HOW ABOUT A SCOTTISH JULY DURING 2016?
OR MAYBE EVEN A BRITISH ONE?
(PEACEFUL, OF COURSE)
This is a call for action in response to the Austerity and Eugenics programs which are effecting the mental health of our nation
EVENTS DURING MAY 1968 IN FRANCE
Following months of conflicts between students and authorities at the Paris University at Nanterre, the administration shut down the university on May 2, 1968. Students at the Sorbonne University in Paris met on May 3 to protest against the closure and the threatened expulsion of several students at Nanterre. On Monday, 6 May, the national student union, the Union Nationale des Étudiants de France (UNEF)—still the largest student union in France today—and the union of university teachers called a march to protest against the police invasion of Sorbonne. More than 20,000 students, teachers and supporters marched towards the Sorbonne, still sealed off by the police, who charged, wielding their batons, as soon as the marchers approached. While the crowd dispersed, some began to create barricades out of whatever was at hand, while others threw paving stones, forcing the police to retreat for a time. The police then responded with tear gas and charged the crowd again. Hundreds more students were arrested.
High school student unions spoke in support of the riots on 6 May. The next day, they joined the students, teachers and increasing numbers of young workers who gathered at the Arc de Triomphe to demand that:
- all criminal charges against arrested students be dropped,
- the police leave the university, and
- the authorities reopen Nanterre and Sorbonne.
Negotiations broke down, and students returned to their campuses after a false report that the government had agreed to reopen them, only to discover the police still occupying the schools. The students now had a near revolutionary fervor.
On Friday, 10 May, another huge crowd congregated on the Rive Gauche. When the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité again blocked them from crossing the river, the crowd again threw up barricades, which the police then attacked at 2:15 in the morning after negotiations once again floundered. The confrontation, which produced hundreds of arrests and injuries, lasted until dawn of the following day. The events were broadcast on radio as they occurred and the aftermath was shown on television the following day. Allegations were made that the police had participated, through agents provocateurs, in the riots, by burning cars and throwing Molotov cocktails.
The government's heavy-handed reaction brought on a wave of sympathy for the strikers. Many of the nation's more mainstream singers and poets joined after the heavy-handed police brutality came to light. American artists also began voicing support of the strikers. The major left union federations, the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) and the Force Ouvrière (CGT-FO), called a one-day general strike and demonstration for Monday, 13 May.
Well over a million people marched through Paris on that day; the police stayed largely out of sight. Prime Minister Georges Pompidoupersonally announced the release of the prisoners and the reopening of the Sorbonne. However, the surge of strikes did not recede. Instead, the protesters became even more active.
When the Sorbonne reopened, students occupied it and declared it an autonomous "people's university". Public opinion at first supported the students, but quickly turned against them after its leaders, invited to appear on national television, "behaved like irresponsible utopianists who wanted to destroy the 'consumer society.'" Nonetheless, in the weeks that followed, approximately 401 popular action committees were set up in Paris and elsewhere to take up grievances against the government and French society, including the Sorbonne Occupation Committee. The students Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Alain Krivine had emerged as prominent figures at that time.
Workers join the students
In the following days, workers began occupying factories, starting with a sit-down strike at the Sud Aviation plant near the city of Nanteson 14 May, then another strike at a Renault parts plant near Rouen, which spread to the Renault manufacturing complexes at Flins in the Seine Valley and the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt. Workers had occupied roughly fifty factories by 16 May, and 200,000 were on strike by 17 May. That figure snowballed to two million workers on strike the following day and then ten million, or roughly two-thirds of the French workforce, on strike the following week.
These strikes were not led by the union movement; on the contrary, the CGT tried to contain this spontaneous outbreak of militancy by channeling it into a struggle for higher wages and other economic demands. Workers put forward a broader, more political and more radical agenda, demanding the ousting of the government and President de Gaulle and attempting, in some cases, to run their factories. When the trade union leadership negotiated a 35% increase in the minimum wage, a 7% wage increase for other workers, and half normal pay for the time on strike with the major employers' associations, the workers occupying their factories refused to return to work and jeered their union leaders. In fact, in the May '68 movement there was a lot of "anti-unionist euphoria," against the mainstream unions, the CGT, FO and CFDT, that were more willing to compromise with the powers that be than enact the will of the base.
On 25 May and 26 May, the Grenelle agreements were conducted at the Ministry of Social Affairs. They provided for an increase of the minimum wage by 25% and of average salaries by 10%. These offers were rejected, and the strike went on. The working class and top intellectuals were joining in solidarity for a major change in workers' rights.
On 27 May, the meeting of the UNEF, the most outstanding of the events of May 1968, proceeded and gathered 30,000 to 50,000 people in the Stade Sebastien Charlety. The meeting was extremely militant with speakers demanding the government be overthrown and elections held.
The Socialists saw an opportunity to act as a compromise between de Gaulle and the Communists. On 28 May, François Mitterrand of the Federation of the Democratic and Socialist Left declared that "there is no more state" and stated that he was ready to form a new government. He had received a surprisingly high 45% of the vote in the 1965 presidential election. On 29 May, Pierre Mendès France also stated that he was ready to form a new government; unlike Mitterrand he was willing to include the Communists. Although the Socialists did not have the Communists' ability to form large street demonstrations, they had more than 20% of the country's support.
De Gaulle flees
|“||He has fled the country!||”|
— Georges Pompidou, 29 May 1968
BBC ON THIS DAY
EQUALITY, LIBERTY, SEXUALITY!