Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The 68ers in a Nutshell

From the diary of Kenneth Tynan, High Modernist Hero (more on this later):

Someone at the party says: 'Whatever happened to Danny Cohn-Bendit?' At once I am back in Clive Goodwin's flat, packed with every literary Leftist in London for the party he gave in the spring of '68 to celebrate Cohn-Bendit's flying visit to London. The barricades were up in Paris; everybody was talking about 'instant revolution'; and when Cohn-Bendit held a question-and-answer session with the guests, I made myself immediately unpopular by asking: 'What's your strategy? What is the next step the student will take?' C.B. said impatiently: 'The whole point of our revolution is that we don't follow plans. It is a spontaneous permanent revolution. We improvise. It is like jazz.' Everyone applauded and reproved my carping. I went on to ask: 'Nobody ever had a successful revolution without the support of the army- are you trying to form any links with the military?' C.B. again brushed the question aside as an irrelevance: 'The army is no problem. Many young officers agree with us.' At the very moment, as we discovered later, de Gaulle was quietly testing the army's loyalty; assured that he had it, he knew that he was sitting pretty and that the revolution, for all its tumult and euphoria, was a paper tiger.

So what did happen to ol' Danny? He became a EU bureaucrat and supported neoliberalism and imperialist wars on Bosnia and Afghanistan. Of course the students were hardly the most radical part of Mai68. The Situationists with their cynicism and spot on critiques of modern capitalism and the workers who occupied their factories and established councils were the ones setting the stage for a new society. A few brats who didn't want to go class and idolized Stalinist murderers like Che and Mao were in no position to take power, except as future stockbrokers, paper pushers, managers and other assorted scum.

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