There’s a soixante-huitard feel to these Occupy protests


At a café on the Bowery the other day I listened to two guys who run media strategy for Occupy Wall Street and was A) impressed by their emphasis on the ‘non-hierarchical nature’ of the movement and the importance of maintaining a ‘distributed network’ model for media creation that could react at any hour and would be hard to shut down and B) astonished by how indiscreet they were to be talking about their plans so openly.  But this mix of sophistication and naivete, distrust of the Man and sweet idealism, reminded me of something but I just couldn’t think of what.

Then I happened on these posters from Paris in ’68 and thought, that’s it, Occupy Wall Street is the soixante-huitard rebellion of our day: fed up young people looking for paving stones to hurl at a system that seems to bend only to power.  And, save for language, these posters could be pasted up in Zuccotti Park and be right on target.  Which Occupier does not feel (as above) that “Working today is like working with a gun in your back”?  Or — even more to the point, as in the poster below which plays on verb conjugation exercises — “We contribute, they profit.”


Update: The New York Times keeps coming up with innovative ways to graph reader engagement.  I’ve written before regarding this matrix about the asinine debt-ceiling standoff or this one mapping where readers were on 11 September 2001 and now they have posted a matrix (you can see it here) displaying comments about the Occupy movement.  At this moment, only 155 readers have submitted comments and they almost all cluster in the upper-right quadrant of strong support for both Occupy’s goals and methods.  But who, I wondered, could these five people be who placed themselves in the upper-left; that is, strongly disagreeing with Occupy’s goals while strongly agreeing with its methods?  One of them, joedy11231 from Montreal, calls them “free-loaders looking for a common place to whine about how they don’t fit into normal society, mainly by choice if you ask me, they need jobs.” David of Virginia says they are “selfish loafers, leftists, and losers who want to live on the public dime.”  With support like this, who needs enemies?  But, in fact, either joedy11231 et al aren’t that bright or the Times has a tech glitch because David of Virginia prefaced his comments by making clear “I disagree with both the goals and the methods of the protesters.”

But to go back to Paris, it is easy to forget now that the soixante-huitards have taken up their positions in the media and mythologized their youthful rebellion that there were plenty of French people in 1968 who thought these were just spoiled university students out to make trouble.



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