Monday, April 17, 2006

Not the 1968 show ?

Comment at the This French Life site:

Chris: "Ah yes, the riots! I was here in 1968 when the student riots caused the fall of the then Republic. Then the protest was ideologically driven and for the "benefit" of the "workers" All of it very admirable and Marxist."

All of it ? Some of it was romantic utopianism, with such unmarxist slogans - in graffiti - as: "The beach is under the pavement". Marxists sometimes pick up paving stones in demos, but not in search of a beach.

"The current stuff is about a perceived threat to the status quo! Revolutionary France? Don't make me laugh, any British person that lives here in France knows that there is more spirit of '68 in any UK council estate."

Yes, we've heard this line endlessly from the right-wing press; as if they cared about really radical values.

In fact there were changes after 68 (trades unions were involved), but also before it, and these were often hard-won gains and formed what many are now decrying as unrealistically socialist in a world of capitalist globalization. So, no, the students don't want to see that heritage torn up, they fought to preserve the gains of earlier revolutions. That doesn't make them into reactionaries. We'll have to see whether these students and pupils remain as radical as they are in defense of a somewhat more socialist system than the UK, or whether they end up like some of the '68 bunch:

"As always, the media are looking for a photogenic young revolutionary leader, a modern replica of '68 pinups like Daniel Cohn-Bendit, "Danny the Red." But the teenager who more than anyone is pulling the strings of the schoolyard revolt isn't interested in fame. Karl Stoeckel, 19, could not be further from the romantic, preening revolutionaries of '68. He emerges from his tiny back office in a neat sweater, beige trousers and polished shoes, apologizing for the mess left by his comrades. "The '68 leaders were completely different people," he says. "Maybe they were more romantic. But I would not want to become what they have turned into now. It's a little tragic when you see some of them. They are the greatest capitalists in the world."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,1742624,00.html

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