The Legacy of '68
On 10–11 May the Research Group for Radical Philosophy and Literature (LLE) organized a seminar at the Norwegian Institute in Rome on the legacy of 1968 in conjunction with the Research group for Subjectivation and Late Modernity (FoF), with Maurizio Lazzarato, Frida Beckman and Franco Berardi as our invited keynotes.
RFL conference on ‘The Legacy of May 1968’
“The Legacy of May 1968” was hosted by the Research Group for Radical Philosophy and Literature (RFL) in collaboration with the Research Group for Subjectivation and Late Modernity & The Norwegian Institute in Rome. The conference addressed questions concerning the political, aesthetic and historical aspects of the students’ and workers’ protestsin Paris and other cities in 1968. These protests inaugurated a series of political experiments – ranging from anarchism to socialism, communism, anarcho-communism, social democracy, etc. – and are still highly relevant for the discussion of radical philosophy and literature.
From the very beginning, May 1968 became known as “the events” (les événements), a concept referring to a moment with capacity to change society in substantial ways through the creation of new collective subjects. Also, the emphasis on difference and openness towards the Other paved the way for innovations on the level of sexuality, and there is likewise a crucial connection between 1968 and the upsurge of “third worldism.”
However, the nature of May 1968 has been disputed ever since the events themselves. In the 1970s, both Maoists and more moderate forces on the left regarded themselves as genuine heirs of May 1968's emancipatory quest, whereas the question of legacy reached a turning point with the so-called New Philosophers’ claim to be the “true voice of 1968.” Within anItalian context, Mario Perniola has drawn a provocative line between the Situationist slogan,“All Power to the Imagination,” and Berlusconi’s rise to power through the “power of entertainment” (Berlusconi o il ‘68 realizzato, 2011).
In more general terms, Kristin Ross has affirmed that “the fall of socialism and the seemingly undisputed hegemony achieved bycapitalism distances our world from the world of 1968 to the point where it becomes quite difficult to imagine a time when people once envisioned a world different in essential waysfrom the one in which we live” (May ’68 and its Afterlives, 2008). In Wars and Capital (2018), Eric Alliez and Maurizio Lazzarato seek to overcome this distance, by pushing “the thought of ‘68” beyond its own limits, towards the construction of new “war machines”against contemporary financialization.
“The Legacy of 1968” critically reassessed the nature and afterlives of these radical events, addressing the unfolding of the events themselves as well as their relation to the core issues of radical philosophy and aesthetics.