The slogan, “When injustice becomes law, resistance is a duty!” summarizes very well the analysis of the situation at the Université de Montréal (UdeM) and shows the only road forward that remains for students facing the attacks of the Charest government and the Guy Breton administration at UdeM.
This resistance seems self-evident and the enormous mobilization around the blockade of the Roger Gaudry pavilion at UdeM on April 12th can confirm it, but one should not have illusions: this is a difficult battle and the result will depend, in large part, on the capacity of the UdeM students as well as other universities to mobilize. The student movement is vacillating between a mass will to fight and discouragement in the face of the size of the obstacles that the injunctions present.
The judgement rendered on April 12th by Judge Michel Caron of the Quebec Superior Court obliges student unions to no longer block access to the grounds of UdeM. As well as having to allow free access to the campus, they must also abstain from preventing the carrying out of university activities. Any person who does not respect the injunction risks being accused of contempt of court.
This decision does nothing but reinforce the nature of the state and justice system, as instruments of repression of the student movement. The fact that the government encourages the administrations of CEGEPs and universities to not respect the right to strike of their students demonstrates that by its nature, it remains hostile and not adapted to the needs of the collective. The Marxist analysis sees in the state a body thrown up by society to oversee the daily functioning of social life and which is at the service of the ruling class to maintain its domination. This challenge to the practices of fighting unionism is unsupportable for the students. It is an attempt to take a population which has started to take affairs into their hands, and send them back to the role of passive spectators!
Faced with this flagrant injustice, the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) encourages the movement to extend the mobilization and to use mass, collective methods to oppose the injunctions. This is indispensable to persevere in the struggle to avoid discouragement, which otherwise could come very quickly. Student solidarity becomes a prerogative for resisting this judicial attack.
What perspectives moving forward?
It is clear: mass struggle will be reinforced or surge back depending on the mobilizations in the face of the injunctions, but what perspectives for the fight should we put forward?
To this day, the risk is, surely, that the government (with its campaign of judicialization and media attacks) will discredit the student movement. It is therefore important that the mobilization continue and, if possible, intensify. But, this also presupposes a clarification of political perspectives which can give confidence that the results of the mobilizations will be victory. On this front, things are advancing... but very slowly.
It is a trend today on the left to address “the people” and to tie the student movement to a collective struggle against the austerity. Good, because this has not always been the case! At the same time, it is clear that these nice speeches need to be linked up with concrete actions. The collective outrage provoked by the behaviour of the Charest government must give way to collective actions uniting students and workers.
The left-wing, in the unions as well, has to offer credible perspectives to the population in order to be able to bring together the struggles against capitalist offensive on our social gains. Faced with this conjuncture, the IMT encourages concrete actions to develop the links between students and workers such as participating on the picket lines in workers’ struggles (such as Aveos, Rio Tinto, blue collars in Laval), or through the creation of common actions. This can be a first step towards a 24-hour social strike.
The unions should also unleash a wave of general assemblies to support the student movement and prepare their members for such an action. We see this tactic as the best method of pressure against the government. This alternative should be a rallying cry in the movement. Fighting unionism needs to be the extension of the politics of direct action which the student movement has been bringing since the beginning of the strike. By going to the unions which are fighting against the austerity, the students will be the initiators of a vast struggle which poses a concrete alternative for all of society.