May 1968 (in this context usually spelled May ‘68) is the name given to a series of protests and a general strike that caused the eventual collapse of the De Gaulle government in France. The vast majority of the protesters espoused left-wing causes, but the established leftist political institutions and labor unions distanced themselves from the movement. Many saw the events as an opportunity to shake up the “old society” in many social aspects and traditional morality, focusing especially on the education system and employment.
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region or country. While a general strike can be initiated based on political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants. It is also characterized by participation of workers in a multitude of workplaces, and tends to involve entire communities. The general strike has waxed and waned in popularity since the mid-19th century, and has characterized many historically important strikes.