A generation of spoiled brats, as the saying goes. A generation saddled with debt that will probably not have a pension, will retire at 74, have a 50-year mortgage, life-long precarious employment, a slowly privatising healthcare system and a environment ravaged by their parents’ heedlessness. Its offspring, if it dares to have any, will have only the schooling they can access, if the system hasn’t self-destructed under pressure. All-out cuts, endless hikes.
When this generation marches to denounce what’s going on, it gets pounded. “Stay home and study”, it is told. People applaud the police, who are trained to rough it up while the complicit media complacently demonises it. This generation is only questioned in order to be mocked. The very government doling out austerity awards itself retirement packages and excellent salaries while the very rats accused of collusion are free as a bird. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →