‘1968’ and the politics of memory

Journal: 
Issue: 
Autumn 2018
Author(s): 
10.3898/SOUN.70.01.2018

1960s counterculture offered a fleeting glimpse of an alternative form of civil society, and the spirit of ’68 continues to inspire the quest for a more open, participatory and democratic society. Some see it as having prepared the way for neoliberal consumerism and individualism, others regard it as the great disseminator of popular and anti-authoritarian politics. This partly reflects the tensions between the left’s authoritarian and libertarian tendencies. But when we revisit momentous events we should not be looking for evidence that bolsters our own position. Instead we should be trying to capture their singularity, their divergence from the historical context in which they were embedded - in an effort to restore their potential for reconfiguring the present.