Street Politics 101

Street Politics 101 (2013)

Film Review

Street Politics 101 is a half hour video describing the six month student strike in Montreal in February 2012 against a $325 tuition increase. At one point, there were 400,000 protesters in the street, and they eventually overwhelmed police with smaller (numbering thousands) protests focused on “economic disruption” (e.g. blockading businesses, destroying corporate property and disrupting conferences). They eventually forced the Quebec premier to call a new election. When the Party Quebecois came to power, they rescinded the tuition increase.

The film outlines the step-by-step strategy the student organization Classe employed to expand the tuition hike protest to embrace broader anti-capitalist, indigenous and environmental issues. This strategy was extremely effective in drawing non-students into the movement. However, as often happens, unprovoked police violence was the most important draw card. Demonstrations were initially nonviolent until police viciously attacked nonviolent protestors. This led to both rioting, as well as “masking-up” to reduce protestors’ fear of defending themselves.

Peter Gelderloos notes the success of the Montreal student strike in his 2013 book The Failure of Nonviolence: From Arab Spring to Occupy. It meets all four of his criteria for a successful direct action: it gave hundreds of thousands of students direct experience in self-organization through debate and peoples assemblies and spread critiques of debt, austerity and capitalism throughout Quebecois and Canadian society. It was also uniformly denounced by ruling politicians and media and ultimately successful in winning student demands.

6 thoughts on “Street Politics 101

      • Like in Ferguson! We may see more of that public response throughout the U.S. as “white” people wake up to the fact that THEY TOO can be shot down and murdered by the fucking pigs. In fact, it has become more regular in the last few years.

        People don’t ever really “get it” until they are confronted by the police themselves then they wake up to the new militarization of the cops. Their training is to attack rather than assist the public and they don’t seem to be able to evaluate situations using common intelligence.

        And what goes together better than peanut butter and white bread ? A cop car and a Molotov Cocktail! Or so Tubularsock has heard.


  1. It’s amazing how people can change policy if they gave a damn enough to fight for something important. What choice does the gov’t have but to relent, the people have spoken! Of course it helps when police doesn’t use excessive force to break up demonstrations. But it is a step in the right direction, take it to the street and voice our rights.


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