Tag Archives: May ’68

Todd Gitlin: “The Missing Music of the Left “

‘If there are to be global goals, goals that cross boundaries to inspire the multitudes, where might they be found? … So should idealists across borders persist in seeking the universalist grail—the moral equivalent of “The Internationale”? Some settle for anti-fascism; others strive to resurrect the lost traditions of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism; a few scavenge among the ruins of communism. Nearly three decades after the collapse of the communist phantasm, the left has still not recovered its voice, let alone composed a melody you can’t get out of your head.’

Jonah Birch: “How Beautiful It Was”

“For a few brief weeks in France [in 1968], not just a government but an entire system was called into question.”

Andy Merrifield: ‘“Fulfillment was already there”: Debord & ’68’

“France seemed on the precipice of revolution; a festival of people was glimpsed. Alienation was cast off, momentarily; freedom was real; capitalised time abandoned. Without trains, cars, Metro and work, leisure time was reclaimed, time lived. Students and workers seized the contingent situation, acted spontaneously, created new situations, realising something what no trade union or party could ever do, or wanted to do. And yet, as quickly as things erupted, they were almost as speedily repressed, by state and bourgeoisie, soon backed by the Communists and the CGT. The optimistic promise, the beach beneath the paving stones, had dissipated, for now. The music was over. There was no other side to break on through to.”

Todd Gitlin: “1968: Year of Counter-Revolution”

“The left was wildly guilty of misrecognition. Although most on the radical left thrilled to the prospect of some kind of revolution, … the main story line was far closer to the opposite—a thrust toward retrogression that continues, though not on a straight line, into the present emergency. … The main new storyline was backlash.”

Éric Alliez & Maurizio Lazzarato: “Clausewitz and la pensée 68”

‘The new theory of war and power was not able to confront and draw on real political experiments, since between the end of the 1970s and the early 1980s, the radicalization that resulted from ’68 (“Rampant May”) faded, weakened, and finally collapsed in the repetition of the modalities of civil war codified by the revolutions of the first half of the century around the October Revolution of the Bolsheviks. After the failure of insurrection movements, the “Winter Years” began, and have yet to end.’

Richard Vinen: “How Europe Got from May ’68 to Emmanuel Macron”

“It is often said that 1968 was a failed revolution in political terms but a successful one so far as cultural change was concerned. There is an element of truth in this. Protesters did not destroy capitalism, or even bring down Charles de Gaulle’s regime in France. There is, though, a broader sense in which ’68 itself eventually went with a realignment of politics so significant that it redefined notions of the right and the left.”

Nabila Ramdani: “A French revolution that pushed immigrants to the margins”

“The legacy of the ’68 Paris protests was not integration, but increased alienation for minorities.”

Daniel Cohn-Bendit & Claus Leggewie: “1968: Power to the Imagination”

“Our solidarity with the national liberation movements was immense. … What we largely ignored, however, was the suppression proceeding from the liberators themselves, once they had seized power.”

Lauren Elkin: “Lessons From Parisian Protest Culture”

Reading Canadian short story writer Mavis Gallant on the May 1968 uprising in the New Yorker:  “There are two elements of the protest: the march and the barricade. The forward movement and the resistance. A demonstration can’t become a protest without the forces of order saying no to their no. Both play their part. The barricade is a symbol of revolution, but the police kettle is just another kind of barricade. The very things that stir our heart in a revolution may be co-opted by the forces of order—or the other way around.”