Be realistic, demand the impossible

MAY 1968 GRAFFITI

It is forbidden to forbid

Beneath the cobblestones, the beach

In the decor of the spectacle, the eye meets only things and their prices.

Commute, work, commute, sleep . . .

Meanwhile everyone wants to breathe and nobody can and many say, “We will breathe later.” And most of them don’t die because they are already dead.

Boredom is counterrevolutionary.

We don’t want a world where the guarantee of not dying of starvation brings the risk of dying of boredom.

We want to live.

Don’t beg for the right to live — take it.

In a society that has abolished every kind of adventure the only adventure that remains is to abolish the society.

The liberation of humanity is all or nothing.

Those who make revolutions half way only dig their own graves.

No replastering, the structure is rotten.

Masochism today takes the form of reformism.

Reform my ass.

The revolution is incredible because it’s really happening.

I came, I saw, I was won over.

Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!

Quick!

If we only have enough time . . .

In any case, no regrets!

Already ten days of happiness.

Live in the moment.

Comrades, if everyone did like us . . .

We will ask nothing. We will demand nothing. We will take, occupy.

Down with the state.

When the National Assembly becomes a bourgeois theater, all the bourgeois theaters should be turned into national assemblies. [Written above the entrance of the occupied Odéon Theater]

Referendum: whether we vote yes or no, it turns us into suckers.

It’s painful to submit to our bosses; it’s even more stupid to choose them.

Let’s not change bosses, let’s change life.

Don’t liberate me — I’ll take care of that.

I’m not a servant of the people (much less of their self-appointed leaders). Let the people serve themselves.

Abolish class society.

Nature created neither servants nor masters. I want neither to rule nor to be ruled.

We will have good masters as soon as everyone is their own.

“In revolution there are two types of people: those who make it and those who profit from it.”
(Napoleon)

Warning: ambitious careerists may now be disguised as “progressives.”

Don’t be taken in by the politicos and their filthy demagogy. We must rely on ourselves.

Socialism without freedom is a barracks.

All power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We want structures that serve people, not people serving structures.

The revolution doesn’t belong to the committees, it’s yours.

Politics is in the streets.

Barricades close the streets but open the way.

Our hope can come only from the hopeless.

A proletarian is someone who has no power over his life and knows it.

Never work.

People who work get bored when they don’t work. People who don’t work never get bored.

Workers of all countries, enjoy!

Since 1936 I have fought for wage increases.
My father before me fought for wage increases.
Now I have a TV, a fridge, a Volkswagen.
Yet my whole life has been a drag.
Don’t negotiate with the bosses. Abolish them.

The boss needs you, you don’t need the boss.

By stopping our machines together we will demonstrate their weakness.

Occupy the factories.

Power to the workers councils.
(an enragé)

Power to the enragés councils.
(a worker)

Worker: You may be only 25 years old, but your union dates from the last century.

Labor unions are whorehouses.

Comrades, let’s lynch Séguy!
[Georges Séguy: head bureaucrat of the Communist Party-dominated labor union]

Please leave the Communist Party as clean on leaving it as you would like to find it on entering.

Stalinists, your children are with us!

Man is neither Rousseau’s noble savage nor the Church’s or La Rochefoucauld’s depraved sinner.
He is violent when oppressed, gentle when free.

Conflict is the origin of everything.
(Heraclitus)

If we have to resort to force, don’t sit on the fence.

Be cruel.

Humanity won’t be happy till the last capitalist is hung with the guts of the last bureaucrat.

When the last sociologist has been hung with the guts of the last bureaucrat, will we still have “problems”?

The passion of destruction is a creative joy.
(Bakunin)

A single nonrevolutionary weekend is infinitely more bloody than a month of total revolution.

The tears of philistines are the nectar of the gods.

This concerns everyone.

We are all German Jews.

We refuse to be highrised, diplomaed, licensed, inventoried, registered, indoctrinated, suburbanized, sermonized, beaten, telemanipulated, gassed, booked.

We are all “undesirables.”

We must remain “unadapted.”

The forest precedes man, the desert follows him.

Under the paving stones, the beach.

Concrete breeds apathy.

Coming soon to this location: charming ruins.

Beautiful, maybe not, but O how charming: life versus survival.

“My aim is to agitate and disturb people. I’m not selling bread, I’m selling yeast.”
(Unamuno)

Conservatism is a synonym for rottenness and ugliness.

You are hollow.

You will end up dying of comfort.

Hide yourself, object!

No to coat-and-tie revolution.

A revolution that requires us to sacrifice ourselves for it is Papa’s revolution.

Revolution ceases to be the moment it calls for self-sacrifice.

The prospect of finding pleasure tomorrow will never compensate for today’s boredom.

When people notice they are bored, they stop being bored.

Happiness is a new idea.

Live without dead time.

Those who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring to everyday reality have a corpse in their mouth.

Culture is an inversion of life.

Poetry is in the streets.

The most beautiful sculpture is a paving stone thrown at a cop’s head.

Art is dead, don’t consume its corpse.

Art is dead, let’s liberate our everyday life.

Art is dead, Godard can’t change that.

Godard: the supreme Swiss Maoist jerk.

Permanent cultural vibration.

We want a wild and ephemeral music.
We propose a fundamental regeneration:concert strikes,
sound gatherings with collective investigation.
Abolish copyrights: sound structures belong to everyone.

Anarchy is me.

Revolution, I love you.

Down with the abstract, long live the ephemeral.
(Marxist-Pessimist Youth)

Don’t consume Marx, live him.

I’m a Groucho Marxist.

I take my desires for reality because I believe in the reality of my desires.

Desiring reality is great! Realizing your desires is even better!

Practice wishful thinking.

I declare a permanent state of happiness.

Be realistic, demand the impossible.

Power to the imagination.

Those who lack imagination cannot imagine what is lacking.

Imagination is not a gift, it must be conquered.
(Breton)

Action must not be a reaction, but a creation.

Action enables us to overcome divisions and find solutions.

Exaggeration is the beginning of invention.

The enemy of movement is skepticism. Everything that has been realized comes from dynamism, which comes from spontaneity.

Here, we spontane.

“You must bear a chaos inside you to give birth to a dancing star.”
(Nietzsche)

Chance must be systematically explored.

Alcohol kills. Take LSD.

Unbutton your mind as often as your fly.

“Every view of things that is not strange is false.”
(Valéry)

Life is elsewhere.

Forget everything you’ve been taught. Start by dreaming.

Form dream committees.

Dare! This word contains all the politics of the present moment.
(Saint-Just)

Arise, ye wretched of the university.

Students are jerks.

The student’s susceptibility to recruitment as a militant for any cause is a sufficient demonstration of his real impotence.
(enragé women)

Professors, you make us grow old.

Terminate the university.

Rape your Alma Mater.

What if we burned the Sorbonne?

Professors, you are as senile as your culture, your modernism is nothing but the modernization of the police.

We refuse the role assigned to us: we will not be trained as police dogs.

We don’t want to be the watchdogs or servants of capitalism.

Exams = servility, social promotion, hierarchical society.

When examined, answer with questions.

Insolence is the new revolutionary weapon.

Every teacher is taught, everyone taught teaches.

The Old Mole of history seems to be splendidly undermining the Sorbonne.
(telegram from Marx, 13 May 1968)

Thought that stagnates rots.

To call in question the society you “live” in, you must first be capable of calling yourself in question.

Take revolution seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.

The walls have ears. Your ears have walls.

Making revolution also means breaking our internal chains.

A cop sleeps inside each one of us. We must kill him.

Drive the cop out of your head.

Religion is the ultimate con.

Neither God nor master.

If God existed it would be necessary to abolish him.

Can you believe that some people are still Christians?

Down with the toad of Nazareth.

How can you think freely in the shadow of a chapel?

We want a place to piss, not a place to pray.

I suspect God of being a leftist intellectual.

The bourgeoisie has no other pleasure than to degrade all pleasures.

Going through the motions kills the emotions.

Struggle against the emotional fixations that paralyze our potentials.
(Committee of Women on the Path of Liberation)

Constraints imposed on pleasure incite the pleasure of living without constraints.

The more I make love, the more I want to make revolution.
The more I make revolution, the more I want to make love.

SEX: It’s okay, says Mao, as long as you don’t do it too often.

Comrades, 5 hours of sleep a day is indispensable: we need you for the revolution.

Embrace your love without dropping your guard.

I love you!!! Oh, say it with paving stones!!!

I’m coming in the paving stones.

Total orgasm.

Comrades, people are making love in the Poli Sci classrooms, not only in the fields.

Revolutionary women are more beautiful.

Zelda, I love you! Down with work!

The young make love, the old make obscene gestures.

Make love, not war.

Whoever speaks of love destroys love.

Down with consumer society.

The more you consume, the less you live.

Commodities are the opium of the people.

Burn commodities.

You can’t buy happiness. Steal it.

See Nanterre and live. Die in Naples with Club Med.

Are you a consumer or a participant?

To be free in 1968 means to participate.

I participate.
You participate.
He participates.
We participate.
They profit.

The golden age was the age when gold didn’t reign.

“The cause of all wars, riots and injustices is the existence of property.”
(St. Augustine)

Happiness is hanging your landlord.

Millionaires of the world unite. The wind is turning.

The economy is wounded — I hope it dies!

How sad to love money.

You too can steal.

“Amnesty: An act in which the rulers pardon the injustices they have committed.”
(Ambrose Bierce)
[The definition in Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary is actually: “Amnesty: The state’s magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish.”]

Abolish alienation.

Obedience begins with consciousness;
consciousness begins with disobedience.

First, disobey; then write on the walls.
(Law of 10 May 1968)

I don’t like to write on walls.

Write everywhere.

Before writing, learn to think.

I don’t know how to write but I would like to say beautiful things and I don’t know how.

I don’t have time to write!!!

I have something to say but I don’t know what.

Freedom is the right to silence.

Long live communication, down with telecommunication.

You, my comrade, you whom I was unaware of amid the tumult,
you who are throttled, afraid, suffocated — come, talk to us.

Talk to your neighbors.

Yell.

Create.

Look in front of you!!!

Help with cleanup, there are no maids here.

Revolution is an INITIATIVE.

Speechmaking is counterrevolutionary.

Comrades, stop applauding, the spectacle is everywhere.

Don’t get caught up in the spectacle of opposition. Oppose the spectacle.

Down with spectacle-commodity society.

Down with journalists and those who cater to them.

Only the truth is revolutionary.

No forbidding allowed.

Freedom is the crime that contains all crimes. It is our ultimate weapon.

The freedom of others extends mine infinitely.

No freedom for the enemies of freedom.

Free our comrades.

Open the gates of the asylums, prisons and other faculties.

Open the windows of your heart.

To hell with boundaries.

You can no longer sleep quietly once you’ve suddenly opened your eyes.

The future will only contain what we put into it now.

[…]

http://www.bopsecrets.org/CF/graffiti.htm

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3 comments on “Be realistic, demand the impossible
  1. irdial says:

    I look at it this way. Even though ‘Danny le Rouge’ and some of his people are now the enemy, much of what they said is still true and still inspiring.

    At any time, words can inspire, and they can be even more inspiring when taken out of the context of the fat pigs that are the greasy shadows of the heroes that scrawled them on the facades of Paris.

    I do not know a single person who thinks that the students of today are better than the students of 1968.

    Everyone gets old, everyone gets tired, people change and life winds down. The truth however, never changes, and what those slogans are in many instances, is the truth, some of them have greater resonance today than others:

    “Abolish copyrights: sound structures belong to everyone.”

    How about that for absolute truth propagating down the decades?

    Cynicism is normal and healthy; it is related to the type of logical thought that stops us from wasting our time in useless persuits, “this bee powered helicopter will never work, time to try another power source!” Is what I mean.

    We must however, curb cynicism and temper it with hope and imagination. The latter two are the forces that make things happen, that make the future better. Unbridled cynicism is like irrational skepticism; it stops people from suspending belief long enough to understand that, “yes, it MUST be true that meteors come from space!”…and the rest.

    One thing we must all understand as livers in this time is that life can change dramatically, Mandela out and president, insane wars, human fingers growing back after being amputated. We can have any sort of world we want – all we have to do is TAKE IT.

    And how could I forget…

    Those people in 1968, with their beautiful and eternal words and total failure have given us a gift that is very valuable, if we would only listen.

    Doing what they did, WILL NOT WORK.

    Once again, anyone who riots, demonstrates, grafitties or who does anything that they did, that we know know to not have worked, “Has a corpse in his mouth”.

    This great lesson saves us from wasting this generation, or at least it would have, if this generation was of any use.

    Proof of point are the losers who are planing a ‘Spirit of ’68’ style event which is doomed to fail.

    And there you have it.

  2. Alun says:

    Be realistic, plus ça change…

    This article has its flaws, covering a big topic in a small space, but makes some valid points. Notably, how the ‘revolutionaries’ now sit as comfortable establishment figures on the very ‘commitees’ they once despised.

    Makes one wonder if the May of 1968 was just part of a fashion at the time, nothing serious, a nice set of slogans for t-shirts on the backs of students of the future. The big marches and strikes that followed closely… well, a cynic may observe the French are not a people averse to the odd day off work.

    I am being disingeuous, perhaps, but if one has such strong principles as to lead protests, riots and fights against the system, how does one justify that the system has changed enough to become a part of it? Can one ever be part of it, without betraying ones hypocrisy? People may change, but principles, to paraphrase an old slogan, should be for life, not just for May 1968.

    Despite my cynicism, which haunts me today as yesterday, I am always hopeful. A pessimoptimist, if you will. (Ah, duality!)

  3. mary13 says:

    Open the windows of your heart and let the spirits fly in and out.

    – R U M I

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