Outside the Circle

Cindy Milstein

A Little Bit of Direct Democracy (for Now), Montreal, Day 55

The past two days, I finally got my first chance to check out self-governance in Montreal: a neighborhood assembly yesterday, and the CLASSE Congress today. Both in 100% French, and my French is next to nothing. But I can recognize some words, such as “démocratie directe” and “autonomie.” Better yet, I can read the body language of good cheer and respectful interactions, and follow the informal & formal processes–all of which put most of what I participated in and saw within US occupy to shame.

Not that it wasn’t (& still isn’t) profoundly beautiful to see people start to work through direct democracy on a large scale with occupy. What my limited experience with this maple spring version shows, though, is what it looks like when people have been doing it a long while and have honed structure/processes (the students) and/or have a defined geographic area that they care about and spend their daily lives in (the neighborhood). A fair amount of homogeneity in terms of purpose, values, where they are in their life, etc., doesn’t seem to hurt either. More on this topic in the coming weeks, since I ♥ prefigurative politics, and even sooner, more on these two particular examples.

For now, one last remark. It felt moving to recall that at least one general assembly of CLAC (an anarchist organization still around from heyday of anticapitalist movement of late 1990s/early 2000s), using basically the same process, met in the same room as today’s CLASSE Congress, with a new generation of radicals and anarchists. I suspect CLASSE “borrowed” some or all of CLAC’s process, but I need to ask around. Anyone know?

–For more “Dispatches from Maple Spring,” see Outside the Circle blog, Cindy Milstein, cbmilstein.wordpress.com


4 comments on “A Little Bit of Direct Democracy (for Now), Montreal, Day 55

  1. L
    June 19, 2012

    CLAC and CLASSE militants are of the same generation and political culture!

  2. Pingback: Protests in Canada | crisisandchange

  3. Pingback: AK Author Cindy Milstein on the Maple Spring | Revolution by the Book : The AK Press Blog

  4. jrochkind
    June 24, 2012

    “A fair amount of homogeneity in terms of purpose, values, where they are in their life, etc., doesn’t seem to hurt either.”

    I was wondering about that before you wrote it, also curious, homogeneity in terms of race and class too?

    The history of the francophone national minority probably results in a certain amount of solidarity and communal feeling too.

    It’s not entirely clear what lessons this has for the US, other than, yeah, things are difficult in the US (for a buncha reasons).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on June 17, 2012 by in Dispatches from Quebec Spring.
%d bloggers like this: