Tumblr_kxmuqohg7Y1qa1cnpTony Judt on the oppositional movements in 1960s Europe, in the NYRB blog:

[I]n Germany, politics was about sex—and sex very largely about politics. I was amazed to discover, while visiting a German student collective (all the German students I knew seemed to live in communes, sharing large old apartments and each other’s partners), that my contemporaries in the Bundesrepublik really believed their own rhetoric. A rigorously complex-free approach to casual intercourse was, they explained, the best way to rid oneself of any illusions about American imperialism—and represented a therapeutic purging of their parents’ Nazi heritage, characterized as repressed sexuality masquerading as nationalist machismo.

The notion that a twenty-year-old in Western Europe might exorcise his parents’ guilt by stripping himself (and his partner) of clothes and inhibitions—metaphorically casting off the symbols of repressive tolerance—struck my empirical English leftism as somewhat suspicious. How fortunate that anti-Nazism required—indeed, was defined by—serial orgasm. But on reflection, who was I to complain? A Cambridge student whose political universe was bounded by deferential policemen and the clean conscience of a victorious, unoccupied country was perhaps ill-placed to assess other peoples’ purgative strategies.

I might have felt a little less superior had I known more about what was going on some 250 miles to the east. What does it say of the hermetically sealed world of cold war Western Europe that I—a well-educated student of history, of East European Jewish provenance, at ease in a number of foreign languages, and widely traveled in my half of the continent—was utterly ignorant of the cataclysmic events unraveling in contemporary Poland and Czechoslovakia? Attracted to revolution? Then why not go to Prague, unquestionably the most exciting place in Europe at that time? Or Warsaw, where my youthful contemporaries were risking expulsion, exile, and prison for their ideas and ideals?

What does it tell us of the delusions of May 1968 that I cannot recall a single allusion to the Prague Spring, much less the Polish student uprising, in all of our earnest radical debates? Had we been less parochial (at forty years’ distance, the level of intensity with which we could discuss the injustice of college gate hours is a little difficult to convey), we might have left a more enduring mark. As it was, we could expatiate deep into the night on China’s Cultural Revolution, the Mexican upheavals, or even the sit-ins at Columbia University. But except for the occasional contemptuous German who was content to see in Czechoslovakia’s Dubcek just another reformist turncoat, no one talked of Eastern Europe.