In 1848 revolutions broke out almost simultaneously in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and Milan that toppled long-established reactionary regimes and attempted to institute political and social reforms. Historians referring to this period call it the "springtime of the nations." These revolutions were ultimately crushed or gave way to even more sophisticated autocratic governments which were in many ways more repressive than the ones they replaced. Nevertheless, in their brief moment of triumph these revolutions exposed some of the most glaring contradictions of their societies -- most notably the growing, almost unbridgeable gulf between the bourgeoisie and the newly emergent industrial working class -- laying to rest the myth that Europe was moving towards a harmonious era of the golden mean. 1
If the events of 1848 sound familiar to modern ears it is because a somewhat similar pattern of events took place during and after 1968. That year saw concurrent riots, insurrections, and near-rebellionsn the streets of New York, Chicago, Detroit, Paris, Mexico City, and Prague. This " '68 Spring" was also crushed in successive waves of assassinations, Soviet tank invasions, and police and army tear gas and bullets. However, like their 1848 predecessors, these revolts also exposed a number of the contradictions inherent in their societies. 2
In America, 1968 was merely the most apocalyptic year of a momentous decade. During that period the myths underlying the foreign policy of containment, the belief that domestic affluence ensured social peace, and the basic optimism that had dominated American life and spirit since World War II were buried forever. For many Americans their image
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Publication information: Book title: American Film and Society since 1945. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: Leonard Quart - Author, Albert Auster - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1991. Page number: 71.
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