“The French are bored,” Le Monde, France’s leading newspapers, proclaimed in March 1968. The French were bored, according to Le Monde, because they had not lent their participation in the protests that had engulfed the rest of the world. Bored because their youth had provided them with a faulty moral compass, which absolved them of their civic duties unlike their counterparts in Spain or Italy. Bored further because they had deserted those worldly principles that were inspiring youth protests across seas in Japan and the United States.
Six weeks after the reprimanding, students occupied Sorbonne University in Paris and ignited massive and transformative protests throughout the country. The May 1968 protests, referred to simply as Mai 68, spread to French universities, and eventually, millions of labor workers. The French economy was paralyzed.
Out of the revolution came a foundation for the impending sexual revolution and women’s movement in France. Workers, too, shared in the success of the protests in the form of better working conditions and higher wages.
“The feeling we had in those days, which has shaped my entire life really, was: We’re making history. An exalted feeling - suddenly we became agents in world history,” wrote Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a student leader during the unrest, in The New York Review of Books on Mai 68’s 50th anniversary.
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