Forbidding is forbidden

Sad childhood.

I was walking in Central London the other day when I have come across this sign inside an estate. It was visible form the street, and I could not help photographing it. My immediate thought was to say: poor bored children...

And then immediately it recalled a May 68 famous slogan: "Il est interdit d'interdire" (forbidding is forbidden)!

May 68 is a key moment in the modern history of France. The Baby-boomers decided to oppose the establishment and the post-war society. They had enough about patriarchal conventions, submissions, and compromises... The country was blossoming and they wanted to enjoy it. And they were ready to fight for this ideal. So when the De Gaulle administration tried to repress the first student strikes, they replied with barricades and paving stones thrown at the police forces.

Say it with flowers

But they also replied with a new weapon: slogans. During the turmoil of spring '68 some brilliant slogans were tagged on the Parisian walls. Here are a few of these brilliant images or mimics that conveyed the core ambitions of the revolution:

- Sous les pavés, la plage ! (Beneath the paving stones - the beach!)
- Soyez réalistes, demandez l'impossible. (Be realistic, ask for the impossible)
- La barricade ferme la rue, mais ouvre la voie (barricades close the street but open new paths)
- On achète ton bonheur. Vole-le. (They buy your happiness. Steal it back)
- L'ennui est contre-révolutionnaire. (Boredom is counterrevolutionary)
- Pas de replâtrage, la structure est pourrie. (No replastering, the structure is rotten)
- Vivre sans temps mort - jouir sans entraves (Live without time out [time of boredom, time at work] - enjoy without chains)
- La révolution est incroyable parce que vraie. (The revolution is unbelievable because it's true.)
- La poésie est dans la rue. (Poetry is in the street).
- Travailleurs de tous les pays, amusez-vous ! (Workers of the world, enjoy!)
- Nous ne voulons pas d'un monde où la certitude de ne pas mourir de faim s'échange contre le risque de mourir d'ennui. (We don't want a world in which the certainty of not dying from hunger comes in exchange for the risk of dying from boredom.)

Although completely paralysing the country, these events revealed to the world a new generation of politicians, talents, artists, writers, advertising people... It even inspired the Beatles who composed their famous "Revolution" as a tribute to the uprising in Paris.

Generation next?

Today their heritage is still visible: woman anticipation, minimum wages granted, freedom of thinking... However the cause of the revolution is also still in place. The political power remains nowadays in the hands of over-fifty year old politicians who have got more or less the same educational background. Amazing enough, some of whom were even on the barricades at that time to face the gerontocracy they now represent. And even if the university students try every now and then to demonstrate, their movements have never either the ambitions or reach of their predecessor.

40 years have managed to temper the rage... Too bad. I would have enjoyed to read more poetry in the streets, instead of such castrating signs!

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