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Death to May 68!

par Eric Cotte
mise en ligne : 31 May 1998
Traduction : Mort à mai 68 !

Death to the elderly, death to the idiots, death to the elderly idiots!

In May 1968, power was already in the hands of 50-year-old people in France. They had and controlled all the authority: politics (except for De Gaulle, who was an even older schmuck), economics and the media. To justify this domination over the whole society (youth, especially), this generation had its own founding myth: Gaullist resistance.

This myth is central to the end the the sixties:

It justifies the authority of elders (who all took part - of course! - in the resistance...). It gives alibis/values to a society whose central reference point has become money and consumption. It excludes youth born after the war.

Youth, revolting against the domination by the 50 year-olds, thus attacked this Gaullist myth ("Die, General!"), to which elders responded that young people, never having known the war, could not know ("oh, if you’d only been through a war, you wouldn’t complain that way").

It took decades to dispose of the Gaullist myth: during Papon’s trial, the French right wing fretted that Gaullism could be criticized (through Papon). Anyway it didn’t matter, a generation simply replaced another. The important fact was not that the myth of France being wholeheartedly involved in the resistance has been proven wrong, because it had become socially obsolete (and useless).

Today, same thing: the generation of 50 year-olds dominates every aspect of society. They reign over politics (all of Europe’s prime ministers are 50), own the media (one common point between all TV anchormen is their age), and economic power (how old are your boss, your landlord, your banker?)

To justify its absolute domination of society, this generation also needs a founding myth. No need to look too far, as we’ve been served this myth during all this month of May 1998: the founding myth of nowadays’ powerful is May 1968.

"They" were able to change the French society in 68. It’s thus normal that they take on the task of directing world politics. "They" rejected bourgeois values in 68, so we can trust them to build an economy with a social aspect. "They" rejected their parents’ media, hence they bring us a better press and TV. Yeah right!

Young people are now faced with sentences such as "oh, if you’d known how it all was before May 68..."

Here’s why this commemoration of May 1968 is unbearable to me: self-glorification of their own generation by the powerful. 50 year-olds already have all the power they can handle. Do they want a statue to their glory now?

May 1968 is nothing but a myth that historical studies should strive to tone down (something that this commemoration avoided at all cost). Just like not all Frenchmen were in the resistance, not all of them were involved in the events of May 68. Maybe a few tens of thousands of students, at best, sons and daughters of the Parisian bourgeois elite.

Politically, May 68 was an awful failure. Proof: Chirac is president.

Things are not any better when it comes to the media. The ones launched in 68 are tied to the economy (more than ever before). Michel Field works for TF1 and there are ads in Serge July’s "Liberation".

Same thing, as far as political conscience goes. The only one who didn’t betray his ideal is Alain Madelin. Once a fascist, still a fascist.

The only contribution of May 68 was to replace backward moral values of the bourgeoisie by the egotistical and hedonistic values of consumerism. A generation used its so-called desire for freedom to impose neo-liberalism on us.

Another use of that myth (and of its silly commemoration): excluding the next generation. Of course, "I don’t know how things were before"! Every article about that celebration comprises a part about "today’s youth". Every time, an old hero of the revolution is depicted along with his dreams, his actions, his slogans... and he’s then compared to his children. Children who, on the whole, have no political conscience, don’t know how to revolt, have no dreams... Yep, instead of free love and revolt, we like AIDS, unemployment and neo-liberalism better. I’m telling you, we’re not worthy of our parents! Indeed I keep receiving mails saying something like: "bravo, I’m happy to see that the ideas of May 68 are not dead and that there are still young people who have a political conscience"... Well, yeah, ideas of May 68 are dead. They died on the day you became an old patronizing fart.

But all those reports had their own contradiction within, bringing about a sweet revenge. Those old May 68 people put up a pitiful and hideous show: they had become, within 30 years, sad symbols of today’s normality.

Normal and old.

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