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New Left Review I/115, May-June 1979

Régis Debray

A Modest Contribution to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Tenth Anniversary

It has been Holy Unity week. The official ceremonies organized around the tenth anniversary of May ’68 brought together everyone in this country with a name, a status or a decoration and saturated every medium of communication. From left to right, yesterday’s enemies and tomorrow’s friends, the best and the worst—Libération to France-Soir, Séguy to Debré—were in agreement on the absurdity of excluding the main hero from the proceedings. (If an ordinary citizen may be permitted to add his voice to the general clamour: let Dany come home soon.) This unanimity was a good sign. It could suggest that the level of national idiocy is in decline, even a growth of liberalism. Everywhere else, revolutionaries are showered with hatred and imbecility: they are sour assassins, cold monsters, Gulag warrant officers, mass murderers. On the tenth anniversary of Che’s death there was no homage, no round-table discussion or memorial programme on Bolivian television. Nor anywhere else on a continent which once trembled before him, not just for a month or two either. Robespierre was not the toast of Paris in 1805; ten years after October, the name of Lenin still struck fear into the hearts of children in the European countryside. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but perhaps we should be thankful for small mercies.

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Régis Debray, ‘A Modest Contribution to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Tenth Anniversary’, NLR I/115: £3

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