To Have Done with May 68Lecture by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, media celebrity and usurper of May 68
The impotent always want to share their impotence with the world at large. On Monday 17th March the ex-anarchist Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who enjoyed the limelight during May 68, whose insignificance was made plain when Enragés and Situationists in the Occupation Movement, France, May 68
was published a few months later, and who today, proclaiming himself a "liberal libertarian", is active as a deputy on the right of the French Green Party, will give his lecture "To Have Done with May 68".
We have every reason to expect that this will be an attempt to justify a particular political trajectory – his own – which began in the 1960s on the far left and, through compromise after compromise, has ended today in confusionism on neither the left nor the right. This elderly gentleman, finding himself no longer "at the cutting edge", would like the whole of the radical left to "mellow", hoping that this might soften the contrast between his own media image in May 68 and the image which his former political friends would reflect back to him today.
Indeed what else but a narcissism of that sort could motivate this Ubu-esque figure, who for years has represented the revolution to the media in the most simple-minded terms? Since he owes his entire political career to that famous photograph of him laughing in the face of a riot cop during May 68, the old man feels the need to feign some consistency, to pass off as maturity his mere opportunism and decrepitude. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the type of man who "loses the faculty of indignation and mistakes its loss for intelligence" (1), wants the whole world to grow old and rotten along with him.
(Unless we are mistaken, the negation of revolutionary necessity does not actually form part of the Greens' aims and objectives.)
There is no danger, however, that he will have the power to convert the truly rebellious. For them there is no question over the need to put an end to the massacre of bodies and minds which has gone on for thousands of years. Cohn-Bendit will make a unique impression on fools (who are legion), but he will be no more successful in his cretinising mission than all the other handmaidens of manipulation who daily toil in the lecture halls and in the media. Compared to them, he's just a drop in the ocean.
But as for this lecture which supposedly highlights the 40th anniversary of May 68, coming as it does from the man who was May 68's false icon, we regard it as a provocation.
Let's give Cohn-Bendit neither the satisfaction of a compliant audience, nor the unanimous bleating which is such music to his ears.
15th March 2008
(1) Louis Scutenaire (Belgian Surrealist): "When Man loses the faculty of indignation, he mistakes its loss for intelligence".
Translated by Merl.
Click here to read the original French text.