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Marc-André Cyr August 6, 2012
“Youth have their eyes fixed on justice, love, freedom, and the joy of creation, but Power… Power seeks nothing more than to organize force and repression. […] The reaction of Power is typical. Power mobilizes the police like never before. It intimidates and harangues people for their opinions. It engages in surveillance, intruding into households and the private lives of those it does not like. It keeps files on citizens who don’t agree with it. It seeks to bring social science to heel. It looks at non-conformists and frets about their hair and clothing. It invites people to denounce others and rewards them for it. It puts up a wall of wealth as quickly as possible, and its politics leave thousands upon thousands of unhappy people to be exploited and used year after year. Power schemes and it steals. Power gives itself over to the swarm of businessmen and parasites that are bringing down the financial whorehouse and the casino for the nouveau riche that make up the greedy society it holds up. All of this is the birth of reactionary power, the vague silence of those who are complicit, the isolation of youth idealism and rebellion. This is what is actually going on. Only this.”
— Michel Chartrand, May 1, 1969
The student strike represents a break, a crack in the sealed bunker wall of the dominant ideology. The students have managed to break open the homogenous shell around our society in crisis, but the breech is small, and our elites are using every possible means to seal it.
We are asked for a “ceasefire.” But it’s not really a ceasefire, since it affects the strikers. Only they are being asked to stop taking action. The Liberal government, for its part, can do as it will to increase tuition fees and to violently put down all dissent without being accountable to anyone — even though the UN and Amnesty international have severely criticized the government since the start of this conflict.
So it’s not a ceasefire. It’s a surrender.
This argument is within the grasp of the prince’s preached-to subjects. Why, really, do we want students to quietly go back to class? It’s simple, too simple. Charest wants to campaign on the issue of “law and order,” and the more that students stir disorder, the more they help the premier get re-elected. André Pratte, with all the grace and elegance of wet scarecrow, has even asked the students to stop “boycotting their classes.” And it’s not just voices on the right. Every person that Quebec counts as a progressive has joined voices in asking, in unison, for a “ceasefire”: the Syndicalistes et progressistes pour un Québec libre, Léo Bureau-Blouin, Michel Arsenault…
The logic is typical of the closed-mindedness of our era. Like Adorno said: “Suffering in the face of a negative situation — today, that of a obstructed reality — is transformed into anger against the person who expresses the situation” . Students were left alone to fight the Liberal party, with the the exception of some environmental and populist groups. In this era where even unions have bought into the neo-liberal consensus — remember the grand summits that brought about “zero deficits” — the student conflict takes on even more importance and significance. It is, in fact, the most important cause to be brought against the dominant ideology that has held sway in Quebec for 30 years.
The image we are being shown of the world is not real. On the contrary: what we are being show flips reality backwards to fit the images into the frame of our magnificent, happy society.
This is the only way to explain how those who scorned the student movement from every court in the province can be the same people who are asking for a ceasefire because public opinion is no longer on the students’ side. This is the only way to explain how accusations of “violence and intimidation” are being thrown at those who are subjected to mass arrests (over 3300 arrested so far) and brutalized (dozens of injuries, some of very severe). This is the only way to understand how the emergency law — condemned by the UN, Amnesty International and the Quebec Human Rights Commisson — harms those to raise the call to defy it.
Lastly, this is the only way to explain that the same people who fought the government — by themselves! — could be labelled responsible for its re-election.
In other words, the same society that dragged students through the mud for months is now asking them to stay out of sight because they’ve gotten bruised and dirtied.
The line has been drawn: the repression that comes in response to protest helps those who repress. Everyone bends together to fit this logic that flows from those in power. No one dares to tip it over and set it straight. The moderate left is unable to question the reasoning of the dominant ideology, because it shares the same legal and liberal premises. So, there can be only one solution: to submit.
This is how it is in our wondrous era, when market ideology is so totally uniform that it only allows for critics that it can effectively contain: the most insignificant and symbolic protests that can be dealt with at the ballot box.
The strikers think they are standing up to the Liberal government. But the enemy is bigger and stronger than we thought. It is the state, it is capital, it is the market, it is alienation and it is lying. It is violence, censure, weasel words and brutality.
The enemy it is not a political party, but a whole rotten system.
 Theodor W. Adorno, « Resignation », Kritik. Kleine Schriften zur Gesellschaft, Francfort-sur-le-Main, 1971.