By: Josée Legault
Originally published on April 9, 2015
Original French text here: http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/04/09/quand-les-masques-tombent
The images were spectacular. Massive property damages. Masked students running rampant. A pavilion ransacked. Riot police called in for reinforcement by UQAM’s administration. The perfect recipe for creating a stir.
If it’s true that violence cannot be tolerated, it is also true that the anger bubbling up within this large university is no accident. It can be partially explained by the breach of trust evident between administrators and a growing portion of the university community.
And yet, this anger is also the product of the government itself radicalising in the face of any open questioning of its austerity politics. By rejecting any real social dialogue, the government breeds discontent among those who haven’t the slightest chance of being heard.
Above all, the crisis at UQAM brutally reflects the authoritarian climate that winds up killing public debate.
At a time when unbridled anti-intellectualism and populism are mounting, this simplistic polarisation of society into “good” vs. “evil” is easier than ever.