This year is the 50th anniversary of “the year of revolutions” – 1968.
One of the things that marked 1968 was that massive revolutionary upsurges took place in the Third, Second and First Worlds.
The Tet Offensive in (Third World) Vietnam, which began at the end of January, shook US imperialism to the core and made it clear that the western imperialists, including NZ, could never win in their massive armed intervention there.
In May-June the students and workers of (First World) France shook the French ruling class to their core, with the biggest general strike in history (in terms of percentage of the population involved), along with workplace and university occupations.
In (Second World) Czechoslovakia, the masses demanded socialist democracy against the privileged elite running the country and pretending to be communists. It took the tanks of the Soviet Union and its minion states to crush the ‘Prague Spring’.
In Yugoslavia there were significant student protests against the privileges of the bureaucracy – the “red bourgeoisie” – and the concept of the Red University was born.
All over the world – from the examples above to the civil rights movement in the north-east of Ireland to the most significant trade union action in NZ since the defeat of 1951 to guerrilla movements in Latin America to the strike by women workers at Fords Dagenham in Britain for equal pay – massive numbers of people, especially young people, were in motion.
In the United States, a poll taken by Time magazine showed that among young people the Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara was more popular than any of the candidates in that year’s presidential election.
At the Olympics, two black American athletes on the podium gave Black Power clenched fist salutes, and were supported by the white Australian athlete who shared the platform with them.
For some examples of the radicalism of 1968, see the following:
This article on Vietnam includes the Tet Offensive and this one is about the My Lai massacre and the horrendous nature of the imperialist war on Vietnam
This article covers the strike by women workers at Ford Dagenham
This is an appreciation of Che Guevara
This article covers the momentous ‘evenements’ in France in May-June
This article looks at NZ at that time
This article deals specifically with the protest over the nil wage order at parliament in Wellington in June 1968
The start of this interview contains material on the civil rights movement in Ireland in 1968
Future articles will look at the upsurges in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, as well as more parts of the world, in 1968.