Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski, The failure of May 1968, Unherd, May 24, 2022
“What defines our public life today is boredom”. That was a Le Monde front-page headline in March 1968. Two months later, a revolution would erupt that would shake the foundations of the Fifth Republic, divide France, and alter its history forever.
In June, Michel Foucault watching France from a perch in Tunisia, wrote to one of his correspondents: “From here it looks like a great mystery.” More than half a century later, there is no consensus either on the causes or on the meaning of those events. Were the students motivated by economic anxieties? Or was this a cultural revolution? The question boils down to whether the underlying cause of the youth revolt was precarity or abundance.