In 2011, Québec’s governing Liberal Party announced an increase in tuition fees. In response, Québec youth took to the streets in a student strike under the banner of the carrés rouges.
They were enraged the government would destroy a legacy of public education, so hard won during the 1960s Quiet Revolution — a legacy from which they themselves had reaped benefits.
The protesters fought not merely for education, but for the future: a future they fear will be destroyed by the unrelenting march of capitalism and its merciless exploitation of citizens and natural resources.
Generation Rising is the story of the most important mass mobilization in Québec’s (and Canada’s) history. It is the story of six months of brutalization of youth by police forces of the capitalist class, as students went toe-to-toe against corrupt and autocratic elite in an effort to construct a horizontal, participatory and grassroots democracy.
It is the story of the Internet generation deploying its mastery of social media to harness the forces of hundreds of thousands, and ultimately defeat a battle-hardened premier.
At the end of it all, Québec’s first social media mobilization had laid the foundations for a brave new future, where the old world of order and authority might finally be swept aside to make way for a new, 21st century democracy.
Recently, CKUW 95.9 FM recorded Shawn Katz speaking about all of this at the University of Winnipeg.
Le combat est avenir — the fight is the future, and the battle has just begun.