Edited By Ingo Cornils and Sarah Waters
Part 2: Personal Testimonies 179
Part 2 Personal Testimonies Daniel Bensaïd 1968 in France: An Unclassified Affair In 1968, Daniel Bensaïd was a 22-year-old student of philosophy at the Nanterre campus outside Paris and it was here that student protest first erupted before spreading to the Latin Quarter and the Sorbonne in central Paris. Already an activist within the Trotskyist grouping, the JCR (Communist Revolutionary Youth) and a member of the IVth International, Bensaïd was not new to revo- lutionary politics, but he would go on to become one of the leading figures of the French student movement of 1968. On 22 March, Bensaïd was one of a group of 142 students who occupied a room (the Council of University Professors) in the administrative block in Nanterre, in protest against the arrest, the previous day, of a group of students who had been taking part in an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in central Paris. This action has been described as the ‘founding event’ 1 of the May ’68 events in France: the students would go on to produce a political tract and declare themselves a new protest movement (the March 22 Movement). In the summer of 1968, Bensaïd wrote a book with his fellow Trotskyist Henri Weber in which they analysed the political significance of the May 1968 events. This book was completed in hiding, when both authors had taken refuge in the home of the novelist Marguerite Duras, following the French government’s prohibition of the leftist political groupings to which...
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