"From Paris, Athens, and London to Montreal and New York City, young
people are challenging the current repressive historical conjuncture by
rejecting its dominant premises and practices. They are fighting to
create a future inclusive of their dreams as the principles of justice
and equality become key elements of a radicalized democratic and social
project. At stake in their efforts is not only a protest against tuition
hikes, austerity measures, joblessness, and deep cuts in public
spending, but also the awakening of a revolutionary ideal in the service
of a new society. In short, youth have dared to call for a different
world and, in doing so, have exhibited great courage in taking up a
wager about the future made from the standpoint of an embattled present.
To understand the shared concerns of the youthful protesters and the
global nature of the forces they are fighting, it is crucial to situate
these diverse student protests within a broader analysis of global
capital and the changing nature of its assaults on young people."
"Individual freedom without robust communities is simply code for a
stripped-down notion of humanity as a pool of self-interested
automatons, lacking any sense of moral accountability, social
responsibility, or civic courage. Within the vocabulary of
neoliberalism, too many young people are removed from the discourse of
community and collective freedom, pushed to the margins of society and
forced to inhabit zones of terminal uncertainty, despair, and exclusion."
"The first lesson to be learned from striking students was that the
protests were about much more than fee structures. Yet, the government
seemed unwilling to assimilate this pedagogical insight, and its
heavy-handedness touched a nerve in the larger social body of Quebec,
activating new forms of dissent and solidarity."
This is a long, article describing why people feel our ecnomic and perhaps cultural system are failing. Students started a boycott to protest tuition hikes. But the government's draconian reaction to their fears of great student debt quickly became a public collective effort to express the problems pervading all of society. This reminds me of when we protested Scientology. I always felt that the most important result of protesting in front of their "churches" was that it would give them an opportunity to show their true colors. It worked in that case and it worked, perhaps not on purpose, in Quebec.
If you protest the Girl Scouts, chances are they'll come out and give you cookies and lemonade. If you protest a cult or a government bent on crushing opposition, you will get a different result. Do you want to know if you have a kind, peaceful government? Try protesting something they're doing wrong and see how they react. Occupy Wall Street tried this, and we saw the swift iron fist come down on the movement. So perhaps the government's reaction was proof of what OWS was claiming.
"Moreover, the students organized around an idea—simply that tuition
hikes need to be addressed within the suffering and injustices produced
by neoliberal austerity measures—which proved revolutionary in its
scope, flexible in its ability to connect to other forms of oppression,
and decisive in mobilizing other students and the public at large."
The author provides us an outline of how the students managed to get 1/2 million people onto the streets after initially just complaining about tuition hikes. Obviously, there was more to their complaint, and it struck a chord among many in society.