...perhaps as an antidote to the spin and deceit
of contemporary politics, my mind has drifted
back for a moment to the words of another time...

some days, it's hard to believe people ever
talked this way.

Signs of the times: The sayings
and slogans of 1968

Compiled by John Lichfield


May 1968 has become as celebrated for its sayings and its slogans as its events. Here is a selection, in French and then in English translation, of some of the most characteristic maxims, aphorisms and platitudes from the pamphlets and graffiti of the Paris of 40 years ago.

Some are predictably left-libertarian. Others are funny and anarchical. A few look forward to the Green politics that hardly existed in 1968.

* Il est interdit d'interdire.
(It is forbidden to forbid.)

* Soyez réaliste, demandez l'impossible.
(Be realistic, demand the impossible.)

* Ne travaillez jamais.
(Never work.)

* Je prends mes désirs pour des réalités car je crois en la realité de mes desirs.
(I treat my desires as realities because I believe in the reality of my desires.)

* L'ennui est contre-révolutionnaire.
(Boredom is a counter-revolutionary act.)

* Le patron a besoin de toi, tu n'as pas
besoin de lui.
(The boss needs you. You don't need him.)

* Travailleur: tu as 25 ans mais ton syndicat est de l'autre siècle.
(Worker: you are 25 years old but your trades union belongs to another century.)

* On achète ton bonheur. Vole-le.
(They are buying your happiness. Steal it back.)

* Sous les pavés, la plage.
(Under the cobble-stones, the beach.)

* Le réveil sonne: première humiliation
de la journée.
(The alarm clock rings: first humiliation of the day.)

* Imagine: c'est la guerre et personne n'y va!
(Imagine: there was a war and no one turned up!)

* Elections, piège à cons.
(Elections, traps for idiots.)

* Dieu, je vous soupçonne d'être un intellectuel
de gauche.
(God, I suspect you of being a left-wing intellectual.)

* Ne vous emmerdez plus! Emmerdez les autres!
(Don't screw yourself up any more! Screw up other people!)

* Vous finirez tous par crever du confort.
(You will all finish up by dying from comfort.)

* La forêt précède l'homme, le désert le suit.
(Forests came before man, the desert comes afterwards.)

* A bas le réalisme socialiste. Vive le surréalisme.
(Down with socialist realism. Long live surrealism.)

Egalité! Liberté! Sexualité!: Paris, May 1968

It began with a demand by students for the right to sleep with each other.

read all about it!



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