1939: The Balance Sheet: Paradoxes and Imponderables -- Part 30
Conflicts between generations can be worked out in many ways.
Even if the focus of the unrest is uncertain, the likelihood of unrest in a given society is great if a bulge is composed of young people.
Youthful energies can be used to overthrow tyranny, but they can also be used to move in destructive directions, like with the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s.
When the members of a population bulge grow older, the results might be positive, as the number of workers in their most productive stages of life increases.
Many economies have not developed institutions that can tap these workers' potential productivity.
The burden on the rest of the population is caused by the fact that productive workers become elderly and less productive as retirees.
Long-range planning is needed to deal with population bulges.
The necessary decisions are likely to be unpopular and thus difficult to put into effect.
Few states have done it well.
The enthusiasm of youth in the late 1960s is not to suggest that there wasn't a legitimate cause for unhappiness in the institutions of higher education.
The Vietnam War was seen by young people in Europe as a pointless conflict that was supported by an older, blinkered generation that was beholden to the United States.
In France from the early 1950s to the late 1960s, the number of students in universities more than tripled, without a corresponding expansion of libraries, classrooms and course offerings.
Students were expected to be angry.
The extent to which their protests and disruptions caught fire with the rest of the population was not expected.
Poor decisions by those in authority, linked to overreactions by the forces of order, sparked indignation from other parts of society.
The events of May are known in France as "the events of May" and are similar to the opening stages of revolutions in the past.
10 million workers went on strike in less than a day after a general strike was declared on May 13, 1968.
The Bolsheviks were able to take over after the tsar and other potential successors for power were unable to rule because of the failure of existing political leadership.
The French Communist Party was not as similar to the Bolshevik Party of November 1917.
The students, their sympathizers, and the millions of strikers didn't recognize a single leader, organization, or program, while President Charles De Gaulle resembled the weak Nicholas II or the vacillating Alexander Kerensky.
The policy of divide and conquer was quite effective.
The initial sympathy for student protesters proved to be ephemeral.
Conservatives and moderates were worried that a new Popular Front government of socialists and Communists could descend into anarchy.
In the elections, De Gaulle's party won its greatest victory, giving him a solid majority in the chamber.
De Gaulle's famous retort, when meeting student protesters, had its own kind of symbolism: A dignified and revered military hero in his late seventies, facing down rowdy, long-haired rebels in their teens and twenties.
Student protests over university conditions in Italy began in 1967, and would reach a violent climax in 1969.
In Germany and many other countries, students clashed with authorities over a number of issues, but nowhere by the early 1970s was it possible to speak of anything approximating a substantial victory for student rebels, if for no other reason than "victory" for most of them had no.
The expression of terrorism in Italy and Germany was caused by those who believed in the necessity of immediate radical change.
It seemed to represent a nihilistic, adolescent rejection of authority more than any genuine belief that radical change would emerge from terrorist actions.
Slow progress and ups and downs of the Woman Question have been traced in previous chapters.
A quantum leap in feminist thought and action took place in the late 1960s.
The major isms of the nineteenth century were challenged by feminism as noted in Chapter 4.
The Enlightened goals of equality and justice for women were difficult to agree on because of the wide range of practical applications.
By the eve of the twentieth century, growing numbers of males, both on the right and on the left, had been won over to extending the vote to women, in the case of conservative males, because of evidence that women could be expected to vote conservatively.
After World War II, the Christian Democrats and Gaullists supported giving women the vote.
In the immediate postwar elections, women voted disproportionately for Christian Democrats, Gaullists, and other conservatives.
Napoleon III and Disraeli were popular with a large percentage of the poor and lower-middle class.
Conservative males continued to be wary of feminist agendas as they looked to expand equal status beyond the vote - in the home, in the workplace, in education, in legal relations, and in sexual matters.
The first discussions of the Woman Question focused on education, civil equality, and gaining the vote, but later on issues of reproductive rights and equal pay came to the fore.
There were issues between women.
At this time, feminist activists said that they wanted to be different from their mothers, or that they were determined to reject subordination and compromises.
In areas where Fascist, Nazi, or other authoritarian regimes came into power, the slow progress in recognizing women's rights seemed to be halted if not reversed.
Women in Europe during the first postwar decades were more concerned with survival than with gender equality.
By the late 1960s, the general mood of liberation seemed to be in favor of feminism.
The young rebels were disappointed if not shocked by the attitudes they encountered in young male rebels, who were often male chauvinists.
For many women, "consciousness-raising" experiences became much more frequent.