The Age of Demonstrations

The Age of Demonstrations

Submitted by Job Patstone

They say “what goes around comes around”, who ‘they’ are exactly I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter, the fact is it’s the truth. For example, when the radio came out everyone rushed out and bought radios, when the TV first came out everyone scrambled out and bought a TV, when the computer came out…..well you see where this is going, technology might change but peoples’ habits don’t.

The same thing is true about protest marches and demonstrations by what I can tell.

Today there are protest demonstrations going on throughout the world including in our own backyard here in Quebec.

There are riots in Greece, France, Russia, etc and there are marches in Chile, monumental movements in Asia and of course the ‘Occupy’ resisters all over the world. It’s as if the turning of the decade, now into its third year, sounded an alarm that was heard all over the planet.

Young people are waking to a reality that the world is totally screwed up and that the older generation, namely mine, and all their parents are to blame. Of course we are, because we were there before them. Who else can they point the finger at?

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending how you look at it, being part of that guilty party means I’ve seen it all before.

Protesting and demonstrating were part of the sixties and I venture to say they may even have been more expressive than today’s groups.

In North America in the sixties we had “Berkley”, we had Washington, and we had Alabama to name but a few. These were brutal and shocking displays of unrest, from young people, who like today, blamed it all on the previous generation.

They were mostly outcries for human rights and equality status for all. Some of them worked; some laws were changed and some racial discrimination injustices were overturned. It was a great decade to be young, vibrant and alive. We also had singers like Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, John Lennon and our own Joni Mitchell, who sang out for all the same causes.

Their anti-war, anti-racial and anti-government lyrics spread out over the airwaves for the whole world to hear. Sad part is; their words still hold true today. We also had politicians who spoke of equality and involvement; things like, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” *? and “I have a Dream that one day my four children will one day not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”*?. And then of course there was “Woodstock” the greatest free rock show ever, which calmed everybody down and brought people together as never before.

So what’s different about today’s “manifs”; nothing, except maybe “twitter”. The issues are different and probably more defined, and worth fighting for I’m sure, but I would say it’s more a financial revolution; too much money in the wrong places, in the wrong hands at the wrong time, an unjust situation and one that is causing a lot of pain to the poorer, more underprivileged population of the globe. Are these modern day protests going to solve anything? They’ve certainly opened a lot of peoples’ eyes as to where money is being spent and often wasted in many cases, and it’s made a lot of people angry, even causing others to lose their ivory tower jobs. Austerity protests may have some impact as they cover a wide area of discussion, and we’ve already seen dictatorships overthrown by people taking to the streets.

As for our own little havoc makers here in Quebec, it is doubtful that anything will change.

Firstly, it is a very insignificant matter being contested, my apologies to the organizers, and no Government can allow itself to be harassed into changing a law that makes good sense, especially by a minority group of students who don’t want to agree on anything. There are a lot of things more pressing to solve in Quebec than tuition fees.*? I

t took a special law to try and calm them down which so far doesn’t seem to be working, and I don’t think a music festival would have helped this time either, since it appears our local “brasseurs de marde” are obsessed with their cause and obviously have nothing else to do, (like studying or working). Unfortunately, they are also once again tarnishing Quebec’s image, by traditionally waving the provincial flag throughout their carryings-on.

In summing up, all I can say is to quote the words of the great Bob Dylan from the 1960’s, who wrote “The times they are a changin’, reinforced by John Lennon’s “You say you want a Revolution”.

*? President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural speech, January 1961

*? Martin Luther King Jr., August 23, 1963

*? Globe & Mail, May 25, 2012.  Quebec has the highest per-capita debt in Canada. Debt payments eat up about $7-billion a year. The ratio of debt to GDP is about 55 per cent, and the government wants slowly to chip it down to 45 per cent by 2026.

Quebec, with its high per-capita debt, wants to get out of deficit financing. The government proposes to balance the budget by 2013-2014 so as not to pile more debt on top of what already exists. Economic growth is forecast to be only 1.5 per cent in 2012 and 1.9 per cent in 2013.

The deficit, in other words, can’t be eliminated by fast growth and buoyant tax revenues.

Categories: News, Opinion

About Author

Job Patstone

Job Patstone was born in Hamilton, ON. and has lived in Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer AB. He is presently living in Quebec City, with his wife. He worked for Xerox for 26 years and was an ESL teacher for another ten.