Fredy Perlman on Worker-Student Solidarity, France 1968

The HathiTrust Digital Library has made available a scan of the best English-language account of the 1968 revolt in France, Worker-Student Action Committees: France, May ’68, by two participants in the event, Fredy Perlman and Roger Gregoire. Perlman, founder of the journal and publishing cooperative Black & Red, was in Europe to teach a course at a school in Turin at the time and was able to make his way to Paris as the occupations got under way. He participated in an occupation of Censier, a unit  of the Sorbonne, and in the Citroën Action Committee, a student-led effort to establish contacts with the workers of the giant firm’s automobile factories.

Perlman’s account of the action committee’s experience is fascinating. Of Citroën’s 40,000 workers, only 1,500 were members of unions (principally the Communist Party-dominated CGT). Sixty percent of the workers were temporary employees from other countries, despised by the union bureaucracy as a drag on wages. Perlman, who spoke French and Serbo-Croatian (from the three years he spent in Yugoslavia as a PhD student), was actively involved in bridging the gap between the organized workers and the foreign workers.

The final section of the book is a critique of the May phenomenon written in early 1969 by Perlman and Gregoire during a visit by the latter to Perlman’s home Kalamazoo, Michigan.

For a critique of the 1968 events by Raya Dunayevskaya, see her “Who Arrested the French Revolution?,” which appeared in News & Letters. Dunayevskaya and Perlman unsuccessfully attempted to collaborate on a project which would become her Philosophy and Revolution, published in 1973.

The scan available in HathiTrust is designated public domain. Anyone should be able to download a full PDF version. The bibliographic information says that this is the 1991 reissue, but it appears to be instead a scan of the original 1969 version.

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One thought on “Fredy Perlman on Worker-Student Solidarity, France 1968

  1. Pingback: From the archive of struggle: the Spanish Civil War at Warwick, the Marxist Internet Archive, and more « Poumista

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