PODCAST | Be Realistic: Demand the Impossible – the legacy of May ’68 for thinking about political possibility today

The events of May 1968, when France was brought to a standstill by a broad-based insurrection of students and trade unionists, were an extraordinary eruption even by the standards of that momentous year.  As well as furnishing new slogans and motifs for imagining the “outside” of capitalism, it also left a legacy of powerful political works with great relevance for understanding our “populist” times.  Among these works are Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, Vaneigem’s Revolution in Everyday Life and Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy. This talk examines the intellectual and political legacy of ‘68 and the emergence of concepts such as détournement, the spectacle and simulacra for describing communicative capitalism and the modes of resistance it enables.


Simon Tormey is Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. A political theorist, Simon is the author of numerous books and articles including Anti-Capitalism – recently revised with Oneworld. His latest book, The End of Representative Politics, was published by Polity in 2015.


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