Youth Uprising 2011
By Andrew McKillop
A Planetary 1968
THEN AND NOW
Today’s surging youth-led revolution in the Arab world has common points with the 1968 student’s revolt that rocked developed countries including the USA, France and several other European countries, with lasting sequels – of student and youth unrest – in Latin America, the then-USSR, Japan, developed countries in East and SE Asia, and even Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. But the shared themes and common goals tend to stop there: today’s youth revolt has a planetary dimension, already moving out from the Arab world, and changing as it goes. The uprising, today, may be mostly of young persons but the goals and themes of this much more massive, probably world scale revolt are not only political, but also economic. In turn this likely makes them even more “impossible” than the euphoric hippy-oriented peace and love, anti-war, drug influenced alternate society dreams of the 1968 revolt in the rich world, that carefully ignored such boring old style things as the economy.
A key slogan of the French 1968 student revolt summed this up: Be reasonable – Demand the impossible.
By an interesting timewarp, Mouammar Gaddafi’s rise to power was under way in 1968 and was completed in 1969. This part-educated self-declared tribal ruler, himself drug influenced, at first claimed to be reproducing the power grab of his supposed mentor, Nasser’s mid-rank army revolt in Egypt, and both of these models served elsewhere in Africa, for example in the bloody coup that gave sergeant Mobutu Sese Soko decades of corrupt power in the Congo. This he promptly renamed Zaire, like Gaddafi renamed Libya as the Arab Jamahiriya, but for any average citizen of these 3 countries little or nothing changed for the better and almost everything changed for the worse.