Cohn-Bendit: May 1968 Through Today’s Lens

Bg_03_1968_paris_450_338_80“Mankind will not be free until the last capitalist has been hung with the entrails of the last bureaucrat.” This slogan, allegedly a 1968-er modification of Voltaire’s famous statement (with “monarchs” and “priests” being replaced with “capitalists” and “bureaucrats”), seems at once quaint, maniacal, noble and deranged. Next month will mark the 40th anniversary of the general strike in France sparked by the confrontation between police and students. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the hot autumn in Italy, the uprising in Mexico City, the Prague Spring and the Soviet invasion, student protests in Germany and the Chicago Democratic convention. The movement, or era, or spirit, I suspect, only really ended with the foreign ministership of Joschka Fischer and the election of Daniel Cohn-Bendit to the European parliament. Euro|topics looks back at 1968 with a few articles on the protests in Western Europe. Over at Cafebabel, an interview with Daniel (“Dany Le Rouge”) Cohn-Bendit:

What do you think is the aim of today’s ‘revolt’? Has your generation already implemented the large reversal in personal freedom, which still continues for today’s youth?

There is the revolt against globalisation, the aim of which is clear. The G8 demonstration has shown that it is against injustice. There is a revolt against the ecological destruction of the planet. There is also simply the effort to safeguard against a very achievement-orientated society, which basically only offers a slump career-wise or unemployment.

The pressure of the working sphere for those who have a high standard of living is so high that some find it hard to endure. For this reason, many youngsters simply avoid achievement. More and more people are accused of this. The fact that they do not like to be political articulate has a socio-political effect.

But nothing like forty years ago?

We need to stop the comparisons with the situation forty years ago. It has gone, finished, is over the hill. It was nice for those who experienced it but it is over now. We have a different world, a different society. 1968 changed the world and now we have to deal with the current world and not look back.