Listen @ http://4zzz.org.au/program/paradigm-shift/2018-06-01
Andy explores the summer of revolutions that occured 50 years ago in 1968 with historian Andrew Bonnell. We especially focus on the Paris Uprising and the Prague Spring, with some classic songs from the struggles of the time too.
Andy speaks with Associated Professor Andrew Bonnell from UQ about 1968.
Four factors led to revolt – generational conflict and high growth rate, expansion in higher education, old structures not working well, movements for de-colonisation from the East and South Algeria and Vietnam.
May 1968 in Paris
Started at Nanterre Uni in France – students, communists, situationists, anarchists, left libertarians, etc. Authoritarian response led to escalation. Became a broader struggle with working class involved … led to a general strike. Gneral De Gaulle had been in power for 10 years … Algeria disengagement had occurred. Mainstream Communist led trade unions were not keen but rank and file activists led to a strike in the Renault factory and then that spread.
Came close to the first post-industrial revolution. De Gaulle faced a General’s revolt after the Algerian crisis and flew to Baden Baden to seek support of the army against striking workers. Socialist Party offers to mediate. De Gaulle hands over the Pompidou. The Socialist Party under Francoise Mitterrand does not come to power until 1981. Revolutionary movement passes. The Left splinters. De Gaulle’s party wins the election.
Prague Spring 1968
Socialism with a human face put down in Czechoslovakia. Shock to the world communist movement. Australian Communist party (CPA) breaks with Moscow. Split within the Australian CPA.
Also discussed – Chicago and Brazil
Rolling Stones Street fighting man
Léo Ferré L’Été 68
Plastic People Of The Universe Toxica
Jefferson Airplane VolunteersCaetano Veloso Tropicalia
Excellent critique by Andy of the social ‘revolutionaries’ in the rock music scene … Beatles, Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane.
There was student resistance during the 1967 revolt in Brisbane that predated Paris by a year, perhaps influenced by events Berkley in California that was alluded to by Andrew Bonnell (perhaps the revolt was even influenced by earlier events in the Red North in Qld. There were workers struggles in the 1940s and 50s with leaders like Fred Paterson being struck down by a police baton in the 1948 Qld Railway Strike – the only Communist ever elected to parliament in Australia). There was a revolt in Mt Isa led by an anarchist Pat Mackie. The town was ringed by police and the mines brought to a standstill for weeks.
Here’s wonderful silent footage of the Civil Liberties march of 1967 where 126 students were arrested in Roma Street. This Vérité film footage (no sound) shows approximately 4000 protestors marching from the University of Queensland’s St. Lucia campus to central Brisbane on 8 September, 1967. When blocked by police, the marchers staged a mass sit-down in Roma Street.
According to the review by Radical Times Historical Archive: “The 1967 Civil Liberties March was a turning point in student and State politics, subsequently leading to mass protests against the Vietnam War and the success of the emerging student movement in the decade to follow.”
This was “the only major protest of that era anywhere in Australia, where the issue was specifically about civil liberties, free speech, and the democratic ‘right to protest’ itself”.
“Taking to the streets in Brisbane to express your opinion in the 1960’s and 1970’s was not for the faint-hearted. In that era, political dissent was a serious business. A deeply conservative State Government, under Queensland Premiers Frank Nicklin and later Joh Bjelke-Petersen, was determined to show protestors “who was boss”. Marchers could be targeted, bashed by police, arrested, strip-searched, and spend at least one, and sometimes several days in the police “watch house” before release. The police Special Branch would spy on anyone considered a threat, photographing them, burglarizing their homes, and compiling secret dossiers to use against them.”
There was also Aboriginal resistance in the 1960s e.g. a strike by aboriginal stockmen at Wave Hill N.T. in 1966 and in Qld with aboriginal rebels rounded up from missions throughout Queensland and deported to Palm Island in North Queensland.
No comment on the role of women in the Left during the ’68 revolt in Paris, Prague, Berlin and Chicago.