[Marxism] Under the paving stones lies the story.French Protests Recall 1968

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Mar 28 10:26:03 MST 2006

(While the dominant corporate media emphasizes the differences,
Granma emphasizes the similarities between 1968 and today. 
Don't miss the photographs.)

March 28, 2006

French Protests Recall 1968
Under the paving stones lies the story

ANDREA D´ATRI Panorama Internacional

Three days after taking over La Sorbonne University, the students
were forcefully removed in a police operation in which there were
people injured and arrested. The 40 students who had begun the
occupation of this emblematic university were surrounded early in the
evening by the gendarmerie and police, blocking the exit or entry of
more students wanting to join the protest. Nonetheless, hundreds
remained on the outside of the university, evading the police line to
get food to those occupying the building. Finally, on the third day,
they managed to defeat the police line and more than 500 entered the

Scenes of Paris in May 1968.

All this took place while the rest of the students remained on the
perimeter setting up barricades on adjacent streets where more than
10 police trucks were stationed and riot police deployed.

Right in front of my eyes, a BMW blocked Rue Cujas, one of the side
streets, to strengthen the barricade. Hours later the repression
began. Those occupying the building threw desks and other items at
the police. Finally, repression fell on them and they were removed.

The following morning, in Place de la Sorbonne on Boulevard Saint
Michel, we spoke to one of the young women who spent three days in
the occupation. She told us: "What’s happening in France is big, at
least symbolically. On Tuesday we were a million people in the
streets, protesting against the CPE ("First Job Contract" law). La
Sorbonne was occupied for three days. Of course the number of people
there was less, but at the beginning we were 40 and later we were
 something which, while only symbolic, is very important."

Still nervous from the events but concerned about making herself
understood to an Argentine reporter, she described the movement: "We
tried to get together, there aren’t any leaders, we are not behind
labor or political leaders, which means that everything is harder to
organize. But people want to change things and even if that isn’t
accomplished, at least there is a desire to reflect on how to do it."

Scenes of Paris, March 2006.

This young woman looks quite different from the people who live in
the outlying neighborhoods of Paris, protagonists of the November
2005 unrest, and who burned everything in their paths and made the
front pages of international newspapers. To the contrary, this
student is white, wears nice clothes, goes to one of the best
universities in the world and is probably on her way to becoming one
of the well-known intellectuals of the future generations. What links
this young, "rebellious," middle-class woman with the other
"rebellious" youth of Arab and African immigrants tired of French

"It is easier for us students to protest and so it makes sense that
we should be the first ones to confront the CPE but we hope we won’t
be the last. Others will follow us. The workers will follow us, the
high school students as well, the private and state employees,
everyone! We are making the call; but at the same time, as the first
to protest, we have the responsibility of reflecting before making
decisions. Yes, in the first place, the CPE discriminates against
young people, those under 26, and we students are mostly young. So
it’s to be expected that we protest! We are the first ones affected
by this unjust contract law! The focus is on the CPE, but we are
aware that there are many people with other bigger problems and we
have to think about the system as a whole. Yesterday’s repression is
intolerable. For us it is unacceptable, and for people like me, who
are in this movement, it makes us reflect. We do not accept a France
 or "managed" by gendarmes or police."

The meeting is over. Our young interviewee leaves us; the students
gather on the corners to converse; the journalists find cover from
the rain under the café awnings. For all of us who are more than 38
years old, who are activists of the left, who at one time read about
Daniel Cohn Bendit and who saw the film Grandes Noches, Pequenos
Amaneceres (Great nights, small dawns)
 the ghost of May 1968

At the back of the plaza, on top of a palisade that covers an area of
the Sorbonne under reconstruction, you can read what an anonymous
hand wrote with an aerosol can: "Under the paving stones lies the
beach." The legend is alive.

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