Showing posts with label rebellion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rebellion. Show all posts

Friday 28 September 2018

Paris Riots of '68: talk Edinburgh book festival 2018

James McNaughtie interviewed highly respected Scottish author Neal Ascherson, at Edinburgh international book festival 2018,Iwho was BBC European correspondent in the 60s. The Cold War was halfway through; Vietnam war was raging; there was American imperialism to protect us from Russia.; there was Prague spring; Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated in America.

It was a time to the old ideas…. 
The student unrest in Paris began when male students were not allowed to visit female dorms! Old France was not changing and France has retained the idea of revolution as a possibility, an unconscious idea. In 1789 to take to the streets and make everything different.  The establishment in Uk were terrified it would come to Britain. Late 18thcentury, instead we suffered the suppression after Culloden and later there was imperial suppression on a global scale (slavery, exploitation)

Revolution – Marche On!
Students were jailed and large marches took place. They hoped to reframe communism with a human face. The university closed down, and the idea of self-management and independence took hold. 

In Berlin, there was the revival of late Marxism, to rediscover yourself, and create revolution. 
The Prague Spring - Eastern block, not Marxism. Polish revolutions, demonstrations and democracy at the level of the workplace. The communication of ideas was so important.
Riot police were used to smash communism/ republicanism to protect the state and there was intense tension
De Gaullewas an authoritarian general and highly presidential, his aim was to defend old France. Are you red or white? There was a frozen France.

The Sorbonne was a centre of revolution and barricade. 
The noise and sight of revolution was scary, with huge crowds gathering. Revolution ‘morphed’ and everything changes, institutions collapse, anything is possible. It is all intoxicating, all brothers in arms. Tear gas was used and violence and the French public were unaware. In Munich a student was killed by a brick. Neal believed, considering the level of violence more students were killed. 

It doesn’t last long though and leads to a new situation. Things began to subside and some scenes of dissolution and the beginning of a general strike. Germany was deeply against communism. 


The Legacy of the Paris Riots:  In France, the communists were divided. De Gaulle was protected by the French army in Germany. But the riots eventually defeated De Gaulle, who resigned a few months later.

There were changes in the Soviet system to stop this ever happening again. There were a  change in the social institutions with younger people in positions of power. It scared the established orders, that they could be overthrown; both America and Russia were both shaken. There was 67,000 killed in Vietnam. There were aspirations In Northern Ireland for democracy, and peoples marches. The media was extreme .

It all forced reforms in Germany, not suffocated by bureaucracy and institutions. It was a revelation and changed how people related to each other. Many of the rioters fled – and asked, where is the next barricade? Others concentrated on change in more humane and different ways, such as educating children. 

There was no time to chat over the unstable, leaderless and corrupt situation today. A very illuminating and highly interesting chat. 
This talk was part of EIBF Freedom and Equality series of events.  Vote for The Death of the Fronsac by Neal Ascherson in the First Book award. 

Friday 30 September 2016

Melvyn Bragg Edinburgh book festival 2016: Now is the Time

Melvyn Bragg gave a highly informed and entertaining talk at Edinburgh book festival 2016, when he occasionally digressed from his historical tale of intrigue, romance, betrayal, injustice and ignorance. Bragg has written a timely book and we might draw parallels to today.

He spoke of the background to the story and of how much control religion had in those days (I wondered is this the control that Murdoch’s media outlets and others have today) and that people were scared to disobey the church. Since 1066 French was spoken, but English came back and the Bible was translated into English – there were writers such as Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales written in Latin, French and English. God spoke Latin apparently and the Bible was not to be touched.

The Great Plague of London killed 47.3% in one year and they thought the plague was a punishment from God. The Black Death of the 1340s reduced numbers for labour – wages were fixed and there was feudalism.

Bragg told the story of the Peasants Revolt in England in 1348. This was not a ‘peasant’ rebellion at all  He said and it has been air brushed out and totally ignored mostly. This was the biggest mass rebellion ever in England and it is never talked about. There was a three to four months build up and the rebellion lasted over two weeks in London.

The Hundred Years war in France was not going well for the English and the taxes needed for the war were  far too high. The people could not afford to pay the high taxes and refused to pay. This spread to Essex and to Kent.

 **The Main Players in this story were –
The Preacher John Ball;
The Queen Joan, Princess of Wales, known as the Virgin of Kent was most beautiful. She had five children and became rich from the Crusades. Later she married the renowned warrior the Black Prince.
Wat Tyler - The people voted for him to lead the rebellion. He had fought in France and was a skilled artisan;
The Young King Richard; People believed the king was sacred and spoke with God.

The rebels took the enormous Rochester castle, Canterbury, Suffolk and then London. The young king met them at Greenwich and promised to give them freedom to fish and to reduce the taxes.

Born changed the game though - he said that the state must be changed and give away its wealth. The Queen sent a ring worn by the Black Prince to King Richard to spur him to take back control. Richard was no warrior and he liked music. (power does not like to give up power). Tyler trusted the King and rode to discuss with him – and they assassinated him.

He also said that Insurgence happens when it ready and that today technology has to catch up with our imaginations.
“Book festivals are anti-dumbing down”and where "audiences go to be informed and widen their knowledge.”