REVOLUTION IN 1968
Revolution in 1968
The 1968 protest movement is a cultural phenomenon: it began when big mass movements (workers, students and ethnic minority groups) protested in almost all the countries and seemed to shake governments in the name of a radical society transformation. It was a social and political movement, but controversial: lots of people think that it led to a utopian better world, instead others believe it split and destroyed morality and world political stability.
The presence of young workers beside the students was its feature: the 1968 protest movement in Italy was the more intense and wide of the Western European movements, together with the French one. In Italy, the protest resulted from a deep social malaise due to the fact that the economic miracle had benefitted mainly the middle class, whereas the poorest classes’ social and economic standards hadn’t risen.
The outbreak of the workers’ strikes in factories joined the students’ movement that protested against outdated learning content and claimed the right to learn for needy young people. There were previously unknown forms of protests: schools and universities were occupied and manifestations were organized, that led to clashes with the police in many cases.
The hardship of the students of the Universities of Milan and Turin was the initial trigger: the Milan University had decided to double the tuition fees and the Turin University had, instead, decided to move to the Mandria; a very destitute seat in the suburbs. On 15th November 1967 both the universities were occupied and soon after stormed by the police. Three days later 30,000 students marched in Milan and the revolt spread like wild fire. The trigger for its spread was the police’s repressive attitude towards the students: they treated them as if they were just spoiled kids.
In May 1968 all the universities had been occupied. The student protests were initially underestimated by politicians and the press. Then came the workers’ revolts, which began for the renewal of labor contracts, for the equal increase in wages, for the reduction of working time, for pensions, for the house and for health and services.
For the first time workers and students were brought together by lots of work issues since the first unrest, causing more and more radical and revolutionary troubles; almost insurrections. Despite being spread across the world, the youth protest weakened everywhere at the beginning of the 70's seemingly without bringing important results. The main reason of its failure was its incapability of turning the aspiration into concrete programs.
So the 1968 protest movement was an ethical and political revolt of young people against society, rather than a combination of political movements aimed at realizing a well-defined program. The merit of the youth movement of those years was, especially in Western countries, to focus attention to values, which had involved few people until then. Issues as pacifism, antiracism, the rejection of the abuse of power, women’s rights and care for the environment permanently entered the political social and cultural debate of the whole world.
SPANISH RECREATION of this Italian historic periodArticle made by Spanish Participants
Today we started to see the history of the twentieth century in particular, the story about the year 1968, and we took advantage of the presence of an Italian volunteer to know a little ‘more about these years. 1968 is in fact a very important year in the history of modern Italian: the ‘Sixty’ is a socio-cultural movement that affects not only Italy but different countries, France, USA, Germany and beyond. In all these countries there was a movement coming from the masses to get more minority rights. In Italy it is enlivened more groups of workers and students. Workers demanding better working conditions and university students who wanted a university open to all citizens and not just the wealthy class. In that year there were many fights and many universities occupied.
For us it was very interesting to learn something about the history of other country, even more because this phenomenon was not heard in Spain.
“It was interesting to see the difference between the history of Spain and the his¬tory of the other countries.” – Antonio
“It was so funny to dress up like people of this time.- Clara
GERMAN RECREATION of this Italian historic periodArticle made by German Participants
We started to discuss about the Revolution in Italy and did some reserach to get into the topic. We wrote down the most important events and went together into the city center to buy the things we discovered as very important for this topic. We decided to develop a triytychon to show the italian flag as a basis and created the historical events, e.g. a pink beard as a symbol for equality, cruxes as a symbol for faith, a mask as a symbol for new perspcetives, black triangles as symbol for strength, endurance and hope.
The small balls symbolize the white hope of revolution. The key notes were part of the brainstorming we did.
At the end, we used a black spray to show the past of the happenings and to make it more abstract.
It was a great way to learn more about other country and apart from getting culture, we had lot of fun during this lesson.
“Italy is a nice country with a very interesting history.” Anonymous
“To work with spray was really interesting; we had a lot of fun.” Anonymous
ITALIAN RECREATION of this Italian historic periodArticle made by Italian Participants
We suitably masqueraded ourselves and presented the periods on two different occasions. This work was carried out in the laboratory where some classmates were willing to act as models by wearing different clothes and accessories (including necklaces) typical of those years, which were provided by other classmates.
We were divided into different teams and the teachers helped us to appear, as much as possible, as people of those years. After we had finished, we took pictures.
All the 60s material we had gathered (photos, newspaper articles and the pictures of our disguise) served us in creating a video, entitled “Postcards from 1968”. We had inserted English subtitles in it in order to explain it. In the end, our work was sent to our German and Spanish friends.
This experience was very interesting, because we had identified ourselves with young people from the 40s and the 60s: we were able to talk to each other as they did at that time. Some girls from a team dressed up: they enjoyed this experience and we appreciated the dialogue and the clothes which they were wearing.
“Now I understand my father when he said he was a hippy.”- Veronica, participant
“I realized that if I want something I have to engage personally.”- Anonymous
Literature (poetry, songs, novels) that may help to understand this period
Some pieces of visual art (photography, art-works, posters, movies, etc.) to understand this period