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Facebook and the Gilets Jaunes: Revolution in the Age of Social Media

The Parisian riots of May 1968 were hatched in the city’s cafés, just like the ones in June 1832, March 1871, and February 1934. But the "yellow vests" movement has broken away from this historical precedent. For the very first time, the uprising was born on social media before spilling out onto the street.

In 1962, Marshall McLuhan published The Gutenberg Galaxy, a premonitory work that proved to be accurate. In his work, the Canadian sociologist explains the history of the West through its technical innovations. Before McLuhan, two schools of philosophical thought were at loggerheads over whose prophecy was correct. The idealists, inspired by Plato, believed that ideas governed our fates — a stance that always pleases intellectuals. However, Marx suggested that our material condition defined our place on the social spectrum, despite our best intentions. This all changed when McLuhan announced that, without Gutenberg’s printing press the Germans would never have read the Bible, the Reform would never have taken place, nor would the Counter-Reform. As a result, there would have been no Renaissance, no Enlightenment, and no modernity.

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