Liberated Censier : A Revolutionary Base

Submitted by libcom on December 20, 2005


Submitted by libcom on December 20, 2005

The revolutionary movement which showed its head in France in May and June, 1968, has been maligned and misunderstood by the capitalist press, the Communist Party press, and the presses of "revolutionary" grouplets.

According to the liberal capitalist press, the student revolt and general strike can be understood in terms of the "peculiar characteristics" of Gaullist France. According to the Communist Party press, the university occupations and the general strike represent a reform movement, with students fighting for a "modern university" and workers for the satisfaction of material demands, both groups being disrupted by a "handful of madmen and adventurers." According to some "revolutionary" grouplets, the movement in France is either an example of the efficacy of "revolutionary vanguards" and "leaders," or else it is an example of the lack of vanguards and leaders. There is also an eclectic version : the "rise" of the movement illustrates the efficacy of the revolutionary vanguards, and its "decline" illustrates what happens to a movement which has no vanguard. [3]

These "explanations" do not explain why anything happened in France in May, 1968. Student revolts and factory occupations are not among the "characteristics" of French society, nor did "peculiar" conditions for such behavior appear in France precisely in May, 1968. The "normal" behavior of students and workers in capitalist society, the desire of students for more privileges and of workers for more goods, does not explain why students and workers ceased acting "normally" and started struggling to destroy the system of privilege.

The explosion of May-June 1968 is a sudden break with the regularities of French society, and it cannot be explained in terms of those regularities. The social conditions, the consciousness of students and workers, the strategies of "revolutionary" sects, had all existed before May, 1968, and had not given rise to a student revolt, a general strike, or a mass movement determined to destroy capitalism. Something new appeared in May, an element which was not regular but unique, an element which transformed the "normal" consciousness of students and workers, an element which represented a radical break with what was known before May, 1968.

The new element, the spark which set off the explosion, was "a handful of madmen" who did not consider themselves either a revolutionary party or a vanguard. The story of the student movement which began in Nanterre with a demonstration to end the war in Vietnam has been told elsewhere. [4] The actions of this student movement were "exemplary actions"; they set off a process of continuous escalation, each step involving a larger sector of the population.

One of the steps in this process of escalation was the occupation of Censier, annex of the University of Paris Faculty of Letters ( Sorbonne ). Not as publicised as the actions or personalities of the Nanterre student movement, the activity which developed at Censier during the last two weeks in May parallels and supplements that of the March 22 Movement. This essay will try to describe the steps in the process of escalation as they were experienced and interpreted by the occupants of Censier.

What happened in Censier cannot be explained in terms of French everyday life. The occupants of Censier suddenly cease to be unconscious, passive objects shaped by particular combinations of social forces; they become conscious, active subjects who begin to shape their own social activity.

The occupants of Censier aim at the destruction of capitalist social relations, but they do not define themselves as the historical subject who will overthrow capitalism. Their actions, like those of the March 22 Movement, are exemplary actions. Their task is to communicate the example to a larger subject : the workers. To make the example overflow from the university to the working population, the Censier occupants create a new social form : worker-student action committees.

Each action is designed to go beyond itself. The aim of the occupants of Censier is not to create a self-governing commune in that building, but to set off the occupation of factories. The occupation of Censier is a break with continuity; the occupants' aim is to create other breaks.

The occupants do not proceed on the basis of what is "normal," but on the basis of what is possible. Radical breaks with everyday life are not normal, but they are possible. A movement with the slogan "anything is possible" proceeds on the basis of the potential, not the usual.

The task of these revolutionaries is not to define the conditions which make revolution impossible, but to create the conditions which make revolution possible. This orientation is probably the most radical break of March 22 and Censier with the traditional Western Left, which begins by pointing to the "objective conditions" ( for example, the apathy, self-interest and dependence of workers ) which make revolution impossible. The French movement begins by pushing beyond the "objective limits," an orientation which it shares with a handful of Cuban revolutionaries and Vietnamese revolutionaries who began struggling at a time when any analysis of "objective conditions" would have led to a prediction of certain defeat. The French revolutionaries broke out of the psychology of defeat, the outlook of the loser, and began struggling. Their struggle, like that of the Cubans and the Vietnamese, was exemplary : the example overflowed to sectors of the population who are far stronger and more numerous than the initial revolutionaries.

In the spirit of March 22 and Censier, this essay will not deal with the "objective conditions" of French society, but with the exemplary actions which ruptured those conditions; it will not deal with the apathy, self-interest and dependence which make the self-organization of workers and students impossible, but with the role of Censier in creating the radical break which made their self-organization possible; it will not deal with the conditions which prevent communication and cooperation among workers and students, but with the role of Censier in making such communication and cooperation possible. The essay will not try to explain why the Censier movement did not get further, but why it got as far as it did.


[3] According to one version, the Revolutionary Communist Youth ( J.C.R. ) played the "central leadership role" ( The Militant, July 5, 1968 ). According to another, students played the leadership role ( The Militant, June 21, 1968 ). According to a third version, "the action committees played a vanguard role of central importance" ( The Militant, June 28, 1968 ). Yet according to slightly different "vanguard revolutionaries" the movement "failed" because it had no vanguard; they conclude in a headline : "Vital Link of Revolutionary Party Still Needed" and they point out in the article that "the general strike has confirmed the perspective that this paper has put forward over recent years" ( Socialist Worker -- London -- July, 1968 ). The same conclusion was drawn in the Guardian, June 1, 1968.

[4] Notably by the "madmen" themselves in : Mouvement du 22 Mars, Ce n'est qu'un debut, continuons le combat ( This Is Only the Beginning, Let's Continue the Struggle). The English translation of the central parts of this book was published in CAW : No. 3, Fall, 1968.

A: Exemplary Character of the University Occupation

Submitted by libcom on December 20, 2005

To understand why university students in an industrially developed society are "enraged," it is essential to understand that the students are not enraged about the courses, the professors, the tests, but about the fact that the "education" prepares them for a certain type of social activity : it is this activity they reject. "We refuse to be scholars cut off from social reality. We refuse to be used for the profit of directors. We want to do away with the separation between the work of executing and the work of thinking and organizing." [5] By rejecting the roles for which the education forms them, the students reject the society in which these roles are to be performed. "We reject this society of repression" in which "explicitly or implicitly, the University is universal only for the organization of repression." [6] From this perspective, a teacher is an apologist for the existing order, and a trainer of servants for the capitalist system; an engineer or technician is a servant who is super-trained to perform highly specialized tasks for his master; a manager is an agent of exploitation whose institutional position gives him the power to think and decide for others. "In the present system, some work and others study. And we've got a division of social labor, even an intelligent one. But we can imagine a different system..." [7] This division and sub-division of social labor, perhaps necessary at an earlier stage of economic development, is no longer accepted. And if growing specialization is associated with the birth and "progress" of capitalist society ( as was argued, for example, by Adam Smith ), then the rejection of specialization by future specialists marks the death of capitalist society.

Students have discovered that the division of social tasks among specialized groups is at the root of alienation and exploitation. The alienation of political power by all members of society, and the appropriation of society's political power ( through election, inheritance or conquest ) by a specialized ruling class, is the basis for the division of society into rulers and ruled. The alienation ( sale ) of productive labor by producers, and the appropriation ( purchase ) of the labor and its products by owners of means of production ( capitalists ), is the basis for the division of society into bosses and workers, managers and employees, exploiters and exploited. The alienation of reflective activity by most members of society and its appropriation by a specialized corps of "intellect workers" is the basis for the division of society into thinkers and doers, students and workers. The alienation of creative activity by most people, and its appropriation by "artists," divides society into actors and audience, creators and spectators. The specialized "professions" and "disciplines" represent the same pattern : a particular economic task or social activity is relegated to a particular individual who does nothing else, and the rest of the community is excluded from thinking about, deciding or participating in the performance of a task which affects the entire community.

By refusing to be formed into a factor or a function in a bureaucratically organized system ( even if it is an intelligently organized system ), the student is not denying the social necessity of the tasks and functions. He is asserting his will to take part in all the activities that affect him, and he is denying anyone's right to rule him, decide for him, think for him, or act for him. By struggling to destroy the institutions which obstruct his participation in the conscious creation of his social-economic environment, the student presents himself as an example for all men who are ruled, decided for, thought for, and acted for. His exemplary struggle is symbolized by a black flag in one hand and a red flag in the other; it is communicated by a call to all the alienated and the exploited to destroy the system of domination, repression, alienation and exploitation.

* * *

"On Saturday, May 11, at 6 in the evening, militants of the May 3 Action Committees occupy the annex to the Faculty of Letters, the Censier Center. All night long and on the days that follow, the atmosphere is similar to that of the "night of the barricades," not in terms of violence, but in terms of the self-organization, the initiative, the discussion." [8] The university ceases to be a place for the "transmission of a cultural heritage," a place for training managers, experts and trainers, a place for brainwashing brainwashers.

The capitalist university comes to an end. The ex-university, or rather the building, becomes a place for collective expression. The first step of this transformation is the physical occupation of the building. The second step is discussion, the expression of ideas, information, projects, the creative self-expression of the occupants. "In the large auditoriums the discussion is continuous. Students participate, and also professors, assistants, people from the neighborhood, high schoolers, young workers." [9] Expression is contagious. People who have never expressed ideas before, who have never spoken in front of professors and students, become confident in their ability. It is the example of others speaking, analyzing, expressing ideas, suggesting projects, which gives people confidence in their own ability. "The food service," for example, "is represented at the meetings by a young comrade : he's thirteen, maybe fourteen. He organizes, discusses, takes part in the auditoriums. He was behind the barricades. His action and his behavior are the only answer to the drivel about high-schoolers being irresponsible brats." [10]

What begins at this point is a process of collective learning; the "university," perhaps for the first time, becomes a place for learning. People do not only learn the information, the ideas, the projects of others; they also learn from the example of others that they have specific information to contribute, that they are able to express ideas, that they can initiate projects. There are no longer specialists or experts; the division between thinkers and doers, between students and workers, breaks down. At this point all are students. When an expert, a professor of law, tells the occupants that the occupation of a university is illegal, a student tells him that it is no longer legal for an expert to define what is illegal, that the days when a legal expert defines what people can and cannot do are over. The professor can either stay and join the process of collective learning, or else he can leave and join the police to re-impose his legality.

Within the occupied university, expression becomes action; the awareness of one's ability to think, to initiate, to decide, is in fact an awareness of one's ability to act. The occupants of the university become conscious of their collective power : "we've decided to make ourselves the masters." [11] The occupants no longer follow orders, they no longer obey, they no longer serve. They express themselves in a general assembly, and the decisions of the assembly are the expression of the will of all its members. No other decisions are valid; no other authority is recognized. "The students and workers who fought on the barricades will not allow any force whatever to stop them from expressing themselves and from acting against the capitalist university, against the society dominated by the bourgeoisie." [12] This awareness of the ability to express oneself, this consciousness of collective power, is itself an act of de-alienation : "You can no longer sleep quietly once you've suddenly opened your eyes." [13] People are no longer the playthings of external forces; they're no longer objects; they've suddenly become conscious subjects. And once their eyes are open, people are not about to close them again : their passivity and dependence are negated, annihilated, and nothing but a force which breaks their will can reimpose the passivity and dependence.

The general assembly does not only reject former masters, former authority; it also refuses to create new masters, new authority. The occupants conscious of their power refuse to alienate that power to any force whatever, whether it is externally imposed or created by the general assembly itself. No external force, neither the university administration nor the state, can make decisions for the occupants of the university, and no internally created force can speak, decide, negotiate, or act for the general assembly. There are neither leaders nor representatives. No special group, neither union functionaries, nor a "coordinating committee," nor a "revolutionary party," has the power to negotiate for the university occupants, to speak for them, to sell them out. And there's nothing to negotiate about : the occupants have taken over; they speak for themselves, make their own decisions, and run their own activities. The State and the capitalist press try to set up leaders, spokesmen, representatives with whom to negotiate the evacuation of the university; but none of the "leaders" are accepted : their usurped power is illegitimate; they speak for no one. In the face of this appearance of direct democracy, of grass-roots control ( the Capitalist and Communist press call it "anarchy and chaos" ), the State has only one resort; physical violence.

Consciousness of collective power is the first step toward the appropriation of social power ( but only the first step, as will be shown below. Conscious of their collective power, the university occupants, workers and students, begin to appropriate the power to decide, they begin to learn to run their own social activities. The process of political de-alienation begins; the university is de-institutionalized; the building is transformed into a place which is run by its occupants. There are no "specialists" or "responsibles." The community is collectively responsible for what takes place, and for what doesn't take place, within the occupied building. Formerly specialized social activities are integrated into the lives of all members of the community. Social tasks are no longer performed either because of direct coercion or because of the indirect coercion of the market ( i.e. the threat of poverty and starvation ). As a result, some social activities, like hair dressing and manicuring, are no longer performed at all. Other tasks, like cooking, sweeping the rooms, cleaning the toilets -- tasks performed by people who have no other choice in a coercive system -- are left undone for several days. The occupation shows signs of degeneration : the food is bad, the rooms are filthy, the toilets are unusable. These activities become the order of the day of the general assembly : everyone is interested in their efficient performance, and no one is institutionally coerced to perform these tasks. The general assembly is responsible for their performance, which means everyone is responsible. Committees of volunteers are formed. A Kitchen Committee improves the quality of the meals; the food is free : it is provided by neighborhood committees and by peasants. A service of order charges itself with maintaining clean toilets stocked with toilet-paper. Each action committee sweeps its own room. The tasks are performed by professors, students and workers. At this point all of the occupants of Censier are workers. There are no longer upper and lower class jobs; there are no longer intellectual and manual tasks, qualified labor and unqualified labor; there are only socially necessary activities.

An activity which is considered necessary by a handful of occupants becomes the basis for the formation of an action committee. Each person is a thinker, an initiator, an organizer, a worker. Comrades are being seriously injured by cops in the street fights : a floor of Censier is transformed into a hospital; doctors and medical students care for the patients; others without medical experience help, cooperate and learn. A large number of comrades have babies and as a result cannot take part in activities which interest them : the comrades unite to form a nursery. The action committees need to print leaflets, announcements, reports : mimeograph machines and paper are found, and a free printing service is organized. Townspeople -- observers and potential participants -- stream into Censier constantly and are unable to find their way around the complex social system which has started to develop within the building : an information window is maintained at the entrance and information offices are maintained on each floor to orient the visitors. Many militants live far from Censier : a dormitory is organized.

Censier, formerly a capitalist university, is transformed into a complex system of self-organized activities and social relations. However, Censier is not a self-sufficient Commune removed from the rest of society. The police are on the order of the day of every general assembly. The occupants of Censier are acutely aware that their self-organized social activities are threatened so long as the State and its repressive apparatus are not destroyed. And they know that their own force, or even the force of all students and some workers, is not sufficient to destroy the State's potential for violence.

The only force which can put the Censier occupants back to sleep is a force which is physically strong enough to break their will : the police and the national army still represent such a force.

The means of violence produced by a highly developed industry are still controlled by the capitalist State. And the Censier occupants are aware that the power of the State will not be broken until control over these industrial activities passes to the producers : they "are convinced that the struggle cannot be concluded without the massive participation of the workers." [14] The armed power of the State, the power which negates and threatens to annihilate the power of collective creation and self-organization manifested in Censier, can only be destroyed by the armed power of society. But before the population can be armed, before the workers can take control of the means of production, they must become aware of their ability to do so, they must become conscious of their collective power. And this consciousness of collective power is precisely what the students and workers acquired after they occupied Censier and transformed it into a place for collective expression. Consequently, the occupation of Censier is an exemplary action, and the central task of the militants in Censier becomes to communicate the example. All the self-organized activities revolve around this central task. Former classrooms become workshops for newly formed action committees; in every room projects are suggested, discussed, and launched; groups of militants rush out with a project, and others return to initiate a new one.

The problem is to communicate, to spread consciousness of social power beyond the university. Everyone who has attended the general assemblies and participated in committee discussions knows what has to be done. Every action committee militant knows that the self-confidence in his own ability, the consciousness of his power, could not develop so long as others thought, decided and acted for him. Every militant knows that his action committee is able to initiate and carry out its projects only because it is a committee of conscious subjects, and not a committee of followers waiting for orders from their "leaders" or their "central committee."

Censier exists as a place and as an example. Workers, students, professors, townspeople come to the place to learn, to express themselves, to become conscious of themselves as subjects, and they prepare to communicate the example to other sections of the population and to other parts of the world. Foreign students organize a general assembly to "join the struggle of their French comrades and give them their unconditional support." Realizing that "the struggle of their French comrades is only an aspect of the international struggle against capitalist society and against imperialism," [15] the foreign students prepare to spread the example abroad. East European students express their solidarity and send the news to their comrades at home. A U.S. group forms an Action Committee of the American Left, and they "plan to establish a news link-up with the U.S.A." [16]

Most important of all, Censier's main contribution to the revolutionary movement, the worker-student action committees, are formed. "Workers" . . . "To destroy this repressive system which oppresses all of us, we must fight together. Some worker-student action committees have been created for this purpose." [17] The formation of the worker-student committees coincides with the outbreak of a wildcat strike : "In the style of the student demonstrators, the workers of Sud-Aviation have occupied the factory at Nantes." [18]


[5] "Votre lutte est la notre," Action, May 21, 1968, p. 5.

[6] "Les enfants de Marx et du 13 Mai," Action, May 21, 1968, p. 1.

[7] Daniel Cohn-Bendit in interview with Jean-Paul Sartre, "L'imagination au pouvoir," Le Nouvel Observateur, May 20, 1968, p. 5.

[8] "L'Occupation," Action, May 13, 1968, p. 7.

[9] "L'Occupation," Action, May 13, 1968, p. 7.

[10] "L'Occupation," Action, May 13, 1968, p. 7.

[11] Leaflet : "Travailleurs de chez Rhône Poulenc," Comité d'Action Ouvriers-Etudiants, Centre Censier, May 14, 1968.

[12] Leaflet : "Appel general à la population," Centre Censier de la Fac des Lettres, May 11, 1968.

[13] Sign on a Censier wall, quoted in Action, May 13, 1968, p. 7.

[14] Leaflet : "Travailleurs R.A.T.P.," Les Comités d'Action, Censier, May 15 ( ? ), 1968.

[15] Leaflet : "Assemblée Generale des Etudiants Etrangers," Centre Censier, May 20, 1968.

[16] Leaflet : "Permanence Americaine," Centre Censier, May 17, 1968. In this leaflet, the American students also mention that they are willing to inform their French comrades of "attempts of students to organize workers" in the U.S. The Americans found very few action committee militants who were interested.

[17] Leaflet : "Travailleurs," Comité d'Action Etudiants-Travailleurs, Censier, May 16, 1968.

[f18] Le Monde, May 16, 1968.

B: Revolutionary Consciousness of Social Power

Submitted by libcom on December 20, 2005

The workers of a highly industrialized capitalist society suddenly cease acting "normally" : they stop working, and they do not go out on an "ordinary" strike for material demands. They occupy their factories, and they begin to talk about expropriation.

To understand this radical break with the usual behavior of workers, it is necessary to understand that this unusual behavior is an ever-present potentiality in capitalist society. The existence of this potentiality cannot be understood in terms of the material conditions of the workers, but only in terms of the structure of social relations in capitalist society.

The basic fact of life in capitalist society is the alienation of creative power. The alienated power of society is appropriated by a class. Concentrated in institutions -- Capital, State, Police and Military -- the power alienated by society becomes the power of the dominant class to control and oppress society. To the creators of the power, the institutions which control and oppress them seem like external forces, like forces of nature, permanent and immutable.

The alienation of creative power and the appropriation of that power takes place through the act of exchange.

The producer sells his labor; the capitalist buys the labor. In exchange for his labor the producer receives wages, namely money with which to buy consumer goods. The purchase and sale of labor in capitalist society reduces labor to a thing, a commodity, something which can be bought and sold. Once the labor is sold to the capitalist, the products of the labor "belong" to the capitalist, they are his "property." These products of labor include the means of production with which goods are produced, the consumer goods for which the producer sells his labor, and the weapons with which the capitalist's "property" is protected from its producers. The alienated products of labor then take on a life of their own. The means of production no longer appear as products of labor but as Capital, as objects and instruments which emanate from the capitalist, as the "property" of the capitalist. The consumer goods no longer appear as the products of labor but as the rewards of labor, as external manifestations of the stature, worth and character of an individual. The weapons no longer appear as products of labor, but as the natural and indispensable instruments of the State. The State no longer appears as a concentration of the alienated power of society, and its "law and order" no longer appear as a violent enforcement of the relations of alienation and appropriation which make its existence possible; the State and its repressive media appear to serve "higher" aims.

The two terms of the act of exchange ( labor for wages, creative power for consumer goods ) are blatantly unequal. They are unequal in terms of their quantity and in terms of their quality. To analyze the French general strike it is necessary to understand both types of inequality, and it is crucial to grasp the difference between them. The quantitative inequality has been thoroughly analyzed by an apologetic and a critical literature. A whole area of knowledge, the "science of economics," exists to mask this quantitative inequality. According to this "science," each side of the exchange is paid for its "contribution" : capital is exchanged for a "corresponding" quantity of profits, and labor is exchanged for a "corresponding" quantity of wages. It is to be noted that the quantities which are exchanged do not correspond to each other, but to a historical relation of forces between the capitalist class and the working class, and that strikes and unions have increased the quantity of goods to which labor "corresponds." However, the purpose of this "theory" is not analytic but apologetic : its point is to mask the fact that more is exchanged for less, that workers produce more goods than they receive in exchange for their labor. Yet this fact is hard to mask : if workers received all the goods they produced, there would be no capital, and there would be nothing left over for State, Army, Police or Propaganda.

Furthermore, the proposition that each is paid for "his" contribution, the capitalist for "his" capital and the worker for his labor, simply isn't true : the capitalist's "contribution" consists of means of production produced by workers, so that the capitalist is paid for the worker's labor. The capitalist absorbs ( or accumulates ) surplus labor, namely what the worker contributes but doesn't get, or what's "left over" after the workers are paid.

Labor unions concern themselves exclusively with the quantitative relation between workers and capitalists. The union's role is to decrease the degree of exploitation of the workers, namely to increase the goods workers receive in exchange for their labor, and at times even to increase the share of social wealth which is distributed to the working class. Unions help workers have more, not be more. They serve to increase the quantity of goods the worker receives in exchange for his alienated labor; they do not serve to abolish alienated labor. Unions, like economists of Communist countries, as well as much 20th Century socialist literature, deal exclusively with the quantitative relation between workers and capitalists.

However, wildcat strikers in France last May did not occupy their factories in order to get a larger share of the goods they produced. It was the Union ( The General Confederation of Labor ) which clamped this goal on the strike, in order to de-rail it. The revolutionary issue last May was the qualitative relation between workers and capitalists, not the quantitative relation. Yet the qualitative relation has not been treated extensively by revolutionary socialists -- perhaps partly because the quantitative problem can be grasped more easily and can be illustrated with statistics in a society which worships quantities, partly because Soviet theorists dismissed the whole problem as "idealism," and partly because capitalist ideologues have tried to co-opt the issue and to transform it into a quasi-religious liberal reform program. The result is that the action of workers and students was far more radical than the theory of most "revolutionary theorists" and "strategists."

The two terms of the act of exchange -- labor and wages, creative power and consumer goods, living energy and inanimate things -- differ in quality, in kind. The two terms continue to differ in quality no matter what happens to their quantities. [19] In other words, the fact that the worker exchanges labor for wages, namely two different qualities, does not change if the worker gets more wages, more consumer goods, more things in exchange for his creative power. There is no "reciprocity" in this act of "exchange" : the worker alienates his living energy in exchange for lifeless objects; the capitalist appropriates the alienated labor of workers in exchange for nothing. ( In order to maintain the fiction of reciprocity, "objective social scientists" would have to say the capitalist appropriates the productive power of society in exchange for his domination; they do sometimes say this, in more euphemistic terms. )

By selling his labor, the producer alienates his productive power, his activity; he alienates what he does in life. In exchange for his activity, or to compensate for his lost life, he eats, drinks, travels, surrounds himself with lifeless objects, abandons himself to animated cartoons, and intoxicates himself with vicarious experiences. [20]

American sociologists have tried to reduce the alienation of labor to a feeling of alienation : thus reduced, the problem can be "solved" in capitalist society, without revolution; all that's needed is some solid propaganda and a competent corps of sociologists and psychologists who know how to change workers' feelings. However, so long as capitalist relations exist, the worker will continue to be alienated even if he feels de-alienated. Whether or not the worker is "happy" about it, by alienating his activity he becomes passive, by alienating his creativity he becomes a spectator, by alienating his life he lives through others. Whether or not he is "happy" about it, by alienating his productive power, he gives that power to a class which uses it to hire him, decide for him, control him, manipulate him, brainwash him, repress him, kill him, entertain him and make him "happy."

The quantitative relations between workers and capitalists have a history. The quantity of goods produced per laborer has increased, the quantity of goods received by workers has increased, and even the share of the social product received by workers may have increased within specific regions, although if one views the world economy as a whole this has not taken place. The application of science to technology increases the productivity of labor and thus the productive power which the capitalist class commands; the increased quantity of goods has enlarged the empire controlled by capitalists; competition in the introduction of technological innovations, and also periodic crises, have ruined inefficient or unlucky capitalists, and thus made possible the centralization of enormously enlarged capitals and the integration of technologically related processes. The centralization of capital and the integration of related processes has meant that numerous activities take place under the same roof, and that production becomes a sophisticated process of coordination and cooperation.

However, the qualitative relation between workers and capitalists does not have a history within capitalist society : it is born with capitalism and abolished with capitalism : it is part of the structural backbone of capitalism. The worker is the ruled object, the capitalist is the ruling subject; the worker alienates his productive power, the capitalist appropriates it; the worker's labor creates products, the capitalist owns them and sells them to the worker; the worker creates Capital, the capitalist invests it; the worker produces more than he consumes, he creates a surplus; the capitalist disposes of the surplus and thus determines the shape of the worker's environment, forms a repressive apparatus which keeps the worker "in his place," and hires propagandists, manipulators and educators who make the worker "like" his condition, or at least accept it. This structural relation between the worker and the capitalist is the integument of capitalist society, it is the shell in which the quantitative changes take place.

It is this shell which began to crack in May. It is this structure which starts to disintegrate, not piecemeal, but all at once. The development of society's productive forces, the centralization of capital and the integration of economic activity, the growth of socially combined and scientifically coordinated production processes, make the capitalist shell increasingly vulnerable. The workers, united by the capitalist under the same roof, cooperative with each other because of the exigencies of the work itself, highly educated to be able to manage the sophisticated technology, no longer tolerate their situation, they no longer tolerate the existence of the capitalist, they no longer tolerate the alienation of their labor and the transformation of their labor into a commodity. Educated, proud of their work, confident in their abilities, they begin to express themselves about the fact that they are reduced to tools. Each finds his own observations confirmed by those of others. The workers become class conscious. They gain confidence in their power, they become conscious of their collective power. They communicate their consciousness to other workers.

The workers start to take over; they start to take possession of the productive forces ( the former "capital" ), and with these powerful productive forces they can destroy the concentrated power of the capitalist class : the State and its repressive apparatus. The capitalist shell starts to burst; the expropriators begin to be expropriated.

This is the beginning of socialist revolution. It is the beginning of a world-wide event : the destruction of capitalism as a unified, world system; the negation of alienation. It is an adventure, the beginning of a process of social creation.

When the Sud-Aviation workers occupied their factory "in the style of the student demonstrators," they were not merely expressing their sympathy with the student demonstrators. And when other workers occupied their factories, they were not demanding more consumer goods in exchange for their alienated labor. Some workers had profoundly understood what was happening in the universities. This was not the traditional "social conflict" between "labor and management." At the Renault automobile factory in Cleon, for example, "the initiative was taken by about 200 young workers, members of the unions ( the General Confederation of Labor and the French Democratic Federation of Labor ), but who seemed to be acting spontaneously, following the model of the students; there was no social conflict in the establishment." [21] In fact, the unions also understood that this was not a traditional strike, that the student example had nothing to do with quantitative improvements within the context of capitalist society, and both unions declared "their resolve not to share the responsibility over the movement with the students, and their will not to permit overflows which could lead to anarchy." [22]

The physical occupation of the factories was the first step towards "anarchy." The next step would be for workers to use factory workshops and yards as places for collective expression. This happened in a few factories. But only a few. The unions begin to take control of the movement. And the unions have no interest in letting creative expression "overflow" into the workshops. It becomes urgent for the students to communicate their example. This is the task of the Censier worker-student committees. To do this, the committees not only have to struggle against the capitalist propaganda, but also against the announced opposition of the unions. "We no longer want to confide our demands to union professionals, whether or not they're political. We want to take our affairs into our own hands. Our objectives cannot be realized without live, concrete and daily information, without a constant, human and imaginative contact between workers and students." [23]

The "constant, human and imaginative contact between workers and students" had been established at Censier since the first day of the occupation; this was the basis for the formation of the worker-student committees. On the night of the occupation, "young workers who had demonstrated in the Latin Quarter, entered a French university for the first time, and were more numerous than the students. They all discuss, sometimes in a disorganized manner, a little too enthusiastically, but everyone is aware that the abstract phrases about the liaison between workers and students can be bypassed." [24] Worker-student solidarity, creative self-expression, collective learning, consciousness of collective power, are all facts at Censier; they have to be communicated to the rest of the population. Creative self-expression and self-organization in one building or one factory are like a strike carried out by one worker.

A worker-student committee is formed for every major enterprise, district, region. The committees include workers from the enterprise, workers from other enterprises, French students, foreign students, professors. The names on the doors of former classrooms refer to places : Renault, Citroën, 5th District, 18th District. The committees are not named according to programs, political lines or strategies, because they have no programs, lines or strategies. Their aim is to communicate to workers what has taken place at Censier. Self-led and self-organized, they do not go out to "lead the population" or to "organize the workers." They know they're not up to this task in any case; but they also know that even if they succeeded in this, they would fail in accomplishing their goal : they would merely reintroduce the type of dependence, the type of relation between leaders and led, the type of hierarchic structure, which they'd only just started struggling to destroy. When a "revolutionary" grouplet takes up residence in Censier, puts its name on a door, and starts to "help" action committee militants with problems of "political program" and "strategy" so that the militants will be able to "lead the workers" more effectively, the militants of several action committees burst into the office of the "revolutionary vanguard," call the experts on revolution professors and even cops, and give them an ultimatum : either learn with us or join the Authorities outside.

Committee militants go to the factory gates to talk to strikers, to exchange information, to communicate. They do not go there to substitute themselves for the union leaders, but to stimulate the workers to organize themselves, to take control away from the union leaders and into their own hands. "The political and union leaders did not initiate the strike. The strikers themselves, unionized or not, made the decisions, and it is they who should make the decisions." For this to become possible, the action committee militants call for a "reunion of all the strikers, unionized or not, in a continual General Assembly. In this Assembly, the workers will freely determine their action and their goal, and they will organize concrete tasks like the strike pickets, the distribution of food, the preparation of demonstrations..." [25] The action committee militants call on the workers to transform the occupied factory into a place for collective expression by the workers.

Workers who are contacted by the Censier militants, or who are reached by the leaflets, do express themselves, they do discuss, and through discussions they do become conscious of their power. However, it was not in the factories that they expressed themselves, but in the "liberated zone," in Censier. By letting Censier become the place for the creative expression of workers, the place for collective learning, the workers failed to transform the factories into places for creative self-expression. In Censier the workers liberated themselves; they did not overthrow the capitalist system. In Censier, revolution was an idea, not an action.

The discussions at the Censier general assemblies were heated. Conflicting conceptions of workers' power, of socialism, of revolution, clashed. But the discussions were liberating. The starting point of every discussion was the actual situation of the occupants of Censier : the constituents decided about and controlled their own activity; they did not give their power to leaders, delegates or representatives who controlled them in their name. This was not exploitation for a different price, or by different people; it was a different quality of life. And speakers drew conclusions from this qualitative transformation of social relations.

"In our opinion socialism must be defined as the overthrow of the relations of production. This is the fundamental point which allows us to unmask all the bourgeois and bureaucratic tendencies which call themselves socialist."

Two principal tendencies are then unmasked :

-- the first defines socialism as the nationalization of means of production and as planning. It's obvious that nationalization can change property relations, but it cannot in any way change relations of production. Concretely, the worker continues to submit to a hierarchic authority in the process of production and in all other areas of social life. This current is represented in France by the French Communist Party, which proposes this model of socialism as a long-term objective. It is also represented by pro-Chinese grouplets and by numerous other micro-bureaucracies who advertise their Bolshevism.

-- the second current, composed of intelligent social-democrats,... insists on the notion of worker-management, but without ever posing the problem of the overthrow of capitalism. Thus they present conceptions of co-management and self-management which can easily be assimilated by capitalism, since, in the context of the present system, they will at best lead to a situation where the workers manage their own exploitation. This current is represented in France by certain anarchist groups, and above all, in a more elaborated form, by the centralist bureaucracy of the United Socialist Party ( P.S.U. ), which has gained some influence in the present crisis through its intermediaries in the leadership of the U.N.E.F. ( The student union ) and the S.N.E. Sup. ( the professors' union ). The same theses are presented, with some variants, by the leadership of the C.F.D.T. ( French Democratic Federation of Labor )."

These conceptions are abandoned. They are replaced by a generalization of what is in fact taking place at Censier, namely a generalization of a real experience.

"Our conception of socialism is the following :

-- the workers directly organize and control the entire process of production and all other aspects of social life. The organs of this organization and control cannot be defined in advance. We can only say that the organization will not be carried out by a party or by a union... This obviously implies the suppression of all hierarchies, on all levels. [26]

This is a call for the death of capitalism, a call for the appropriation of social power by society, a call for workers to appropriate the productive power alienated to capitalists, a call for people to appropriate the decision-making power alienated to the tops of hierarchies, a call for everyone to appropriate the power to think and act alienated to specialists and representatives.

It's the last week in May. Increasing numbers of workers take part in the general assemblies at Censier and at other universities. This is no "grouplet," no "vanguard party;" it's a revolutionary mass movement. At this point it is ludicrous to Censier militants that at some universities there are still "students" discussing university reform and reorganization.

For the Censier militants, "anything is possible." The potentialities of the revolutionary situation are elaborated in leaflets, in general assembly discussions.

"All the programs and structures of the traditional working-class organizations have exploded. The question of power has been posed. It's no longer a question of replacing one government with another, nor of replacing one regime with another. It's a question of installing the Power of the entire working class over the whole society; it's a question of the abolition of class society." [27]

Not only in France, but in the entire capitalist region. The destruction of the capitalist state and its repressive apparatus ( the army and the police ), the force which protects the transfer of the world's wealth from "backward" to "developed" regions and from lower to upper classes, is eliminated. The lack of a regime, of a government, makes it as urgent to extend the revolution beyond the borders of France as it is to extend it beyond the borders of Censier. This point is made in a general assembly; it raises a furor; it's a point that hasn't been raised by revolutionary socialists since the victory of Stalin's conception of "socialism in one country."

"In Belgium, in Germany, in Italy, in England, in Holland, in all capitalist countries, struggles similar to ours or in solidarity with our struggle, are developing." [28]

The economy is paralyzed. All places of work are occupied by the workers. The power of the capitalist regime is suspended :

" has lost its factories, it has lost control over economic activity, it has lost its wealth. It has lost everything; all it has left is power : this has to be taken." [29]

The question of power is posed. The first step is realized : the producers physically occupy the places of work : "the red flag of the working class and not that of a party floats everywhere." The next step is for the workers to express themselves, "to organize themselves and to develop their enormous capacity for initiative." [30] At this point, expression is translated into action, the consciousness of collective power is followed by the organization of collective power, the strike is transformed into an "active strike." And at that point,

"...violence is inevitable so long as the menace of losing all they've conquered hangs over the workers, so long as the repressive power of the State continues to exist... Now the workers will have to organize their own power everywhere in order to destroy this repressive power at its roots... The workers must prepare themselves by organizing armed retaliation to any provocation .... They must destroy the very sources of power by making the bourgeoisie useless, by taking over the organization of production and distribution." [31]

"...the state apparatus, whether bourgeois or bureaucratic, is destroyed. There is no longer any specialized repressive corps ( police, army, etc. ); these bodies have given way to the general armament of the working population." [32]

Capitalism is destroyed; alienation is annihilated; an adventure begins : the working population organizes its own social activities; people consciously create their own material and social conditions.

These perspectives were expressed in the general assemblies of Censier. However, Censier was not the place where expression could be translated into social action, where the consciousness of collective power could be transformed into an organization of collective power, where the strike could be transformed into an active strike. And when, at the very end of May, the workers of a chemical plant told the assembly that they had begun to express themselves in their factory, everyone understood. "Until now we've been kept from speaking; but we've taken the floor, we've learned to speak, and this is irreversible." [33] They had formed rank and file committees "composed of all the workers of a sector. The committee is the expression of the will of the workers." This is what had to be done in all the factories when the strike began; this is what will be done when the next strike begins. The perspectives were in the past, or in the future; it had not been done; Censier had served as a substitute.


[19] This statement excludes the likelihood that infinitesimal quantitative changes will gradually lead to a qualitative leap, a prospect offered by J.M. Keynes : with the continued development of society's productive forces, it can become "comparatively easy to make capital-goods so abundant that the marginal efficiency of capital is zero. . ( A ) little reflection will show what enormous social changes would result from a gradual disappearance of a rate of return on accumulated wealth." One of the main social consequences would be "the euthanasia of the rentier, and, consequently, the euthanasia of the cumulative oppressive power of the capitalist to exploit the scarcity-value of capital," i.e. the disappearance of the capitalist and the disappearance of capitalism. ( J.M. Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, New York : Harcourt, Brace, 1964, p. 221 and p. 376. )

[20] It has frequently been noted that the alienated labor of capitalist society differs from slavery and serfdom. The slave's entire being, and not merely his labor ( or labor-time ) is the property of the master; strictly speaking, the slave has nothing to alienate, since he is not a person but an object, a piece of property. The serf, on the other hand, is not owned by his lord, and does not alienate his labor; he is forced to give up the products of his labor, and he receives nothing in exchange ( except the "protection" of his lord -- which in practice means oppression, domination, and often death ). The laborer, unlike the slave, is a "free man" : his body is his own; it is his labor which becomes the property of an owner. Unlike the serf, the laborer alienates his labor, but receives something in exchange for what he gives away.

[21] Le Monde, May 18, 1968, p. 3.

[22] Le Monde, May 18, 1968, p. 3.

[23] Leaflet : "Personnel d'Air-Inter et Air France," May 16, 1968.

[24] "L'Occupation," Action, May 13, 1968, p. 7.

[25] Leaflet : "Camarades," Comité d'Action Travailleurs-Etudiants, Sorbonne and Censier, May 20, 1968.

[26] "Rapport d'Orientation" ( Orientation Report ), read and discussed at the General Assembly of the Workers-Students Action Committees of Censier on May 25 ( ? ), 1968.

[27] Leaflet : "Que Faire ?" Comité d'Action Travailleurs-Etudiants, Censier, May 25, 1968.

[28] Leaflet : "De Gaulle à la Porte !" Les Comités d'Action, May 24, 1968.

[29] Leaflet : "De Gaulle à la Porte !" Les Comités d'Action, May 24, 1968.

[30] "Que Faire ?" Comité d'Action Travailleurs-Etudiants, Censier, May 25, 1968.

[31] "Que Faire ?" Comité d'Action Travailleurs-Etudiants, Censier, May 25, 1968.

[32] "Rapport d'Orientation," ( Orientation Report ), read and discussed at the General Assembly of the Workers-Students Action Committees of Censier on May 25 ( ? ), 1968.

[33] Leaflet : "Rhône-Poulenc," Le Comité Centrale de Grève ( Rhône Poulenc, Central Strike Committee ), May 28, 1968.

C: The Unveiling of Repression and Propaganda

Submitted by libcom on December 20, 2005

Revolution is as much of a threat to the Communist Party as to the factory owners. The Party has acquired a vested interest in the law and order of capitalist society : it has enormous financial resources, a formidable electoral machine, and controls France's major union. It has vested interests in its long-range political program and in its strategy for eventual parliamentary victory. It has a vested interest in its fabulous bureaucratic structure. The Communist Party could not have "led" the working class to revolution. ''Waldeck-Rochet for Dictator of the Proletariat" [34] would in any case have been a ludicrous slogan in a literate society in the middle of the 20th Century. The conquest of power by the workers would have put an end to the Communist Party's political program and to its strategy for parliamentary victory; it would have annihilated the Party's financial resources, its electoral machine, and its union. To have contributed to the conquest of power by the workers, the Communist Party would have had to bury itself. But the Communist Party is one of the major political forces in modern capitalist society : like other institutions, it has a vested interest in its own continued existence. Consequently, the power, the experience and the knowledge of the Party and the General Federation of Labor were all mobilized to destroy the revolution.

The Government and the Union, the Capitalists and the Communists, mobilized their instruments of repression and propaganda to keep the student example from overflowing into the working class. One of the government's first acts was to have the police occupy the radio transmission center ( at the Eiffel Tower ).

One of the Union's first acts was to take absolute control over every loudspeaker system in every occupied factory. Both the Capitalist and the Communist press repeated the "news" about students concerned over tests and workers concerned over wages, hoping to bring this situation into existence by mentioning it endlessly.

The press did not mention the fact that the students were running their own social activities. This was not due to ignorance, or to lack of information. Censier, for example, was wide open to the public, to the press, even to cops ( in plain clothes, obviously; they weren't invited, but they came; no one stopped them ). Reporters went to Censier; they looked for the leaders, the responsibles, the organizational headquarters, and they found none. They were disappointed, unimpressed; nothing was happening at Censier, and in any case it was anarchy and chaos. A population who depended on orders from superiors, on instructions from leaders, was not told that the population of Censier had done away with superiors and leaders.

In fact, all the techniques known to the "science of information" were used to keep the population asleep, to reinforce their dependence on superiors, leaders, spokesmen, bosses. If leaders didn't exist, then they had to be invented. The press itself went on to install the Spokesmen, the Representatives, the Leaders. Obscure bureaucrats, vigorous professors, outspoken militants, were transformed by the press into the Lenins, the Maos and the Ches of the Revolution. Thus Jacques Sauvageot, vice-president of the student union, became the Spokesman of the Student Movement; Alain Geismar, former secretary of the professors' union, became the Representative of the enraged students and professors; and Daniel Cohn-Bendit became the Leader of the Madmen.

Dany Cohn-Bendit was the favorite. His German origins were pointed out so as to keep anti-Germans well informed about the situation, and his Jewish origins were pointed out to put anti-Semites on guard. Then the situation was clear to all of the middle class, and to most of the working class : their polite sons and daughters had been led to violent, irresponsible, anarchistic, anti-Patriotic demonstrations by a little foreign agitator. And the choice was made lucidly clear for all responsible people. It was all a matter of one or another Leader. Did the Frenchman prefer a responsible, even if slightly senile, De Gaulle, or a German-Jewish Anarchist ? Did the worker prefer a responsible, even if slightly bureaucratic, union official, or a German-Jewish Anarchist ? The circus had to end; the factory owners, the government and the press had grown tired of it; workers had to return to their jobs, students to their tests. Everyone would have a chance to vote for his preferred Leader in the coming election.

The Union's major task was to keep the occupied factories from being transformed into places where the workers could express themselves creatively. This had to be done without the intervention of the police, if possible, since an inopportune attack by the cops during the general strike could have led workers to start organizing their self-defense. The union managed this operation soon after the outbreak of the strike. Union officials placed themselves at the head of the ''movement"; they held on to all the loudspeakers and "initiated" the occupation of the factory; the Union bureaucracy then proceeded to "occupy" the factory instead of the workers. Inside the Union-occupied factory, no one expressed himself : union officials read prepared speeches over the loudspeakers to an audience composed largely of union delegates. The workers inside the factory were not all enthusiastic about the "occupation"; those who were unenthusiastic did not applaud the speeches read by officials over loudspeakers, and in the evening they went to Censier to analyze what had to be done.

Action committee militants were aware of what was happening. "The policy of the union leaders is extremely clear; unable to oppose the strike, they're trying to isolate the most combative workers inside the factories, they're trying to let the strike rot so as to make the strikers accept the agreement which they'll reach with the bosses. And the bosses are in fact ready to negotiate, to give some union leaders more power, the way their likes have already done in other countries. If they have to, they won't hesitate to recognize the union local, in order to increase their control over, and to minimize, the workers' demands." [35]

The Union's next major task is to prevent contacts between the workers and the students, to keep the consciousness of collective power from overflowing into the factories. This is done by a combination of propaganda and force. On the level of propaganda, the workers are told that the problems of students have nothing in common with the problems of workers; that students are worried about tests and want to have a Modern University, and that in any case the students' Leader, Dany Cohn-Bendit, has no understanding of the workers' problems and cannot negotiate for the workers' consequently, the workers must let the union officials negotiate for them. On the level of force : the workers are locked in, the students are locked out. The majority of workers, in fact, are not inside the factory; they're kept away by the fact that nothing happens there; these workers are home, listening to the government on the radio, reading the bourgeois press, and waiting for the strike to end; they're safely removed from the possibility of becoming conscious of anything.

The minority of workers who occupy the factory are locked in; thus they're kept away from the action committee militants outside, and they're exposed to the speeches inside. The strike pickets appointed by Union and Party officials play cards and wait for the strike to end. The action committee militants who come to the factory entrances get as far as the strike pickets, who are instructed not to let the militants inside, not to let the militants talk to workers, not to take the "provocators and adventurists" seriously, and to chase them away by any means necessary in case crowds of workers collect around them.

In factories occupied in this manner, no one expresses anything, no one learns; the level of consciousness remains where it was before the strike. The workers are told by their "spokesmen" that what they want is higher wages and improved conditions, and that only the union can negotiate these gains for them. The whole strike is reduced to the problem of quantitative improvements and material gains within capitalist society. Locked into the factories by appointed strike pickets, spoken-for by union officials, told by loudspeakers and press that the militants outside are anarchistic provocators who follow an irresponsible foreign Leader, the workers become even more dependent. Chained to a context in which all their powers are alienated, the workers view their possibilities from the vantage point of powerlessness -- and from this vantage point, nothing is possible and nothing is learned.

For example, when peasants contact Censier and offer chickens at cost price, and when other peasants offer potatoes free, action committee militants are excited : it's the beginning of the active strike. Trucks have to be placed at the service of the strikers to deliver the food. Militants approach the strike picket of an auto factory. The union guards at the entrance aren't interested. The Boss wouldn't give permission to let the strikers use one of his trucks, and in any case the Union Canteen buys its food through established channels. Union officials hear about the proposition. Like small businessmen they calculate the quantitative gains for the union treasury. They accept : it's a good buy. They send a union truck for the food. Communist officials and a Communist strike committee cannot imagine any social relations other than capitalist relations.

Thus the occupied factories are not transformed into places for expression and learning; general assemblies are not formed; workers do not become conscious of their collective power, and they do not appropriate society's productive forces. The appropriation of social power by the working population would have meant the transformation of the entire society into a place for collective expression, a place for active, conscious, de-alienated creation. Such anarchy is averted. Toward the end of the strike, rank and file committees are formed in factory after factory. The workers in these committees are acutely aware of the means which were used to avert the appropriation of social power by the workers -- this time.

Once the factories are removed from the workers by the Unions, the police attack the universities. In order to justify the repression, scapegoats have to be found. Those who are singled out are the revolutionary grouplets, the vanguards whose importance had declined during the height of the crisis. The revolutionary grouplets are outlawed, several of their members are thrown in jail. It is at this point that the vanguard revolutionaries regain their lost importance. Their role as vanguards has been certified by the capitalist State, and is daily confirmed by the bourgeois press. The banned revolutionaries return to Censier.

This time they're not chased out. Everyone is sympathetic. Meetings to protest the ban are held. Demonstrations to protest the incarceration of comrades are planned. The revolutionaries are followed by cops. A sentinel is placed at the entrance of Censier -- for the first time since the occupation. The revolutionary grouplets are fighting to save themselves : it's time to get organized. A frantic atmosphere and elements of paranoia are introduced to Censier.

Censier is transformed. Action committee militants see themselves looked at, the same way students are looked at by professors. The militants are rated, classed. They are once again an underclass : they are politically unformed, they are unshaped dough. They are raw material which is to be coordinated, organized, led.

It is at this point that the worker-student committees leave Censier. The General Assembly of the Worker-Student Action Committees changes its name : it becomes the Inter-enterprise Committee. It is now composed mainly of workers from various enterprises; it becomes an occasion for members of newly formed rank and file committees to exchange experiences. It no longer meets daily, but once a week. Some individual factory committees, like the Citroën Committee, continue to lead an independent existence. Workers continue to express themselves, to learn, to initiate and to act within the action committees. But the committees are no longer places for the self-expression of all the workers; they're removed from the factories and from the universities. They're groups of people. They have neither a strategy nor a political program. They have a perspective. And they know they've been had; they know how, and by whom.

The repression itself gives birth to the type of "Left" described by the propaganda : a "Left" composed of clandestine societies, persecuted vanguards, tragic leaders, and even students concerned with student problems.

When the general strike is over, when the worker-student committees are gone, Censier becomes "organized" for the first time since its occupation : it acquires an internal hierarchy. The frustrated vanguard revolutionaries, who had not been able to lead, to organize, to plan during the crisis, now bring their talents to Censier. They forge themselves a place in a Central Committee of Occupation. They form a Central Coordinating Committee which assigns rooms to appropriate groups in orderly fashion. They explain that the "anarchists" are gone now; that the ideas of the "anarchists" corresponded to "an earlier stage of the struggle," and that now the "struggle" requires centralization, coordination, leadership. They allocate rooms to new groups -- new committees -- made up entirely of students. And they preside over commissions on university reorganization and course transformation.

"Student problems" come to Censier for the first time since the occupation. On the heels of the "student problems" come the police. When the police occupy Censier no one tries to defend the building : there's nothing to defend; Censier now consists of a student "mass" concerned with the modalities of a reorganized University, and a "vanguard" concerned with keeping itself in the Central Committee. An empty shell is taken by the police.

F. Perlman


[34] Waldeck-Rochet is the top official of the French Communist Party.

[35] Leaflet : "Camarades," Comité d'Action Travailleurs-Etudiants, Sorbonne and Censier, May 20, 1968.