I grew up as a teenager in the 60s, and at age 16 I became a part of a movement generally characterized today by images of dirty hippies, anti-war protesters, drugs, rock music, and all the other caricatures of the "movement". Perhaps Tom Wolfe captured the essence better than most, at the time, with his book Electric Koolaid Acid Test. Basically, from my perspective, there were two main movements. One was a nascent freedom movement which rebelled against the military/industrial complex and a too powerful, corrupt government -- both parties included -- witness the Chicago Seven were at the Democrat Convention. The Chicago Seven were made up of the socialist/anti-capitalist side of the movement which eventually decided to change the system from within, although I never believed Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were in the same camp as Hayden and Davis and the others -- Rubin later became a stock broker and Hoffman became a fugitive, but both at the time were just showing the absurdity of power.
The movement of which I was a part was the apolitical freedom movement -- we just wanted government to butt out, to "do our own thing" and that sort of stuff. This was an immature rebellion against dominating, coercive power in all its forms -- we didn't substitute Mao for Nixon because it didn't make any sense. We would rather have voted for Professor Irwin Corey for president -- he would have been a communist but he wouldn't have cared what anybody did, as long as it was interesting.
Our freedom wasn't intellectually solid - it was based mainly on an intution that the State was becoming too powerful -- Kent State and Watergate proved our intuitions right.
After 15 years of being lost and disillusioned, as was the requirement of the time, I found an intellectual home in libertarianism -- I found a structure on which to hang my ideas and intuitions. What I felt during the 60s and early 70s was explained by libertarian principles and the history of freedom and domination. Reagan articulated he principles of the libertarian spirit, and Carter represented everything I was against. I had watched the socialists of the 60s turn the freedom movement into a political battle for power, just another form of domination, and I had turned against that mindset. Mao was not the way.
I began to really understand free market and limited government principles by reading Ludwig von Mises and Hayek and Rand and Friedman and Rothbard and Childs and Chodorov. While they all had somewaht different perspectives, the main libertarian philosophy explained my earlier inspiration and gravitiation toward freedom and non-coercion. I understood the responsibility that comes with freedom.
Today I witness those from the 60s who put away the bombs and set out to change the system from within by applying socialist/progressive principles, and I've witnessed the final transition of classical liberalism to modern "liberalism". It sickens me that these people have perverted the original liberty movement to limit power and to promote freedom -- perverted by their nanny-style, patronizing interventions. It was evident back then in the late 60s and early 70s as they became more overbearing and coercive than the government we protested. Now, they've civilized and legitimized their movement and they've become the Establishment, another form of control, another form of corruption.