Monday, June 4, 2012

Lessons from Montreal

"There can be no doubt that the charismatic, articulate and brave leadership in ASSÉ and CLASSE has played a major role in the public perception of the strike, and these spokespeople should be commended for putting forward a point of view that runs counter to that of every powerful person in our society (that is a lonely place to be). However, the strength of the student movement lies in the limits it has placed on reliance on leadership, and the way that its politics revolves around direct action rather than charismatic personalities."

This is a useful lessons-learned article about the Montreal student protests.  It is another fine example of OWS as well, although with a bit of older organizational connections as well.  They did not do this OWS time-wasting concensus crap, where every detail can be debated ad naseum until nothing else gets done...

"One practice that made all of these separate votes and separate picket lines work together on a larger scale was a practice called “the floor”. Basically student groups would vote to strike but hold off on walking out of classes until enough other students likewise voted in favour of striking in their own assemblies. So, for example, one association might vote in favour of a strike, but pass a motion not to walk until at least 2,000 more students, in other assemblies at that school, voted in favour of striking. This would contribute to the sense of momentum while at the same time allowing for a high degree of coordination among a large group of students."

Sounds better.

"It’s easy to think that these things come out of nowhere, that there is such a thing as spontaneous social combustion. There is an element of spontaneity, and the social foment that exists on the streets in Quebec is partly a product of the tensions that can explode anywhere in society at any time. But from the militants I talked to, one thing that stood out was a strong connection between the veterans of the failed strike of 2007 and the new generation of strikers in 2012. The veterans have brought their past experiences in struggle to the current strike."

Learning from the past is always a good idea.  Veterans should be mined for their experience and lessons learned, but not seen as leaders.  Things change.

These guys had 400,000 people at a protest recently, considered the largest protest in Canadian history. They must be doing something right.

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