Reflection on Transnational Reaction to 1968

By Alex Wittmann

The 1960s was a time of social change globally. There were student demonstrations and massive protests in the United States as part of a backlash to Vietnam. In Europe there were was the creation of a new left as a response to traditional establishment governments, as shown in the article Not Narrating the History of the Federal Republic, there were leftist demonstrations against the conservative West German establishment. The article Transnational Reaction to 1968: Neo-Fascist Fronts and Political Cultures in France and Italy highlights the fact that there were right wing movements in Italy and France culminating in 1968 that were related. The article shows that right wing cultural activism and historical movements such as the rise of right wing militants are not always regulated to a country’s borders. The right wing reactionary movements creating the Movimento Sociale Italiano heavily influenced the creation of the National Front in France as an example. The article identifies that in the late 1960s, there existed a hegemony of leftism in Europe. Culminating from student movements to the communist governments in place in Eastern Europe. The question was, where did the right fit in. The article mentions how right wing movements in France and Italy, as a backlash to leftism defended traditional principles of colonialism. The 1960s was a time of rapid decolonization and the French right articulated whatever it could in order to hold onto its traditional empire. The anti immigrant rhetoric used by the far right movements in both France and Italy is also not dissimilar to the populist playbook that is articulated from Europe’s right today. This anti immigrant rhetoric was shared between right wing movements in both France and Italy. In this sense we can equate the events of 1968 to today when right wing populist movements across Europe are interconnected in their fear and resentment of immigration. It is interesting to see how European right wing movements were interconnected in 1968 much to the same way they are interconnected today.

Source Cited:

Andrea Mammon, “The Transnational Reaction to 1968: Neo-Fascist Fronts and Political Cultures in France and Italy.” Contemporary European History, vol. 17, no. 2 (May 2008): 213–236.

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