Context : Learning from History
In 1968, the North Vietnamese army and the National Liberation Front
launched what became known as the Tet offensive against the United States
forces occupying their country. The NLF’s attacks on the capital Saigon and
former capital Hué by a people’s army taking on the world’s most powerful military
might sparked off a year of revolutionary events around the world.
That year, countless young people were inspired by the amazing sacrifice of the
Vietnamese people. Then, just across the channel, the mass demonstrations in Paris
enabled us to envisage for the first time the real possibility of workers, students and
ordinary people overturning the capitalist state machine and bringing into being a new
era of history.
And from McCarthy, who, in 1968, experienced first-hand both frontlines of popular struggle and resistance:
141 rue de Rennes
June 18 1968
...It was weird, writing about North Vietnam during all the turmoil and passionate excitement here. Hanoi seemed so far away...
I found the events here shaking. Hanoi was shaking too but this more so because closer to home both figuratively and literally. All one's habits, possessions, way of life, set ideas were called into question, above all one's critical detachment. I had not recognised how detached I was...Most of our friends' children were in the fighting, including a thirteen-year-old. None hurt, luckily, or arrested. At least not yet, as they say in Hanoi...
To be continued...