If you would like to volunteer and join the effort, please contact us at the above email before embarking on any translation work, in order to avoid any redundancies. We cannot accept translations that have not been cleared with us first.
For more useful English-language sources on the conflict, see:
Marc-André Cyr June 21, 2012
Original French Text: http://voir.ca/marc-andre-cyr/2012/06/21/crier-plus-fort/
It’s a fierce cry of negation made heard by the students of Quebec. This big cry of anger is an attempt to make their peaceful march deviate from our society’s empty and circular times. It’s without a doubt for this reason that its logic slips between our fingers and, most often, remains misunderstood. The language of the revolt is not that of spectacle. It’s based on these categories that the revolt must be understood, and not on those that it criticizes.
At the beginning, then, one strident cry: “No!” (1)
The negativity of the cry is easier to grasp: against the tuition fee increase, the commodification of education, the injunctions, police brutality, media disinformation, bill 78, Liberal corruption, neo-liberalism, authoritarianism…
All that is good and rational, at least for those who make the effort to listen, but what do the students want? Are they capable of saying something other than “no” in repetition? What do they have to propose?
In other words: will someone finally tell us what these trouble makers bloody plan is?
Let’s try to answer, partially.
The student revolt is not strictly negative. It’s crossed by positive values. It was born from the spectacle of irrationality, from an unjust condition, but like Albert Camus said: “its blind momentum demands order in the middle of chaos and unity at the very heart of what flees and disappears.”(2)
Otherwise said, each “no” has in itself a thousand “yes’”.
Behind the “no to the hike” we found accessibility, even free education, as well as an education that will spread knowledge and critical thought. Behind the “no to injunctions” we find the right to strike and direct democracy, political debates taking place collectively and not diluted in formal law. Behind the racket of the casseroles we find the desire to exist spontaneously and collectively; as well as a demonstration of solidarity with the students, solidarity that incidentally shows us the limits of opinion surveys and media manipulation.
Let’s add that the ways of decision-making and acting chosen by the strikers also bring possibilities. The general assemblies bring with them a radical critique of formal democracy, even the seed of a new definition of living together. In this way, it’s not surprising that this form of decision-making has been harshly criticized by the political elites.
The students have also attempted to put forward a new relationship with violence. By their acts of civil disobedience, they have attempted to resist violence without reproducing its arbitrariness, its brutality and its authoritarianism. No matter what is said by the vast fear campaign presently at work in Quebec, the strikers have resisted the assaults of the forces of order and not the inverse. Their actions have aimed at institutions; they have aimed at “being liberated” from violence, and not at reproducing it. The position adopted by the congress of CLASSE demonstrates this fact as well.
Finally, this revolt confirms its desire to save the part of humanity that is not yet totally controlled by market ideology. It wants another society, but another society that will found itself on surpassing the former one and not on its complete destruction (which is, conversely, the shameful and sinister plan of contemporary capitalism).
This strike gives relief to a struggle that was latent. It opens the continuum of history and, by the act itself, shows us all the violence that surrounds our every day lives. It shows many fragments of truth at the interior of this infinite false movement. It liberates the creativity, courage and spontaneity that contestation can demonstrate, just like it reveals the brutality and the cowardice that our society is ready to deploy to quash dissidence.
The students carry with them a world of possibilities. A world of direct democracy, of wisdom, of equality of freedom and of comradery. It’s this world that they have courageously defended for months, in words and in actions, from the power of the judges, the politicians, the police officers and the opinion makers,
PS: We’ll meet again soon, we must regain our strength…. before the rest of the world!
(1) My reflection is largely and freely inspired by John Holloway, Changer le monde sans prendre le pouvoir, Montréal, Lux.
(2) Albert Camus, L’homme révolté, Paris, Folio, p.23
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.