Were the 1968 protests, in any way, a turning point for France?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one could argue that the May 1968 protests in Paris really did much to change the nation, as a whole.  Consider that De Gaulle does not survive the political impact of the protests.  He is voted out of office the following year in elections.  The May 1968 protests had much to do with this as they showed him as unable to corral and control the revolutionary spirit of youth that had been present in so many nations.  The counter- establishment voices that had been embodied by the students and the wildcat protesters showed themselves to be too progressive for someone like De Gaulle, who was still viewing the French political scene through an outdated paradigm where centralized authority could afford to dismiss the voices of social change.  The May 1968 demonstrated how intellectuals, students, and workers can find successful and progressive common ground.  It was significant because the academy was able to find a realm of "praxis" a Marxist realm where theory and practice converges.  This became powerful, embodied in philosopher Jean Paul- Sartre's role in leading many of the protests.  In all of these examples, I think that a case can be made that 1968, and in particular, the May Protests, can be seen as significant to the history of France, serving as a turning point of sorts in how establishment forces view the realities of social protest and demands of social change.