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“Make Love Not War”

The sixties represented a time in history where the whole world was undergoing a vast amount of change in a variety of different ways.  After Josef Stalin died in March of 1953, the Soviet Union began to see a time of new Soviet culture development. People began to be able to focus on their personal lives and live less of what felt like a caged existence. Soviet culture was greatly influenced by the culture of other quickly developing countries. The “swinging” 60’s was a time where new radio and television programs were arising that were becoming easily accessible to a wide variety of the population in the world. Overall Europe was seeing a great economic boom and the 60’s marked the first time where entertainment industries became easily accessible to the public. New fashions and styles were developing all over the world. People began to place a great emphasis upon the whole idea of “style”. “By 1965 there were radio and television programs, magazines, shops, products and whole industries that existed exclusively for the young and depended upon their patronage” (Judt, 398). Soviet Russia was notoriously affected by the first lines of Christian Dior magazines. Women in Soviet Russia began wearing simple looking dresses and scarves to appeal to the new fashion industry. Older men began to wear gray and brown suits casually. “Each national youth culture had its own distinctive icons and institutions” (Judt, 399). The United States had Elvis Presley and England had the Beatles as examples of great influences in culture. However, these influential figures quickly spread throughout the world and eventually to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was influenced by the different pop culture that was becoming popular around the world. Much of the mainstream musical culture of the sixties appeared to be about sex, which was why this time period began to be known as the sex revolution. “Contraceptives were becoming safer, easier and legal (Judt, 399). This is a large part of where the whole idea of “Make Love not War” came from in the 1960’s. The sixties became the originator of the “hippie” lifestyle which hit the Soviet Union with some popularity.  Despite the popular belief that there was no way the Soviet Union could have any hippie movement, they actually had the longest lasting hippie movement in the world. They notoriously dove into western and eastern cultures and became rock and roll children who believed in the ideal of flower power and love. “The Khrushchev thaw (1956-1964), that followed Stalin’s repressions, brought a breath of fresh air to some places in the Soviet Union. In Estonia, the so-called Soviet West, foreign radio broadcasts kept people updated on the happenings elsewhere in the world and Finnish television that traveled across the bay was an open window to the world.” (Make Love Not War). Hippies in the 1960’s protested against Soviet rule in a peaceful manner through symbolic expressions. However, the Soviet Union eventually caught on to these protests and saw the hippies as “social parasites” and contamination’s from the western culture. Eventually the KGB placed censorship, expulsions, and different harassment techniques on the “hippies” who got out of line. Overall, the period of Stalin leaving the Soviet Union meant that the Soviet Union could see new cultural development. They were able to expand and find more space for individualism as a result of his death in 1953.



Fedorova, Inna. “Soviet Fashions of the 1960s: Dawn of a New Era.” Russia Beyond, 26 Nov. 2013, www.rbth.com/arts/2013/11/26/soviet_fashions_of_the_1960s_dawn_of_a_new_era_32045.html.

Judt, Tony. Postwar: a History of Europe since 1945. William Heinemann, 2005.

“Make Love, Not War – Hippie Movement in the Estonian SSR.” Estonian World, 28 Apr. 2016, estonianworld.com/life/make-love-war-ussr/.

Saint-Jean, Eddie. “Soviet Hippies.” Whats Hot London, 6 Sept. 2016, whatshotlondon.co.uk/soviet-hippies/.




9 Responses so far.

  1. Caroline Ritchey says:

    This was a really interesting post, and I like how you talked about how Khrushchev’s reforms and de-Stalinization allowed for more counter-culture movements to emerge. You mentioned at the end how harassment and oppression against these movements got out of line; why do you think the more “relaxed” Soviet government was still against these movements?

  2. Justin Kane says:

    From the sounds of it, the Soviet Union was a sort of mixing pot of outside cultural influences that shaped them in the 60s. Did they have anyone like Elvis or The Beatles that was there “main” cultural influence? Also, i wouldnt have expected that Russia would have had the longest hippie-movement. I guess when i think Russia i dont think hippies!

  3. Maura McDonough says:

    The “hippie” movement really shows how communication between Russia and the West affected the Russian populous. When the KGB began oppressing the movement, did the movement fight back? Was this period the last time censorship was this relaxed?

  4. Taylor Boyd says:

    I think that it’s really interesting that the Soviet Union was influenced by Western styles and movements. The fact that the movements were deemed as anti-Soviet and oppressed as a result also shows that the Soviet officials saw them as a potential threat to their continued rule. Do you know of any major instances where the government and KGB acted violently to stop these movements?

  5. Anonymous says:

    This was very interesting! I didn’t know that the Soviet Union experienced a hippie movement. I wonder how severe were the KGB repressions? Also do you know if hippies were primarily found in rural areas or cities?

  6. Kathryn says:

    This was very interesting! I didn’t know that the Soviet Union experienced a hippie movement. I wonder how severe were the KGB repressions? Also do you know if hippies were primarily found in rural areas or cities? (sorry I commented twice I forgot to enter my name the first time)

  7. Grace Callanan says:

    I thought your post included a lot of great details about the social changes in Russia after Stalin’s death! I thought it was really interesting because often it’s easy to think of Russia (especially in the 1900’s) as being very different from Western culture. But as you mentioned, their society was embracing things like Christian Dior and other western fashions, and Western music.

  8. Claire Sutton says:

    This is a very interesting post. I had to read the Judt book for a class I had last semester and I remember a lot of what you talked about because of that. I do have a question on what were the protests that these “hippies” did during this time? And, just like Kathryn, I wonder what the repercussions were for their voices?

  9. A. Nelson says:

    Some wonderful detail here about the counterculture in the Soviet Union! Tony Judt’s book is a great resource, but do check back on the materials specific to the Soviet Union and the framing questions. What evidence do you have that the Soviet Union had “the longest lasting Hippie movement in the world?”

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