Andre Glucksman

Views on 1968 from Strategy and Revolution

Lenin: �fear is worst enemy�

Glucksman offers quite a tactical and strategic appreciation of the events and issues raised by May 1968 in France. In fact the book is infused with military metaphor, drawing on Engels and Clauswitz. For instance Glucksman understood the role of the barricades as specific to situations.

�Les Barricades etaient defensives, jamais offensives, mais la pression fut sanglante parce qu�en tenant, les manifesatants refusaient d�etre assujettis a la peur, donce de demeurer les sujets du pouvoir� (p. 20)

The movement of students and workers pushed the situation to the limits of the possible. But there was no vanguard party to take things forward. According to Glucksman, power was there for the taking but it did not occur, perhaps because of fear. A comparison was drawn with Spartacus�s slaves, where the spectacle of power prevented them from seeing it was there on a plate. (p. 16-20)

�During 3 days (between 28-30 May) France did not know if it still had a government, all of the press examined solutions for a replacement and the parliamentary opposition declared itself ready to form a provisional government.� (p. 17)

The important claim of Glucksman on 1968 that it was an immanent revolutarionary situation, but then turns against it in subsequent writings (see Lecourt, Mediocracy p 48). Glucksman saw the PCF as blocking the movement for the price of their own power. He talks of how power in mature societies operates on fear of force and its appearance: thus it divides its adversaries. Courage becomes a superb political instrument. In the Sorbonne where it was proclaimed "forbidden to forbid� an equality reigned beneath these words. Language is an abusive priveledge in the modern epoch, that�s shows frontiers and membership of classes and elites � the abolition of this priveledge in the Sorbonne is likened to the early Soviets in Russia.

The situation was latent with revolution � the students were the spark that set off a general feeling. But for Glucksman (p. 27) more astonishing than the fervour of this event, is the ease with which the immovable world could be upset. This was partly due to the extra-parliamentary character of the protests, which sufficed to cause disorder in parliament.

The serious function of the state was unveiled � the suppression of struggle. Here one could quote mao, but it suffices to quote Weber: ��Tout etat est fonde sur la force� disait un jour Trotsky a Brest Litovks. En effect, cela est vrai� (knowledge and politics). Monopoly on legitimate violence.

Ccontestation of state and legitimacy. Talk of how protesters were castigated by the state (p. 30):

�sous pretexte de proteger la liberte des ideas pure il se donne la liberte de definir ce qui est id�e et ce qui ne l�est pas= monopilisant l�usage de la force, par consequent determinant l�usage des idees, l�etat proclame toujours en derniere analyse, �je suis le seul philosophe� (p. 31-32)

The Parti communiste and the separation of the political:� �Il tint constamment a separer le social et le gouvernment, la lutte revenicative (struggle for redistribution) et son inevitable signification politique. Imposant la fin des greves nom des elections, il bloqua l�agitation social par le jeu parliamentaire� (p. 33)

May 1968 seen as reflection the general revolt of the producer. The young who are part of the reserve army of labour, do not occupy directly a class position, but their labour is characterised by low pay, insecurity. This coupled with the development of non-material production places youth in strong social position to generate social change.


On this site

On other sites

Read essay





Strategy and Revolution


Reference (people) ������������������������������������������� ���������������� Back to: reference (index) home