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May 1968 French uprisings

Tariq Ali


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A storm swept the world in 1968. It started in Vietnam, then blew across Asia, crossing the sea and the mountains to Europe and beyond. A brutal war waged by the US against a poor Southeast Asian country was seen every night on television. The cumulative impact of watching the bombs drop, villages on fire, and a country being doused with napalm and Agent Orange triggered a wave of global revolts not seen on such a scale before or since. If the Vietnamese were defeating the world's most powerful state, surely the people, too, could defeat their own rulers – that was the dominant mood among the more radical of the 60s generation. In February 1968, the Vietnamese communists launched the famous Tet offensive, attacking US troops in every major South Vietnamese city. The grand finale was the sight of Vietnamese guerillas occupying the US embassy in Saigon (Hô Chi Minh City) and raising their flag from its roof. It was undoubtedly a suicide mission, but incredibly courageous. The impact was immediate. For the first time a majority of US citizens realized that the war was unwinnable. The poorer among them brought Vietnam home that same summer in a revolt against poverty and discrimination as black ghettoes exploded in every major US city, with returned black GIs playing a prominent role in the upheaval. The single spark set the world alight. In March 1968, students at Nanterre University ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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