Interpretations of the "global 1960s' that ignore the seminal influence of the arts—both their popular and avant-garde iterations together—are no longer adequate. Student activism in the space of the university and the street made up only part of the broad antiauthoritarian conjuncture that would famously come to a head in 1968, and not necessarily the most important part; arguably more fundamental was a broad democratization of the means and ways of cultural production in which not only artists but also youthful creators and appropriators of popular culture played a leading role. These cultural actors were not mere adjuncts to the student left, but protagonists of cultural-political change in their own right. Their broadly antiauthoritarian (and in many cases explicitly anarchist) orientation offered a fresh, contemporary perspective that, if it hewed more closely to the ecumenical 'spirit of "68" than the dogmatic pronouncements of young Trotskyist and Maoist student sectarians, nevertheless complemented and expanded upon aspects of their political critiques. The field of activity of these cultural actors, moreover, encompassed precisely those phenomena—art and "happenings," style and fashion, comics, movies, and music—that were most responsible for expressing and disseminating the new youth sensibility of 1968, and that provided the critical intergenerational avenues of articulation between the new youth culture and broader society. This activity, expressed in everything from the most commoditized products of mass production to the seemingly direct, yet highly orchestrated constructions of the "happening," can also be seen as a groundswell of mediation, as new and old forms alike were marshaled in service of pressing and new cultural aims.
Scott Brown, T. , Lison, A. (2014)., Introduction, in T. Scott Brown & A. Lison (eds.), The global sixties in sound and vision, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-13.
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