I observed the events of May 1968 from my council estate in Rochdale. They seemed to have no relevance to us. We saw on our television screens self-indulgent children of the bourgeoisie calling for the overthrow of the system... Public schoolboys, with glittering careers awaiting in finance, the media and the law, occupied buildings and pontificated about revolution. It was hard to treat it seriously, as anything other than some live street version of Footlights.
40 years later you can still see the same thing. You can’t help but wonder why – in the face of complete indifference from the class they claim to want to liberate – comfortably-off young peeps continue to get involved in ‘revolutionary’ politics. It can’t be any kind of rational response to the society they see, which is wealthier than it has ever been and within which a revolution would appeal to very few. Maybe it is, like Ormerod suggests, simply a bit of play-acting, albeit one the participants don’t even realize (yet) they are indulging in.
Anyway, coming at 1968 from the shamelessly 'it was a brilliant laugh' perspective is none other than Denis MacShane:
Before 1968 all was grey, conservative, male and old. After 1968, it got a lot better. I was 20 in 1968, and I cannot think of a better year in the last 200 to have been 20 in. The 1968 generation gave up economics for sociology. Capitalism won as most 1968ers morphed into Richard Bransons with greater or lesser success, and 1968 produced no enduring reformist politics. But to be young in 1968 was very heaven, and today’s Blimpish attacks prove just what a great moment in history it was.
He must have read Roger Scruton’s piece just before he wrote the line about ‘Blimpish attacks’, since Scruton sounds like the sort of bloke who turns up to a party and can’t understand why people are enjoying themselves.
Meanwhile 1968 also got a mention in the FT yesterday. I am sure the Jonathan Guthrie is far too young to remember 1968, but he sounds like he ingested some similar substances to the 68ers, how else do we explain his missing decade:
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the anti-establishment rioting of 1968.
Don’t they say if you can remember the 60s you weren’t there?