The h2g2 Post 23.02.06

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Posted: 23rd February 2006



The Revolutions of 1848 and 2006

Yesterday, 22 February, was the anniversary of the beginning of the French Revolution of 1848. To give a bit of background, in 1847 the French government under King Louis Philippe outlawed political demonstrations. Instead, protesters held banquets, where they ate food and talked about politics instead. On 22 February, 1848, a large banquet was scheduled, but the government got nervous (as they often did at that time) and on the day before they outlawed banquets. In response, the hopeful banquet attendees built barricades in the working-class areas of the city and agitated for a republic. The national guard sided with the revolutionaries and the Second French Republic was formed. The rest is really quite literally history.

In any case, this becomes important because my modern European history class (being the rather crazy bunch that we are) decided to hold our very own commemorative banquet on 22 February. Though various ideas were thrown around, including bringing in a mattress with which to barricade the door and setting fire to the classroom, our banquet was a peaceful affair of food-eating and learning about World War I (that being the point at which we are in the curriculum).

So now I'm thinking, where has the revolutionary spirit of today's youth gone? Listen to the songs of earlier decades: everything from Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' to Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall' presents a dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire for change and revolution. Where has that sentiment gone? Today's students in California, once a relatively radical state (or so I'd like to think) are so staid that they will squelch their revolutionary spirit for some sugary food and a good grade.

Think about it. Yesterday was, after all, Thinking Day for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides all over the world. They're focusing on adolescent health issues this year, but whether or not you're a Scout or Guide you may want to utilise the day to think a bit about what's happening to our youth. They're in middle-age before they turn 13, it seems. What happened?

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