Editor’s Note

Field Notes

It has been fifty years since the events of May and June 1968 in France. During this half century, dominated by the “end of communism,” “neoliberalism,” and “globalization,” “May ’68” has faded into a folkloric reference, remembered largely for the barricades in the Latin Quarter and the Situationist slogans that enlivened the walls of Paris.

May-June 1968:
What Happened

Field Notes

After a year, 1967, marked by strong labor conflicts in big factories all over France, the month of May 1968 opened with intense student unrest in Paris and provincial universities: demonstrations, occupations of university buildings, and confrontations with the police.

Document 1:
WHY SOCIOLOGISTS?

Field Notes

The transition from academic sociology, a vassal of philosophy, to an independent sociology with scientific pretentions, corresponds to the passage of competitive capitalism to organized capitalism.

Document 2:
A FLASH FIRE OR THE BEGINNING OF A CONFLAGRATION?

Field Notes

On Monday, May 6, 1968, a demonstration against police repression in Paris that began with 6,000 participants grew by evening to 20,000. Violent clashes with the police took place at the barricades erected on Boulevard St. Germain and Place Maubert.

Document 3:
POWER TO THE WORKERS COUNCILS

Field Notes

In the space of ten days, not only have workers occupied hundreds of factories and a spontaneous general strike has totally shut down the country, but de facto committees have occupied and taken over the management of various government buildings.

Document 4:
DEFEND OUR STRIKE

Field Notes

After two weeks of total strike with countrywide factory occupations, the State and the corporate powers have totally refused the demands of ten million workers.

Document 5:
UNIONS AND WORKERS

Field Notes

The May movement permitted many to discover what a restraining force the trade unions represent. For, if spontaneity sufficed to lift the movement to great heights, it was not enough to keep it there, especially since the fight took on a sharp character only in exceptional cases.

Class Struggle at the Folies Bergères

Field Notes

Charly has a head like Bakunin’s. He comes from La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland and, after a rocky career in construction work in the French provinces, has ended up in Paris.

May Days: What It Was Like

Field Notes

On May 12th, we found ourselves in an amphitheater of the University of Paris at Censier.

INCONVERSATION

May ’68 was the beginning of something: LAURE BATTIER and CATHERINE MAYEN
with Charles Reeve

Field Notes

The story of May ’68 is usually a story told about students, above all, about their political and intellectual leaders in Paris. But sometimes we remember that ten million workers went on strike across France.

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MAY 2018

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