The Mao Years in France: Before, During, and After May ‘68
François Hourmant, historian, is assistant professor in political science. He is a specialist in the relationships between intellectuals and powers; his work focuses notably on the Mitterrand years, Stalinism, and Castro’s ideology.
Throughout its history France has regularly fallen prey to political passions, some of which were violent. Maoism was one such passion. Between 1966 and 1976, a true Maoist fever indeed took hold of a great number of French intellectuals, artists, and politicians. More than a utopia, an ideology, Maoism permeated all realms of society: film (Jean-Luc Godard, Michelangelo Antonioni), literature (Roland Barthes, Philippe Sollers), psychoanalysis (the heirs of Jacques Lacan, J.-A. Miller, Gérard Miller), philosophy (Sartre, Foucault, André Glucksmann, Guy Lardreau, Alain Badiou). They all shared a fascination with what was called the “Chinese miracle.”
François Hourmant’s book aims to understand that collective fever, between fanaticism and dogmatism, blindness and radicalization. He emphasizes that Maoism arose at the same time as the rise of mass culture and that it was considered a possible response to the social, political, and cultural crisis that erupted in May ‘68. In the face of a USSR of programming and bureaucratization, Mao’s China represented the promise of a revolution within the Revolution.