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date: 18 December 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Around 1968 communism expanded as a global movement, especially in the developing world, while hitting a crisis of legitimation in Europe. In the Western world the late 1960s saw young people aspiring to revolutionary change that involved both individual liberation and social justice. Generational identity underpinned a revolt against authority, leading to acute political crises in France, Italy, and elsewhere. While presenting opportunities to communist parties, this revolt threatened, from Moscow’s perspective, a dangerous proliferation of ‘heterodox’ Marxist thought. In Eastern Europe rebellious populations in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia demanded greater rights of expression, causing the Soviet Union to intervene militarily in Czechoslovakia. By contrast, Maoism was able to capture the revolutionary, anti-imperialist spirit of the times. Claiming to offer an anti-bureaucratic alternative to the Soviet model, and resituating heroic agency at the heart of communist politics, Maoism appealed to Third World revolutionary leaders and radicals in the West.

Keywords: 1968, individual liberation, France, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Maoism, anti-imperialism

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