Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Revolutionary Heart

The fortieth anniversary of les évènements of 1968 will inevitably be marked with the stink of decomposing nostalgia. Some of that generation's radicals are shuffling their feet in embarrassment, keen to forget the righteous anger of their younger selves. They have no wish to compromise their present employers and mentors in bellicose governments across western Europe.

Others will boast of their rrrrrradicalism in the heady days of May while remaining wilfully silent about why their politics didn't lead to victory. Their accounts may enthuse a younger generation of radicals, but the only practical advice they can offer is on how to build a career in the media. The press are hardly falling over themselves to turn their pages over to Renault workers who struck in 1968.

Those who led that revolt to defeat in 1968 are adopting nostalgia as a tactic to prevent us from understanding why. All their art exhibitions and conferences serve only to prevent us from achieving victory now. So, rather than joining the assimilative and co-opting media frenzy around 1968, we'd invite you to celebrate the anniversary of March 18th 1871, when the workers of Paris prevented the removal of the cannon with which they would defend themselves. This uprising led to the Paris Commune, the first realisation by workers that "it was their imperious duty and their absolute right to render themselves masters of their own destinies by seizing upon governmental power."

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