The ‘Infinite’ Strike Begins TONIGHT: With art education costing upwards to about $80,000 for an MFA and $60,000 for a BFA, a call for a new system of education is in order. Members and working groups from Occupy Wall Street and Strike Everywhere and Edufactory and others have begun the call to slowly erode the industrial-education-complex, aka edu-factory. Starting now, with a focus on stopping enrollment in private for profit institutions in September, VizKult joins the call for an ART STUDENT AND TEACHER STRIKE and the formation of new alternative education models!
communique on the building the infinite student strike, May 23, 2012:
SOLIDARITY WITH QUEBEC STUDENT STRIKE GOES ON
INFINITE SOLIDARITY WITH A CALL FOR INFINITE GENERAL STRIKE
ACTIONS IN NYC ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2012:
6pm: Night School in Solidarity with the Quebec Student Strike
Washington Square Park, Manhattan
8pm: March Against Police Oppression
Meet in Washington Square Park, Manhattan
(reconvergence at Union square)
10pm: Night School at Union sq.
WE MARCH AGAIN!
May 22 marked the 100th day of the ongoing Quebec student strike, one of the largest student mobilizations in history. Demonstrations against the massive tuition hikes (which would increase tuition by 60% over five years) occurred daily across Quebec, with over 160,000 students on “infinite strike.” Last Friday, the Quebec government enacted a draconian emergency law (Bill 78) intended to break the strike. The legislation in effect outlaws public assembly, imposes harsh fines for strike activity and criminalizes protest, just as the struggle is gaining popular support and escalating to unprecedented levels. Many are questioning the law’s constitutionality.
Bill 78 summary:
· Fines of between $1,000 and $5,000 for any individual who prevents someone from entering an educational institution.
· The fines are higher for student leaders (up to $35,000) and for unions or student federations (up to $125,000). Fines double with repeat offenses.
· Authorities must be notified at least 8 hours in advance about public demonstrations involving more than 10 people. Organizers must provide the start time and duration of the demonstration, as well as the routes of any marches.
· No on-campus protests. Protests outside universities must stay at least 15 feet from entrances.
· Encouraging someone, explicitly or tacitly, to protest at a school is subject to punishment.
No More “Good Faith”
The government of Quebec has conceded the power of the students by suspending the current semester, while the education minister has been forced to resign amid the crisis. The Quebec Premier Jean Charest claims that the government has negotiated in “good faith,” but the student unions say that the government has refused to budge on the central issue: TUITION HIKES. Students are fighting to maintain affordable, accessible higher education for all the people of Quebec. The crisis has put into question the political future of the Premiere’s Liberal Party and his own career. Civil liberties in Quebec are being fundamentally undermined. “Good faith” is dwindling between the people and the government.
What Is An Infinite General Strike?
The infinite strike is a voluntary and collective cessation of activities in order to assert claims that would not be addressed otherwise. The word “infinite” points to a confrontational stance with the government. It does not mean that the strike is limitless, but that its length is undetermined in advance. This means that the strike goes on until demands are met or until the body decides to stop the strike. In the case of Quebec’s student mobilization, the students meet every week to decide whether to continue the strike. The educational system is a crucial part of the economy and it requires human capital in order to function. Only through a strike is it possible to create the institutional congestion generated by a whole cohort of students that may not graduate. That is why an open-ended general strike is such a powerful weapon.
Why the Quebec Student Strike Matters For NYC
We are all in the red! In Quebec strikers, demonstrators and sympathizers alike have shown their solidarity through the emblem of a red square, signifying a state of “being in the financial red”—untenable student debt. In the United States, the Federal Reserve recently stated that student debt stood at $870 billion, while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (a new government agency regulating private student loans) estimated that it had already surpassed $1 trillion. As more and more students stand up and organize against exorbitant escalations in tuition and debt, similar draconian laws have been passed in the US. Unprecedented levels of police brutality have been perpetrated against student uprisings across New York City—at Baruch College, Brooklyn College and the New School, just to name a few. The state seeks to silence these students, many of whom have been arrested on trumped up charges that reek of biased intimidation.
It would appear that we too are in the red, both financially and politically. This is untenable. It is time that we stand in solidarity with students in Quebec and across the world to fight for our right to free education. On May 23rd we in New York City continue our solidarity and stand with the infinite strike. Our demonstration in solidarity with Quebec students is also in defense of our right to assemble and protest. An increase in the powers of the police and the state anywhere is an attack on us everywhere. State repression exists globally and it is unjustifiable. We will not stand by and watch our already limited voices be silenced even more. The warnings and fear mongering of new protest laws being enacted in Frankfurt, Chicago and Montreal will not deter us. The new laws only prove that our mass mobilizations are a threat to the powers that be. We will be heard. We will take part in our own lives and not be pawns for the workings of capitalism. Our rights are not given to us by governments but established by us. OUR LIVES ARE NOT NEGOTIABLE!
Call to Students, Workers and Debtors of New York
With call on students, workers and debtors from all walks of life to stand with us in our right to assemble and dissent in our commons, against police brutality and intimidation. There is nothing to fear or be ashamed of in this. There is only strength and solidarity for us to find each other. As we stand with the students of Quebec, we acknowledge their grievances, and join their chorus with our own. As Quebec does not stand down, neither will New York. We are not afraid, and see no limit on the horizon. All we see is red!
WE ARE ALL IN THE RED!