Now we saw how small the world had shrunk. Diplomatic pouches used to be the bearers of international messages; by 1968, instruction in the form of pictures bounced alive from continent to continent off satellites riding the upper skies. In this year, students, turning away from their professors, learned instant TV lessons from each other.
In March, French Trotskyite and Maoist students at Nanterre, a branch of the Sorbonne, under the leadership of 23-year-old Daniel (Danny the Red) Cohn-Bendit, having evidently picked up their idea from black sit-ins in the U.S., had briefly sat down in a faculty common room. In late April, Columbia's SDS had picked up the French idea and added the touch of barricaded doors. Now in early May, Cohn-Bendit and his cohorts, obviously having watched the doings on Morningside Heights, first occupied buildings of the Sorbonne and then barricaded streets of the Latin Quarter.
Soon, astonishingly, all France was in turmoil. Industrial strikes broke out; workers occupied factories. For a time De Gaulle seemed to vacillate; he flew like an auk from one mussed nest to another. Then suddenly he was himself - pure gall, or Gaul - and he told his people they were an infallible beacon for the world and they should shape up. They did, and voted him powers he already had, by a landslide.
For the rest of the year, the satellites bonged with the bouncing back and forth of student revolts, riots, head - crackings - terrible scense of yearning, idealism, poverty, courage, vanity, folly, sadism, and blood. The year produced a veritable gazetteer of violence: Belgium, Britain, Brazil, Czecho-Slovakia, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Spain, West Germany.
The television lesson, particularly of France, for some American SDSers - it proved, in 1969, to be the undoing of the New Left - was that there should be an alliance of workers and students. This would be the way to revolution. The Progressive Labor faction of SDS cut its hair and put on laundered work shirts and got jobs and learned, in the end, that American workers despised them and laughed at them. By then, the era of Nixon was on us.
Montreal Canadiens win their 15th Stanley Cup . . . Resurrection City, a camp of plywood huts by the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool in Washington, inhabited by 2,600 of Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign, is dedicated; then come the rains . . . Czech Premier Oldrich Cernik promises a new constitution, and free speech and assembly