Thursday, June 19, 2008

1968 in 2088

A research group of 13 European historians based at Oxford University is undergoing a 3 year project called, Around 1968: Activism, Networks, Trajectories. It will focus on activist networks in 14 countries-which include Spain, USSR, Greece, Iceland- creating a database of activists and indepth interviews. Some questions they wish to address are: Why forgo one's family and become collectively active? What did they want? What did it mean to them at the time and now?

In an essay of 1928 Karl Mannheim argued that a generation was defined not by
age but by a reaction in a similar conscious way to the same political events.

The activists involved were born either in between the war years, during WW2, or right after the war and thus, being directly affected by fascism. They seem to be either inspired by the war time activism of their parents or wanted to right the wrong of fascist support or inaction.

'68 for the most part was different because it did not overthrow governments and install new leftist groups; this one was more of a lifestyle revolution in which the predominant view was "To change oneself is to also change the world." Some argue that is why '68 was so fragmented and lacked the strength to eventually overthrow any political powers. In Northern and Western Europe lifestyle change prevailed but in less democratic Southern, Eastern Europe, and South America is was more of a political campaign. The negative side of '68 will also be a prime focus; all the people who were jailed, divorced, committed suicide, lost their jobs-the 'un-rose'
colored side of life.

I think the 60's are fascinating because this is Gen X's legacy. This is what we have to either live up to or rebel against...both of which I can't seem to picture in this day and age. In my mind 'to live up to' looks like bleeding heart liberals and to 'rebel' looks like the squeaky clean image of Kids Incorporated (color inside those lines my friend). The apathy that seems to follow Gen X around can be understood through the history of the 60's. Though I'm not sure what I think it means yet, but I'm pondering over it all.

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