This month, Marxist societies on campuses up and down the country will be hosting discussions on the inspiring events of May 1968, when a revolutionary movement of workers and youth sent shockwaves across France. We say: La lutte continue!
Over the month of May, the Marxist Student Federation will be learning the lessons of May 68, and celebrating the legacy of this inspiring movement of workers and youth.
1968 marked a turning point in world history. As the postwar boom began to slow, the relative stability seen in the West in the decades following WW2 was brought to an end.
Dramatic revolutionary developments erupted all over the world: from the Civil Rights movement in the USA; to the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia; to the international protests against the Vietnam War. In Paris, meanwhile, a revolutionary general strike brought French capitalism to its knees.
It is important for us to study all explosive events in history. But this episode has particular lessons for revolutionary students today.
It was the students at the Sorbonne in Paris who sparked the movement at the start of May. Faced with a rising tide of student protest in the university, the administration decided to close the university, sending in the police to clear the students out.
This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, with the fires of rebellion rapidly spreading to working-class communities and workplaces across the city, and all over the country.
Protesting students linked up with the organised working class, who, in turn, began to occupy their factories, as part of the largest general strike in history (at the time).
This mass movement led General De Gaulle, the French President, to whimper to the US ambassador that: “The game is up – in a few days the Communists will be in power.”
Yet, due to a lack of genuinely revolutionary leadership, the movement ebbed, and the opportunity for the French working class to seize power was lost.
To draw out these vital lessons, Marxist societies up and down the country will be hosting talks on the events of May 68 in the coming weeks.
Visit the MSF website or see below to find your nearest Marxist society event, and join us to discuss how we can learn from the revolutionary movement of May 68, in order to strengthen the struggle for socialism today.