Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Aux barricades!

The current amusements in France are a very good indication of how the French get radicalism right, and how American radicals manage to make a joke of the whole thing.

I have to borrow part of this reminiscence from my spouse. The spring of 1968 was a particularly ripe period for radicalism, everywhere in general but France in particular. My yet-to-be wife was completing her junior year at a French university. Then the strikes began. Those in France hadn't the least idea how they were going to get home. Their loved ones in the US hadn't the least idea what was going on because, apart from news reports (as fucked up then as now), there was no way of knowing what was happening to a particular individual in a particular place in France. I shared angst-ridden moments with a guy who was the other of another member of our college's Junior year in France crew, but it never really occurred to us to wish away the protests.

After nearly a month of uncertainty, we (the loved ones) heard from from our several parties, saying that they were en route home. A quorum had contrived to rent a Citroen 2CV. Having made separate arrangements for the bulk of their luggage, they poured into this tiny vehicle like something between a fraternity stunt and a clown car, and made their way to Switzerland. I have forgotten whether they talked their way across the border, or whether the border guards were also on strike. At any rate they made it to Geneva with the deau chevaux, and the passengers, still alive, and made airline arrangements to get home.

Another portion of the year-in-France class, using similar transport, made their way to Genoa to take ship for home. Regrettably, they wound up on something very like a tramp steamer, and spent nearly a month returning to the US once they had left France.

Now that, pilgrims, is radicalism that makes an impact. It appears that the rising generation of French radicals have something nearly as good working. It's horribly funny to listen to American correspondents covering this. They come as close as they can to saying that most of France, whether they support pension reform or not, are enjoying the show. They can't say it outright, of course, because American media=global corporate culture. The BBC and other overseas news outlets have their fingers much closer to the pulse.

If the shit hits the fan in November, consider France as a template for subsequent actions.

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