The Spirit of 1968


April 29, 2018 @ 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm
Oscar Grant Plaza amphitheatre
500 14th St
Oakland, CA 94612

The Spirit of 1968

Focusing on France and May of ’68, and the new sense of political being
and presence that characterized people in the U.S. during the next decade

With Steve Martinot
Preceding the Occupy Oakland General Assembly


The 1960s were an exciting time to live through for those who could see what was happening, because they were a time when, all over the world, people were coming together, organizing themselves, and living their lives according to principles – principles of opposition, of democracy, of cooperation, of justice, and of liberation from the colonialisms of former centuries, both in the colonies and in the colonialist countries. 1968 marked a node in this historical development, in which huge events materialized and concretized movements as upsurges that focused on contesting corporate colonialist and militarist power.

We could list the Vietnamese Tet offensive that deconstructed US strategies there, the strike in France that was the largest strike in history, rebellions in black communities across the US in response to the assassination of MLK, the formation of Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and other RUMs throughout the auto industry along with the first massive strike in Lordstown, the student upsurges in the US that seized Columbia Univ., SFSU, NYU, and others to stop the military’s braintrusts and make education relevant, the civil rights movement in Ireland, the Cultural Revolution in China that was at its populist high-point before being organized into a vast sectarian campaign, Prague Spring, the massive uprising in Mexico City during the Olympics (with solidarity from John Carlos and Tommy Smith), and the beginning of that new form of international anti-colonialist solidarity epitomized by groups of USians working in Cuba and later organized as the Venceremos Brigades.

All these events had profound influence on the thinking of the world’s people, leading almost to an inability of the power elites of the corporate world to govern in the old way. Socialist and socializing ideologies became general ways of thinking, the difference between party politics and people’s politics thrust parties aside, and movements teaching people how to establish political and cultural autonomy as a source of real political strength and not of division took hold for the next ten years.

Steve Martinot has been a union and community organizer, lecturer at the Center for Interdisciplinary Programs at SFSU, and written extensively on the structure of racism and white supremacy in the US, as well as on corporate economics and culture.


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