The 1960s marked an era of unprecedented unrest among American youth. Historians have usually considered this youthful movement of protest to have had two distinct wings: the political, known as the New Left; and the cultural, given the term Counterculture. Youth rebellion is usually examined as having been either one or the other. However, while examinations of the New Left or the Counterculture are useful, it is important not to ignore or downplay the corrections between the two social tendencies. The political and cultural youth movements were linked in the 1960s in what one could call experiential politics.
Both the political and the cultural elements of the youth movement had aspects of the other inherent within them from their outset, but these links were especially apparent in the last three years of the decade. Not only were countercultural influences central to ostensibly political movements, but counterculture can best be defined as an inherently political movement when politics are discussed broadly rather than through more old fashioned definitions of politics as something pertaining only to politicians.
The central link between the two tendencies was the importance of experience as an end in itself. Although often cited as an important element of the Counterculture, the experiential qualities of politics among youth in the Sixties, which was what gave it the particular power and self-destructiveness it contained, is often overlooked. Taken together these political and cultural activities can be seen as intertwined elements of an overall youth movement in the 1960s in America, a movement which sought fundamental changes in all facets of American society.