This book brings to life social movements of the 1960s, a period of world-historical struggles. With discussions of more than fifty countries, Katsiaficas articulates an understanding that is neither bounded by national and continental divides nor focused on “Great Men and Women.” Millions of people went into the streets, and their aspirations were remarkably similar. From the Prague revolt against Soviet communism to the French May uprising, the Vietnam Tet offensive, African anticolonial insurgencies, the civil rights movement, and campus eruptions in Latin America, Yugoslavia, the United States, and beyond, this book portrays the movements of the 1960s as intuitively tied together.
Student movements challenged authorities in almost every country, giving the insurgency a global character, and contemporary feminist, Latino, and gay liberation movements all came to life. A focus on the French general strike of May 1968 and the U.S. movement’s high point in 1970—from the May campus strike to the revolt in the military, workers’ wildcat strikes, the national women’s strike, the Chicano Moratorium, and the Black Panther Party’s Revolutionary Peoples’ Constitutional Convention in September—reveals the revolutionary aspirations of the insurgencies in the core of the world system. Despite the apparent failure of the movements of 1968, their profound influence on politics, culture, and social movements continues to be felt today. As globally synchronized uprisings occur with increasing frequency in the twenty-first century, the lessons of 1968 provide useful insights for future struggles.
What People Are Saying
“A well-informed survey of the global ‘New Left’ of 1968.” Eric Hobsbawm, author of The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914–1991
“George Katsiaficas’s work presents an understanding how we of the New Left used our education as a practice of freedoms: confronting the racist, warmongering status quo with the objective of creative participatory democracy. As we continue to work toward cooperational humanism here at home and the world over, this insightful analysis provides a useful backdrop for social activism and the struggle for future democratic human rights.” Bobby Seale, former chairman and cofounder of the Black Panther Party
“This is the best book on the New Left, the only truly global history that historicizes the social movements of the 1960s. It is both a cautionary tale and a guide for dark times that require imaginative resistance. This new edition could not have come at a better time.” Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Outlaw Woman: A Memoir of the War Years, 1960–1975
“By including feminism prominently in the global insurgency of 1968, this book gives us comprehensive understanding of the broad mobilization that was at the heart of the movement. Everywhere in the world, people simultaneously challenged wars, racism, and archaic politics and also patterns of domination in everyday life.” Mariarosa Dalla Costa, professor emerita, University of Padua, and theorist of Wages for Housework
“Of all the many studies of the wave of radicalism marking the so-called long sixties, The Global Imagination of 1968 ranks among the very best. Nothing else rivals the lucidity and succinctness with which Katsiaficas captures not only the liberatory vision but the sheer vibrancy with which the period’s global movement was imbued. The book should be considered essential reading by all who seek transformative change.” Ward Churchill, author and activist
About the Contributors
George Katsiaficas lives in Gwangju, South Korea, and in Ocean Beach, California. A student of Herbert Marcuse, he is the author of The Subversion of Politics (AK Press) and the two-volume Asia’s Unknown Uprisings (PM Press). Together with Kathleen Cleaver, he coedited Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party (Routledge).
Kathleen Cleaver (Preface) is former communications secretary and first woman on the central committee of the Black Panther Party. A longtime activist for human rights, she is currently a professor of law at Emory University and is writing her autobiography, Memories of Love and War.
Carlos Muñoz (Foreword) has been a central figure in the struggles for civil and human rights, social justice, and peace in the United States and abroad since the 1960s. He played a prominent leadership role in the Chicano civil rights movement. Dr. Muñoz is a Vietnam War veteran, a member of Veterans for Peace, and is active in the immigrant rights movement. He is the author of Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement, which has been published in a revised and expanded edition.