Embracing Cuban Communism (03:53)
French intellectuals disillusioned by the Soviet model turned to "Third World" socialism. Regis Debray recalls undergoing military training with Guevara and other Latin revolutionaries.
Participating in the Latin Revolution (03:34)
Castro sent Debray to Bolivia to scout guerrilla zones. After Guevara's death, he was imprisoned; view his 1967 trial. Three months into his sentence, Castro approved Soviet tanks into Prague—dashing his ideals.
Supporting Vietnamese Communists (02:34)
French intellectuals sympathized with the Viet Cong in the fight against the U.S. View anti-imperialism demonstrations, combat footage and propaganda films.
Seduced by the Cultural Revolution (02:53)
French intellectuals questioned Western progress in light of the Cold War and praised China's reforms. Philippe Sollers explains Mao's political and philosophical attraction in the '60s.
Disillusionment with Communism (02:26)
Sollers describes how China's totalitarian regime broke French intellectual ties to Stalinism.
Egalitarian Ideal in Practice (01:52)
Christian Jambet explains that Mao's revolution skipped over socialist and democratic phases in the Leninist model.
1968 Civil Unrest (03:42)
View footage of demonstrations in France and learn about internal intellectual divisions. Daniel Rondeau recalls joining the working class in search of poverty and compares his idealism to that of medieval monks.
French Maoist Movement (03:07)
In 1972, an activist worker was killed by a guard; militants kidnapped a foreman in response. Jambert explains the goal was to prepare the public ideologically.
Struggle against the Bourgeoisie (02:08)
Sartre called on coal miners to bring a foreman to justice for a worker's death. Maoists blamed a lawyer for a young girl's murder in a symbolic class drama.
Addressing Revolutionary Terrorism (04:30)
Most French intellectuals condemned Baader-Meinhof violence, but Klaus Croissant and Sartre defended their actions. Sartre had also sympathized with the Palestinian attack on Israeli athletes.
Iranian Revolution (03:32)
Cambodia and Iran ultimately proved too violent for French Maoists to support. Foucault idealized Khomeini and approved of a religious state, but changed his outlook in light of terrorism.
Cambodian Revolution (03:31)
French Maoists initially approved of Khmer Rouge ideals but genocide raised questions of human rights and turned their focus to democracy.
Rediscovering Democratic Ideals (03:10)
Women's and racial equality movements paralleled France's revolutionary era. Soviet dissidents exposed communist abuses and returned intellectuals to human rights causes.
Championing Human Rights (02:24)
Marek Halter describes Kouchner founding Doctors Without Borders in Biafra. Former Maoist intellectuals united to help rescue Vietnamese refugees and participated in anti-racism campaigns.
Demise of French Intellectuals (03:22)
View Sartre's funeral and learn about Althusser's psychological deterioration. Their generation of philosophers has not been replaced.
French Intellectual Legacy (02:23)
Levy discusses how revolutionary ideologies have given way to integrationist, populist and tribalist movements since the fall of communism.
Credits: The Demise of the Prophets: French Intellectuals in the 20th Century (01:49)
Credits: The Demise of the Prophets: French Intellectuals in the 20th Century
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