These same students erected barricades on the Left Bank to break free of buttoned-up patriarchal French post-war society. They were followed by up to 10 million striking workers in the biggest such mass movement the country has ever known.
It all fizzled out after a month, but France was changed for ever, although the French are still not quite sure how exactly.
Was it a cultural, political and sexual revolution that liberated a young generation from its authoritarian parents? Or was it the cause of decades of hedonistic individualism that set France into decline?
Gee, I wonder.
For President Nicolas Sarkozy, the answer is clear: les soixante-huitards are to blame for French society’s current ills. Last year, during his election campaign, he suggested the ’68 legacy should be “liquidated” once and for all.
But is France now heading for unrest on a similar scale? …
Christophe Barbier, editor of l’Express, one of France’s leading magazines, doesn’t think so. Students have no intention of a repeat exercise, he says. “The soixante-huitards had it all: joie de vivre, money and growth. They wasted the lot. Now their children have to pay for it… they certainly don’t want a re-run of May ’68: it is their permanent nightmare.”
A recent poll showed that 80 per cent of French pupils want teachers to be more authoritarian and that French youth are alone in a range of Western countries in thinking that obedience is more important than independence.
With statistics like this, May ’68 really does seem a long way off.
Well, viva la France, eh?
They’re playin’ our song…
ninme sings along, “Die, Boomers, Die”