Time's perspective - Mercedes-Benz Forum

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-29-2008, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
BenzWorld Elite
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 95 E300
Location: Inside my head
Posts: 36,850
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 392 Post(s)
(Thread Starter)
Time's perspective

1968: The year of the posturing rebel
The student unrest in Paris and London 40 years ago filled our writer with revulsion. The protesters enjoyed enviable freedom and had no idea how lucky they were
Tom Stoppard

In 1968 I was living the good life with my first wife and first baby in our first house on the swell of my first play and was beginning to be noted by my peers as someone who was politically dubious.

It was to be some years before a well known left-wing director, asked to typify a “Royal Court play”, replied that it was a play not written by Tom Stoppard, but I was already conscious of a feeling in myself which detached me from the prevailing spirit of rebellion when bliss was it in that dawn to be alive but to be young was to be where it’s at.

The feeling I refer to was embarrassment. I was embarrassed by the slogans and postures of rebellion in a society which, in London as in Paris, had moved on since Wordsworth was young and which seemed to me to be the least worst system into which one might have been born – the open liberal democracy whose very essence was the toleration of dissent.

I had not been born into it. You don’t need to be a qualified psychologist to work out that in England in 1968, 22 years after I arrived, I was much more disposed to champion my adoptive country than to find fault with it. For all I knew to the contrary, if my father had survived the war (he was killed in the Far East) he would have taken his family back to my birthplace in Czechoslovakia in 1946 and I would have grown up under the communist dictatorship which followed two years later.

I was as aware as most people were that not everything in the gardens of the West was lovely and of course we didn’t know – one never knows – the half of it. But when in August 1968 the armies of the Warsaw Pact invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia, an act which was simply the ongoing occupation of eastern Europe writ bold, my embarrassment at our agit-prop mummers’ “revolution” turned to revulsion.

What repelled me was the implied conflation of two categorically different cases. The “free West”, God knew, was all too often disfigured by corruption and injustice but the abuses represented, and were acknowledged to represent, a failure of the model. In the East, though, the abuses represented the model in full working order.

A small incident which must have confirmed some people’s worst suspicions about me occurred when I was asked to sign a protest against “censorship” after a newspaper declined to publish somebody’s manifesto. “But that isn’t censorship,” I said. “That’s editing. In Russia you go to prison for possessing a copy of Animal Farm. That’s censorship.”

Communism’s “normality” relied on the distortion of language and my new hero, George Orwell, had long since diagnosed the disease in his own society, so I took this kind of thing very much to heart.

And in 1968 there was Paris, too. By August the smoke of May in Paris had cleared. There had been pitched battles between thousands of students and riot police, followed by a five-week occupation of the Sorbonne and a general strike. These were immense events, not much diminished – from my viewpoint in a thatched cottage off the M4 – by the coat-tails attachment of famous philosophers, actors and other luminaries of a generous state culture.

Even at this 40-year distance les événements of 1968 still give, by association, our more constrained English version a resonance for people who are vague about what happened in Prague or why. But I look back on our “revolution” – the occupation of the London School of Economics, Horn-sey College of Art and all the excitements of those heady days – as little more than a saturnalia.

more at: 1968: The year of the posturing rebel - Times Online

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and that’s what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama
Botnst is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-29-2008, 03:14 PM
BenzWorld Elite
Jayhawk's Avatar
Date registered: Aug 2005
Vehicle: S500/W220/2000
Location: Lawrence, KS (USA)
Posts: 21,652
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Time warp's perspective

Though I like some of Stoppard's work, I have to say that he has grossly exaggerated (in his mind and on this paper) the events of 1968 in Paris and London in order to make a bogus point about today's War On Terror. I was in London once and Paris twice over several months in 1968, and his imagination--he takes serious artistic license w/ the facts--has somewhat run muck. I'm not sure whether to attribute this to his political activism (he has come a long way from who he was in 1968) or just old age, but I urge you to take his words w/ a grain of salt. There was more "political action" in Lawrence, KS in those days than in London and Paris combined...

Don't believe everything you think
Jayhawk is offline  
post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-29-2008, 04:24 PM
BenzWorld Junior Member
p_stampy's Avatar
Date registered: Aug 2005
Vehicle: Nikes
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Not related to what you're talking about, but this was also put out in 1968:

What Will Life Be Like in the Year 2008?
p_stampy is offline  
Sponsored Links

  Mercedes-Benz Forum > General Mercedes-Benz Forums > Off-Topic

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mercedes-Benz Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


  • Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
    Thread Tools
    Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
    Email this Page Email this Page
    Display Modes
    Linear Mode Linear Mode

    Similar Threads
    Topic Author Forum Replies Last Post
    Perspective? BenzToy R/C107 SL/SLC Class 10 09-03-2007 01:48 PM
    TIME's Man Of The Year 2001 offroadwarrior Off-Topic 10 11-10-2006 04:23 PM
    Perspective Qubes Off-Topic 0 08-16-2006 06:41 AM
    New York Time's Frank Rich: Bush "Dishonest, Corrupt, Reprehensible" FeelTheLove Off-Topic 38 11-30-2005 03:27 PM
    New York Time's columnist Dionne writes savage editorial against Bush FeelTheLove Off-Topic 0 09-13-2005 01:48 PM

    Posting Rules  
    You may post new threads
    You may post replies
    You may not post attachments
    You may not edit your posts

    BB code is On
    Smilies are On
    [IMG] code is On
    HTML code is Off
    Trackbacks are On
    Pingbacks are On
    Refbacks are On


    Title goes here

    video goes here
    description goes here. Read Full Story
    For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome