The Assembly Line

The Assembly Line

The Assembly Line

The Assembly Line

Excerpt

In the spring of 1968 the Left Bank of Paris, site of most university activity and the center of French intellectual life, exploded into revolution. De Gaulle had been in power for ten years, brought out of retirement to spearhead the determination of the Algerian white settlers to keep their colony French in spite of the increasing sympathy of the French public for the sufferings of the Algerians during the long war of attrition against the FLN, the liberation army. The Algerian war strengthened both the extreme Left and the extreme Right in France, and most leaders of opinion, popular writers, actors, and journalists, alarmed by the increasing stories of torture and atrocity coming from Algiers, sided with the Left and the FLN. But de Gaulle, brought suddenly to power by the Right and nervously accepted by the Right-Center parties fearful of civil war, surprised everyone by turning against the very people who had acclaimed him as their savior in Algiers. His famous remark, "Je vous ai compris," taken to mean that he was solidly with the white colonists, meant in fact that he had understood that no peace was possible in Algeria except by French withdrawal, and he rapidly brought the war to an end, subverted a military coup d'état against him, and imposed a strong personal presidential rule on the country.

By so doing he incurred the emnity of Left and Right, although supported by the great bulk of the French bourgeoisie and peasantry. The Right hated him because he had betrayed them in Algeria and the Left because they saw in his authoritarianism their permanent exclusion from . . .

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