We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Student Movement: Radical Priorities

Click here to access article by Matthew Brett from Canadian Dimension. 

It is quite amazing to see how grassroots resistance and actions against neo-liberal policies are springing up in one place after another across the globe. This report is based on recent actions in Quebec which has seen nearly 200,000 people on the streets protesting. Most of this energy is being generated by students and faculties, but is reaching many other segments of society as austerity measures are being implemented.

The author tries to assess both the potential for radical social change and the oppressive reactions coming from the enforcers of the ruling One Percent.
There are some encouraging signs that social movements will continue to expand in the coming months and years. But the challenges are overwhelming.... The Occupy movement has effectively changed the contours of debate, and it has done so across a fairly broad stratum of society. It was unthinkable to hear mainstream commentators talking about capitalism, poverty and radical alternatives prior to the economic crisis and the Occupy movement.  ...Efforts will be made to oppress, distort and co-opt this more radical discourse as the Occupy movement prepares to re-expropriate public spaces from the status quo. There is a need for supporters and participants of Occupy to dedicate time, energy and resources to insuring that the movement remains vibrant.

Another priority is the need to overcome fear and oppression in all its forms. State elites and media outlets are fostering rhetoric that is readily comparable with the McCarthyism of the Cold War era....

Oppression is not merely taking the form of rhetoric. The Occupy and student movements were treated naively when they began, but youth are now pepper sprayed and beaten on a near-daily basis in Montreal and elsewhere. Police have begun to deploy riot squads immediately to dismantle actions, whereas some effort was made at conciliation in the past. “Our job, as police officers, is repression,” said the President of the Police Fraternity of Quebec, Yves Francoeur. “We do not need a social worker as a director, we need a general. After all, the police is a paramilitary organization, let’s not forget it.”
See also this and this.