While many beatniks despised the hippies who followed on the counterculture trail, the two did have some commonalities.
Here are ten I see.
- Alternative living: They both dressed in ways that weren’t socially acceptable, part of their rejection of bourgeois attitudes of American respectability. Hippies, especially, advanced that into group living.
- Beards: The beat goatee was signature. Hippies took facial hair in many distinctive directions.
- Sandals: On men, especially. Forget the polished wingtips.
- Incense: It became a staple of small alternative stores, along with interesting teas like Earl Grey and Gunpowder.
- Pot: Jazz musicians were the root for the beats. Having a toke together became a communal expression among hippies.
- Free love: Although the birth control pill was approved for public use in 1960, it was still illegal in eight states four years later. Still, it quickly grew in popularity, garnering the condemnation of Pope Paul VI in 1968. Well, if extramarital sex was already taboo, what additional fault would using the contraceptive have? This was having fun while scoffing at conventionality at the same time.
- Eastern spirituality: Zen Buddhist and Theosophist influences championed by the beats spread into yoga, Sufism, and other strands of Buddhism in the hippie era.
- Pacifism: Opposition to war, though, did not always carry a corresponding nonviolent outlook by hippies, who instead focused their opposition on the military draft and stopping that by any means possible.
- Cool: Beatniks liked to “play it cool.” Hippies had their own nuance in preferring to “be cool” as a way of displaying their individuality.
- Mass-media caricatures: Both were portrayed negatively in the mass media, usually as warped stereotypes.