The student struggle against tuition increases has taken a new turn following the adoption of matraque law 78. Recall that before being used against the student movement, this law was especially aimed at the working class, threatening any demonstration of over 50 people with heavy fines. --Leaving it to the police to decide whether or not the demonstration is legal, if they’ll accept the route or not. This law is not only an attack on the students, but on the working class as a whole. This is bourgeois ‘democracy’ for you, and this sort of law is not unique to Quebec. Faced with capitalism in crisis, several ‘democracies’ have passed similar laws or are in the process of doing so. In 2001, under the pretext of the ‘war on terror’, several states passed counter-terrorism laws, which in practice, attack working class struggles. In 2005, for instance, striking New York subway workers faced charges of terrorism. Recently a score of Montreal students were accused under a similar law passed by the federal government in 2001.
The struggle against rising tuition is spreading elsewhere in Canada, as well. Students have held actions in Ottawa and Toronto, with other groups spread across several provinces preparing to join them. A day of action took place June 5th, with a demonstration in Toronto, as well as other Ontario cities. BC students, as well, have declared solidarity with those in Quebec, condemning bill 78. Demonstrations in solidarity against this bill have been held in Ottawa, Toronto, Paris, Cannes, New York, London and Chile. This is no longer just a struggle against the rising cost of tuition. Since May 21, workers, unemployed, students and pensioners have been banging on pots and pans every evening at 8 o’clock, and great numbers of people are out in the streets to demonstrate that they’re fed up with bill 78, the mass arrests, police brutality, government corruption and austerity measures. We’ve lost count of the number of cities and towns participating in these nightly casserole demonstrations, and these as well are spreading throughout other Canadian provinces. This struggle is part of an international struggle against capitalism in crisis. It’s linked with that of workers in Greece, Spain, Portugal, China, India, France, the UK, the US and other parts of the world.
Although the casserole demonstrations are intended as an expression of outrage against state policies, one might question the outcome. Speaking at a Montreal business conference, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand, himself, welcomed these demonstrations as a creative and festive means of voicing an opinion without hurting the city’s tourist industry. As in the rest of the world, the bourgeoisie tries to divert struggle by persuading workers to vote in coming elections, in 6 months, a year, two years… At heart, this is what matters most to the unions and all political parties: Québec Solidaire, Parti Québécois, the Liberals, the CAQ and others, diverting all activity into the electoral circus. Elections are by no means an expression of “popular will”. The election of this or that political party is determined by the interests of big capital of which the bourgeois state is a servant. Elections are useless to the working class. It’s a terrain in which it has no real place, except when it comes time to marking an X every four years to elect the usual bourgeois, such as Charest, Marois, David, Khadir, Legault, etc. They’d have us believe that the ballot can help to “make change”. They perpetuate the illusion of democracy, in which all “citizens” are equal and the state is neutral.
While the Liberals and the CAQ are well known for openly serving the interests of large capitalist enterprise, others are nastier in a sense, more insidious, as is the case with Parti Quebecois nationalists and Québec Solidaire. While they denounce the implementaion of rightwing policies by the Liberals with matraque law 78, they insist that the government’s policies would “go against common Quebecois values” No no such ‘common values’ exist. What typical nationalist, petty-bourgeois language, propagating illusions of capitalism’s “human face”, while failing to mention the working class and its struggle. Capitalism is bankrupt and for its survival it’s carrying out the same attacks everywhere: raising energy prices, attacking pensions, increasing tuition, creating new taxes, eliminating thousands of jobs in the public sector, cutting unemployment benefits, on top of massive factory closures.
The strength of the working class whose exploitation sustains bourgeois society, is in its collective action, led and organized on the basis of class. Only the working class, in resisting and abolishing this rotten system, will change society. Working class struggles in Greece, Spain, Portugal, China, India, France, UK, USA, in Chile and other parts of the world are forcing bourgeois factions to unite against the working class. Hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of demonstrators around the world are refusing austerity. The lying media is censoring these struggles in an effort to prevent the rise of international solidarity. The struggle of Quebec’s students and working class is not isolated.
Workers, the unemployed, students, pensioners, we’ve got to stop going along with our fake trade union friends and politicians, such as those from QS, who are simply interested in reforming capitalism. We have to quit begging the bourgeois state through petitions and votes. We must take control of the struggle from them. Otherwise, they will divert our struggles to the parliamentary circus or into negociation of our level of exploitation.
A general strike, is what we need to expand the struggle, as our brothers and sisters, the working class from Greece and Spain, have shown. They set an example for us by uniting more and more broadly in spite of nationalism and union corporatism, by rejecting politicians, and attacking the bourgeois state machine as a whole. For example, the Greek working class besieged parliament when it approved the measures demanded by the European capitalists. It’s the capitalists who are responsible for this crisis. It’s not for the working class to pay. A single slogan: unite with the working class of Greece and Spain through general strike.
Yes for a general strike! No to the electoral circus!
To end this barbaric system, we need a new society. A society intent on production to meet real human needs as opposed to a society bent on production for profit. A society in which the means of production and distribution would be within reach of all, socialized, without an exploiter to hold the reins and appropriate our socially produced wealth. A world where the environment is no longer seen as a huge profit reserve – for plunder and ruin – by the capitalist class as we see today. A world based on the participation of all, which could be expressed through new organs of co-ordination, of production, and of distribution, through a system of delegates elected and subject to recall at any time, and representing society as a whole.To achieve this, it is imperative to overthrow the bourgeois state along with its parliamentary ‘democracy’, the capitalist class’s usual smoke & mirrors trick for establishing and maintaining their dominance. It’s up to the working class, with its class party as a guide, to take power by ridding itself of the the class which exploits it, by destroying its State, and establishing its own institutions. Only the working class as a whole, though its own autonomous bodies, workers councils for example, may establish a new classless stateless society. This task can not be delegated, not even to the most and conscious class Party.
Internationalist Communists Klasbatalo Printemps Érable 2012