Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Brief History of the Hippies


Kia ora Tatau. Tena koutou tena koutou tena koutou katoa.

Take a virtual multimedia tour down memory lane and revisit the history making and internationally acclaimed Nambassa alternatives festivals of music, arts and culture, and grab a glimpse of the splendour and wonders of the artistic, dynamic and thought provoking culture of New Zealand's unique 1970’s home grown hip movement.

Nambassa is the tribal name of a Charitable Trust and series of hippie/counter-culture 3 and 5 day music, arts and alternatives festivals held around Waihi and Waikino in Aotearoa- New Zealand during the 1970s. These series of multi-faceted festivals are widely regarded by many as being three decades before their time. These were festivals not only celebrating music and the arts, but events where one could attend any number of practical workshop demonstrations on issues we felt necessary to promote for the time. Workshops covered topics such as holistic health, the environment, arts and crafts, self-sufficiency, healing and spirituality. As Nambassa promotes that multiculturalism is a fundamental component in the building of a tolerant, inclusive and cohesive society, workshops on cultural exchanges played a prominent role.

The Nambassa festivals were organised on a voluntary basis by creative young hippies from New Zealand and across the globe. They were part of an international phenomenon in the 60s and 70s heralding a new artistic culture of music, freedom, love and social revolution; where millions of young people reacting against old world antecedents, embraced a new hippie ethos while promoting their alternative lifestyle as a natural part of ordinary life. The Nambassa festivals were vegetarian and alcohol could not be purchased at any of its events. For archival details of the 1970s Nambassa, check out Wikipedia.

The History of the Hippies

As to where the hippie-counterculture movement began is a matter of opinion which varies upon which country the history is being analysed from and the fusion of which subculture groups the hippies were said to have emerged. In Trafalgar Square London in 1958 in an act of civil disobedience 60,000-100,000 peace loving protesters made up of students and pacifists converged in what was to become the “ban the Bomb” demonstrations out of which surfaced one of the first counterculture groups. It is from this British group that the peace sign surfaced and remains to this day the most recognised symbol of peace, freedom and hippiedom. In America six years later, on May 2 1964, the first student demonstration against the Vietnam War saw hundreds of students march through Times Square in New York City, while another 700 marched in San Francisco. In December that year 25,000 people arrive in Washington to take part in the largest anti-war rally in American history to that date. Through 1965-66 a youth rebellion against subscription and certain death in the Vietnam War began to emerge. In 1967 100,000 young hippies converged on San Francisco in the neighbourhood of Haight-Ashbury in what was to become known as The Summer of Love. They declared themselves pacifists, rebelled against the system, burnt their draft cards, dropped out of University, adopted the new upbeat hip music, they took lots of psychedelic drugs, made sex for free love and partied in the music and the adulation of freedom, big-time!

The New Zealand and Australian counter-culture models sought to expand in its own unique way from what many viewed as the dramatic collapse of the American hippie movement after the Vietnam War, when most hippies no longer plagued by the burden of the military draft, hopped back into the system and rejoined big-brother. But the music continued to expand. The antecedents of the early 1960s US hippie phenomenon along with its British music and protest influence, were the leading inspirations of this cultural and spiritual insurgency. While the early American hippies rocked and were colourful, the movement seemed destined for degeneration given the intense weight of the overwhelming conservatism of American culture and the religious right. While many young Americans became hippies just to party with the music and to avoid the military draft, they became the obsession of corporate media who looked for reasons to denigrate hippies as some kinds of freakish and exaggerated drug- sex enigma. While this analogy had some validity, the true believers of the hippie movement were fine-tuning the lifestyle and creating a new consciousness which would later influence the world. By the late sixties the counterculture movement had split into two factions, those who believed change had to be articulated threw political influence and those who saw change better influenced threw spiritual development of oneself. It was the classic divide between city and country to which the latter would eventually have the greatest influence on western society.

The hippies are one of the most maligned subculture in western history, attracting the same level of intense rage, hatred and societal inquisition that was directed by the Christian churches of Catholicism and Protestantism at the spiritually founded free-thinkers of Europe's Early and Middle Ages. Behind the fa├žade of negative press against the rise of hippiedom, a serious cultural revolution was in the making. The international hippie movement given their successful campaign ending the Vietnam war in 1965, which America lost, shocked conservatism and was deemed by political officialdom as a serious national security risk. In a carefully orchestrated McCarthyism style inquisition the establishment fought back. In the US and around the world hippies and the counterculture were demonised and targeted with an overwhelming body of negative propaganda by various national security agencies and the international corporate media. Threatened by the achievements of the hippies and their vision for the new world, the debasing of hippiedom was organised by the political establishment, the CIA and the FBI, supported by with their democratic, capitalist and religious proxies. These the same conservative political establishments and media empires who had been telling the world that winning the Vietnam war was essential to protect civilisations freedoms and democracy and who had later become the official neo-con cheers squads encouraging and promoting the bloody Iraq war. By the mid seventies hippies with their predisposition to soft drugs, (marijuana and LSD which were often used to expand consciousness and enhance spiritual development), mysteriously found their communities suddenly awash with highly addictive killer drugs like heroin and opiate based pharmaceuticals. Many hippies responding to the commercialisation by big brother of the drug trade, gave up drugs during the mid seventies, while thousands of others blindly met their deaths from drug overdoses. These events precipitated a fracturing of the group and heralded the back to the land movement with thousands of hippies heading for the hills to establish alternative communities. Like the lost tribes of the old Hebrews the hippies spread their tentacles across the globe and got better organised from within the system. Throughout the 70s and 80s the counter-culture consolidated its influence upon mainstream western society and hippie ideals became the building blocks to a new emerging consciousness that was sweeping the world.

The new order in art and entertainment, environmentalism, health and diet, multiculturalism, fashion, sexual tolerance and free spirituality that was developed by the counter-culture are now integrated into mainstream society. Even conservative mainstream Christian religions who once vehemently opposed the rise and threat of hippydom, have plagiarised many of their spiritual models and types of music to enhance their own community assemblies. Words like peace and love, vegetarianism, yoga, meditation, free spirituality, holistic healing, human rights, free speech, chanting, recycling and organics, gender equality, non-xenophobic, co-educational, new age, holistic health, gay liberation and protest are now accepted terms which have become central traits of western and other mindsets. Throughout the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s the hippies and their modern evolution the yuppies, became the foot-soldiers and often the prime organisers of the campaigns throughout the world for; human and civil rights, anti war activism, the emerging Green movements, the health consciousness revolution, the voice advocating open spirituality and freethinking, women’s activism, and the anti-nuclear and anti-war movements.

Many of today’s youth are unaware as to what a different, closed and stultifyingly boring society we once lived in before the 1960s. Or to just how maligned and persecuted by that old society were the Hippies of the social revolution, as necessary change was articulated. However their effects on society has been permanent bringing new meaning to the notion that hippies saved the world.

By the mid to late 1970s as a reaction to a decade and a half of hippiedom spreading love and peace, a new nihilistic anti-hippie youth movement emerged. That of an alcohol and hard drugs induced cult called Punk Rock. While this new movement portrayed itself as being anti establishment, in actual fact it did the bidding of conservative society and attempted to redirect young people back to the annals of old antecedents of a pre 1960s culture and values. While Punk did not last its effect on the music industry was permanent because multinational record companies found better marketing leverage and increased sales by selling music to young people with a more violent tone. Today, hard core punk is predominantly the music and culture of choice of neo-Nazis and white supremacist.

What is most compelling is that the rise, persecution and fall of hippiedom and the “NEW WAY”, was predicted thousands of years ago by Christ and the prophets of most of the world’s spiritual based cultures.

Hippies Environmental crusade

The early hippies pleaded with society to respect “Mother Earth” and warned of the dire consequences of continued mismanagement of the world resources and its sensitive ecological systems. The first Nambassa newsletter released in 1976 warned of the impending collapse of the economic and environmental system caused by vulture capitalism. These predictions bringing new meaning to a world, now grappling with unprecedented environmental degradation caused by global warming, and the collapse of capitalism caused by the disintegration or meltdown of the worlds banking system. "Quote from the 1976 Nambassa newsletter"“There can be no doubt we are living in confusing times. The social pressures alone are enough to start one thinking about living an alternative lifestyle. Already many people are leaving the cities to live on the land, simply because they can no longer afford the costs of urban life. We are using up our natural resources at an ever increasing rate and they are not going to last for ever. In fact we are abusing our planet woefully. Mother earth will not tolerate this continued rape, and is groaning under the burden of unenlightened man. Consider this and ask yourself, “Is this a natural way of life, is this how we were meant to live?” In all truth we have entered a depression, and are fast reaching a stage, not only of economic collapse, but a point where our very survival is threatened. Now, more than ever before, there is a need and a growing desire for people to learn to live outside the collapsing economic and social system, with its greed and avarice, and it’s denial of individuality.”

The boom of psychedelic music, and the de-conditioning brought about by the hippie revolution, fostered the advent of a generation of musical originals. The sixties and seventies spearheaded new music types, these now the established artistic precedent from which new styles will naturally evolve. These musical growth spurts have broken free from old world experience, taking the various musical disciplines in new directions with impressive and innovative results. In much the same way the 1960s and 1970s social revolution also heralded significant changes in how the west viewed its relationship to its perceived core value systems.

A Legacy of Hippiedom

While mainstream religious, political and economic systems have attempted to drag humankind back to the ignorance of the dark ages, the freeing up of mind and culture caused by the breaking away from decaying old world perception, has stimulated new found expanded consciousness levels throughout the world which has fostered unprecedented growth in world science and technology, human and civil rights standards, free speech and press, personal spiritual growth, environmentalism, and health and diet. The extent of the phenomenal and unprecedented speed and growth of our evolving culture over the past 50 years (since the rise of the counter-culture) has not been matched since life began to evolve on the planet. (“The number of days have been reduced, had this not have been done then nobody would survive.” Matt24-22 & "And it shall come to pass in the last days, ^of the age^, I will show wonders in the heavens above, ^spiritual renaissance^, and signs in the earth beneath. ^worldly advancements.^ Acts 2:19)

The reasons we have seen these unprecedented growth spurts over this part of the age is due primarily to the transition of western spiritual consciousness, from the limitations of a 2000 year old repressive Roman Christian sectarian belief system/ tradition, to a new open and transparent practice of free spirituality. Humankind's quest to find answers to his purpose and to unlock the mysteries to creation outside the parameters of traditional or conventional models of thinking has delivered a profound acceleration of evolution with unprecedented results. The hippie revolution forged new horizons and the world changed accordingly, these new found keys unlocked new doors to once repressed aspects of the brains chemistry and intellectual capacity expanded forthwith.

With our focus now on the future please visit the emerging Nambassa2000 blog which is a 2008 response to present world predicaments and events. This blog implores one to investigate the notion that if we are to survive ecologically and spiritually as a cohesive global community in this twenty-first century, then we are encouraged to consider revisiting many of the positive lifestyle and belief system traits proposed by the 60's and 70's hippie subculture. This blog intends to canvas constructive ideas concerning issues which effect our future human and world development. Nambassa2000 invites you to comment on issues that are effecting our survival in the twenty-first century, this against a backdrop of social and cultural collapse, war, religious misinformation, environmental degradation and community alienation.

The intentions of Nambassa-Online are not to simply regurgitate events and models of old, but to rediscover and build upon this unique spirituality or meaning, which fundamentally caused time and evolution to begin to accelerate from the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, causing a whole generation of disaffected youth to question the status quo, out of which seeds were sown for the new way or as some, would prefer it said metaphorically, a developing New Heaven (Spiritual methodology) and Earth (Lifestyle conducive to respecting Mother Earth, developing spiritual knowledge and ones personal growth).

"While we are divided by man made religious, political and economic interests, we all share and are united by the common thread of our humanity. At Nambassa we encourage the labels to fall away and we feed from the well of a sacred oneness, from this the essential building blocks of spirituality are developed. Here we create the environment for Nirvana so that we will replenish and Christ the earth".

AROHANUI- Peter Terry


Anonymous said...

Shine on Nambassa Geoff LA

Anonymous said...

shine on nambassa

steve said...

we peer through a glass of dark
our children follow on
they see the glass half full
lit by moon and sun

good stuff peter terry!

Loretta/ Raglan said...

Years have gone but not the vision, like minded people still caring for each other and the earth and diverseness of life!

Our children follow in the footsteps.

Nambassa forever!