The following article is reprinted, with permission, from Le Nouvel Observateur (Numero 278, and copyright © Le Nouvel Observateur, 1970). This independent weekly, printed in Paris, has in the past been decidedly sympathetic to student revolt. We need hardly emphasize for our readers the various parallels between Nanterre and American universities. Paul Ricoeur, who has since resigned as dean of Nanterre’s Faculty of Letters, is a man of high intellectual distinction and moral probity. His article “Power and the State” appeared in DISSENT, Winter 1958.–ED.
“Why do they always headline Nanterre, when the present problems involve the whole university system?” Exasperated students in France keep asking this question. One answer may be that, commencing this past February and continuing for a period of weeks, Nanterre again exemplified all the dilemmas and dramas that are the lot of French universities today. In this instance, it was a dilemma and drama for Nanterre’s dean, Paul Ricoeur, who loyally sought to play a conciliating role; and it was also a dilemma for the government, which found itself trapped by its own machiavellianism and v...
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