Talk:May 1968 events in France

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Old talk[edit]

Could this article have a more meaningful title? RickK 04:27, 4 Sep 2003 (UTC)

I borrowed the title from a link I found in the Sorbonne article, then replaced the previous link in the 1968 article, which was called "Student Riots." As unsatisfactory as "French May" is, at least it's an improvement over "Student Riots." But you're right--something is bound to be better, I just don't know what.

Someone with more skills might also link up some of the posters of this era. And spruce up the headings as well; I haven't figured out how to make them bold or to create a table of contents yet.

Italo Svevo

Maybe 1968 French student riots, or something like that? RickK 04:36, 4 Sep 2003 (UTC)

The problem is that it wasn't just students and it wasn't primarily "riots," which is a little too pejorative for my taste. "May 1968 French Student and Worker Strikes" comes a little closer, but that sounds pretty ponderous. "French May," on the other hand, suggests "Prague Spring," which is nice in its way, except that no one uses that phrase as far as I am aware; instead I've generally heard it referred to as simply "May 1968," which is fine in context and has a French historical ring [think 18th Brumaire, Germinal and the like] but obviously not a good choice for a Wikipedia entry. Maybe someone with a closer acquaintance, academic or otherwise, with these events can help us out. Italo Svevo

I think May 1968 is fine, as long as nothing else would stake a claim to that particular month! If it does, May 1968 uprisings might be better. --Sam

what exactly brought on the onset of these strikes? was it simply student revolutionaries wishing to put in place a new form of government? or were there specific charges against the government? the article seems a bit vague. --Thepedestrian 21:05, Jul 23, 2004 (UTC)

The vagueness is probably due to the fact that there was a variety of reasons while various groups or individuals disagreed with the government. Some people wanted a marxist revolution. Some wanted sexual freedom and relaxed discipline in universities (see an incident where female students could not have male guests in their dorm rooms). Some wanted better working conditions. Some found de Gaulle's style of governance autocratic. Etc... I think that you can describe that as a general fed-upness compounded with some specific incidents. David.Monniaux 05:56, 24 Jul 2004 (UTC)

What if the title was 1968 French insurrection? Ridethefire3211 15:31, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

I've only ever heard it referred to as "Mai soixante-huite" -- while this is the term used universally in French, it's also the only way I've ever heard of it. So a title of "Mai 68" perhaps? See English Language results (Google seems to have screwed up on those first two) http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=mai+68&hl=en&safe=off&lr=lang_en&sa=X&oi=lrtip9 Shermozle 13:34, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

Outside France?[edit]

May 1968 and the surrounding events were important events in other countries too, for example in Germany; many of the current political leaders of the German left took part in the 1968 movement as schoolchildren or college students. Some have even counted the American Hippie movement as being connected. If anybody has knowledge in these areas it would be good to add it. 82.82.144.71 22:26, 2 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I took out the reference to (Cordoba riots) in this last paragraph because I cannot for the life of me find anything relating to it anywhere on Google. Maybe David Caute's book says something about it. As for Germany, Italy and the U.S., do we have anything on the upsurge in those countries?-- Italo Svevo 22:48, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)

'be young and be quiet'[edit]

a few people who speak french (i don't) have told me that the more literal translation for the poster is indeed 'be young and shut up', though i think 'be young and be quiet' sounds better. just a thought. Thepedestrian 14:56, Nov 15, 2004 (UTC)

Yeah, I would say 'Be young and be quiet' is also more appropriate. Slogans are always supposed to have a ring to them, and "tais-toi" is variously translated as "shut up" and "be quiet" - as "Be quiet," said to a young person, can be pretty demeaning itself - depending on the circumstances.

Someone has just gone in and changed it to "shut up" again. Have to say, I think that it's a better translation. "Shut up" is somewhat ruder, definitely more forceful than "be quiet". In the spirit of revolution, I would think "shut up" is much more likely to be used as a slogan than the rather polite "be quiet". Shermozle 16:29, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
It might sound more catchy in English, since the verbs are identical (I don't know the term, unfornately), but since this is French it should be disregarded. In response to the preceding poster, "shut up" and "be quiet" could both be interpreted as appropriate, since a polite tone could very well mock the government. I can't really make a comment as far as which is the actual correct translation, since I'm only in second year French in American high school, which doesn't really give me much experience. (My teacher is native French, though.) -Theaterfreak64 07:41, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
Two things have just dawned upon me. First of all, this discussion should be on the image's talk page, not the article's. Secondly, why don't we just note the controversy in the image description? (Going to do that now...) -Theaterfreak64 07:44, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

- Tais toi! is the imperative form of the verb 'se taire' which means 'to be silent'. Hence 'je me suis tu' means 'I didn't make a sound', or some such thing. 'Sois jeune et tais toi!' in this case, according to Nothingness.org, is a variation on 'sois belle et tais toi', which is an idiomatic rendering of something like, 'Just sit and look pretty'.

I concur. The original slogan is coined after a very popular idiomatic:
* Sois belle et tais-toi ! (Just be pretty and shut up!)
Sois jeune et tais-toi ! (Just be young and shut up!)
And both statements are rather imperative and dismissive. So maybe a second, alternative translation could be made after an English idiomatic, as the one given above, or for instance: The young should be seen and not heard. No need to have a single translation for explanation purposes.
-- 62.147.38.204 14:12, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Expansion request[edit]

After reading this article, I have a number of questions, which it would be nifty if the article answered for the benefit of future readers.

  • What happened during the "months of conflicts between students and authorities" that preceded this period?
  • What government policies did the protestors disagree with, and what were their demands? (In particular, with regard to education and sexual freedom.)
  • Were people agitating for the overthrow of the government in favor of communism or anarchy a major presence, or a minority of protestors (perhaps just taking advantage of unrelated unrest)?
  • Were there Vietnam War protests throughout this general period in France? Why were people in France protesting about it if France didn't have any troops there?
  • Was anything accomplished by the protests, other than strengthening De Gaulle politically? If that's the primary effect, has anyone in France ventured the opinion that they backfired? If not, how are these events viewed by the present-day French? Or are they largely forgotten?

-- Beland 01:31, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I also have questions after reading this article, although they are of general-human kind. My feelings are so, that if this article were an overview of some recent science fiction novel, i would say: "i don't believe in it. the author just doesn't know anything about human psychology and sociology. Really, why were they arguing to abolish the government? It's the way of the nation to self-destruct. Why did workers try to take the factories? It's violation of basic rules of economics. Such system just wouldn't work, all know that the communist regime in Russia proved it." Being a russian, i just can't imagine the students of the university i learn in taking power over it. Why?! Students just don't know what to do with it! (Actually, my univ is specific: students do take power over it, they just grow up and return back as teachers.)

Of course, it's a sort of joke. It's me who doesn't understand french society of 1968, not the society wrong. But i would be thankful if anybody unveils the historical context of these events; what were the reasons for people to act in so way (specific french mentality? romantic odours of french revolution and russian revolution? how serious it was? were they really wanting to change something(what?), or was it just the way to make fun? Why did the society relax soon, and stay still even with strengthening of the government?). What was specific in the society, that made such rebellion possible? Could it happen in our days?

Btw, the french version of the page seem to contain some information of this kind.. (Contexte culturel et politique)

ellol 18:52, 8 February 2006 (UTC)


I, too, would like to know more about the causes of the uprisings in 1968's France. Today's news (March 11, 2006) reveals the gendarmes have teargassed students in the Sorbonne to end a protest against new proposed laws not favourable toward job-seeking youth below age 26 within France! Seems like solid grounds for a protest if there ever was one, but why did the French students and others protest back in 1968?

The article on Situationism actually has some relevance to this, and might be used by someone looking to expand the ideological origins of the May 1968 movement. For example, this quote shows how much of the critique of May 1968 was comically absurd, and arguably incoherent:

"The journal Internationale Situationniste defined situationist as "having to do with the theory or practical activity of constructing situations." The same journal defined situationism as "a meaningless term improperly derived from the above. There is no such thing as situationism, which would mean a doctrine of interpretation of existing facts. The notion of situationism is obviously devised by antisituationists.""

The following paragraph from that same article has some potential leads:

"An important event leading up to May 1968 was the so called Strasbourg scandal. A group of students managed to use public funds to publish the pamphlet On the Poverty of Student Life: considered in its economic, political, psychological, sexual, and particularly intellectual aspects, and a modest proposal for its remedy. The pamphlet circulated in thousands of copies and helped to make the situationists well known throughout the nonstalinist left. The occupations of 1968 started at the university of Nanterre and spread to the Sorbonne. The police tried to take back the Sorbonne and a riot ensued. Following this a general strike was declared with up to 10 million workers participating. The SI originally participated in the Sorbonne occupations and defended barricades in the riots. The SI distributed calls for the occupation of factories and the formation of workers’ councils but disillusioned with the students left the university to set up the C.M.D.O., The Council For The Maintenance Of The Occupations which distributed the SI’s demands on a much wider scale. The government and the unions agreed a deal but no-one went back to work. It was only after President de Gaulle had threatened to start a civil war and the army was deployed on the streets of Paris did the general strike fizzle out. The police retook the Sorbonne and the C.M.D.O. disbanded."

"On the Poverty of Student Life" (http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/display/4) explains a lot of the philosophy that sparked the student rebellion. The roots were in the anti-Stalinist left, and a large part of the idea was that students had a key role to play in sparking larger social change, beginning with protests about their condition as students, and moving on to larger protests against society. So they started with protests against university policies, and then moved on to a larger critique that attracted sympathetic participation by French workers. All of this took the unions and political parties by surprise, and a lot of the analysis was anti-institutional as well as anti-authoritarian, so the protests quickly expanded beyond what those institutions were comfortable with.

It might also help to look at influential French intellectuals at the time, many of whom participated in or supported the demonstrations, including Michel Foucault, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida and others. Though these intellectuals often disagreed, and their level of support and involvement in May 1968 differed, you can learn a lot about May 1968 from their philosophies, which include structuralism, anti-structuralism, existentialism, and post-modernism. Llachglin 00:46, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

superseding age boundries?[edit]

The article say "such as workers or racial minorities, but was rather a purely popular uprising, superseding ethnic, cultural, age and class boundaries.". I thought this revolution was mainly beeing carried out by the young, such as students, so I'm not sure if writing "superseding age boundries" is not actually rather the false way around? Axel Kittenberger

From my understanding it was the largest general-strike in history, so it wasn’t contained to within the student quarter or to one age group. --Monty Cantsin 05:03, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

Title[edit]

If this article doesn't include much or any information on anything outside France, I recommend changing the title to "May 1968 Insurrection in France," or something to that effect. Ridethefire3211 16:38, 24 July 2005 (UTC)

I agree, I think it should definitely have "France" in the title, and probably "uprising" or something. I know that it is very difficult to search for this way (although wikisearch in general is the weakest link of wikipedia)--Camipco 21:54, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Anarchy?[edit]

Why is this article sidebarred as an anarchy article? I feel like that's a misrepresentation of a very diverse uprising. I'm sure the vast majority of the 10 million strikers would have been shocked to be called anarchists... --Camipco 21:54, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

I got the same feeling when reading this article ... fr:Utilisateur:Tipiac
I am thinking about the riots in France now. It seems that the protesters of 1968 had far more selfdiscipline then the rioters of 2005. There must have been a change in culture.
Or maybe what's happening now has nothing to do with may 68 ? → SeeSchloß

How many people died as a result of this?[edit]

Perhaps it is very difficult to get a real, unbiased answer to this question, but how many people died as a result of this?

I am interested if anyone died indirectly or directly by the actions of the police or the protesters. The article doesn't mention this, and I'd be nice to find out.

One victim. A demonstrator that was by no way a victim of the police forces. I don't remember exactly what happened but it was mostly an accident, the demonstrators where moving some vehicle to build a barricade and he was crushed by this vehicle.
Ericd 01:28, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Ooops I'm wrong. Five victims see http://polices.mobiles.free.fr/les_crs.htm or three ? Two assinations might be unrelated to the events. The man crushed by a truck was a police officer.
Ericd 01:45, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Move[edit]

I think this article should be moved to May 1968 student protests in France, as there were other important events in May of 1968. For the same reason Polish 1968 political crisis was moved to that name from it's previous name of March 1968 events.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 03:21, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

This issue has come up so many times that I agree it ought finally to be addressed with a move to a more appropriate article title. But I think perhaps May 1968 student protests in Europe would be a better title, as there's no need to pre-emptively narrow things too much? I believe that "May '68" is a catch-phrase for student protests in other Western European countries as well. But I have no objection to the move, whichever title other editors feel is best. -- Rbellin|Talk 03:27, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
It might be more accurate to call them student-worker protests, or more simply May 1968 uprising in France. Nothing in this article is Euro-wide or student specific, but 1968 student protests in Europe (or 1968 student protests) might be a good, but separate article. --Carwil 08:47, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps the best solution is to 'have the cake and eat the cake'. I.e. the May 1968 can discuss various similar events throughout Europe (or perhaps even beyond May?), while the France-specific part can be developed in the May 1968 student protests in France.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 02:07, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

May 1968: A Critique[edit]

The article, entitled “May 1968” by an unnamed author, assumes that the events of May 1968 were caused by government suppression in the form of police brutality and violence. The vicious way in which the police behaved led to the escalation of the student protests, and in turn triggered a chain of events that caused a nation-wide strike that brought French society to a grinding halt. The author’s implicit argument is that the police mishandled the situation at every step by using excessive forcing and acting in an oppressive manner. For example, the article describes how police officers surrounded the Sorbonne campus and unjustly arrested students who tried to leave the campus. They then resorted to tear gas to disperse the students who gathered to prevent them from carrying the arrested students away. Of course, the tear gas maneuver backfired and only resulted in assembling a greater number of students. Ultimately, the police had to arrest hundreds more students. The author goes on to catalogue several instances in which the police acted in ways that only exacerbated the situation, either by arresting students wholesale, occupying the Sorbonne or using tear gas indiscriminately. While the author’s assessment of the immediate causes of the May protests is viable, he does not provide any historical background to place them in context. Hence, the reader is left with the impression that they were a spontaneous occurrence, and not caused by long-standing trends in French society. Moreover, the article argues that the protests of May 1968 were brought to an end by the De Gaulle’s dissolution of the National Assembly and the intervention of the French Communist Party. The author attributes to the French Communist Party a major role in ending the uprisings. The movement collapsed after the workers resumed their jobs at the urging of the PCF and the CGT. This view is overly simplistic and does not take into account the fact that the PCF and the CGT held little, if any, sway over the workers who occupied their factories. The author himself states that the strikes were not organized by the CGT. While the CGT tried to direct the protests into economic demands, such as increased wages and fewer hours, the workers refused to settle for higher wages and demanded greater economic and social change (Popkin, 327-328). In addition, De Gaulle’s dissolution of the National Assembly, while significant, was not the sole event that led to the conclusion of the protests and strikes. De Gaulle’s speech obtained tremendous support from the sectors of French society that had remained uninvolved in the events taking place. After many days of violence and unrest, a majority of the population wanted a return to peace and order (Popkin, 328). The author also asserts that the protests were the “most important revolutionary event of the 20th century” because they represented a popular movement that transcended “ethnic, cultural, age and class boundaries.” However, such an argument seems to be flawed on a couple of counts. The remainder of the article does not demonstrate how the protests signified a “purely popular” movement. There is no discussion of diverse social and economic groups that participated in or drove the demonstrations. Rather, the article focuses on two distinct groups: workers and students. While the protesters, whether they be students or workers, may have represented the concerns of the larger populace, only a small and categorical section of the population took political action in the form of protests or sit-ins. Moreover, the author does not sufficiently justify the claim that the events of May 1968 were the most significant revolutionary moment of the 20th century since he does not discuss their long-term effects or how they profoundly altered French society. For such a “popular movement,” the author never delves into its specific aims and goals. He instead makes a rather ambiguous and general statement that the students aimed to “shake up ‘Old Society’ in many social aspects, including methods of education, sexual freedom and free love.” The author does not elaborate on this comment and the reader is left to wonder what that means exactly. The author also attempts to characterize the workers and students as anarchists and socialists. The students occupy the Sorbonne and declare it a “people’s university.” They want to overthrow the traditional structures of society and eliminate conventional power-relations, i.e. “Neither God nor master!” The workers reject piecemeal reform of higher wages offered by their union leaders and rather promote a more profound and radical platform of social change. They attempt to run the factories themselves. The author included this example to stress the socialist overtones of the movement. The workers are not looking to improve their conditions within a capitalist order, but rather want to transform the system wholesale to achieve public ownership of the means of production. In a way, the nation-wide strikes are indicative of syndicalism, an attempt to usher in a truly communist era through prevalent factory sit-ins. Yet, painting the events of May 1968 in a socialist manner strips the movement of its true spirit. In its core, it was a fierce reaction against a society made lethargic by its economic affluence and preoccupied with an obsessive materialism. This point is eloquently expressed by Georges Perec in Things: A Story of the Sixties. The students wanted to shake society from its apathy and create a discourse for change: breaking down barriers and asserting an individual role in social participation. The article legitimizes the students’ cause by describing them as “protestors,” rather than using less savory labels such as “rabble-rousers” or “troublemakers.” On the other hand, the police, and by extension the government, are depicted as tyrannical forces that are trying to deprive the students of their right to protest. The author describes how the police attacked a crowd of protesting students and teachers and used their batons to disperse them. There is a sense that the police forced the students to resort to violence and putting up barricades. Despite attempting to remain objective toward both sides, the author does show sympathy for the protestors: “The government's heavy-handed reaction brought on a wave of sympathy for the strikers.” The argument here is that the way the government handled the situation did not contain the situation, but rather led to its escalation. Another shortcoming of the article is that it does not specifiy the reason why the workers joined the students’ movement. Even after Pompidou reopend the Sorbonne and released the imprionsed students, the protests did nots subside but rather spread to workers all across the country. Why would such separate groups unite? Did they have a common objective? How did the intrests of the workers intersect with those of the students? The author is ambiguous on this subject. There is an assumption that the thread which connects the two groups is their opposition to the De Gaulle regime. While that may be a valid claim, it is never fully substantiated in the article. In any case, there are alternative explanations. For example, Popkin argues that the students and workers wanted “a complete restructuring of modern society, to break down hierarchical structures and provide greater opportunities for participation.” (327) Popkin also maintains that the strikes were a countermovement to the propserity and modernization of French society in the 1960s. The author’s use of a wide range of sources is commendable. He does not solely depend on secondary sources nor does he limit himself to only non-fiction material. The end result is an extensive and diverse bibliography that lends the article a sense of credibility. The author used several primary sources written by persons who witnessed and were a part of the events of May 1968. A notable mention is Daniel Cohen-Bendit’s declaration Obsolete Communism: The Left-Wing Alternative. The author also utilizes pamphlets issued by the Worker-Student Action Committees that coordinated the protests in the aftermath of the students’ occupation of the Sorbonne. Two novels, The Merry Month of May and The Dreamers are also included in the bibliography to gain a fully rounded perspective on May 1968. Lastly, the author also consulted many secondary accounts to complement the primary and non-fiction sources.

This article incorporates information from A Brief History of Modern France by Jeremy D. Popkin. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Scarecrow1086 (talkcontribs) 05:26, March 21, 2006 (UTC)

May 1968: Discussion and Critique[edit]

Though this article, as most encyclopedia articles, may be viewed by many consumers of information as a way of obtaining unbiased, broad facts on the particular subject, it is important to understand that the author does convey several themes and assumptions that step a bit beyond the mere facts in order to persuade the reader of several somewhat hidden points. For instance, the author suggests that the events of May 1968 in Paris were a popular movement that represents the population of France during that time. Though this statement is veiled under the guise of ideas promoted by some historians and philosophers, the author, by placing this statement in the first paragraph and not substantiating or refuting this claim, tacitly offers this as a fair assessment of the event. The author also seems to give the impression that the “heavy-handed reaction” or overreaction by the police caused the situation to escalate and become perhaps a larger issue than it might otherwise have been. These examples are just a few of the liberties taken by the author to convey the events of May 1968.


The author of the article “May 1968” sets up the events of this period by first explaining how the insurrection was ended by the government and concludes the first paragraph by stating that “some philosophers and historians” have determined this to be a popular uprising that was representative of the population in France. The introduction explains that the strikes began at a number of universities and high schools in Paris and that the de Gaulle administrations reaction was responsible for causing the situation to escalate and draw support from millions of French workers. The author also notes how de Gaulle’s party “emerged even stronger than before.” Though the rest of the article gives a rough chronology of events, the author limits the explanation of the protestors’ goals as being to shake up “old society” in areas related to “religion, sexual freedom and free love.”


The author makes the assumption that the students and workers involved were representative of the French people. Additionally, the author aligns the interests of the workers with the students as if to say that it is, of course, a natural union of people who implicitly share the same ideals. The author, though acknowledging that broad generalizations of the politics of the students would be difficult to characterize, concludes that there is a strong strain of anarchism. The author does not seem to believe that these issues would have developed as they did without the administration of the University of Paris at Nanterre shutting down the school. This largely ignores the underlying causes of the protests.


The most convincing arguments made in this article include the importance of the perception of the police reaction to the situation and the closing of Nanterre as the immediate cause of the protests. It is evident that this event caused a protest against the closure of the school and the threatened expulsion of several students. These protests then led the police to be called in.


The weaker arguments in this article include the implicit point that the police overreacted and from the very beginning instigated more violence and incited others to join in protest against them. As Jeremy Popkin points out, the students themselves were not entirely innocent in their actions. They are said to have “uprooted trees and iron grills… [and] greeted the police with barrages of paving stones and Molotov cocktails; the forces of order retaliated with tear gas and billy clubs” (p. 327). At least according to this view, the police may have only been reacting to the actions of the students. The residents of the area clearly sided with the students. The article, as mentioned earlier, also fails to adequately discuss the initial cause of the uprisings and why the students were joined by protests by workers. Popkin characterizes this alliance as one of students who were unsure of their future and workers who were discontent with working in offices and factories (326-327). Whether this is a natural alliance of those with common goals or simply an example of opportunistic, discontent workers seizing upon the wave of criticism of the government to further their own agenda is difficult to determine from the discussion offered by these authors. The author of this entry also presented little evidence to allow the reader to determine whether this was in fact a popular movement as some have claimed. There was no discussion of the economic classes that were involved beyond the inferences that can be drawn from the author’s treatment of professors, students and workers in these protests. The impression is that these workers may have been primarily been involved in the industrial sector and the young people involved were mostly students who were enrolled in two universities; nothing was said of the elderly or professional classes with the exception of university professors. It is also difficult to tell what social classes were involved in these protests, though political groups and their involvement in the process was discussed.


The author did a convincing job of using sources to support the evidence that was presented. Among the sources that were apparently reviewed include films that presumably characterize the era from various perspectives, along with external links to posters that were placed around Paris in May 1968 and a list of works that include first-hand accounts from people directly involved in the uprising, especially that of Daniel Cohn-Bendit. The bibliography suggests that the author consulted various resources including some perhaps unconventional mediums to obtain a broad spectrum for the analysis.


In terms of coherence, the article lacks an appropriate build-up to the events of May 1968 and the “slogans and graffiti” section, though important in analyzing the topics of interest, overshadows the international context of these protests. The author did do a respectable job of quickly outlining various important incidents that occurred during this particular month and in that sense, served the purpose of an encyclopedia article. In terms of future additions or issues that should be further discussed, beyond those omissions previously discussed, it would be beneficial to include a discussion on long-term changes that these events caused (if any) and to place these events of May 1968 in France into a broader international context. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 71.253.209.243 (talkcontribs) 00:35, March 22, 2006 (UTC)

French May[edit]

Why is that this article is the second page listed when I search "French May" on Google, yet that phrase doesn't even appear in this article. And no, I'm not asking why Google found this despite it's lack of the term; I want to know why the article doesn't. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 67.165.87.40 (talkcontribs) 21:04, March 28, 2006 (UTC)

THE REASON WHY
That was the name of this article when it debuted several years ago. If you look at the top of this page you'll see the discussion that led to it being changed. Italo Svevo

begginning[edit]

It began as a series of student strikes that broke out at a number of universities and high schools in Paris, following confrontations with university administrators and the police

Can someone elaborate on the nature and issues that sparked off these confrontations? If it is ambiguous, or not totally certain, perhaps and external link?


Internationally[edit]

This article only refers to the events of May 1968 in France. However, during that same time period students also staged strikes, civil disruption etc. in the United States (particularly Columbia University, with the student takeover of buildings) and Mexico City (with the student uprisings at the UNAM and the massacre at the Tlatelolco by the Mexican Army. These events played a major part in the conception of May 1968 being a international "rebellion" by youth. Should they not be included in this article as well? -HistoryNature 05:42, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

Causes!!![edit]

These sorts of things do not simply occur spontaneously out of a vaccuum. What caused the first students to begin striking? Why May 1968, why not April or March, or three years earlier or five years later? Description of the facts of the event is wonderful, and essential. But without a context, it's all meaningless. LordAmeth 19:59, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Along the same lines I think there needs to be more social background perhaps describing major cultural trends in the 60s, and some philosophical reasoning. --Sirkeg 20:53, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

I wrote a finals paper on 68, and from my research I found that the causes were very similar to the recent protests in France. It started technically in June with protests at Nanterre, but was brewing for a long time among students, immigrants and the working poor. Really a reaction to the general post-war feeling and heavy-handed policies of De Gaulle's France. VanTucky 21:02, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Terrible paragraph[edit]

"In the name of the Enragés who were allied with the Situationist International, René Riesel immediately demanded the expulsion of two observers from the administration and of several Stalinists who were present. After a spokesmen for the anarchists, a regular collaborator of Cohn-Bendit's, had asserted that "the Stalinists who are here this evening are no longer Stalinists," the Enragés immediately left the meeting in protest against this cowardly illusion. The Enragés left and the March 22nd Movement carried on confusedly without and against the Enragés who had had begun the agitations in the first place. Cohn Bendit later became a leader and spokesman and stepped into the limelight."

This portion of the article dives headlong into many unexplained concepts, groups, and people. Also the phrase "cowardly illusion" seems out of place or at least not very neutral. Perhaps someone who knows alot about the events of May 68 in Paris could redo the lead in of this article...

Terrible paragraph[edit]

I agree, although the paragraph currently reads as follows:

"On 22 March leftist groups, including 150 students, invaded an administration building at Nanterre University and held a meeting in the university council room, in the name of the Enragés, who were allied with the Situationist International. René Riesel immediately demanded the expulsion of two observers from the administration and of several Stalinists who were present. After a spokesmen for the anarchists, a regular collaborator of Cohn-Bendit's, had asserted that "the Stalinists who are here this evening are no longer Stalinists," the Enragés immediately left the meeting in protest against this cowardly illusion. The Enragés left and the 22 March Movement carried on confusedly without, and against the Enragés who had had begun the agitations in the first place. Cohn Bendit later became a leader and spokesman and stepped into the limelight."

What the paragraph suggests is that these leftist groups and students came together under the name "Enragés"; a few Stalinists refused to leave and so the Enragés stormed out - but we've already been told that the Enragés comprised most of those present! So are we supposed to understand that a few Stalinists and 2 university administrators stayed behind and maintained the protest, while the leftist groups and 150 students all wandered off? This paragraph is very confusing and completely inexplicit. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lupesinfabula (talkcontribs) 09:27, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

University name[edit]

Is Nanterre University different than the University of Paris at Nanterre? The article does not make this clear. Funnyhat 23:12, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

Two Queries and a Comment[edit]

I was around at the time, aged 23, though not in France and (fairly) old men forget, but a) didn't de Gaulle try to have large numbers of leaflets published, possibly even referendum ballot papers, but could not do so because the printers were on strike; and b) around the beginning of June, wasn't there a large pro-de Gaulle bourgeois march/demonstration?

Of course, the subsequent election strengthened the Gaullists, but CdeG was never the same again and died two years later.86.41.149.8 14:40, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Unfounded Description[edit]

"On 22 March far-left groups and a small number of prominent poets and musicians, along with 150 students, invaded an administration building at Nanterre University and held a meeting in the university council room dealing with class discrimination in French society and the political bureaucracy that controlled the school's funding. Heavy marijuana smoke filled the air as students called for an overhaul of French society. René Riesel demanded the expulsion of two Stalin supporters from the meeting when they attempted to disrupt a speaker. This led to great unrest and the meeting became increasingly hostile."

I think the reference to drug use in the above paragraph in uncorroborated, and unfairly biases the subject-matter. I don't think it serves any purpose other than stereotyping the members of this initial gathering. Does anyone agree that this should be removed? -- Danbiller (talk) 22:19, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Suspect sentence[edit]

I removed this sentence from the "events of May" paragraph:

The threat of possible youth far-right group createe in the university a sense of fear, as such the leftists improvised weapons by breaking chairs. The police arrives quickly, the building was evacuated at this time and in the end, more than 300 students were arrested/ This was the real beginning of the massive demonstrations for the freedom of their "camarades".

First, this is so poorly-written, it makes little sense. Second, it is unreferenced and has a speculative and unencyclopaedic tone. Until it is improved and referenced, it should be left out. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 19:29, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Dakar[edit]

I've read several things which refer to major student protests in Dakar Senegal in May 68, agains Senghors government. Anyone have sources for this that can added to this article? T L Miles (talk) 20:16, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Name change[edit]

Okay, I've read through all the talk sections that dealt with this, and I see no good reason for keeping the current inadequate name. So unless there are serious and persuasive objections, I would like to change the name to May 1968 in France. I will check back in a few days. Cgingold (talk) 02:18, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Allright, then. Seeing no objection, I've gone ahead and made the move. Cgingold (talk) 14:19, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

collapse of the De Gaulle government?[edit]

The article says:

..that caused the eventual collapse of the De Gaulle government in France.

But the De Gaulle government didn't collapse, so this seems a bit inaccurate. De Gaulle agreed to call an election, which he won in a landslide, and his government didn't collapse until April 1969, for mostly unrelated reasons. --Delirium (talk) 20:51, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

I think the collapse of De Gaulle's government was indirectly due to the events of May 1968. As the article points out, in June 1968, De Gaulle called new elections which the Gaullists handily won. However, De Gaulle in response to the 1968 events decided that certain reforms were required to minimize the possibility of future outbreaks of unrest. The rightist leaning National Assembly balked at De Gaulle's proposals, so he called for a national referendum to grant him the power to govern by decree. De Gaulle announced that if he lost the referendum, he would step down as president. The referendum was held, he lost, and he resigned the presidency. JimFarm (talk) 23:33, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

OAS involvement[edit]

DeGaulle elicited the ultra right-wing underground militia OAS's help during the May 1968 uprising, as a last resort if the students and workers were to take control of Paris. Can anyone find the proper citation for this and include it in the article, as I am too busy right now? If not, I'll get around to it soon. --Dialecticas (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 18:55, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps add to the References section "Chronique d'un Ete" by Jean Rouch

wtf why was the slogans section deleted[edit]

why was the slogans page deleted off of here and off of wikiquote? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.251.164.253 (talk) 01:14, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

I remember setting up the Wikiquote page and adding a link to it here, then deleting the slogans section here, I didn't think the slogans were relevant as a section on the Wikipedia page, rather they be put on Wikiquote where they belong. Anyway, this has been corrected now, back to how it was before. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.229.21.157 (talk) 17:44, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

May '68 international context[edit]

I removed the following from the article and bring it here for discussion. Given that this article is about May '68 in France, and there is another article about 1968 internationally, why do we need a very long section describing all of these other actions in other countries? It makes no sense at all. There should be a section, a brief section, indicating that the events in France were part of a worldwide wave of revolutionary activity, but not this scattershot list that actually provides no context whatsoever. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 23:34, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

France was far from the only country to witness student protests in 1968. The events were preceded by the announcement in March, in the United States, that President Lyndon B. Johnson would choose to withdraw from the 1968 presidential campaign due to rising domestic opposition. This was soon followed by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on 4 April and a student-led occupation and closure of Columbia University on 23 April.

The American and German student movements were relatively isolated from the working class, but in Italy and in Argentina, students and workers joined in efforts to create a radically different society.

In Mexico, on the night of 2 October 1968, a student demonstration ended in a storm of bullets in La Plaza de las Tres Culturas at Tlatelolco, Mexico City, ten days before opening ceremony of the 1968 Summer Olympics in the same city.

In Chile, the student movement had its own national revolution in August 1967, with many reform processes as a result.

In Belgium, students from the Flemish university Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Leuven protested against the dominance of the French language in the university, which resulted in a separate Francophone university, Université Catholique de Louvain.

In Eastern Europe, students also drew inspiration from the protests in the West. In Poland and Yugoslavia, students protested against restrictions on free speech by Communist regimes. In Czechoslovakia, the Prague Spring offered a broadening of political rights until it was crushed by the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies.

In Brazil, a protest in homage to high school students Edson Luís de Lima Souto and Benedito Frazão Dutra (killed by the Military Police on March 28) gathered 100,000 in Cinelândia, Rio de Janeiro on June 26. This was the biggest protest against the military dictatorship until the Diretas Já. Such demonstrations increased sharply in 1968, with students forming a wide majority in armed organizations against the military and orchestrating operations such as the kidnapping of foreign diplomats (most notably the United States ambassador Charles Burke Elbrick in 1969) in order to demand the release of previously imprisoned revolutionaries. The escalation of popular demonstrations led to the declaration of the Institutional Act Number Five, which consolidated the absolute power of the military, dismantled the National Congress and revoked most constitutional rights from all citizens.

In Pakistan, student protests played a major role in toppling the military regime of General Ayub Khan.

Many of the student groups involved with May 1968 were also inspired by a strain of political thought called tiers-mondisme (third worldism). Students idealized and followed socialist movements in third world countries such as Cuba, Vietnam, or China, and revered figures such as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara or Mao Zedong. Their struggles in their own countries were tied to their support of these third world socialist movements.

Political Stances[edit]

Using the various graffiti as an example, it seems the politics behind some of them is leaning toards Marxism and even leninism. 13:46, 27 July 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 95jb14 (talkcontribs)

Suggestions for Improvement[edit]

What substantial (costly and inflationary) economic policies were implemented after May 1968? What other substantial changes occurred?

First, causes leading up to the May 1968 are not mentioned an any detail. This article made it seem as if they appear out of thin air. For example, one of the things that is so sporadic about these events is that they happened in a time prosperity in France. According to "1968: Year of Crisis and Its Legacies", these larger events developed from smaller ones suh as: 1.)Students asking questions about current events like the Vietnam War, and professors being unable to answer due to their recent completion of traditional course instruction. It was this that created a need for educational refore.[1]

2.)Most students were middle class, yet they were made aware of the dilemnas to the poor with the poor living conditions they saw around them. This created a desire to change the governments outlook on the class system in France.[2]


Soon, student radical groups joined together around one or more of four issues: 1.)Opposing the Gaullist Government 2.)Rejection of the University system's structure 3.)student freedoms 4.)Vietnam War rejection[3]

These things are very important in realizing how the "Events before May" even started, and should be added to that paragraph to make it more substantial.

Second, the ways in which these events ended is made unclear in this article. This section should also be bolstered by more relevant information. For one, the use of propoganda was used by the Gaullist government to falsely accuse the communist party of instigating the outbreaks. A mass demonstration for DeGaulle and his suprising majority in the June elections only occured after DeGaulle gave France choice between Gaullism or Communism.[4] This led to many areas backing the DeGaulle governmnet and demoralized and immobilized the rioters and student groups.[5] By adding this information, we can see that the events of May 1968 in France didnt just end abruptly. Even though they happened quickly, processes were still involved.

Third, explaining the outcomes of this event would be a great way to gain context of why it was important. For instance, the universities ended up gaining less overcrowding and slightly greater autonomy. Laborers that joined in the riots received pay increases and more union rights.[6] Though these Events were short-lived, they made helpful changes to French society and the France we see today.

Lastly, I feel a couple pictures or video links of the riots should be added. "A picture is worth a thousand words" and would be a great addition to this article. I will add some by the end of the week (when my account becomes old enough that Wikipedia lets me). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hbrown9210 (talkcontribs) 15:34, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Unverified sentence[edit]

The following sentence doesn't have a clarified citation that can be verified despite our efforts, under this light of events it will be edited until evidence suggest otherwise. Regards.

Groups revolted against modern consumer and technical society and embraced left-wing positions that were more critical of Stalinist authoritarianism than of Western capitalism.[2]

citation De Gaulle, Televised speech of June 7th, 1968. Quoted in René Viénet (1968) Enragés et situationnistes dans le mouvement des occupations (Paris: Gallimard) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 77.49.234.214 (talk) 22:06, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

According to the Latvians[edit]

... a lot of famous French writers and intellectuals are participants, or supporters.

8. maijā prezidents paziņoja, ka valdība nekad nepiekāpsies vardarbībai. Parīzieši izveidoja "Komiteju pret represijām". Izcilākie franču intelektuāļi - Mišels Fuko, Žans Pols Sartrs, Simona de Bovuāra, Natalī Sarota, Fransuāza Sagāna, Andrē Gorcs, Fransuā Moriaks u.c. - uzstājas ar atbalstu studentu prasībām. Parādās aicinājumi studentiem un strādniekiem apvienoties kopējā cīņā pret valdību par savu tiesību īstenošanu. — Latvian Wikipedia

Transliterated back from Latvian, that reads:

A talk page contributor above also mentions Foucault and Sartre.

Perhaps their precise involvement could be clarified in the article? Varlaam (talk) 19:37, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

Slogan attributed to St. Augustine[edit]

"“The cause of all wars, riots and injustices is the existence of property.”(St. Augustine)"

Is there any actual proof that this was originally said by St. Augustine?96.26.213.146 (talk) 11:00, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

"First ever wildcat strike"[edit]

What B.S. to appear in the first para. The wildcat strike was hardly "invented" for this event. This needs to be either qualifed or removed as a knowledgable reader may see this and just discount the entire article. 75.252.252.66 (talk) 04:36, 16 September 2011 (UTC)


I have to second that. I made my way over to this article from the one on the Taft-Hartly act, which (assuming that article was accurate) banned wildcat strikes. It seems highly unlikely that Wildcat strikes would have been banned 20 or so years before they had ever been known to occur. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.33.222.71 (talk) 14:12, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

I have to third that. How about the Pullman Strike in Chicago...1894. As far as I know this strike started a string of strikes that went on in France for quite a bit. But hardly the first wildcat strike. I doubt anyone could verify the date of the first wildcat strike. Serf's rebelling and refusing to pay taxes to a feudal lord could be considered a wildcat strike.--Kingfishersfire (talk) 18:20, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

I agree too, it definitely wasn't the first Wildcat strike. What I know about this, I learned through the Situationists and their references. In one article (I think 'The Bad Days Will End')[7] they talk about how England has been having wildcat strikes for years. Also, I think that part was taken from the same text, but misquoted, it really says it was the 'first wildcat general strike'[8]. It could be changed to that, but we definitely shouldn't keep it like it is right now 200.74.79.3 (talk) 23:18, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Shaking up society and morality[edit]

Okay, this text is not mine, but does raise some significant themes. Let's see if we can find a way to describe widely accepted aspects of the May events without being POV:

  • Present text: Many participants sought to shake up the "old society" and traditional morality, focusing especially on the education system and factories.[9]

Some sources and quotes:

  • "Within a year, the social, economic, and generational tensions of French society burst to the surface. The “events” of May–June 1968 brought the youth and countercultures that were sweeping the developed world fully into French life. At the center of this attempt to rethink the very foundations of modern life was a questioning of traditional family and sexual roles." — Haine, W. Scott (2006). Culture and customs of France. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 76. ISBN 9780313328923. 
  • "[Henri] Mendras recognizes only one permanent consequence of May '68: a weakened respect for traditional authority and an expanded sense of individualism that together transformed sexual behavior and public attitudes towarsd sexuality. In short, May '68 brought about a "moral revolution" in France, not a political or social one. … May '68 was, as one of its leaders put it two decades later, 'the act of a generation' motivated by 'the desire for a radical break with the values, norms, and institutions of the established order.'" — Frazier, Lessie Jo; Deborah Cohen, Deborah Cohen (Ph. D.) (2009-10). Gender and sexuality in 1968: transformative politics in the cultural imagination. Macmillan. pp. 235–36. ISBN 9780230618718. 
  • "The 1968 events, as Serge Berstein reports, expressed the 'moral and social crisis' of France: the inadequacy of traditional values and behaviour in face of the new realities brought about by economic and social change. … Students rejected all forms of authority, whether of the state, economic enterprises, family, religion, or traditional morality." — Girling, J. L. S. (1998-11-24). France: political and social change. Psychology Press. p. 120. ISBN 9780415183246. 

--Carwil (talk) 03:50, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

    • Oftentimes, a group of academics have a strong point of view on a topic. That's perfectly fine, and these academics may very well be reliable sources otherwise. But it does not mean we have to take their word on the topic, quoting them without presenting atlernatives, especially if it's a political interpretation that a significant number of people - both in the academia and in the public - would not be able to accept.
    • I guess what I'm saying is that on highly controversial topics, it is not sufficient to have sources that are strongly partisan. JimSukwutput 04:09, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
What's the alternate view? That these issues were not important? That there was no substantial opposition to traditional morality? That only economic issues entered into the events? Are there RSs for this point of view? Please provide some.
Meanwhile, the texts above are not "strongly partisan" (except Katsiaficas), but instead represent broad historical takes on France and French thought and politics across decades. I strongly suspect they represent the majority view view although 3 sources may be insufficient to show that. Can we bring some more sources to this discussion, or just get to work on a summary?--Carwil (talk) 03:14, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

Preposterous[edit]

It seems like we have some history writers here! The PCF sided with the De Gaulle government? And this is supposed to be an academics-standard article? If this doesn't change within a week I will change it. The PCF in a way betrayed the revolution by agreeing to elections, it NEVER sided with the gvernment.Spartacus Marat (talk) 05:22, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

  1. ^ Wegs and Ladrech, Europe since 1945: A Concise History, 5th edition. Palgrave, Macmillan, 1996
  2. ^ Wegs and Ladrech, Europe since 1945: A Concise History, 5th edition. Palgrave, Macmillan, 1996
  3. ^ Wegs and Ladrech, Europe since 1945: A Concise History, 5th edition. Palgrave, Macmillan, 1996
  4. ^ Wegs and Ladrech, Europe since 1945: A Concise History, 5th edition. Palgrave, Macmillan, 1996
  5. ^ Wegs and Ladrech, Europe since 1945: A Concise History, 5th edition. Palgrave, Macmillan, 1996
  6. ^ Wegs and Ladrech, Europe since 1945: A Concise History, 5th edition. Palgrave, Macmillan, 1996
  7. ^ http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/12.era2.htm
  8. ^ http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/12.era1.htm
  9. ^ Katsiaficas, George N (1987). The imagination of the New Left: A global analysis of 1968. Boston, Mass.: South End Press. pp. 91–102. ISBN 0896082288 : 9780896082281 089608227X : 9780896082274 Check |isbn= value (help).