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1968 – 2018 – the dream lives on

Looking back at 1968 during this year's International Documentary Festival in Thessaloniki.

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival marks the 50th anniversary of 1968, the year in which a series of uprisings, protests and more extensive demonstrations around the world culminated and contributed to a signal of the special character of the period. For example, in May, students and workers in France came together for a general strike involving up to 10 million workers. And the Americans – even with the world's most powerful war machine – eventually had to give up the occupation of Vietnam following the Vietcong Têt offensive in 1968.

As representatives of the victors, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill had divided the world between themselves at the Yalta conference in February 1945. The collection of documentaries at the festival shows how the world order that had supported authoritarian regimes two decades later broke. The desire of social forces for self-liberation inspired mutually across continents: from the student revolt in Poland and Yugoslavia, the "Spring in Prague" in Czechoslovakia, to the anti-war demonstrations and anti-authoritarian mobilizations in West Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States to the emergence of the black civil rights movement in the United States. , the start of the women's uprising in North America, West Germany and the UK, the student uprising in Mexico, the young Japanese struggles and we saw you. Together, the incidents were an expression of what has been called the law of the uneven and combined development.

In 2018, 1968 appears as a kind of correction after an initial stabilization of international relations after two imperialist world wars.

Contribution of the festival. I In the Intense Now many essential points are provided from the epicenter of events. At a time trade like 1968, history changes its rhythm. Such days as the May Days of 68 were like years of ordinary experience. Young people of the working class, among others, were in Paris in large numbers sought by universities that appeared authoritarian. This, combined with the general opposition to American imperial warfare in Vietnam, triggered protests and demonstrations. The working-class youth did not feel at home in the universities. As expressed by student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit on the nationwide TV: The state has always used the exam as a social exclusion mechanism to protect the interests of the privileged.

Cohn-Bendit is seen as a student leader at the center during demonstrations and on TV. He used a direct political language and called attention to the social contexts that many Frenchmen in the given situation experienced as outdated and unjust. His political language not only opposed the power itself, but also exposed the neglect of Stalinist and social democratic organizations and leaders.

Thousands of young people were trained in the "school of life" in May by being at the center of events and, from time to time, were to propose peat on how to do business here and now. Here was no respite for any deeper reflection. Organizing demonstrations with workers and their organizations, yes, a general strike, could be difficult to mentally accommodate. For most young people, the whole thing was almost comparable to attending a total theater where the joy never really occurred and where the role – due to lack of experience and schooling – was played dilettante. And where should it all go? Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wondered and called for the students' actual plan.

Of course, those opposed to de Gaulle did not want to be part of a government based on a general strike. So the president – with the assertion of the dictatorship as imminent – could print new elections, causing a staggering defeat for students and workers. Who else but the Stalinists and Social Democrats and their historical neglect could blame workers and students in that situation for the pain and inadequacy they felt?

The image of a future society or social imagination was non-existent in the May revolt. Whether it came to a general strike, the bourgeois France and the French state were not threatened at any time. For example, the French army was not involved at all.

The Soviet Union had, according to the students, historically betrayed socialist thought and emerged as anything but an example to follow for students and workers of the world. IN June Turnoil It is shown how intellectuals gather about the opposition to the Yugoslav Communist Party by revealing, among other things, the rhetoric in which the Communist Party had for so long held the oppressed population with a firm grip.

I 1968 – Hope the political game is portrayed until the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968. Intellectuals, in collaboration with popular forces, put pressure on the Czechoslovak regime and questioned the role of the Communist Party in society, among other things. The desire for freedom of expression was widespread, and right into the production life the desire for greater degrees of freedom was an argument for ensuring the development of society. A socialism with a human face, the slogan sounded. Yes, it went so far that the first secretary of the Communist Party, Alexander Dubcek, wanted to open up the establishment of further socialist political parties. By this, the Soviet Union's limit to the politically acceptable was reached: Soviet power invaded Czechoslovakia and forced a change of leadership in the country and in the party, thus maintaining hegemony. What a manifestation of power!

I American Revolution 2 we see footage from a local citizen meeting showing the justification of the civil rights movement with mention of police violence against black workers as a backdrop. Not only did blacks oppose "the pigs," but the widespread community-based divide divided local unity in efforts to establish communities. The Black Panther movement helped give radicalization a dimension that was absent in Europe.

First the French imperialists and then the US had to withdraw from Vietnam. The United States also felt considerable resistance to the war on the domestic front and on the "new left" in large parts of the western world. The call was: "Create one, two, three many Vietnamese," reproduced after Che Guevara and the guerrilla fights in South America and Africa. In the Intense Now delivers fragments for a comprehensive understanding of the power play that went on in 1968.

As the colonized world struggled to free itself from the supremacy of American imperialism, so the "Spring in Prague" also constituted a struggle for independence, to assert national sovereignty against Soviet hegemony.

In China - not to be forgotten – the Communist Party under Mao's leadership carried out a cultural revolution in which traditional decision-making hierarchies were broken down and the result was greater power for China's Communist Party, under the widespread suffering of the Chinese people.

Director João Moreira Salles (1962) is involved in In the Intense Now contribution from his private archive, with the instructor's mother as an art journalist participating in a trip to China in the first year of the Cultural Revolution (1966). Facing the mother's more aesthetic approach to the experience, Moreira Salles refers to the author Alberto Moravia, who maintained a political approach from his China visitors, which did not fall to the Chinese government's advantage.

For most young people it was perhaps the closest thing to participating in a total theater, where the joy never really occurred.

Status. Each period has its material to deal with. The young student rebels' arguments in Paris formed a mix of contemporary theories of neo-capitalism, consumer society, civilization of the working class and the handling of class conflicts by negotiation. In retrospect, 1968 experiences from all continents of several generations were brought together by pioneers, heretics and rebels – in a vision of a new internationalism, today carried on in a diversity of social movements.

In 2018, 1968 appears as a kind of correction after a first stabilization of international relations after two imperialist world wars. In the shadow of the Cold War, the underlying imperative of economic growth caused the world to be increasingly challenged on climate and biodiversity. At the same time, human development conditions were increasingly subject to the market mechanism with social and cultural polarization and the special challenges of a new technology.

If the task of the responsible person – in the words of Václav Havel – was "to come to himself" and acknowledge that something higher than man himself exists, the question remains, however, with 1968, in which the social and social subject as momentum – that must lead societies forward – must exist if civilization is to change the direction of development. But the dream lives on.

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Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.

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