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This chapter plots the rebellion(s) of the “long 1960s” across three “zones” of Europe in order to understand how Europe’s 1968 manifested under different political regimes. Exploring how border-crossing connections functioned around 1968, it emphasizes the importance of transnational exchanges alongside acts of the globalizing imagination in which activists joined metaphorical hands across borders, blocs, and continents. Emphasizing the eclecticism of 1960s radicalism, the chapter traces efforts to identify the revolutionary subject—the “who?” of the revolution—and the search for radical source material to answer the question of “how?” Highlighting the importance of key principles such as anti-authoritarianism and self-organization, it emphasizes the “total” vision of 1960s radicals. Motivated by the belief that all spheres of social existence could or should be political, they attempted to put that principle into practice, leading to the “proliferation of the political” that gave 1968 its all-embracing character.
The introduction examines the way the 1960s, and 1968 in particular, have been interpreted, and argues that the explanation of the revolts of the 1960s has often remained trapped in recovering or puncturing the revolutionary mythology of the events. It argues instead that the most important implications of the student protests of 1968 may not be in their long-term consequences, but in the short-term possibilities they demonstrated.
Come the middle of the 1960s, the moral vigilante system of the British establishment collapsed. This chapter chronicles how this came about. It was instigated partly through the demise of the Public Morality Council and its reincarnation as the Social Morality Council under the guidance of the Roman Catholic Church. The evidence is given here for regarding this as something of a putsch, organised by Edward Oliver who deliberately dismantled the PMC and, against the wishes of the Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, reinvented it as an organisation with international and educational agendas. Vigilantism was then picked up by new leaders – Mary Whitehouse, Lord Longford and Moral Rearmament. This amounted to a privatisation of vigilantism, with pirates who stole it from the mainstream churches. This transformation of the landscape of religious morality thus produced a system divorced from the British establishment.
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