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May-June 1968: An occasion lacking in workers’ autonomy

Sunday, November 09, 2008
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library
6501 Telegraph Avenue (at 65th Street), Oakland
(510) 595-7417

Wheelchair accessible

Red & Black and Mouvement Communiste present this first-hand account of the ’68 events in France.

This account will be based on two testimonies that will be available at the event in pamphlet form (in English translation; see link below). One of the writers will be present in-person in Oakland to give his first-hand account of his actions as an organizer of the Action Committee of Montreuil, his experiences during the actions with the immigrant workers at his workplace, and with students in street fighting which occurred under never-ending clouds of tear gas -- to which the insurgents returned Molotov cocktails. He will give his critique of the strengths, weaknesses and the seriously limited revolutionary potential of the actions in May and June.

He and the other Mouvement Communiste presenter will recount the other testimonial account in the pamphlet, which is from a worker who took part in launching the strike at Alsthom Works in Saint-Ouen that went up not only against the bosses and the police, but the union bureaucrats and Stalinists who tried to stop it as well. With each celebration of the uprising of May ’68, the myths around these events take on a life of their own. The event in France remains beyond these myths: the general strike involved 10 million strikers. But that is also a myth which should be challenged: if, between May 20th and June 4th, there were around 9 to 10 million wage earners who did not work, that does not mean there were 9 to 10 million active strikers. With some exceptions, the strikers were passive spectators of their own strikes by staying at home, leaving the trade-union bureaucracy and its supporters to occupy the factories and to organize the “strike.”

This presentation will dispel the romantic myths and give first-hand, detailed accounts about a few of those exceptions where workers rose up with near insurrectionary intensity and fought to overthrow capital. These historical lessons, critiquing the strengths and weaknesses of '68, are crucial for any future struggles we might be engaged in. To be followed by a question and answer session and discussion.
Added to the calendar on Fri, Sep 19, 2008 1:43PM
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