Quebec Student Militant Speaks at UVIC
Close to fifty people came out on Thursday Sept 27 to learn about the Quebec student movement. Jerome, a militant of CLASSE and the UCL gave a very thorough explanation of the development of student syndicalism in Quebec. The movement actually began in France in 1946. Before that time, students tended to be upper class reactionaries, even fascistic. Student syndicalism oriented students toward the working class, seeing themselves as workers in training, solidarity and direct action. At this time, Quebec was very backward, dominated by the dictatorial Duplessis and an anti-modern, even pro-fascist, Church. With the coming of the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, and the casting off of these burdens, students began to become militant.
The first student general strike was in 1968. From this time on, right up until 2005, attempts were made to create a national student federation along student syndicalist lines. These radical unions were invariably undermined by liberal nationalist so-called moderate student organizations. Thus, an ebb and flow of student militance and organizing efforts. The “moderates” rejected direct action favoring, “negotiations” with the education authorities. Of course, they got nowhere and ended up cutting deals, which shut out the militant organizations. This back-stabbing earned them a bad name among many students and the “moderates” began to lose support.
They lost support to such an extent that today the student syndicalist organization CLASSE is in the drivers seat and the “moderates” are forced to follow along, out of fear of losing even more members.
CLASSE not only emphasizes direct action, but also direct democracy through the use of student assemblies. Representative democracy is rejected, for no one can represent the students better than the students themselves in an assembly.
One weakness of the present student struggle was the tepid support from labour. While rank and file workers were supportive, the labour brass was not. They were sometimes willing to make the right noises, but not much action. It would be best in the future that the student movement ignored the labour bosses and appealed directly to the workers themselves.
The Tour was a great success. This is the first Canada-wide action of the most militant section of the workers movement. Organizations like the UCL, Common Cause , Prairie Struggle and the IWW worked hand-in-hand. A big thank to Fellow Worker Jerome for spending his vacation to inform us about the student struggle. And also a big thank you to all the volunteers who made this tour possible. Larry Gambone