1968

The spirit of 68: Chris Harman at the LSE

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Wenda Clenaghen was a student at the LSE during the radical period of 1968. Here she recalls the involvement of the young Chris Harman in events, from the anti-war movement to the streets of Paris.

Chris was a familiar figure, along with Richard Kuper, Steve Jefferys and David Adelstein, on the London School of Economics Old Theatre stage. He was the most shambolic of the four. With wild curly black hair and a strange stuttering style of speaking, that often matched his movements, he was convincing to the uninitiated of which I was one.

His speeches had a combination of intellectual depth, a call to action and sincerity. The International Socialists’ (IS) slogan of “Neither Washington nor Moscow” was particularly attractive.

1968: a year that's still burning

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Fifty years ago students and workers took to the streets of Paris. Chris Harman was both a participant in the events and analysed the movement that nearly turned the world upside down. Here we print extracts from his classic book about the period, The Fire Last Time: 1968 and After, which has been reissued for the anniversary.

Every so often there is a year which casts a spell on a generation. Afterwards simply to mention it brings innumerable images to the minds of many people who lived through it—1968 was such a year.

There are millions of people throughout the world who still feel their lives were changed decisively by what happened in those 12 months. And they are not, as the media presentation today would suggest, just those who were students or hippies.

The subversive movies of May ’68

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Fifty years ago this month the world was convulsed by the astonishing “evenements” that exploded on the streets of Paris in May 1968. What started as a student protest detonated the biggest general strike in history.

To commemorate the epic events there is a series of interesting screenings, exhibitions and talks planned throughout May organised by the Institut Francais and the British Film Institute. Inevitably these are mainly in London, but the BFI is touring to other cities with at least some of these movies.

The Fire Last Time

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Chris Harman, Bookmarks, £5 (special price)

Of all the articles, features, memoirs and books devoted to 1968, The Fire Last Time: 1968 and After, by Chris Harman, the editor of International Socialism journal, is still, by some distance, the best. Its merits are easy to summarise.

First, it is not written in a spirit of nostalgia. I have no problem understanding why people are nostalgic about 1968 - indeed it is much better than being nostalgic about the World Cup or Harold Wilson and Old Labour - but nostalgia is a poor basis for history or analysis.

1968: The Year the World Caught Fire

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The events of 1968 inspired a generation and shaped struggles around the world for years to come. Chris Harman, a student activist at the time, looks back at this tumultuous year

Occasionally one year can cast a spell over the decades that follow. 1968 was such a year. Supporters of capitalism still bemoan its impact 40 years on. Nicolas Sarkozy on the eve of his election declared he aimed to eradicate the "harm" that it had done. Before him it had been Tony Blair who blamed "the 1960s" for what he sees as the ills of society today.

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