explosion of youthful insurgency with only the flimsiest parallels in the past. To suggest that generational rebellion has been a significant part of the history of the Western World for at least 150 years is likely to earn the historian an irritable shrug of disbelief from today's young rebels--and from their outraged elders too.

Such, nevertheless, is the thesis of this book.

The special significance of the turbulent 1960's and early '70's does not lie in any startling originality manifested by the long-haired young Bohemians and revolutionaries of these colorful, crusading, violent years. Unaware though most of the young rebels may have been of past precedents for their revolts, such precedents do in fact exist. Practically everything our insurrectionary youth have tried -- from New-Left militance to hippie-style withdrawal from society, from the campus revolt to the commune movement--has been tried before.

The crucial importance of the Youth Revolution of our times lies not in its alleged uniqueness, but in that very continuity with . . .

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