May 1968: the end of traditional morals

There are 9 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Carlos.

  • I am translating an article appeared in Argentina regarding the consequences of the May 1968 uprising in Paris, and its consequences in our country and elsewhere. I am prepared for receiving harsh comments from the members of this forum.


    The 50th anniversary of the famous May '68 has just been celebrated, during which important and serious student protests took place in Paris; university revolts that had finally go against the established order and provoke a cultural revolution, whose terrible consequences continue to this day, half a century later.

    Let's say first of all that the matrix of the French university "reaction" -which later spread to other countries, including ours- (Argentina), was clearly Marxist. The revolt was, both in its genesis and in its development, as well as the undeniable militancy of its protagonists, undoubtedly Marxist.

    How could it be otherwise, the socialist world pays tribute to the "French May" presenting it as "a feat" of Maoist tone, progressive and without political connotations

    particular. There is talk of an "explosion of rebellion, of poetry and, of youthful love, before a materialistic and exploitative world". That supposed "poetry full of life, and ideals", will be, however, and unfortunately, the model that will imitate a part of our Argentine university youth in the bloody years of the 1970's, changing the Parisian cobblestones for the ERP (Ejercito Revolucionario del Pueblo) and Montoneros bombs. (both of Argentina).

    To better understand what happened, let us first consider what was the world context of that time: the world was living the so-called "Cold War", and Communism exported the guerrillas to the Third World; Mao Tse-Tung had already launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China; in the West, the hippie movement, psychedelia and Sartrian existentialism dominated the intellectual and university environments; and far away, on the Indochina Peninsula, the tremendous Vietnam War was going on, which would conclude with the communist triumph and the American withdrawal.

    What were the events that occurred in Paris in May'68? After months of conflicts between students and authorities at the University of Nanterre in Paris, the administration closed the university cloisters on May 2. Then, the students of the Sorbonne in Paris, as a sign of solidarity, gathered in the Latin Quarter on May 3 and held a protest. The police intervened; the students responded by throwing cobblestones, which would later become one of the symbols of the return, along with the barricades.

    On May 6 the students called for a march to protest against the police invasion of the Sorbonne. More than 20,000 students, teachers, and sympathizers marched to the University, still closed by the police. The confrontation began. The fight lasted until midnight: barricades, burning cars, cobbles, Molotov cocktails and chains were the preferred means of confronting the police. 1,150 wounded between both sides and 24 hospitalized police clearly show the "harmlessness" of the young people, who invited to think, and to debate about the future of the human race ".

    Similar events occurred during the following weeks, when workers began to occupy the factories and to strike. The central workers called a general strike of 24 hours for May 13. This event will mark a new milestone in the history of disagreements that will star workers and students. One million protesters gather; unemployment is absolute throughout France; the workers march on one side and the students on the other.

    Since it was occupied, the Sorbonne became the headquarters of revolutionary students. Posters of Mao, Stalin, of "Che" Guevara, Lenin, Trotsky, decorated the walls of the University. It was "liberated zone". They painted the walls with the slogans: "Nothing will be claimed, nothing will be asked, it will be taken, it will be occupied"; "Imagination to the power"; "Take your dreams for realities"; "Enjoy here and now"; "The more I make love, the more I want to make revolution"; "Forbidden to forbid"; "Forget everything you have learned"; "Neither God nor teacher"; "Long live the revolution"; "Down with the State"; "Never work", etc.

    French President Charles de Gaulle, faced with the situation of chaos, dissolved the National Assembly, called for elections, and ordered workers to return to their jobs, threatening to establish a state of emergency if they did not. Immediately after his speech, many of his supporters marched down the Avenue de Champs-Élysées waving the national flag. The communists accepted the call for elections, and the threat of revolution dissipated. The street demonstrations stopped and the police resumed the Sorbonne on June 16. It was two months of great turbulence.


    The Gaullist party won with a large majority the legislative elections in June. All of which made it believe that the old regime had won and that the young rebels had lost the challenge. Big mistake! The young revolutionaries implanted a new way of being and living, "free from all ties" that would spread throughout the world.

    May '68 had his heirs, and if he did not succeed immediately, he did succeed in the medium term. From these facts the University became the most important hunting ground of Marxism, and will become the quarry for thousands of guerrillas in Latin America.

    At first it seemed like a spontaneous revolt of the young, but in reality it was a revolution carefully planned by the ideological laboratories that guided the transformation of the society. The "guru" of '68 was, not coincidentally, the philosopher Herbert Marcuse, the last exponent of the Frankfurt School, born in the 20s, to accompany the cultural plan of the Bolshevik political revolution.

    The basic idea of '68 is the "liberation of the instincts". This goes back to the time of the French Revolution, when the Marquis de Sade theorized, the first of all, a social regeneration through the liberation of the most turbulent passions. The main victim of this ideology was, unfortunately, the family, which at the end of the 60s constituted a social bulwark against the revolutionary forces and that today, after so many attacks against it, has been very damaged, as the whole society.

    It was about freeing man from the bonds of traditional morality, to build a non-repressive civilization, "where erotic energy could be freely expressed in a new social creativity." The 68 uprising was first and foremost a revolution in morals; sexual revolution and changes in educational systems, to undermine the foundations on which education is governed: the family and the school.

    The May 1968 was not a failed revolution. Fifty years later, we realize how his philosophy has permeated, slowly but progressively, the customs and mentality of Western society. The cultural revolution that burst forth at that time has inexorably followed its course. It is enough to think about the cultural and moral relativism that characterizes the society in which we live. To the cry of "Prohibited to prohibit" is being allowed and reaching the lowest and most corrupt of man, even considering a good what has always been considered an evil.

    The revolution of May 68, after all, rebelled against the created order, the concrete human nature, the origin and the identity of man. At the heart of this Cultural Revolution is the rejection of the origin, not only biological (the family) and social (the community), but also the cultural origin (tradition) and metaphysical (human nature). Because admitting that a person has a transcendent origin, would mean renouncing the utopia of self-generation, and absolute autonomy. According to this ideology, - it would be necessary, then, to engage in the integral liberation of man, denying one's own origin and one's nature, fighting with obstinacy the limits and the links that come from our condition as creatures. If "I am mine" then I decide my identity and nature, here is the diabolic ideology that they are already imposing in our schools!

  • The article appeared in a Conservative Magazine, (and inside the Argentine environment) not very well known. Obviously, the average media considers the May1968 uprising a step forward, but I really think that it shows the reasons why now things are as they really are.

    Teachers here fear to qualify with a C or a D to a student, because inmediately will react protesting to the School authorities, as an example.

    All that means Authority is being challenged.

  • Every student has the moral right, nay the responsibility to challenge authority. It's called growing up and I'm damned glad I did my fair share of it, otherwise life would have been pretty dull.

    It's up to the school authorities to assert their positions, but yes, I tend to agree with your sentiment to some degree Carlos on that particular point.

    Are we too soft on youngsters nowadays? Probably.

    But does the fact that we had things hard when we were younger mean that youngsters have to have it hard today. Has it made us better people for it?

    We're probably more self sufficient/reliant yes, but in the end the changes and upheavals of the late 60s were essential catalysts and a kind of rights of passage for many.

    We should be thankful for the so called May Revolution. People stood up for themselves, finally.

  • My observations about the outcomes of the May 1968 uprising in Paris, refers exclusively to my country, Argentina.


    Perhaps the fact that you say, "We should be thankful for the so called May Revolution. People stood up for themselves" is right for the UK and other European countries.

    But Argentina is not part of that group.


    Things here are exaggerated always, in one sense or the another.


    I worked as a faculty member of the School of Architecture of the UBA from 1967 to 2008. The wave of student's uprising came here a bit later, in 1971, and it was a real mess. The guerrilla warfare was very popular among the students of that time, who saw them as the future of the country. All hierarchies were neglected. As an example, the qualifications of the performance of the students,( before an affair done only by the professors), were from that days in collaboration with the same students ("Evaluacion estudiantil docente", was the word of the day).. He result was that students and professors had the same vote value. Most of them, who deserved a C or a D (American scale), got an A or a B, and the level of performance was damaged and almost irrelevant.


    Normally, at that time, architectural students carried a roll of papers as the home work production,. Then, the carried only a small book like an agenda, and nothing more. Very few try to apply the old standards of work.


    One day, I cannot give a class because it was a mourning evening for a dead guerrilla soldier, and the corpse was inside the building, escorted by many masked “soldiers”.

    The situation went much better, however, when the Military coup of 1976 restored order. (Needless to say, I am not defending their crude repressive action, but at that time most of my countrymen were anxiously expecting the military intervention).


    Another example of the Argentine exaggeration is the present Abortion Law. As it was approved by the Congress, it does not allow the conscience objection. In all countries of the world where abortion is legal, they accept the conscience objection.


    I explain to myself these wicked exaggerations because of our Latin stock heritage. Anglo Saxons have a more temperate and balanced sense of the right order of things.

  • I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of this subject, so can't begin to make a good response. I really do agree with Splinter on the importance of young people's challenging everything, including authority, as part of the maturation process. My parents were bewildered at my rebellious actions when I was in college and graduate school, but in the end, they agreed that I turned out OK, and with a better ability to view different sides of situations and arguments than I would have had if I had never challenged the status quo.


    But what you describe sounds like a nightmare for teachers, and I am quite sure I couldn't have lasted as a teacher in the circumstances you describe. Argentina in those years had such compound problems that it was to be expected that the situation there would be exaggerated, even without the Latin flair for drama that you describe so hereditarily.

  • In fact, the guerrilla uprising, fueled by the URSS through Cuba, was all a bloody nightmare.

    Not many alien people knows the real truth about the Cold War fought in Latin America in the 1960's and 1970's. We had a Hot war. This explains the acceptation by the majority of the people of harsh dictatorship we had during 1976 to 1983.

  • In fact, the guerrilla uprising, fueled by the URSS through Cuba, was all a bloody nightmare.

    Not many alien people knows the real truth about the Cold War fought in Latin America in the 1960's and 1970's. We had a Hot war. This explains the acceptation by the majority of the people of harsh dictatorship we had during 1976 to 1983.

    Please tell more?

  • A dictatorship coordinated and back by the CIA resulting in the abolishment of the constitution, unions and free speech.

    Videla's junta was only accepted by the majority because the country was then in civil war and they saw the military dictatorship as bringing a semblance of order, until they realised what was really going on.

  • Yes, you are right. It was a dictatorship fueled by the CIA, as that of Pinochet in Chile.

    That was the symmetrical response to the exportation of the Marxist revolution uf the URSS through Cuba. The USA could not allow that this spread of Marxism seizes another two countries in their own backyard (Latin America).

    But I, as an argentinean, accepted it. (Without supoorting, of course, the illegal and cruel retaliation that the Argentine Army did with the guerrilla men)

    At least, I prefer be subjected to the US policy than the URSS policy at that time. We know how the Americans are, much more akin to our culture than the URSS Stalinist regime.

    If not, we could be Cuba nowadays.

    That issue is a thing that Europeans do not understand.. I have had strong arguments with my relatives there, so I prefer to not get involved in these discussions.