• Jon Piccini
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)


The Sixties have been described by Australian historians Robin Gerster and Jan Bassett as “a decade of transit and of transition, of comings and goings, of cultural traffic”. It was a period of great hopes and dreams sandwiched between the conservatism of the 1950s and the rise of the New Right, and one that was experienced, perhaps more than any before it, as truly global. “Youthful dissidence”, an American Central Intelligence Agency report from September 1968 warned, was “a world-wide phenomenon”. “The revolution in communication [and] the ease of travel” ensured that “riots in West Berlin, Paris and New York and sit-ins in more than twenty other countries in recent months [have] caught the attention of the whole world”, the report ominously warned. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, French student leader and self-professed international revolutionary, perhaps best captured a similar global consciousness when he reminisced: “Paris, New York, Berkeley, Rome, Prague, Rio, Mexico City, Warsaw—those were the places of a revolt that stretched all around the globe and captured the hearts and dreams of a whole generation”. Such sentiments were not limited to the student ghettos either. Che Guevara’s call for the creation of “two, three, many Vietnams” mirrored the multiplication of anti-colonial struggles across the Third World, while other dispossessed or marginalised groups from Indigenous Australians to women and homosexuals mobilised these ideas of liberation to their own ends. It was, then, a period in which the utopian idea of a global revolution beyond classes, nations, and various other artificial human divisions seemed not only possible but perhaps inevitable.


Student Ghetto Daniel Cohn-Bendit Global Revolt Australian Radicalism Whitlam 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon Piccini
    • 1
  1. 1.University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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