Where Are the Riots of Yesteryear? Remembering May 1968

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1599 ... May 4, 2018

Where Are the Riots of Yesteryear? Remembering May 1968

Richard Greeman

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the wave of radical revolts and revolutionary uprisings that startled the world in 1968 and which -- although ultimately crushed by the forces of reaction that dominate the world to this day -- left in its wake rights so fundamental that we tend to take them for granted today -- for example sexual freedom, civil rights for African-Americans, and women’s equality. Yet a half-century later these hard-won rights are under attack, and people are once again rising to defend them.

Today in France, where in 1968 the student-worker rebellion led to weeks of general strikes with factory occupations, the students have once again occupied the universities,... while the railroad workers, airline, and public service workers are striking against the counter-reforms being imposed by autocratic, neoliberal President Emmanuel Macron. Following the example of the spontaneous general strike of 1968, these diverse groups are hoping the unite and force the government to cease their attacks on public services and working people’s standard of living.

In the U.S. as well, a wave of spontaneous strikes by underpaid, overworked, idealistic Red State teachers backed by public opinion is making sweeping gains, and movements like #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, FightFor$15 (15andFairness in Canada) and other post-Occupy anti-capitalist struggles of the 99% are on the rise. Is there hope for real change?

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