Letters: Morality? Look back to the Sixties

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The Independent Online
Sir: The demonology of the Sinful Sixties versus the Evil Eighties so well chronicled by Andrew Marr ("Clean up Britain, but don't do it from the pulpit", 23 October) leaves out one thing: the Sixties' reputation for sin is based entirely on its perceived liberality over sex and drugs, yet by any reasonable standards the Sixties were the most moral years this century.

Altruistic moral values dominated the culture and politics of the Sixties. Apartheid in South Africa and American involvement in Vietnam led to large demonstrations in the UK. The judgements of those who took part were moral and unselfish.

The Sixties saw the beginning of the end of systematic racial discrimination in the United States. Blacks moved to the front of the bus, went to university and registered to vote, assisted by a white middle class with nothing to gain but a clearer conscience. Anyone watching recent television programmes on the civil rights movement must have been struck by the number of white faces on the march.

Those who agitated for the CND may have given self-preservation as their major motive, but much of the argument over nuclear weapons relied on moral as well as practical arguments.

The modern feminist movement began in the 1960s. Who would now argue against the morality of sexual non-discrimination?

Civil rights became the buzzword in Northern Ireland. The modern IRA is a ghastly monument to the failure of the Unionists to accept the 1960s morality of non-discrimination.

Even the sentimental tosh of peace and love which formed the pop culture of the day was a moral argument, and not a bad one. The Hollies sang "He ain't heavy, he's my brother". Anyone looking for the cornerstone of a moral system could do worse than start there.


Mitchel Troy, Monmouth