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Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
2 months ago

France chose stagnation.

Only France? Neil Young throwing his toys out of the cot over Joe Rogan (and Joni Mitchell) sums up the baby boomers for me.

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
2 months ago
Reply to  Hendrik Mentz

Neil Young is a more complicated figure than that.Yes he was wrong about Joe Rogan but he did support Reagan’s hard stance in the cold war against communism and he did criticise the hard drugs chic of the 1970’s both of which history proved him right .Most of his fellow songwriters just followed whatever the fashion was

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 months ago

Brilliant. A pleasure to read.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 months ago

“The baby boom meant that there had never been as many students in French universities as there were in 1968: 508,000 in the academic year 1967-68 — the equivalent number in 1950-51 was only 135,000.”
What an extraordinary statistic! Was it due to the French rejection of the one child per family model, or to a vast increase in the availability of student places, or both?
Either way off course it was only possible thanks the extraordinary generosity of the USA and its Marshall Aid Plan, something that most, if not all Frenchman studiously ignore.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago

“They created a “mafia” occupying the most important positions in French society.”
No different than the UK then

bree stevens
bree stevens
2 months ago

in the strict sense it is the people merely flying under the sign of the philosophy of difference that continue to squabble amongst themselves and not the real thinkers of difference. they approach present matters from the bad infinite of closed metaphysics, are motivated solely by materialism and changing proprietors.

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 months ago

A most interesting read. “an exercise in pure negation, in the repudiation of the status quo without an alternative in sight.” Possibly even more true of the 2011 Occupy movement. After over two centuries of increasing cynicism made even more pervasive by the internet, it’s challenging to get folk to coalesce around any specific programme of positive change, even though in the general case there’s maybe great appetite for that across society.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago

This is a very interesting article, but one thing it seems to do, like all the other historic analyses of the cultural revolutions of the 1960s that took place in the West generally, is to assume that they were all fuelled by a desire for progress or foreknowledge of a better future.

I think this is overcomplicating it: as the article says above, it’s possible also to explain these events through pure nihilism, but what is not explained is WHY people would act in such a manner. What is going on, at a stage where more people were living lives free from want than any other time in history, that a small group of institutional vandals can seriously propose destroying the system? Such an attitude would have been more justified at literally any other time and place in the whole of human history, so why now, and for what?

One thing I do note above was this part:

“The worries of students in the humanities, who made up the majority of the protesters, was supposedly linked to the scarcity of teaching jobs available to them.Louis Gruel, a Maoist who took part in the May riots, rubbished this explanation in his La Rébellion de 68: Une relecture sociologique. Not a single demand or pamphlet published in 1968, Gruel notes, raised the issue of the future of students on the labour market.”

Hmm. Firstly let’s deal with the Maoist who dismissed the idea: he’s missing the point. Of course the official documentation would not admit the incentive behind the activism, that would betray the whole point of speciously-justified activism in the first place. Why were there so many humanities graduates anyway? Did France really need half a million new philosophers every year, and did they all, seriously, think they’d be getting jobs? We have this problem in the UK nowadays, where we’ve turned higher education into a three-year debt-binge, often resulting in a degree in which neither society nor the economy has even a scintilla of interest.

Does this make the debt-burdened student angry? Of course it does? Does this entitle the angry student to make this everyone else’s fault? Of course it doesn’t. Yet the assumption by today’s ruling establishments is that when unemployable middle class graduates block traffic and destroy monuments, they must be treated as having a genuine grievance.

I remain persuaded that most of the cultural revolutions we’ve seen in wealthy western nations post-WW2 are nothing more than an insufficient degree of policing by establishments against worthless troublemakers.

Last edited 2 months ago by John Riordan
Frances Mann
Frances Mann
2 months ago

As a nineteen year old I was at the Sorbonne in May ’68, doing a French course for foreigners. I was not all up to speed on the student politics of the time but what I vividly remember is how much it was the brutality CRS police that caused outrage and encouraged a sense of grievance and justification for more ‘manifestations’. I remember too how exhilarating it felt to see so many serious institutions like the Bourse and buildings like La Madeleine taken over and festooned with black anarchist flags and red communist ones, and I remember the occupiers cheerily giving out free sandwiches. Then memorably after weeks of this there was a huge demonstration, of young people, as I remember, a lot driving about in cars, all in support of De Gaulle after which all the rest seemed to peter out.