�68 AND ALL THAT.

�68 AND ALL THAT. I was genuinely surprised by the offense taken by some to my concluding line in my Martin Luther King post, which said, �Don�t trust aging lefties who tell you �68 was a good year because they really shook the system.�

Several commenters wrote in to say they were of a certain generation and considered that year living hell; one or two asked me to produce an actual aging leftie who would utter such a thing.

That I admit I can�t do on the spur of the moment, but I can say this much. When I was a young adult in the late 1980s, I was a lot more of an actual leftie as opposed to the boring mainstream liberal I�ve since become. I was living in New York, and in the circles I was running in, really at that point looking up to the lefties of the generation before me because they�d been at the barricades during a heady time and all that, it just seemed to me based on the way people talked that it was pretty much a given that 1968 was a year that radicals (not liberals; radicals) considered a good one.

Why? Because there was a worldwide student rebellion (Paul Berman lays it all out in A Tale of Two Utopias); because students occupied the administration building at Columbia; because of the May 1968 uprisings in Paris; because young people fucked up The Man in Chicago; because the counterculture, which initially blossomed in 1967 I�d say, really took root and spread and became influential in mainstream culture; because, in some general way, it really did look to some like the year that the System might come crashing down.

And so, at least at that point in history (when I was young), I used to get a lot of, you know, the old �Ah, ya shoulda been there, kid, it was great.� Judging from the reaction to my post, I�d say that while that was perhaps the general assessment of �68 20 years ago, maybe it�s not now (and I reiterate -- this was from radicals, not liberals). This also means that in writing one flip sentence that accused some people of being stuck in time, I was evidently stuck in time myself.

--Michael Tomasky

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