In his article “The Rise and Fall of International Counterculture, 1960-975,” published in the American Historical Review in February 2009, Strauss Scholar Jeremi Suri examines how the international counterculture movement affected the Cold War.
In his article “The Rise and Fall of International Counterculture, 1960-975,” published in the American Historical Review in February 2009, Strauss Scholar Jeremi Suri examines how the international counterculture movement affected the Cold War. Suri argues the counterculture movement was born out of dissatisfaction with the dominant culture in countries across the globe during the Cold War. The movement gave credence to those who resisted the socially accepted norms of the time, specifically the cultural norms tied with the dominant politics of the period.
Suri follows the development and transformations of international counterculture from its beginning in the 1960’s to 1975. When the movement began, many of counterculture’s criticisms had been voiced for decades but did not become widely recognized until the movement spread. While many argue that counterculture was a protest to the Cold War, Suri argues that the Cold War actually inspired counterculture. Nations’ relative prosperity caused increased expectations from its citizens for a perfect society. The youth of the 1960’s enjoyed a stability that generations before did not, which gave them the resources and ability to come together and protest.
The article continues to follow the countercultural movement into the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when it become more violent. According to Suri, violence was a “means for proving cultural authenticity in an international environment filled with lies.” Citizens began to use riots, and even acts of terrorism to attain cultural liberation. From this violence, the “law and order” narrative was also born by leaders who defied the counterculture and dominant Cold War cultures. Suri also explores the development of “detente” in relation to the culture of this time period.
Suri emphasizes how as nations worked to build up their strength in the international system; their citizens questioned why their countries were falling short domestically. In every major state, men and women were asking why their country was not fulfilling its promises. Suri concludes by demonstrating how the counterculture movement was more than just a reaction to the Cold War, it actually transformed Cold War politics.