May ' a contested history | EurozineDuring May , students and workers in France united in the biggest strike and the largest mass movement in French history. Protesting capitalism, American imperialism, and Gaullism, 9 million people from all walks of life, from shipbuilders to department store clerks, stopped working. The nation was paralyzed—no sector of the workplace was untouched. She examines the roles played by sociologists, repentant ex-student leaders, and the mainstream media in giving what was a political event a predominantly cultural and ethical meaning. Anti-imperialism , class struggle , Mai 68 , revolt. By Kristin Ross. Acceptance of any contribution, gift or grant is at the discretion of the non.
French Unions & Students Mobilize Against Reforms: Another May '68?
This collection of twenty-six essays ranges widely over the variegated legacies of May , whose description in the title is a doubly tendentious one. May 68, while undoubtedly revolutionary, was not in historical fact a revolution, and who is to say that it was France's last as opposed to most recent such upheaval?
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Since the thirtieth anniversary in , the May events have — with the striking exception of Kristin Ross's May '68 and its Afterlives — tended to be on the back burner, so that Michael Seidman's exhaustively documented account may well revive what has been virtually from the beginning a rich source for publication and analysis. That his project has taken fifteen years to bring to completion is hardly surprising when one considers the vast quantity of documentary research undertaken, embracing national and departmental archives, the records of the Paris police, contemporary periodicals, tracts and posters from the period, and the wealth of analyses, interpretations and autobiographical accounts that began appearing almost as soon as the events were over and have renewed themselves at regular intervals ever since. It was widely seen at the time as the incipient apocalypse of the consumer society, the harbinger of socialist revolution for Trotskyists, Maoists and the loosely-defined tendencies described as gauchiste , or in the reformist-speak of the French Communist Party the greatest general strike in French history, asserting the power of the working class against their capitalist oppressors. Seidman approaches the events sympathetically but with a carefully-argued sense of their limited long-term impact and at least implicitly their diminished contemporary relevance. Kristin Ross argues powerfully that the political lessons of May are still extremely important, and her book — more of an ideological reading, less of a historical account — thus valuably complements Seidman's, whose epigraph 'Lovin' eyes can never see,' from Percy Sledge's hit When A Man Loves A Woman , suggests the affectionate political and ideological scepticism that informs his approach. The events, for Seidman, were important not because of the changes they effected but 'by virtue of the transformative power that much of the media, many scholars, and ordinary French people have attributed to them' p.