Spreading Occupy protests spur talk about “revolution”

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      A lot of people are talking about a “revolution” nowadays.

      Although what that actually means isn’t clear to Mark Leier, it’s piqued the SFU history department chair’s interest.

      Having extensively studied labour history and mass movements, Leier feels that the energy unleashed by the Occupy protests that started in New York in September may lead to unexpected surprises.

      “Do I see something like Spain in the 1930s?” Leier asked in a phone interview with the Straight. “Not really. But again I’m a historian, not a predictor of the future. But what I would say is that this is the kind of situation where lots of things are up for grabs in a way that they weren’t...that when people start to move, we don’t know where the end point is going to be.”

      As a historian, Leier is reminded about the demonstrations that swept across Canada and the United States during the 1930s Depression era.

      He specifically points to the On to Ottawa Trek in 1935, an iconic event in labour history that started out in Vancouver when striking workers boarded box cars to bring their demands for better working conditions to the capital.

      “Who would have thought Trek to Ottawa would capture the imagination of Canadians from coast to coast?” Leier said.

      The SFU historian also recalled the trekkers had “two great slogans: one was ‘Create unemployment insurance’, and the second one was ‘Abolish capitalism’”.

      “I don’t know that anybody believed that they would be able to abolish capitalism but they certainly managed to get unemployment insurance,” Leier said.

      “This was just a few hundred guys saying, ‘We’re just exhausted, and we’re angry. We have to do something. We don’t necessarily think this is the best plan but this is the plan that we got.’ And no one thought that they would get past Kamloops and the fact that they were put down by the police ended up changing governments in the 1935 election and to help pave for the welfare state that’s been under attack for the last 30 years,” Leier said.

      So is a revolution coming?

      Joey Hartman, president of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, said that she had “felt like something was going to come along”.

      “What would be the right moment that would coalesce people around an issue? Or it’s been feeling for a while now like...I’ve been using the word ‘flashpoint’ or some moment that captures people’s imagination. You can’t call these things and say, ‘Okay, you know, make this happen,’” Hartman told the Straight in a phone interview.

      According to Hartman, many have used the word “revolution” in the past and there’s nothing new about the word being liberally used in the context of the Occupy phenomenon.

      “I think the question is what are they looking at?” Hartman said. “Revolutionary ideas or are they looking to overthrow government and capitalism? And I think we’re kind of far from that. I think there’s a lot of distance that we need to capture and to rebalance. It was really never balanced in favour of the labour movement and for people who are out jobs and poor and all of that kind of stuff. It’s so out of balance right now that I think there’s a lot of room for us to make great success without it having to be revolution.”



      Gentleman Jack

      Oct 7, 2011 at 7:28pm

      Restore balance to the distribution of height! Slaughter the very tall!

      9 9Rating: 0


      Oct 8, 2011 at 4:09am

      Lazy good for nothing POS leftist punks. If you seriously have that much time on your hands then why not volunteer? There are hundreds of charities in Metro Vancouver desperate for help, but these spoiled brats won't help where it's needed. Selfish, ignorant and out of touch - that's today's Canadian socialist.

      8 8Rating: 0


      Oct 8, 2011 at 8:04am

      Nice generalization Bizon. One link provided and it's all just a bunch of angry, racist white males...uh yeah, okay

      Most of us know who the real racists are. Lots of them seem to hold Republikan Party membership

      8 4Rating: +4

      Point of Order

      Oct 8, 2011 at 10:58am

      "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power".
      Benito Mussolini

      ........ and I think he aughta know.

      9 7Rating: +2

      M. Bizon

      Oct 8, 2011 at 7:29pm

      HELL-O, DsHk?

      A bunch of "angry racist white males"?

      That crowd is the exact same group of people who would trip over themselves to decry some other group (like the Tea Parties for example) as being "racist" or "non exclusive".

      Of course, when it comes to their own agenda (i.e. Occupy Wall Street) everything is fine and good. All of this BS talk about "diversity" and "inclusiveness" goes right out the window. Even though it's supposed to be our "greatest strength".

      And please don't tell me you actually make a distinction between "Republican" and "Democrat".

      8 7Rating: +1


      Oct 8, 2011 at 11:05pm

      This is an act of venting the justified anger, frustration that many people on the planet feel about the state of the world today including local conditions of unemployment, underemployment, high cost of living, low wages, lack of security, militarism and waste, war, environmental degradation, corruption. Add to this a lack of moral compass at the highest levels, ineffective labour aristocracies etcetera...combined with "democratic facades" in which it is possible to dictate with circa 25% of the adult population...and add further the lack of any well organized resistance (which btw makes this a non-revolutionary scenario....therefore Harper, CSIS, RCMP, CIA, et al...back off)...all a recipe for justifiable, peaceful, demonstrative action...

      10 6Rating: +4


      Oct 9, 2011 at 4:03am

      People from all around the globe where wondering when the awakening of America would take place. September the 17th might be the answer to this question.

      11 5Rating: +6

      Gentleman Jack

      Oct 9, 2011 at 7:21am

      You cannot be anti-corporate without being anti-nation-state, as nation-states are corporations. You cannot be anti-corporate without being anti-law, as Judges are artificial persons. Show me a natural Judge. Battle is nature's Judge---do you want to judge everything by battle? Most people prefer corporations---but these kids don't use a coherent, legal definition of corporation.

      When they say "corporation" they mean "corporation that profits from things I don't like. Hurrr!"

      5 14Rating: -9