Ten weeks later, the province-wide conflict between students and government over the rise of tuition is still raging on. In the beginning, it was strictly about tuition, because students unions are OBVIOUSLY not politically affiliated with any political movement, party, or trade union. But now, funny enough, the debate seems to have opened up to much wider questions of governance… or at the very least, some people seem to be very eager to make it so.
The almost-daily protests are quickly transforming into what they were doomed to become, an all-out revolution-themed shit-show, with abstract concepts like democracy, liberty, equality, and justice as a theme, but without any forethought to what those words actually mean. Many protests organized by student unions not only aim for accessible education, but are also calling for a “struggle for social justice” at large. Others have even had the arrogance to come up with the term “Quebecois Spring”, an outright disrespectful reference to the events in which Arab populations fought REAL opression. Of course, all this revolutionary talk wouldn’t be complete without dusting off our old complexes on our collective identity. An event has been organised in Montreal to discuss themes like our existence as a unique and distinct nation, an intelligent, resourceful people, how much capitalism sucks and how we are worth better; because you know, there hasn’t been enough of those in the past 50 years.
I find it ironic, and frankly a bit sad that we are repeating the same behaviours that got us in this situation in the first place. All these events that we were told in school to consider as capital turning points of our existence, those of the Quiet revolution, are repeating themselves. Exaggerated enthusiasm for “progressivism” (I hate that word, more on that later), the worship of our providence state as if it were some sort of god, the demand for free this, universal that, state-monopolies here, oppressive regulation there; from what I’m getting, this is what theses protests are going for. It didn’t work the first time around, what makes you think that it’ll work this time?
So, who is backing this up? The usual suspects, the left-leaning and nationalist intelligentsia. Because it’s awfully convenient. In a province of emotive electors and political incults, what better way to give your project some appeal than backing it up with a tale of epic struggle against the evils of the Canadian governement and the free market? The amorphous mass, the 5 o’clock news watchers, what better way to stir them into voting radically than to show them a televised revolution? This, to me, a disgusting attempt at transforming the inertia of legitimate popular concern into political capital of sympathy.
At first, I wrote this long, angry article about this situation, but I scrapped it. Because frankly, in the end, all of this agitation isn’t going anywhere. The socialists and nationalists are feeding the fire of protest with old junk they found buried in the back yard, our constitutional failures, our pathetic referendums, our angst and discomfort with our identity as North-Americans. That might work for a while but eventually, they’re going to choke the fire out. Despite our gaudy pretensions, our firm belief that we are worth better, we just don’t have the balls for a real social change, let alone a revolution. In the end, we are but backyard revolutionaries.