1968 Vice Versa
France has once again become the center of attention. First of all, the European Constitution was snowed under by the French people, then immigrant youngsters were rioting in the suburbs, now the students of Sorbonne, who are way more well-off, have sparked a rebellion, altogether inviting the afore-mentioned youngsters from the suburbs, which were referred to by our press solely as Islamic extremists and menace to the entire European civilization.
Our journalists have nothing to offer but trivial repeating references to the 1968 events. And this is not the simplicity and ignorance of our political commentators that strikes most, but the common logic which presupposes the absolute vanity of tracing the current situation until a conflict emerges out of nowhere, and whether you like it or not you've got to make comments on it. It doesn't matter what's actually happening, our commentators are too short of time to look into the matter. Pick a hint, take evidence, lying on the surface and expose it. We had "Islamism" some months ago, now "1968 is back". It seems that political events have to inevitably repeat just like seasons of the yearâ€¦
The only comfort, though, is to think that the Western press' coverage on the Ukraine events was as skin-deep as was ours on France. And if anything is to happen in Russia, French comments would be as shallow and ridiculous as those we are having now in our press.
Still, this is France right now which is undergoing crisis at the moment. Why now and why of this kind?
The measures, taken by the French government are not unique, to begin with. The similar policy is pursued by the majority of European governments. For example, the law which sparked such vehement protest on part of the French studentship, is now being discussed by liberal parties in Sweden (in the electoral campaign there the rights of the youth are becoming the most burning issue). In postmodern Orwellian Newspeak they call it "employment opportunities for young people".
Well, neoliberal policy indeed stimulates creation of new jobs by employing market measures, expanding freedom for entrepreneurship, thus automatically diminishing the social security of the employees. The assumption is, that having acquired more freedom; the bourgeoisie will actively hire new employees. In reality, as known, these measures result in closing good jobs and offering numerous bad ones, with low salaries and no security. In the long-run, it is not even about the youth under 26, deprived by law of the social security while applying for a job. This law is another example of the neoliberal policy on the whole, which has long been rejected by the majority of population.
Here comes the trouble: while the society has agreed upon the unanimous rejection of the neoliberal course, the political class has become a habitat for the liberal consensus. The measures supported by all influential and "serious" political parties, are exactly those rejected by the great majority of population. And vice versa, the policy, which all population stands out for, is the one rejected by political parties and even mediocre political leaders. Responsibility in politics today presupposes sheer negligence of the electorate's interests and aspirations. Democracy, as an essential condition for its own proper functioning, needs to fully exclude people from the decision-making process.
All the afore-mentioned creates the situation in which the population is left at nothing but organizing riots to display their attitude to the policy pursued. The referendum on the European Constitution was also a form of a riot but in an electoral way. The defeat at the ballot-boxes had taught Western political elites a lesson: they will no more call serious issues for a vote.
Now back to the ridden to death comparison between the current events in Paris and those of 1968. What strikes first, is their obvious contradiction. The students, rioting in 1968, were more radical but also more isolated from the majority of the population. Today they are just a part of the wide social movement, and not even its most radical sector.
In 1968 the left forces were stronger and more influential, but they did not represent the views of the majority. Being given the chance to have a say, the philistine French "silent majority" of 1968 voted for Gaullists. Now the Left as an organized force in "serious politics" in France simply doesn't exist. The Socialist party only carries its name, while its political stance is way more right than the Gaullists'. The Communists are weak, broken into rivaling groupings, and disoriented. The society, however, has become more left than it was in the 1960s.
The political life of the 1960s with its rift on right and left (with dominating right wing) more or less precisely reflected the moods and positions in the society itself. Now the politics is a sort of lining, the mirror image of the social moods. Back then, the political struggle reflected the contradictions of the society, now we see the flagrant contradiction between politics and life.
The conflicts of the kind are a natural consequence of a certain political or socio-economic reality, which is called the European Union. Or, to put it more precisely, the main point of the EU as an institute consists in abolishing democracy in the sense stupid Europeans have got used to in the last hundred years. It is not surprising that insulted population, being forcibly excluded from the political process, is trying to resist this injustice. The riots of today are just a preface to the serious conflicts which are inevitable to break out in many democratic states. Being at the top of this list, France once more has presented itself, according to Marx, a "classical state" of political struggle.