This was read last night at a People’s Assembly in Madison, WI - one day after Scott Walker won the recall election. Immediately afterwards we marched from the Capitol to the UW Madison campus banging pots and pans and wearing red squares, the symbol of the Quebec student strike and movement.
Today is day 479 of our struggle here in Wisconsin. Many of us are tired; we may feel like it’s time to take a break. But now that the recall is over, we have the opportunity to begin a new chapter in the Wisconsin Uprising. For this, we should take inspiration from the student strike and anti-austerity protests currently occurring in Quebec.
Students in Quebec went on strike in February over the government’s plan to raise tuition by 75%. The strike continues today without any indication that it will end. This is significant because students in Quebec currently pay the lowest tuition in Canada. But the issue is not the money. The Quebec students recognize this as one more step towards increasing their debt, forcing them to work more hours, and making education unattainable for a large segment of the population. Raising tuition in Quebec is an attack on the 99%.
So what can we in Wisconsin learn from these brave students? What the students are doing is rejecting the idea of “shared sacrifice”, a phrase we’ve heard uttered by politicians from both parties. “Shared sacrifice” is meaningless when our wages and our standard of living has been declining for decades, while incomes at the top have been on the rise. Scott Walker thinks that we, the students, the public sector union members, the unemployed, and just about everyone else should pay for the economic crisis while the 1% maintains and increases their vast wealth. This is not shared sacrifice, this is class war! We need to stand up and fight back, and say “no” to concessions. If we don’t stand up now to say we won’t pay another dime, things are going to continue to get worse.
This is the essence of the pots and pans march. Every night, people - not just students - come out of their homes, meet up in the streets, and march together while making a racket. It’s angry but peaceful; bold and in-your-face but determined and persevering. We can take the Quebec idea and apply it right here in Wisconsin to say “no more cuts, no more compromise”. It’s time for working people in this state to take a stand against austerity, because “the notion… that [we] should not struggle against a bankrupt future is a bankrupted argument.”
The fight we are currently leading in Quebec is the same as the ones workers and students of Wisconsin and throughout the world are in.
We are only a small part of a global struggle against social and economic injustice.
We have to restart to think about concrete ways to ensure solidarity between our struggles.
Over the borders, over our own interests, over our differences, we can find a global link that unites us all.
We are eager to be free.
Free from domination, oppression and domination from the corporate elites.
We might only be writing the first lines of the story of a global fight, but one thing is for sure, we all know the end of that story.
In the end, our solidarity will beat their oppression!
Quand l’injustice devient loi, la résistance est un devoir!
Which means: When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes a duty!
(From the Quebec student organization ASSESolidarite, sent in by ASSESolidarite member Guillaume Lagault.)