by liberal japonicus
I was one of the authors of the Port Huron Statement - the original Port Huron Statement, not the compromised second draft. And then I, uh - ever hear of the Seattle Seven? That was me... and there were six other guys.
The Dude, Big Lebowski
In January of 1968, the reform movement known as Prague Spring began, which was initially/fundamentally President Alexander Dubček's program of economic decentralization and relief from censorship. The movement led to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the USSR and Warsaw Pact allies 8 months later.
In March of 1968, Edson Luís de Lima Souto was killed by Brazilian Military Police during a student protest about the high price of meals at a student restaurant. This incident led to a number of protests in Rio de Janeiro and resulted in the enactment of Ato Institucional Número Cinco (Institutional Order 5), which closed the National Congress for a year, made political gatherings illegal and suspended habeus corpus for crimes that were politically motivated
In March of 1968, students occupied the administration building at the University of Paris in Nanterre. In the previous decade, the student population of the university had tripled, with little extra funding to support the university. The students occupying the admin building, issued a manifesto that called for "Outright rejection of the Capitalist Technocratic University". After the manifesto was distributed, the students left. 2 months later, on May 2nd, the French government closed down the university. Students at the Sorbonne organized a protest the following day and police entered the university. Protesting that hitherto unprecedented police invasion of a French university, the UNÉF (Union Nationale des Étudiants de France) and the union of university teachers marched thru Paris on May 6th. 20,000 protesters were sealed off by police, barricades were erected, and hundreds of students were arrested, with a confrontation between police and students in the Latin Quarter yielding many of the iconic images of that event. High school student unions also organized protests, and on May 7th, a large demonstration took place at the Arc de Triomphe focused on three demands: That all charges against the students be dropped, that police leave Nanterre and the Sorbonne and that both those universities, which had been closed, be reopened. The French government was not too concerned with these protests, there were industrial labor actions the previous year and continuing industrial action at Renault. On May 13th, the participating unions issue a call for a general strike. This is picked up in the press, and the call was published on the front page of L'Humanité. The action was held on May 15th. link and link
In June of 1968, students at Tokyo University boycotted all classes. This action was led by medical students whose initial grievance was the service they were required to do upon completing their degrees. The boycott led to other actions at university across Japan. While a huge range of sweeping changes were enacted, a sit in at Yasuda Hall, continued until January 1969, when 8,000 riot police evicted the protesters. Protests occurred at approximately one-third of all the universities in Japan, all with various local origins pdf link
In October 1968, a large riot over the banning of a university lecturer active in the Black Power movement, Walter Rodney, occurred in Kingston, Jamaica. link
On Oct 2nd, 1968, October 2, a student demonstration in Mexico City resulted in the police and paramilitary forces killing over 100 people, in what is now known as Tlatelolco massacre link
In October, 1969, the party of Korean president Park Chung-hee forced through a constitutional amendment that permitted him to seek a 3rd term over the objections of the minority party. Park declared a state of national emergency in 1971, martial law in 1972 and Korea was riven by protests and riots for the next 10 years until the assassination of Park by the head of the director of the Korean CIA.
In addition, there are a number of other incidents and historical points that I think are related, but may occur outside this 1968-69 period. The Cultural Revolution began in China in 1966, and by 1968, the Red Guards were virtually in charge of the country.
In Thailand in October 1973, 400,000 students and residents of Bangkok protested and were suppressed by the military. The student organization that was one of the main organizers, the NSC of Thailand, was formed after a bus fare hike in 1969 led to a protest. (link)
In the Phillipines, January 1970 marked the event known as the First Quarter Storm, where 50,000 demonstrators stormed the Presidential Palace.
I've purposely left out the 1968 events in the US (MLK assassination, Chicago, etc) and in some places in Europe because there is a tendency for USAians to view those events thru the lens of civil rights and Vietnam (I dare say we have a number of people who were at those protests here, and I'm not trying to denigrate or minimize what was done). I don't think that is wrong so much as I think looking at the period of time as a worldwide phenomenon, you get a different picture. More about that picture is below the fold. (if I did the extended entry code correctly.)
All of this is to try and suggest that there is a synchronicity to what is happening in Egypt, Wisconsin, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain. At the moment, we have basically six data points if you are feeling generous, and two if we take the middle eastern countries as one. But maybe there are others, like this from last fall or maybe this in the coming months
Bob McManus pointed out in this comment that one link between Egypt and Wisconsin, but again, that's one datapoint, so seizing on that serves to convince those who see some deeper current, while simultaneously convincing those who demand hard evidence that those folks are cherry-picking. One of the math whizzes here could calculate the random probablity that in a 10,000 person demonstration in Wisconsin and a 10,000 person demonstration in Tahir square that there is a first degree connection. Or a second degree or third. Or we could hire HBGary to scrape friendbook friend lists. :^)
In our demand to have cites and cold hard evidence, we tend to dismiss notions of relatedness that can't be poked, prodded and otherwise checked out. That wonderful German word, Zeitgeist, is not something friends let other friends blog about, unless they want to do a Tom Freidman parody. But I do think, in our rush to robustly challenge these sorts of claims, we may go too far in the other direction. I'm still not sure if these things are related, and I don't think we will know until a sufficient time has passed. And it also ignores the possibility that looking into this, and writing about it, is going to serve to create those links, especially when a local blog post can be picked up on the other side of the world, and anyone with a credit card can donate to support the Wisconsin 14 or order a pizza for the protesters.
This, via Harry Brighouse at Crooked Timber, is worth noting, as are the comments.
The comments from the Crooked Timber post talk about whether Moore or others are using this to broaden the issue beyond collective bargaining and educational questions or whether Moore's role (as well as others) are as cheerleaders. I'm certainly not sure, and I'm a bit revolutioned out, now trying to figure out what is going on in Libya. Here's Bernard-Henri Lévy, looking fashionable and chic in the midst of it all.
And I'm sure that my blog sempai, Von, might have a few words that start with 'class warfare' and I'm not trying to throw down a gauntlet here. But I do wonder. How about y'all?