The More Things Change

There was a day when most university students would be out hustling for summer jobs at this time of year if they were not already working.

In Montreal the perpetual student protesters mingled with the moneyed elite Thursday night in advance of the festival season. The event they tried to disrupt kicks off the Canadian Grand Prix race this weekend. The protesting Quebec university students evidently have a lot of free time at their disposal.

Universities used to be places where you (or your benefactors) paid for a well-rounded liberal arts education; the only concession to training for a profession might be restricted to the law or teaching. This was partly the means by which the western canon and tradition was maintained. There were, and still are, many reasons for obtaining an undergraduate degree in general arts or science, even if only to get admitted to another college, school or specialty.

The universities have now become training centres for various kinds of “connect-the-dots” jobs in government, health care, media or “social services”. Private for-profit training schools have not been allowed to develop to the extent needed in the economy and so we have an abundance of people with degrees, high expectations and little else to offer.

The tradition is still there but it is much reduced in scope. Today’s students are lectured in ludicrous fields of study that include gender, ethnicity, diversity or whatever area of popular culture can be shoehorned into the syllabus.

It apparently includes the training of the student radical, the likes of whom stormed the administration offices of various campuses in the 1960s. The political common denominator is reactionary and typically identified with so-called “left-wing” politics favoured in the ivory towers of academe.

In Quebec the “protesters” have already been seen as street thugs, paid rabble rousers and radicals, though we are never sure what radical cause they may stand for in their radicalism. One thing is certain; they are not radical capitalists.

Symbl of Blood-Soaked History

I expected Marxists among them; this is Canada after all. Still, I was somewhat taken aback by the photograph of a “protester” seen in a red hooded jacket bearing the hammer and sickle, symbol of the regime that is responsible for more human suffering and death than any other in human history. It collapsed only 21 years ago.

©Copyright 2012 Edward Podritske

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