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1968/2005

Saturday, November 5, 2005  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Off to Phoenix, but be sure to read the latest from AP on the spreading violence in Paris.

Here’s a summary of the Paris student riots from 1968:

The May 1968 Paris student riots had a fundamental impact on French and Wider European society. A part of the impact was on fashion. Just as the War in Viet Nam was having a major impact on American society. The Paris Student Riots are now seen as a major watershed event in France. As Charles Dickens put it about an earlier French Revolution, “They were the best of times, they were the worst of times. Surely the virtual open warfare in the streets of Paris during those May days shattered the old order in France more surely than any popular uprising since the Great revolution of 1789. Students and police clashed around burning cars and barricades. Half the French work force struck in solidarity-freezing the gears of a society which at the time was enjoying record prosperity. As a result, the mighty Charles de Gaulle fell from what had seemed a presidency for life. Other popular movements were underway that Spring. The U.S. anti-War movement, the Prague Spring, and violence on campuses from Japan to Italy to Mexico. A new world order seemed at hand. The events are relatively unrecognized in America as we were in the grips of our own national upheaval.

Here is a much longer review of the events of May, 1968, and their impact on French culture.

Like the American anti-war movement from the same era, the Paris “uprising” has been romanticized and its terrible consequences on a generation of French minimized.

If you spot a story on the current French leadership’s roots in that era, please send me the link. The necessity of quelling a “popular” uprising must be an unpleasant task for a group of government officials who once cheered or even participated in a “to the barricades” moment, as it must be for the larger population that once cheered the students on.

Sympathy, even longing for DeGualle, isn’t going to change the situation for Chirac, though. The seeds of 1968 are bearing all sorts of unusual fruit, just as they have in the U.S.

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