Monday, September 10, 2012
The Occupy Movement and the Quebec Students
It's been almost a year since the Occupy Wall Street movement was born, and in this very gloomy article Gerald Caplan wonders where it went.
It flashed through our lives like a comet in the sky, illuminating the most insidious development of our time. Then just as suddenly it flamed out and died. Or at least disappeared. Having made headlines around the world, having made the phenomenon of unprecedented inequality a major issue, having popularized the concept of the 1 per cent versus the 99 per cent – after all these triumphs, the Occupy Movement is playing no perceptible role in any of the big events that now affect our lives.
And who can blame him for being depressed eh? When the Harper Regime is trying to turn us into the low wage slaves of foreign interests. And instead of uniting to fight the Cons and the 1 per cent, many of the 99 per cent would rather fight themselves, or bash unions. Grunting and clawing at each other in a desperate race to the bottom.
It couldn't be more grotesque or more pathetic.
But I think Caplan is a bit too gloomy about the impact of the Occupy movement. Because although it flamed out under the weight of its many mistakes, and its many confusing demands, it's still very much alive. Still working for change in communities all over the place. Still evolving.
And he's definitely wrong about this:
In Quebec, although the students’ spring protests had larger, if amorphous, causes than a minor increase in school fees, Occupiers were conspicuous by their insignificance and the Quebec election was fought in their total irrelevance.
Because the spirit of the Occupy movement was very present in the student movement.
Except the students didn't waste any time and energy occupying anything. They took their message into the streets, and used social media brilliantly to organize and inspire others.
They had impressive, eloquent leaders who used their simple demands to begin a debate on the priorities of a society, and get people of all ages to join them.
They had a symbol, a little red square, that people could pin on their suits, their t-shirts, or wherever...
To show their solidarity.
Or add colour to their massive demonstrations.
And most importantly they turned their frustration into political action, helped elect a PQ government that has promised to scrap the fee hike and Bill 78. They almost single handedly defeated Jean Charest in his own riding.
And when the next federal election arrives you can be sure that Stephen Harper and his Cons can expect the same treatment. Not just in Quebec, but hopefully all over the country.
How long their struggle.
How sweet their VICTORY....
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