Saturday, June 7, 2008

1968 Revisited

First a couple of direct links to posts about 1968 on Jakartass's blog, his own and a post from David Jardine.

Reading the both the blogs and the comments made me think a little deeper on what did happen back then. Of course just one year didn't change the world as we know it. What made the change was something that had already started by then. When people criticize the often flawed heroes of sixties youth they are missing the point. Probably Alexander Dubček was a better man than Ho Chi Minh but it was Ho's name being called out in the protests that year. Che probably did end up with a blood lust that caused the executions of good people.

The revolution in 1968 wasn't based on class, although it was certainly against the ruling class. The communist party had no leadership role in it. In fact the French Communist Party spurned the chance of really taking on De Gaulle. Those involved were looking for alternatives to the old Stalinist ideas of the traditional communist parties, hence the explosion in Trotskyite and anarchist parties.

So what was 1968? It was the political side of the youth movement that had really got going earlier in the decade. If there was a class part to it, you would have to say the political side was predominately middle class. But the 1968 students had a connection to the Mod movement and the beginnings of the hippie movement much more than any political party or ideal. This was the first time I know of that a generation was in revolt against another mainly on the grounds that the older could no longer be trusted with running the world.

If there was no 1968 there could be no Tony Blair, no Bill Clinton, no Barack Obama and, sorry to say, probably no David Cameron in leadership positions at their age. The cultural changes that have happened since then would have been fewer. Why? Because the older generation found that, just like Charles 1st., they had no divine right to rule. So for all their mixed up political thinking, we should thank Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Rudi Dutschke, Bernadette Devlin and Tariq Ali. Problem is that we are now that older generation. We sowed the seeds of our own destruction;-)

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