Signs of the times: The sayings and slogans of 1968

May 1968 has become as celebrated for its sayings and its slogans as its events. Here is a selection, in French and then in English translation, of some of the most characteristic maxims, aphorisms and platitudes from the pamphlets and graffiti of the Paris of 40 years ago.

Some are predictably left-libertarian. Others are funny and anarchical. A few look forward to the Green politics that hardly existed in 1968.

* Il est interdit d'interdire.
(It is forbidden to forbid.)

* Soyez réaliste, demandez l'impossible.
(Be realistic, demand the impossible.)

* Ne travaillez jamais.
(Never work.)

* Je prends mes désirs pour des réalités car je crois en la realité de mes desirs.
(I treat my desires as realities because I believe in the reality of my desires.)

* L'ennui est contre-révolutionnaire.
(Boredom is a counter-revolutionary act.)

* Nous ne voulons pas d'un monde où la certitude de ne pas mourir de faim s'échange contre le risque de mourir d'ennui.
(We don't want a world where freedom from dying from hunger comes at the risk of dying of boredom.)

* Le patron a besoin de toi, tu n'as pas besoin de lui.
(The boss needs you. You don't need him.)

* Travailleur: tu as 25 ans mais ton syndicat est de l'autre siècle.
(Worker: you are 25 years old but your trades union belongs to another century.)

* On achète ton bonheur. Vole-le.
(They are buying your happiness. Steal it back.)

* Sous les pavés, la plage.
(Under the cobble-stones, the beach.)

* La barricade ferme la rue mais ouvre la voie.
(Barricades shut down the street but open the way.)

* Le réveil sonne: première humiliation de la journée.
(The alarm clock rings: first humiliation of the day.)

* Imagine: c'est la guerre et personne n'y va!
(Imagine: there was a war and no one turned up!)

* Cours camarade, le vieux monde est derrière toi.
(Run comrade, the old world is behind you.)

* Elections, piège à cons.
(Elections, traps for idiots.)

* Dieu, je vous soupçonne d'être un intellectuel de gauche.
(God, I suspect you of being a left-wing intellectual.)

* Les murs ont des oreilles. Vos oreilles ont des murs.
(Walls have ears. Your ears have walls.)

* Ne vous emmerdez plus! Emmerdez les autres!
(Don't screw yourself up any more! Screw up other people!)

* Vous finirez tous par crever du confort.
(You will all finish up by dying from comfort.)

* La forêt précède l'homme, le désert le suit.
(Forests came before man, the desert comes afterwards.)

* Je suis marxiste, tendance Groucho.
(I am a marxist, Groucho tendency.)

* A bas le réalisme socialiste. Vive le surréalisme.
(Down with socialist realism. Long live surrealism.)


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