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The 1960s was the decade that started on January 1, 1960, and ended on December 31, 1969.[1] It was the seventh decade of the 20th century.

The 1960s term also refers to an era more often called The Sixties, denoting the complex of inter-related cultural and political trends across the globe. This "cultural decade" is a bit later than the actual decade, beginning around 1963 and ending around 1972, and in particular the years 1965-73 are sometimes referred as the "High Sixties".[2]

In the United States, "The Sixties", as they are known in popular culture, is a term used by historians, journalists, and other objective academics; in some cases nostalgically to describe the counterculture and social revolution near the end of the decade; and pejoratively to describe the era as one of irresponsible excess and flamboyance. The decade was also labeled the Swinging Sixties because of the fall or relaxation of some social taboos especially relating to sexism and racism that occurred during this time.

The 1960s have become synonymous with all the new, exciting, radical, and subversive events and trends of the period, which continued to develop in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and beyond. In Africa the 1960s was a period of radical political change as 32 countries gained independence from their European colonial rulers.

Some commentators[3] 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. This does not alone however explain the mass nature of the phenomenon.

Several governments turned to the left in the early 1960s. In the United States, John F. Kennedy, a Kenseyian[4] and staunch anti-communist who pushed for centre-left social reforms such as civil rights for African Americans and healthcare for the elderly and the poor, was elected to the Presidency. Italy formed its first left-of-centre 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.[5] In Brazil, João Goulart became president after Jânio Quadros resigned.


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