18. Student Protests and Civil Unrest in France, 1968
In May 1968, a series of student protests began against capitalism and consumerism. Facing heavy police suppression, various trade unions in France decided to strike in sympathy – in what later involved 11 million workers – the largest general strike ever seen in France.
While the government (President de Gaulle’s administration) tried to suppress the strikes through police action, it only worsened the case and resulted in heavy clashes of the public against police within Paris.
The result was an abrupt halt of France’s economy, with political leaders fearing another revolution. However, this rather hasty event evaporated just as quickly as it had made the front news. Yet, it continues to inspire popular culture and art and is regarded as a social revolution.