If politics is “the art of the possible,” what are we to make of moments when human beings living in modern societies believe that “all is possible”? We know with assurance that such moments occur, if only because those who experience them are acutely conscious of their unusual state. Speaking with tongues, they urgently record their most intimate feelings. Furthermore, they are often aware of affinities across time and space with others in similar circumstances. Are the; moments when politics bursts its bounds to invade all of life, or on the contrary, are they moments when political animals somehow transcend their fate? So much in the conventional paraphernalia of political science is founded on axiomatic instrumentalism that we do not know what to make of events in which the wall between the instrumental and the expressive collapses. Is this politics or prophecy? Is this politics or poetry?
In his 1972 essay “Moments of Madness” Aristide R. Zolberg outlines how a number of contemporary French writers framed the events of May 1968 in comparison to other revolutions or semi- or quasi-revolutions (e.g. liberation of Paris 1944, factory occupation June 1936, Ploclamation of the Commune in March 1871). He argues that “the meaning of moments when “all is possible” can be better apprehended if we seek instead to share the experience of participants in order to understand the place of these moments in the political life of a modern society”.