UTOPIA & PRAXIS: MAY 68 – MAY 08
«Soyez réalistes, demandez l΄impossible»


EXPERIMENTATION AND RESEARCH IN CONTEMPORARY ARTISTIC PRACTICES


6th Painting Studio ASFA (Athens School of Fine Arts)


Basic timetable:



28 June: arrivals
30 June – 3 July: presentations
5 July: trip (roughly)
9 July: trip (roughly)
14 - 15 July: preparation of the presentation of the work
16-17 July: show and presentations of final works
18 July: end of show
19 July: departures


Number of Participating Students: 11


Organizer-Facilitator: Vassilis Vlastaras, Visual artist, Lecturer, ASFA




Utopia as an expression of unlimited imagination and desire is a concept that has always fascinated artists. Art can see in utopia a means to lift the restrictions of reality and accomplish the free expression of its visions. Starting from this connection and its various instantiations in the history of art, this workshop deals with the multiple significations, implications and dimensions of utopia. In everyday discourse the term ‘utopia’ is usually connected with an ideal future, with what seems impossible within the confines of reality, and is thus bound to create margins for many and often contradictory interpretations. Utopias are the places of dreams and hopes for a better life, which provide an escape from an always incomplete and constraining status quo. Sometimes they involve grandiose metaphysical schemata, other times they take the form of ephemeral shelters distanced from detailed sociopolitical reflection. Always, however, their creation is based on the criticism of established (political and aesthetical) institutions and social structures. Inspiring antithetical political and artistic practices, praised but also criticized, utopia has been a focus of debate for many disciplines and approaches. By blending theoretical discussion, aesthetic reflection and the artistic work of the participants, this workshop aims at critically exploring the various interconnections between theory and praxis, vision and reality, desire and finitude, utopia and dystopia.




comments on utopia


In 1515 More wrote his most famous and controversial work, Utopia, a novel in which a fictional traveler, Raphael Hythloday (whose first name is an allusion to the archangel Raphael, who was the purveyor of truth, and whose surname means "dispenser of nonsense" in Greek), describes the political arrangements of the imaginary island nation of Utopia (a play on the Greek ou-topos, meaning "no place", and eu-topos, meaning "good place"). In the book, More contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly and reasonable social arrangements of the Utopia, where private property does not exist and almost complete religious toleration is practiced.
Many commentators have pointed out that Karl Marx's later vision of the ideal communist state strongly resembles More's Utopia in regards to individual property, although Utopia is without the atheism that Marx always insisted upon. Furthermore, it is notable that the Utopia is tolerant of different religious practices but does not advocate tolerance for atheists. More theorizes that if a man did not believe in God or an afterlife of any kind he could never be trusted as he would not be logically driven to acknowledge any authority or principles outside himself.
More might have chosen the literary device of describing an imaginary nation primarily as a vehicle for discussing controversial political matters freely. His own attitude towards the arrangements he describes in the book is the subject of much debate. While it seems unlikely that More, a devout Catholic, intended pagan, proto-communist Utopia as a concrete model for political reform, some have speculated that More based his Utopia on monastic communalism based on the Biblical communalism described in the Acts of the Apostles. Due to the nature of More's writing, however, it is at times difficult to tell his satirical jabs at society from how he actually believes things should be.
Utopia is often seen as the forerunner of the Utopian genre of literature, in which different ideas of the "ideal society" or perfect cities are described in varying amounts of detail by the author. Although a typically Renaissance movement, based on the rebirth of classical concepts of perfect societies as propagated by Plato and Aristotle, combined with Roman rhetorical finesse (see Cicero, Quintilian, epeidietic oratory (that of praise or blame)) Utopianism continued well into the enlightenment age.
The original edition included details of a symmetrical alphabet of More's own invention, called the "Utopian alphabet". This alphabet was omitted from later editions, though it remains notable as an early attempt at cryptography that may have influenced the development of shorthand.

MORE from Wikipedia




ASFA Rethymno workshop site

ASFA Rethymno workshop site
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May 1968 in France

May 1968 is the name given to a series of student protests and a general strike that caused the eventual collapse of the De Gaulle government in France. The vast majority of the protesters espoused left-wing causes, but the established leftist political institutions and labor unions distanced themselves from the movement. Many saw the events as an opportunity to shake up the "old society" and traditional morality, focusing especially on the education system and employment.

It began as a series of student strikes that broke out at a number of universities and lycées in Paris, following confrontations with university administrators and the police. The de Gaulle administration's attempts to quash those strikes by further police action only inflamed the situation further, leading to street battles with the police in the Latin Quarter, followed by a general strike by students and strikes throughout France by ten million French workers, roughly two-thirds of the French workforce. The protests reached such a point that de Gaulle created a military operations headquarters to deal with the unrest, dissolved the National Assembly and called for new parliamentary elections for 23 June 1968.

The government was close to collapse at that point (De Gaulle had even taken temporary refuge at an air force base in Germany), but the revolutionary situation evaporated almost as quickly as it arose.[citation needed] Workers went back to their jobs, after a series of deceptions carried out by the Confédération Générale du Travail, the leftist union federation, and the Parti Communiste Français (PCF), the French Communist Party. When the elections were finally held in June, the Gaullist party emerged even stronger than before.

May '68 was a political failure for the protesters, but it had an enormous social impact. In France, it is considered to be the watershed moment that saw the replacement of conservative morality (religion, patriotism, respect for authority) with the liberal morality (equality, sexual liberation, human rights) that dominates French society today. Although this replacement did not take place solely in this one month, the term mai 68 is used to refer to the shift in values, especially when referring to its most idealistic aspects.
More from wikipedia here





Eddie Farrell, Klaas Hoek
SOME WORKS OF PARTICIPANTS

Angeliki Valvi

Angeliki Valvi

Rachel Ichniowski

Rachel Ichniowski

UTOPIA TRAVEL AGENCY

03-Fotini

Trees are everywhere and even if we can’t identify them one by one, we know they do exist and grow almost forever.

-I’m going to built a bridge, then take it down and built another one.
-Why would you do such a thing? After all this effort to plan and create a concrete structure you want to demolish it?

Every structure is built up on accumulated ideas that become praxis when people decide at some point to go for it. And I believe that most of the times, because all these structures do provide people with stability and hope for the best, continue to exist and expand from generation to generation.

But then Sartre in ’68 was declaring (free translation) that “We shouldn’t prepare the happiness of the future by accepting the injustice, destitution and oppression of the present”. Was he complete insane to even question a system made out of the hard work of people who survived the 2cd world war and dreamed a better world?

-What a fool you are!


video


02-Fotini


«It doesn’t even worth to look at any map of the world where utopia is not included» free translation from Voltaire

I don’t know if the people who participated in the revolts of ’68 in France and elsewhere had Voltaire’s thought about utopia in their mind but it seams as if the idea of impossible had taken place at that time. And if we consider that the function of a «non-existing-time-space» is the constant criticism of the present then why should present remain as it is?


A-praxia. People who’s mind has stuck in the substance of the world as it is and block their consciousness towards the impossible.

Praxis. Possible transformation of the existing based on the idea and not the action itself.

-Do you see that tree over there?
-I believe yes.


I HAVE A DREAM


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. Full speech HERE


video





01-Fotini


-I’m looking for utopia. Do you know where is this place?
-Why are you looking for the place that does not exist? What do you think you can find there?
-Hope


That’s how everything started. By asking
-What do you prefer, the actual object or the reflected image of it?
I can’t really decide. If I literally believed what Sartre said « words are actions» then where experience fits in?
Sometimes I’m truly convinced that people should not speak.

During the first decade of the russian revolution everything seamed to be right. The world was leading towards a promising future concerning the human rights, art, freedom.
-Where did this all gone?

The idea of utopia is fighting the physicality of death in the same way that a revolution fights its own creation by opposing to the existence of a controlling authority. And again in the same way that every system is built in order to protect freedom, determines at the same time the meaning of it.




for Utopia & Praxis May68-May08

Following the exhibition –All power to the imagination, Posters from Denis Gould’s collection (Torriano Meeting House, Kentish Town, London, May 9th – 31st, 2008)
......A conversation about Utopia, Praxis, 1968 and Freedom, the anarchist weekly newspaper, with John Rety.
Filmed at the Torriano Meeting House by the Shytstem, on Thursday 26th June 2008, for Utopia and Praxis May68 – May08.
Organised by the Athens School of Art in Rethymno, Crete, Greece –July 2008.

FIRST WEEK ACTIONS in ASFA RETHYMNO

FIRST WEEK ACTIONS in ASFA RETHYMNO

PARTICIPANTS

PARTICIPANTS
Laurien, Alexandros, Francesca, Angeliki

Eddie, Dora, Rob, Janne

Fotini, Gary, Rachel, David

Klaas, Daniele, Fanis, Anna

Angeliki, Maria, Karem, Vassilis

Michael, Alexandra, Yannis

The Beginning of the End: France, May 1968

By Angelo Quattrocchi and Tom Nairn
Originally published by Panther Books 1968
Reprinted 1998 by Verso

Enrages and Situationists in the Occupation Movement, France, May '68 -- the Situationist International's official statement on the 1968 revolution -- begins with the following quotation from Hegel's Reason in History.

Concerning original history. . . . The content of these histories is necessarily limited; their essential material is that which is living in the experience of the historian himself and in the current interests of men; that which is living and contemporary in their milieu. The author describes that in which he has participated, or at least that which he has lived; relatively short periods, figures of individual men [sic] and their deeds. . . . It is not sufficient to have been the contemporary of the events described, or to be well-informed about them. The author must belong to the class and social milieu of the actors he is describing; their opinions, way of thought and culture must be the same as his own. In order to really know phenomena and see them in their real context, one must be placed at the summit -- not seeing them from below, through the keyhole of morality or any other wisdom [emphasis added].

These formulations must be faulty, or, rather, they must have been overtaken and left behind by "reason in history," because Enrages and Situationists in the Occupation Movement, France, May '68 is not at the level of Hegel's writings on history, despite the fact that it, like Reason in History, is a "first-hand, insider's account," written by a "participant" and an "eyewitness."

Or so it appears now in 1998, after reading the reprinted edition of Quattrocchi and Nairn's thrilling The Beginning of the End, which is certainly the best book on May 1968 that I have ever read. Though both Quattrocchi and Nairn were well-informed contemporaries of the events described, only Quattrocchi was an active participant or an "actor" in the Hegelian sense. Nairn was not an eyewitness to the events: he was living in London at the time. Quattrocchi wrote his half of the book as a series of dispatches to his friend, Nairn, whom he had met years before. But Quattrocchi was Italian, not French, and this would seem to present a problem, if not to one's ability to fully understand this very French revolution, then at least to the strict standards established by Hegel in Reason in History.
read more here



California dreaming

by Antony Giddens

It is May 1968. I am not in Paris, but 6,000 miles away in California working as a junior lecturer at UCLA. When I arrive at Venice, a beach city where I have rented an apartment, I witness a scene out of biblical times. As far as the eye can see, the beach is covered with people wearing long robes, colourful but tatty and unkempt. The air reeks of marijuana. Behind them, on the sidewalk, there is a row of police cars, each with an officer dangling a shotgun out of the window. There is an atmosphere of menace. Just as I had never encountered marijuana, I had never heard the word “hippie” before that day. At that point, the word was barely in use in Britain.

In Europe, the radicals were pretty traditional. They were students on the rampage, and their radicalism didn’t dig deep. In California, if you were a radical, you had to be a radical in everything. I had an acquaintance, a straight-laced maths professor, complete with button-down shirt, clipped hair and a wholesome wife and family. He disappeared from the campus for several months. One day I was walking to my class when a Christ-like figure appeared over the brow of the hill. He had blond hair growing to below his shoulders, a long beard and was wearing a flowing robe. I didn’t recognise him until he stopped to say hello. He had given up maths, left the university, abandoned his wife and children, and moved to the desert in New Mexico where he worked as a craftsman in a commune.
read more here


The capitalist "truth" of the '68 revolt

Reflections on 1968 following the Festival of Philosophy marking the 40th anniversary of 1968 at Rome's Auditorium Parco della Musica
by Slavoj Zizek

One of the best-known graffiti on the Paris walls of ’68 was: “Structures do not walk on the streets!” This was the idea that one cannot explain the large student and workers’ demonstrations of ’68 in terms of structuralism. Jacques Lacan’s answer was that on the contrary, this is precisely what did happen in 1968: structures DID descend on to the streets. The visible explosive events were ultimately the result of a structural imbalance—in Lacan’s terms, of the passage from the master’s discourse to the university discourse.

In what did this passage consist? Boltanski and Chiapello’s The New Spirit of Capitalism examines it in detail, and especially à propos France. In a Weberian mode, the book distinguishes three successive “spirits” of capitalism: the first, entrepreneurial, spirit of capitalism lasted until the great depression of the 1930s; the second took as its ideal not the entrepreneur but the salaried director of the large firm. From the 1970s onwards, a new figure of the “spirit of capitalism” emerged: capitalism abandoned the hierarchical Fordist structure of the production process and developed a network-based form of organisation founded on employee initiative and autonomy in the workplace. Instead of the hierarchical chain of command, we get networks with a multitude of participants, organising work in the form of teams or projects, intent on customer satisfaction. In this way, capitalism is transformed into an egalitarian project: by way of accentuating auto-poetic interaction and spontaneous self-organisation, it even usurped the far left's rhetoric of workers' self-management and turned it from an anti-capitalist to a capitalist slogan.
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Plan of Paris 1960

Plan of Paris 1960

Report of the Occupation of the Sorbonne

source: Bureau of Public Secrets

The occupation of the Sorbonne that began Monday, May 13, has opened a new period in the crisis of modern society. The events now taking place in France foreshadow the return of the proletarian revolutionary movement in all countries. The movement that had already advanced from theory to struggle in the streets has now advanced to a struggle for control of the means of production. Modernized capitalism thought it had finished with class struggle – but it’s started up again! The proletariat supposedly no longer existed – but here it is again.

By surrendering the Sorbonne, the government hoped to pacify the student revolt, which had already succeeded in holding a section of Paris behind its barricades an entire night before being recaptured with great difficulty by the police. The Sorbonne was given over to the students in the hope that they would peacefully discuss their university problems. But the occupiers immediately decided to open it to the public to freely discuss the general problems of the society. This was thus a prefiguration of a council, a council in which even the students broke out of their miserable studenthood and ceased being students.

To be sure, the occupation was never complete: a chapel and a few remaining administrative offices were tolerated. The democracy was never total: future technocrats of the UNEF [National Student Union] claimed to be making themselves useful and other political bureaucrats also tried their manipulations. Workers’ participation remained very limited and the presence of nonstudents soon began to be questioned. Many students, professors, journalists and imbeciles of other professions came as spectators.

In spite of all these deficiencies, which are not surprising considering the disparity between the scope of the project and the narrowness of the student milieu, the exemplary nature of the best aspects of this situation immediately took on an explosive significance. Workers were inspired by the free discussion and the striving for a radical critique, by seeing direct democracy in action. Even limited to a Sorbonne liberated from the state, this was a revolutionary program developing its own forms. The day after the occupation of the Sorbonne the Sud-Aviation workers of Nantes occupied their factory. On the third day, Thursday the 16th, the Renault factories at Cl鯮 and Flins were occupied and the movement began at the NMPP and at Boulogne-Billancourt, starting at Shop 70. Three days later 100 factories have been occupied and the wave of strikes, accepted but never initiated by the union bureaucracies, is paralyzing the railroads and developing into a general strike.

The only power in the Sorbonne was the general assembly of its occupiers. At its first session, on May 14, amidst a certain confusion, it had elected an Occupation Committee of 15 members revocable by it each day. Only one of the delegates, a member of the Nanterre-Paris Enrag鳠group, had set forth a program: defense of direct democracy in the Sorbonne and absolute power of workers councils as ultimate goal. The next day’s general assembly reelected its entire Occupation Committee, which had as yet been unable to accomplish anything. In fact, the various specialized groupings that had set themselves up in the Sorbonne all followed the directives of a hidden “Coordination Committee” composed of self-appointed organizers, responsible to no one, doing everything in their power to prevent any “irresponsible” extremist actions. An hour after the reelection of the Occupation Committee one of these “coordinators” privately tried to declare it dissolved. A direct appeal to the people in the courtyard of the Sorbonne aroused a movement of protests that forced the manipulator to retract himself. By the next day, Thursday the 16th, thirteen members of the Occupation Committee had disappeared, leaving two comrades, including the Enrag鳍 member, vested with the only delegation of power authorized by the general assembly – and this at a time when the urgency of the situation demanded immediate decisions: democracy was constantly being flouted in the Sorbonne while factory occupations were spreading all over the country. At 3:00 p.m. the Occupation Committee, rallying to itself as many Sorbonne occupiers as it could who were determined to maintain democracy there, launched an appeal for “the occupation of all the factories in France and the formation of workers councils.” To disseminate this appeal the Occupation Committee had at the same time to restore the democratic functioning of the Sorbonne. It had to take over or recreate from scratch all the services that were supposed to be under its authority: the loudspeaker system, printing facilities, interfaculty liaison, security. It ignored the squawking complaints of the spokesmen of various political groups (JCR [a Trotskyist group], Maoists, etc,), reminding them that it was responsible only to the general assembly. It intended to report to the assembly that very evening, but the Sorbonne occupiers’ unanimous decision to march on Renault-Billancourt (whose occupation we had learned of in the meantime) postponed the meeting until 2:00 p.m. the next day.

During the night, while thousands of comrades were at Billancourt, some unidentified persons improvised a general assembly, which broke up when the Occupation Committee, having learned of its existence, sent back two delegates to call attention to its illegitimacy.

Friday the 17th at 2:00 p.m. the regular assembly saw its rostrum occupied for a long time by self-appointed marshals belonging to the FER [another Trotskyist group]; and then had to interrupt the session for the second march on Billancourt at 5:00.

That evening at 9:00 the Occupation Committee was finally able to present a report of its activities. It was, however, completely unable to get its actions discussed and voted on, in particular its appeal for the occupation of the factories, which the assembly did not take the responsibility of either disavowing or approving. Faced with such indifference, the Occupation Committee had no choice but to resign. The assembly proved equally incapable of protesting against a new invasion of the rostrum by the FER troops, whose putsch seemed to be aimed at countering the provisional alliance of JCR and UNEF bureaucrats. The partisans of direct democracy realized, and immediately declared, that they had no further interest in the Sorbonne.

At the very moment that the example of the occupation is beginning to be taken up in the factories it is collapsing at the Sorbonne. This development is more serious since the workers have against them a bureaucracy infinitely more powerful and entrenched than that of the student or leftist amateurs. To add to the confusion, the leftist bureaucrats, echoing the CGT [the Communist Party-dominated labor union] in the hope of being accorded a little marginal role alongside it, abstractly separate the workers from the students. (“The workers don’t need any lessons from the students.”) But the students have in fact already given an excellent lesson to the workers precisely by occupying the Sorbonne and briefly initiating a really democratic debate. The bureaucrats all tell us demagogically that the working class is grown up, in order to hide the fact that it is enchained – first of all by them (now or in their future hopes, depending on which group they’re in). They counterpose their lying seriousness to the “festivity” in the Sorbonne; but it was precisely that festiveness that bore within itself the only thing that is serious: the radical critique of prevailing conditions.

The student struggle has now been left behind. Even more left behind are all the second-string bureaucratic leaders who think it’s a good idea to feign respect for the Stalinists at the very moment when the CGT and the so-called “Communist” Party are terrified. The outcome of the present crisis is in the hands of the workers themselves, if only they succeed in accomplishing in their factory occupations the goals toward which the university occupation was only able to hint at.

The comrades who supported the first Sorbonne Occupation Committee – the Enrag鳭Situationist International Committee, a number of workers, and a few students – have formed a Council for Maintaining the Occupations. The occupations can obviously be maintained only by quantitatively and qualitatively extending them, without sparing any existing regime.

COUNCIL FOR MAINTAINING THE OCCUPATIONS
Paris, 19 May 1968


Declaration by Students occupation of the Factories

source: Bureau of Public Secrets

“Watch Out for Manipulators!
Watch Out for Bureaucrats!”

Comrades,

No one must be unaware of the importance of the GA [general assembly] this evening (Thursday, May 16). Over the last two days several individuals, recognizable from having previously been seen peddling their various party lines, have succeeded in sowing confusion and in smothering the GAs under a barrage of bureaucratic manipulations whose crudeness clearly demonstrates the contempt they have for this assembly.

This assembly must learn to make itself respected or disappear. Two points must be discussed before anything else:

WHO CONTROLS THE SECURITY MARSHALS? whose disgusting role is intolerable.

WHY IS THE PRESS COMMITTEE – which dares to censor the communiqué that it is charged to transmit to the news agencies – composed of apprentice journalists who are careful not to disappoint the ORTF [national radio-television] bosses so as not to jeopardize their future job possibilities?

Apart from that: Considering that the workers are beginning to occupy several factories in France, FOLLOWING OUR EXAMPLE AND WITH THE SAME RIGHT WE HAVE, the Sorbonne Occupation Committee issued a statement approving of this movement at 3:00 this afternoon. The central problem of this evening's GA is therefore to declare itself by a clear vote supporting or disavowing this appeal of its Occupation Committee. If it disavows the appeal it will have put itself on record as reserving for students a right that it refuses to the working class; and in that case it is clear that it will no longer want to concern itself with anything but a Gaullist reform of the university.

OCCUPATION COMMITTEE OF THE PEOPLE'S FREE SORBONNE UNIVERSITY
16 May 1968, 6:30 pm



Slogans and graffiti

It is difficult to pigeonhole the politics of the students who sparked the events of May 1968, much less of the hundreds of thousands who participated in them. There was, however, a strong strain of anarchism, particularly in the students at Nanterre. While not exhaustive, the following graffiti give a sense of the millenarian and rebellious spirit, tempered with a good deal of verbal wit, of the strikers (the anti-work graffiti shows the considerable influence of the situationist movement):


Lisez moins, vivez plus. Read less, live more.
L'ennui est contre-révolutionnaire. Boredom is counterrevolutionary.
Pas de replâtrage, la structure est pourrie. No replastering, the structure is rotten.
Nous ne voulons pas d'un monde où la certitude de ne pas mourir de faim s'échange contre le risque de mourir d'ennui. We want nothing of a world in which the certainty of not dying from hunger comes in exchange for the risk of dying from boredom.
Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié ne font que se creuser un tombeau. Those who make revolutions by halves do but dig themselves a grave.
On ne revendiquera rien, on ne demandera rien. On prendra, on occupera. We will claim nothing, we will ask for nothing. We will take, we will occupy.
Plebiscite : qu'on dise oui qu'on dise non il fait de nous des cons. Plebiscite: Whether we say yes or no, it makes chumps of us.

Depuis 1936 j'ai lutté pour les augmentations de salaire. Mon père avant moi a lutté pour les augmentations de salaire.
Maintenant j'ai une télé, un frigo, une VW. Et cependant j'ai vécu toujours la vie d'un con. Ne négociez pas avec les patrons. Abolissez-les.
Since 1936 I have fought for wage increases. My father before me fought for wage increases.
Now I have a TV, a fridge, a Volkswagen. Yet my whole life I've been a chump. Don't negotiate with the bosses. Abolish them.

Le patron a besoin de toi, tu n'as pas besoin de lui. The boss needs you, you don't need him.
Travailleur: Tu as 25 ans mais ton syndicat est de l'autre siècle. Worker: You are 25, but your union is from the last century.
Veuillez laisser le Parti communiste aussi net en en sortant que vous voudriez le trouver en y entrant. Please leave the Communist Party as clean on leaving as you would like to find it on entering.
Je suis marxiste tendance Groucho. I am a Marxist of the Groucho tendency.
Soyez réalistes, demandez l'impossible. Be realistic, ask for the impossible.
On achète ton bonheur. Vole-le. Your happiness is being bought. Steal it.
Sous les pavés, la plage ! Beneath the cobblestones, the beach!
Ni Dieu ni maître ! Neither God nor master!
Comment penser librement à l'ombre d'une chapelle ? How can one think freely in the shadow of a chapel?
Dans une société qui a aboli toute aventure, la seule aventure qui reste est celle d‘abolir la société. In a society that has abolished all adventures, the only adventure left is to abolish society.
SEXE : C‘est bien, a dit Mao, mais pas trop souvent. SEX: It‘s good, says Mao, but not too often.
L‘alcool tue. Prenez du L.S.D. Alcohol kills. Take LSD.
L‘émancipation de l‘homme sera totale ou ne sera pas. The liberation of humanity will be total or it will not be.
La révolution est incroyable parce que vraie. The revolution is incredible because it‘s real.
Je suis venu. J‘ai vu. J‘ai cru. I came. I saw. I believed.
Cours, camarade, le vieux monde est derrière toi ! Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!
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Dates and Principal Events (from Le Monde)



8. January
– the Minister for Youth and Sports is forced by students to leave the inauguration of a swimming pool at Nanterre.

26. January – There are violent exchanges during a demonstration by strikers at Caen.

7. February – An anti-Vietnam committee organizes a counter-demonstration against supporters of US Vietnam policy, resulting in violent exchanges with the police. A pro-North Vietnam demonstration takes place on 13. February.

14. February – Incidents at universities throughout France by students demanding freedom of speech and movement.

22. February – The Minister of Education announces a limited liberalization of access to universities.

19. March – A convention at Amiens attempts to sketch a design for educational reforms.

22. March – At Nanterre University, the administrative tower is occupied by 150 students, who say they are anarchists. Courses are suspended until 1. April.

12. April – The attack on student leader Rudi Dutschke in Germany results in riots there and supporting demonstrations in France.

27. April – Daniel Cohn-Bendit, 23, student leader at the University of Nanterre, is arrested.

2. May – Prime Minister Georges Pompidou leaves for official visits to Iran and Afghanistan. Courses at the faculty of letters are suspended at Nanterre after incidents there.

3. May – Police clear the courtyard at the Sorbonne. Violence in the Quartier Latin results in more than 100 injured and 596 arrested.

4. May – Courses at the Sorbonne are suspended. The UNEF and the Snesup call for unlimited strikes.

5. May – Courts convict 13 demonstrators; give four jail terms.

6. May – Battles in the Quartier Latin: 422 arrests; 345 police and about 600 students are hurt. Students at universities throughout France pledge support.

7. May – At the tomb of the unknown soldier at Etoile: 30,000 students sing the ‘Marseillaise.’

9. May – The Minister of Education forbids the re-opening of the faculties.

10. May – Night of riot in the Quartier Latin: police assault 60 barricades. 367 are hospitalized of which 251 are police; 720 others hurt and 468 arrested. Cars burned were 60 and 188 others were damaged. The Minister of Education says of the protestors, "Ni doctrine, ni foi, ni loi."

11. May – The major unions, the CGT, the CFDT and the FEN, call for a general strike on 13. May. Back in Paris, George Pompidou, announces the re-opening of the Sorbonne, also for the 13. May.

13. May – The general strike puts hundreds of thousands of students and workers in the streets of Paris; the Sorbonne is occupied by students.

14. May – The National Assembly discusses the university crises and the battles of the Quartier Latin. President Charles de Gaulle leaves for Romania. Workers occupy Sud-Aviation in Nantes.

15. May – The theatre de l’Odéon is occupied by 2,500 students and the Renault factory at Cléon is occupied by workers.

16. May – Strikes hit other factories throughout France, plus air transport, the RATP and the SNCF. Newspapers fail to be distributed.

18. May – President de Gaulle arrives back from Romania, 12 hours earlier than expected. Cinema professionals occupy the Cannes Film Festival. Major French directors withdraw their films from competition and the jury resigns, closing the festival.

19. May – At the Elysée palace, President de Gaulle says, "La réforme, oui; la chienlit, non"

20. May – An estimated 10 million workers are on strike; France is practically paralysed.

22. May – A censure motion by opposition leftists falls 11 votes short of a majority in the National Assembly. Union confederations say they are willing the negotiate with the employer’s association and the government. An amnesty for demonstrators is passed by the Assembly. A demonstration is held in Paris to protest the withdrawal of Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s residence permit for France.

24. May – President de Gaulle announces a referendum on radio and television. Overnight rioting in Paris sees 795 arrests, and 456 injured. An attempt to torch the Bourse is made. Other incidents throughout France; a Commissaire de Police is killed in Lyon by a truck. Committees for the Defense of the Republic – CDR – are launched.

25. May – France’s state radio and television – the ORTF – goes on strike: no TV-news at 20:00. Prime Minister Georges Pompidou negotiates with everybody.

27. May – Agreement is reached between the unions, employer’s associations and the government. Minimum wage is to be raised, working hours cut, reduction in the age of retirement, and the right to organize. Workers at Renault and other big firms refuse to return to work. At 17:00, 30,000 students and workers march from Gobelins to the Charléty stadium, where they hold a meeting, which Pierre Mendés-France attends.

28. May – Georges Pompidou accepts the resignation of the Minister of Education.

29. May – President de Gaulle cancels weekly ministerial meeting and arrives at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises at 18:00, after making secret visit to General Massu, who leads French troops stationed in Baden-Wurttemberg. A demonstration called for by the CGT brings out several hundreds of thousands in Paris.

30. May – By radio, President de Gaulle announces the dissolution of the National Assembly and says the elections will take place within the normal timetable. Georges Pompidou remain Prime Minister. An allusion is made that force will be used to maintain order, if necessary. Tens of thousands of government supporters march from Concorde to the Etoile.

31. May – The cabinet is reshuffled and elections are announced for the 23. and 30. June. Exchange controls are re-established and demonstrations of support for the government are held throughout France.

1. June – The Pentecost long weekend is welcomed with the return of fuel to gas stations and truly huge taffic jams throughout Paris and France. The minimum wage is raised to three francs an hour.

On Tuesday, after the weekend, most of the strikes were gradually abandoned and workers returned to their jobs. Clemency was accorded to OAS members and Georges Bidault returned to France while Raoul Salan was released from prison. On TV, President de Gaulle said that he had considered retiring on 29. May.

10. June - Election campaign starts, and there were still some violent incidents, especially on 11. June when 400 were hurt, 1500 arrested and a demonstrator was shot and killed at Montbéliard. The next day, demonstrations were forbidden in France. The day after, students were evicted from the Odéon and two days later, from the Sorbonne.

In the first round of the elections, the federation of leftist parties and the communists lost ground. In the second round a week later, the parties of the right won an overwhelming majority. Leftist groups lost 61 seats and the communists lost 39. Pierre Mendés-France was not re-elected in Grenoble.

10. July - Georges Pompidou resigned and Maurice Couve de Murville became Prime Minister; saying that it would take until the end of the year to begin the ‘grands réformes.’

At state-run radio and TV – the ORTF – 102 journalists were fired for activities during the ‘events.’ A basket of austerity measures were adopted by the National Assembly on 28. November. Police controlling student ID cards at Nanterre and the Sorbonne were not appreciated in mid-December, and the police were withdrawn on the 19th.

April of 1969. An extraordinary referendum is held. President de Gaulle asked voters to decide whether he was to continue as President of France. On 27. April, 10,901,753 voted ‘oui,’ and 12,007,102 voted ‘non.’

16. June 1969. Georges Pompidou elected president.