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In comments of another SE Politics post, we can read that Russia funded leftist movements in the 70's.

I believe if external influence there was, it would have started from political movements such as the marxists (e.g. the Weathermen, the Black Panthers), and then the more politicized fringe of the hippies such as the "Diggers" and "Yippies", and from then a kind of important impetus all over the West could have been triggered, creating or reinforcing this large "hippie movement".

"Hippie movement" is understood very widely: it includes the Beats, the Diggers and Yippies, the freaks and heads, the visionaries, the plastic hippies, the Black Panthers, the Weathermen, the wider anti-Vietnam War movement, western leftist terrorists (Red Army Faction), etc. I think it is safer to limit this question to the U.S. (but if it was to be enlarged and include Europe, we have the "baba-cool" and the "Situationists" (a kind of artistic anarcho-communism) in France).

Besides, some individuals could have been approached separately. Allen Ginsberg, for instance, supported communism, and traveled to many communist regimes (and therefore we can easily suppute he had close contact with them, although I do not have the knowledge about a (financial, or other form of) support from a communist regime attributed to him).

Did the USSR and other communist countries fund the hippie movement?

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  • In "Next Stop Execution" Gordievsky describes providing money and encouragement to various left-wing individuals identified by the KGB as "progressive" in the UK, though he doesn't mention hippies. Part of the problem in the question is defining the "Hippie movement". They wouldn't have targeted anything so diffuse. Jul 11, 2023 at 13:47
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    You connect a large, diffuse, politically heterogenous movement and a regime that is known to have provided money to foreign groups they considered friendly. Yes, I am sure you can find some groups that received Soviet money and that you could consider "hippie". But does that mean "the" hippie movement was financed (=dependent on and subverted by the money) by the evil communists? No, certainly not. The question is not suitable to lead to informative answers.
    – ccprog
    Jul 11, 2023 at 17:34
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    You seem to be using an extremely expansive definition of "hippie", which basically none of the groups which you've included would agree with as being an accurate definition of "hippie". Many of them would have vehemently disagreed with being labeled as "hippie" and/or with including all those groups. If you're really wanting to use that wide a definition for the group you're interested in, I'd suggest using some term other than "hippie".
    – Makyen
    Jul 11, 2023 at 19:27
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    @IanKemp It's completely valid to critique a question (harshly, I'll add) but are you sure this is how you want to do it?
    – JimmyJames
    Jul 11, 2023 at 21:32
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    Would this be a better question for Skeptics?
    – ouflak
    Jul 12, 2023 at 7:26

3 Answers 3

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Maybe...

The Soviets did fund anti-war movements. If they specifically funded hippie movements, it is harder to say.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_influence_on_the_peace_movement

The former KGB officer Sergei Tretyakov said that the Soviet Peace Committee funded and organized demonstrations in Europe against US bases.[28] According to Time magazine, a US State Department official estimated that the KGB may have spent $600 million on the peace offensive up to 1983, channeling funds through national Communist parties or the World Peace Council "to a host of new antiwar organizations that would, in many cases, reject the financial help if they knew the source."

It is hard to determine the timeline and the groups that ultimately received this funding, additionally, 1983 is very late for anything "hippie" related. However, it supports that there was funding deliberatly sent to organizations that may not necessarily support Soviet views.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Lunev

alleged that "the GRU and the KGB helped to fund just about every antiwar movement and organization in America and abroad." According to Lunev, the Soviet Union allegedly spent more money on funding of U.S. anti-war movements during the Vietnam War than on funding and arming the Viet Cong forces.

Please note, this is a claim made by Stanislav Lunev who defected to the US and wrote a book. I would be skeptical of the veracity of these claims.

https://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/16/weekinreview/soviet-peace-charade-is-less-than-convincing.html

elaborate peace programs have been a staple of Soviet foreign policy since Lenin. The current Soviet peace committee apparatus was established in 1950 and the committee has served as a conduit for Soviet influence in the World Peace Council in Helsinki, a faithful supporter of Soviet positions.

While this is not direct evidence of any specific groups being funded, it further supports that at the time the Soviets viewed peace programs in other countries as a means to benefit their goals.

https://archive.org/stream/reportoncommunis00unit/reportoncommunis00unit_djvu.txt

Thus, Soviet Delegate Suslov spoke with supreme authority when he specified the duties of the various Communist Parties in connection with the "peace" campaign. He declared at the 1949 Cominform meeting:

Particular attention should be devoted to drawing into the peace movement trade-unions, women's, youth, cooperative, sport, cultural, education, religious, and other organizations, and also scientists, writers, journalists, cultural workers, parliamentary, and other political and public leaders. * * *

Suslov outlined specific tactics to be employed. He demanded that the Communist and Workers Parties direct peace campaigns within *WZ mass public associations." In other words, non-Communist organizations were to be subverted to serve Communist ends. Suslov told the Communists to spread the Soviet peace propaganda by way of "mass demonstrations, meetings, rallies, drawing up of petitions and protests, questionnau-es, formation of peace committees in towns and in the countryside." He said, "It is necessary to proceed from the concrete conditions in each country, skillfully combining various forms and methods of the movement with the general tasks." We shall describe how assiduously these directives were followed in the United States in a later section of this report.

Suslov claimed that the Soviet-inspired "peace" movement by November 1949 had won over "hundreds of millions" of people. He referred to these persons as "partisans of peace."

The above is a report that details a lot of the "peace offensive" employed by the Soviets.

https://jameslate.medium.com/how-the-soviet-union-helped-shape-the-modern-peace-movement-d797071d4b2c I haven't read this link yet, but it is provided in the comments by Italian Philosophers 4 Monica.

I hate using wikipedia as sources. I am still looking for more sources on this, but evidence does suggest that the Soviet's did value anti-war movements as more or less beneficial to their communist ambitions.

My understanding of the situation is that, at the time, the USSR would fund any organization it deemed as beneficial to it. The benefit is not in creating support for itself, but in creating problems for its adversaries.

The funding of the hippie movement plays directly to benefit the USSR at the time. Given the USSR was supporting the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, they had a vested interest in the US losing this war or backing out support for Army of the Republic of Vietnam.

Most of the sourcing doesn't really look at the hippie movement as it does the broader anti-war movement.

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    This is a Medium article, so basically a this-guy-said post, but it does list a lot of names (including some in the wiki article) that a more motivated person than myself could research: jameslate.medium.com/… I agree with you, the opportunity would seem to be too inviting to ignore. Jul 11, 2023 at 19:37
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    But I have a really hard time believing that more $$$ went to peace movements than to the VC. Just because someone said - possibly to make their book more interesting - it doesn't make it so. For one thing, with that much funding Soviet involvement would have resulted in harder evidence and more free-spending peace movements. Jul 11, 2023 at 19:48
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica I want to find references or sources for the Time magazine article, that appears to have a bit more bite to the information. Thank you for your link. I would tend to agree with you about the funding being greater than the war effort. The Soviets provided Vietnam with a lot of non-financial support, so I am skeptical about the claims made in my answer. I plan on updating this answer with more information with references. Though, I do fully believe that it is likely that some groups considered "hippie movement" were partially funded by Soviet endeavors.
    – David S
    Jul 11, 2023 at 20:00
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    You can leave the claim as is but indicate that it is not entirely backed up. You've already indicated doubts about sole reliance on wikipedia so people will not necessarily think you endorse that particular claim. Jul 11, 2023 at 20:05
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica But I have a really hard time believing that more $$$ went to peace movements than to the VC What did the VC need? A bunch of rifles and crates of ammo for them? The Soviet Union probably still had warehouses full of arms leftover from WWII and later conflicts. Nevermind the fact that direct Soviet aid to the VC was probably very little - I suspect most went through the North Vietnamese, so the claim could very well be true and still be very misleading.
    – Just Me
    Jul 11, 2023 at 22:42
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As others have pointed out, the USSR probably did not support the hippie movement. As I have written about before, Stalin and the USSR believed socialists and revolutionaries that hated the dictatorship of the proletariat method of socialism to eventually achieve the final stage of communism were "social fascists" and corporatists. Many hippies were anarchopacifists and anarcho-punk. Some hippies supported forms of market anarchism like agorism (which is still practiced in the modern libertarian community of Freetown Christiania), which the USSR hated since the end goal of communism would involve removing market economics from society. Also, they were mostly pacifists, and even the more 'punk' hippies were learning martial arts for fun & self-defense, unlike the very militaristic soviet union. There was even an attempt for Soviet youth to participate in some form of the hippie movement, which was put down for the mentioned reasons.

So yeah, the USSR probably did not fund the hippie movement since they were seen as ignorant corporatists below dissidents who were not willing to militarize for the worker's movement, generally were against Marxist-Leninist socialism, considered other ideas like agorism that would oppose the ending all market economies, and even led to the rise of a soviet hippy movement that would seek to turn the authoritarian socialist state into a more stateless, less militaristic society despite the Cold War still going on.

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The internal Soviet view used to be that (source, The Guardian):

anyone who listened to the Beatles was spreading western propaganda

Following the cases as

in the early 1960s, Kolya Vasin was stopped by a policeman who had spotted his long hair. "You are not a Soviet man!" charged the officer.

Hence, I think, unlikely, because

Beatlemania washed away the foundations of Soviet society

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    Unaware about these. How here the Soviet propaganda failed to notify me?
    – Stančikas
    Jul 11, 2023 at 16:34
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    You do not have to endorse a movement inside in order to finance it outside. E.g. Russia does not endorse far right activism inside its legal space.
    – alamar
    Jul 11, 2023 at 16:39
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    This is really not conclusive at all. That the Soviets didn't like hippies makes quite a lot of sense given their context - especially re its pacifism component. That they would not seek to promote it onto others, for exactly that pacifism component, makes a lot less sense. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. p.s. the fact that US Cold War hawks would say thing like "Damn Hippie Commies" would also not be a credible source. -1 not answering the question. Jul 11, 2023 at 19:25
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    @alamar Another good example would be the Americans funding/training the Mujaheeden to oppose USSR. Many of whom went on to found/join the Taliban/Al-Qaeda......
    – Questor
    Jul 11, 2023 at 19:47
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    The idea that the Beatles were hippies seems a little questionable. I mean they were extremely wealthy and famously used tax avoidance to retain that wealth. There's a view that they co-opted the 'hippie movement', commercialized it and that this ultimately killed the movement. They definitely weren't communists.
    – JimmyJames
    Jul 11, 2023 at 19:54

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