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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #283 - 50 th anniversary: Books to see May 68 from below (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Sat, 2 Jun 2018 09:57:10 +0300

Fifty years after the biggest general strike in the country, many books come back, unsurprisingly, on the events. The silence of the PCF and the CGT is, in this swarming editorial, particularly edifying ! The great trend is to local and popular history which offers a deep renewal of historiography, centered on the Parisian leaders and engraved in the collective memory by Hamon and Rotman with Génération. Here are nine of these books. ---- Génération, published in Le Seuil in two volumes between 1987 and 1988 wrote the official history of the extreme left of the post-war period to the victory of the Union of the Left in 81. From dream years to powder years , from the terrorist drift to the electoral outlet. The TV documentary (15x30 minutes) that accompanied the release of Volume 2 has shaped a long-term vision and the centrality of avant-garde organizations and their leaders. The book remains an essential reference but very focused on the history of some student leaders and the Latin Quarter.

Generation or period ?
For fifty years, many works go beyond and give voice to young people, workers, women, provincials. To those who have made the daily reality of " events ". Omar Gueye's book [1]even makes it possible to recall that the movement in Senegal was just as powerful as it is here. This is unfortunately one of the few books that gives a clear view of the global movement. For the sixty years of May '68 publishers may allow historians to study more seriously what happened, country by country, in those years. But for this year you will have to accept that France remains the center of a world where the bottom of the air was red.

Let's be honest if you choose to read a book published recently, it's the 1968 Ludivine Bantigny [2]that you need. For three reasons: a real work as a historian, with considerable counting of archives, notament of the police. Multiple angles: students, peasants, workers, women, bosses, trade unionists, Gaullists, leftists, Stalinists ... all with a sharp and coherent political reading. Ludivine is already known for her anti-imperialist, feminist and anti-racist commitments, but this book will be a landmark in both research circles and militant circles.

If the works on Lyon and Marseille [3]help to finally decenter our gaze fixed on the courtyard of the Sorbonne, rue Soufflot and Ulm, the May 68 by those who have lived [4]is an editorial adventure uncommon since dozens of anonymous stories, in a few lines or pages, their personal memories. Generation requires, the majority of the testimony is the fact of high school students, students and called to military service. But from all regions. With so many teachers, there are also workers, children, housewives and trade unionists. All accompanied by many photos of amateurs. Note that Médiapart takes over and publishes hundreds of testimonials that were not retained in the large paper volume. If the book will not serve you as a political compass, it will immerse you very usefully in the atmosphere of that year !

The little hands of the general strike
The 68 of The Discovery [5]will not be more a compass. Deliberately pluralistic, it deals with the years 62-81 by cutting, without originality, the period in four phases 62/68 - May 68 - 68/74 and 74/81. Each sequence opens with a detailed historical reminder and follows various political testimonies.

On a larger sequence, from the post-war period to the present day, an old LCR activist delivers to L'Harmattan [6]a punctilious study of the history of groups of extreme left, Trotskyists, Maoists, anarchists, autonomous. The book, although politically oriented, is a mine for the passionate of the history of each current and group, debates and splits that have crossed. Necessarily each protagonist of this feverish story will complain that such a point has been underestimated or that aspect forgotten. And the author sometimes struggles to take the height of reflection on this small world he describes. Nevertheless the book is probably an unequal sum of information. The weakest part is obviously the one that it dedicates to the autonomous ones that we will therefore look for in Libertalia which publishes a collection of testimonials nicely titled Voyage in addition left [7]. Useful to understand the state of mind of a fraction of the student youth, the role played in a few places by the situationists, it leaves to see the political limits of those who do not go beyond the poetics of the riot as a political orientation and a social project. To seize the spirit, it is necessary to read with happiness the re-edition by Libertalia of the little story of Peuchmaurd published hot in the autumn of 68 [8]. With an elegant and dreamy writing, he gives us the vision, at the edge of the Parisian barricades, of a rioter. And his detestation of revolutionary organizations.

Avant-garde against vanguard
Thus, the anniversary of May 1968 draws a line, without much admitting it, over a period marked by the clash between the PCF and the revolutionary parties for the leadership of the proletariat. A new period opens slowly on the ruins of the Berlin Wall. Many understand that we must end once and for all with the conception of the party-guide and seek, even confusedly, to put back the direct democracy in the functioning of organizations as of society. Spring will be libertarian communist !

Jean-Yves (AL 93-Center)

[1] Omar Gueye, May 68 in Senegal, Karthala Ed, 2017, 336 p, 24 euros.

[2] Ludivine Bantigny, 1968, great evenings in small mornings, Editions Seuil, 2018, 464 p, 25 euros

[3] Marseille 68 years, under the direction of Fillieule and Sommier, Presses Sciences Po, 2018, 612 p, 25 euros. Lyon struggles in the 68s , Collectif de la Grande Côte, University Presses of Lyon, 2018, 424 p, 20 euros

[4] May 68 by those who lived it, Collective, Editions de l'Atelier / Mediapart, 2018, 480p, 29.90 euros

[5] May 68 a collective history, under the direction of Artières and Zancarini, 2018, 880 p, 28 euros.

[6] Jacques Leclercq, Far Left and Anarchism in May 68, L'Harmattan, 2017, 568p, 39 euros.

[7] Lola Miesserof, Overseas Trip, Libertalia, 2018, 280p, 10 euros.

[8] Pierre Peuchmaurd, More alive than ever, Libertalia, 2018, 128p, 8 euros.

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