"Still, it must be said that the differences between hipsters and beatniks may be more important than their similarities, even if they share the following general characteristics: marijuana, jazz, not much money, and a community of feeling that society is the prison of the nervous system. The sense of place is acute—few care to stay away for long from the Village, Paris, North Beach, Mexico, New Orleans, Chicago and some other special cities. Hipster and Beatnik both talk Hip, but not in the same way—the beatnik uses the vocabulary; the hipster has that muted animal voice which shivered the national attention when first used by Marlon Brando.
Now the differences begin. The hipster comes out of a muted rebellion of the proletariat, he is, so to say, the lazy proletariat, the spin; nothing given to manual labor unless he has no choice. The beatnik—often Jewish—comes from the middle class, and twenty five years ago would have joined the YCL. Today, he chooses not to work as a sentence against the conformity of his parents. Therefore he can feel moral value in his goodbye to society. The hipster is more easygoing about the drag and value of a moneyless life of leisure.
Their bodies are not the same. A hipster moves like a cat, slow walk, quick reflexes; he dresses with a flick of chic; if his dungarees are old, he turns the cuffs at a good angle. The beatnik is slovenly—to strike a pose against the middle-class you must roil their compulsion to be neat. Besides—the beatnik is more likely to have a good mind than a good body …
… The beatnik, gentle, disembodied from the race, is often a radical pacifist, he has sworn the vow of no violence—in fact, his violence is sealed within, and he has no way of using it. His act of violence is to suicide even as the hipster's is toward murder, but in his mind-lost way, the beatnik is the torch-bearer of those all-but-lost values of freedom, self-expression, and equality which first turned him against the hypocrisies and barren cultureless flats of the middle-class."
-Norman Mailer. "Hipster and Beatnik". 1959.