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1960s

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The 1960s (pronounced "nineteen-sixties") was a decade that began on January 1, 1960, and ended on December 31, 1969. The term "1960s" also refers to an era more often called the Sixties, denoting the complex of inter-related cultural and political trends around the globe. This "cultural decade" is more loosely defined than the actual decade, beginning around 1963 with the Kennedy assassination and ending around 1972 with the Watergate scandal.

"The Sixties", as they are known in both scholarship and popular culture, is a term used by historians, journalists, and other objective academics; in some cases nostalgically to describe the counterculture and revolution in social norms about clothing, music, drugs, dress, sexuality, formalities, and schooling; and in others pejoratively to denounce the decade as one of irresponsible excess, flamboyance, and decay of social order. The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the fall or relaxation of social taboos especially relating to racism and sexism that occurred during this time. Commentator Christopher Booker described this era as a classical Jungian nightmare cycle, where a rigid culture, unable to contain the demands for greater individual freedom, broke free of the social constraints of the previous age through extreme deviation from the norm. He charts the rise, success, fall/nightmare and explosion in the London scene of the 1960s. Several Western nations such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, and West Germany turned to the political left in the early and mid-1960s.

In response to civil disobedience campaigns from groups like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), U.S. President John F. Kennedy, a Keynesian and staunch anti-communist, pushed for social reforms. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 was a shock. Liberal reforms were finally passed under Lyndon B. Johnson including civil rights for African Americans and healthcare for the elderly and the poor. Despite his large-scale Great Society programs, Johnson was increasingly reviled by the New Left at home and abroad. The heavy-handed American role in the Vietnam War outraged student protestors around the globe. The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. upon working with underpaid Tennessee garbage collectors and the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the police response towards protesters of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, defined politics of violence in the United States.


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