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The 1960s Portal


"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, formalities and schooling. Conservatives denounce the decade as one of irresponsible excess and 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.

The 1960s became synonymous with the new, radical, and subversive events and trends of the period. In Africa the 1960s was a period of radical political change as 32 countries gained independence from their European colonial rulers.

Some commentators have seen in this era 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. Christopher Booker charts the rise, success, fall/nightmare and explosion in the London scene of the 1960s. However, this alone does not explain the mass nature of the phenomenon.

Several nations such as the U.S., France, Germany and Britain turned to the left in the early and mid 1960s. In the United States, John F. Kennedy, a Keynesian and staunch anti-communist, pushed for social reforms. His assassination in 1963 was a stunning 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 across the globe, as they found peasant rebellion typified by Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara more appealing. Italy formed its first left-of-center government in March 1962 with a coalition of Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, and moderate Republicans. Socialists joined the ruling block in December 1963. In Britain, the Labour Party gained power in 1964. In Brazil, João Goulart became president after Jânio Quadros resigned.

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A souvenir sheet commemorating the 1977 Soviet Constitution, Brezhnev is depicted in the middle
The history of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, referred to as the Brezhnev Era, covers the period of Leonid Brezhnev's rule of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). This period began with high economic growth and soaring prosperity, but ended with a much weaker Soviet Union facing social, political, and economic stagnation. The average annual income stagnated, because needed economic reforms were never fully carried out. Nikita Khrushchev was ousted as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), as well as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, on 14 October 1964 due to his failed reforms and disregard for Party and Government institutions. The collective leadership first set out to stabilise the Soviet Union and calm Soviet society, a task which they were able to accomplish. In addition, they attempted to speed up economic growth, which had slowed considerably during Khrushchev's last years as ruler. The stabilisation policy brought about after Khrushchev's removal established a ruling gerontocracy, and political corruption became a normal phenomenon.

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Malcolm X
Credit: Ed Ford, New York World-Telegram and Sun
Malcolm X was an American Black Muslim minister and a spokesman for the Nation of Islam. Born Malcolm Little, he changed his surname to "X" as a rejection of his "slave name". Tensions between him and the Nation of Islam caused him to break from the group in 1964. He claimed to have received daily death threats and his house was burned to the ground in February 1965. One week later, Malcolm X was assassinated, having been shot in the chest by a sawed-off shotgun and 16 times with handguns. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted.

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Pelé
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, KBE (born October 23, 1940 in Três Corações, Brazil), best known by his nickname Pelé, is a former Brazilian football player, rated by many as the greatest footballer of all time. He was given the title of Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and jointly received FIFA Player of the Century chosen by officials at the organisation, shared with Diego Maradona who won the people's vote. In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero. He is known for his accomplishments and contribution to the game, in addition to being officially declared the football ambassador of the world by FIFA and a national treasure by the Brazilian government. He is also acknowledged for his vocal support of policies to improve the social conditions of the poor. He is also a member of the American National Soccer Hall of Fame. He is the all-time top scorer in the history of the Brazil national team and is the only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning teams. Since his full retirement in 1977 Pelé has been an ambassador for football and has also undertaken various acting roles and commercial ventures.

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