Mitchell Abidor is a Brooklyn-based translator and the author of May Made Me: An Oral History of the 1968 Uprising in France (2018). (April 2018)

NYR DAILY

1968: When the Communist Party Stopped a French Revolution

A young Parisian photographing the barricades still in place the morning after riots in May 1968

Once it lost the Communist Party (PCF) as the mediating force to represent its grievances, the French working class fulfilled Herbert Marcuse’s 1972 warning that “The immediate expression of the opinion and will of the workers, farmers, neighbors—in brief, the people—is not, per se, progressive and a force of social change: it may be the opposite.” The PCF understood this latent conservatism in the working class of 1968. Not so the New Left student movement. In the end, it had only ouvriérisme sans ouvriers.