A Beautiful Mindfuck

with 10 comments

québec fascism

I’ve spent the last few weeks looking for a book. A book and movie, actually. I’ve been trying my neighborhood libraries, bookstores, the National Library, without any luck, even though the package came out in December 2007. In the end I had to drive to the Mile End, to an industrial side street, right to the distributors office where I bought the thing with cash.

The movie is called Un sur 1000 and the book Post-Scriptum. It is about and by René-Daniel Dubois.

René-Daniel Dubois is an actor, playwright and writer who got into serious trouble for calling the 1995 referendum on Québec independence a failed suicide attempt in French daily Le Monde. He quickly found out that talking against the family abroad is a big no-no in Québec.

Unsettled by the violent reaction to what was only one intellectual’s personal opinion, he set off on a quest to seek the roots of Québec nationalism. He came to the conclusion that Québec society was what he called “the first successful fascist society – that is to say where not only is there no form of resistance, but where the very idea of resistance doesn’t even seem to be conceivable.” In a filmed lecture that accompanies the movie he demonstrates how, in his opinion, this society has, at it’s root, the ultramontane French clergy and their opposition to democracy, individuality and, finally, the act of thinking in general.

“No, nationalism does not, not at all, have for objective the preservation of a popular culture–or of a language–, or the welfare of citizens of a given society–those are only pretexts.

Nationalism is not an ideology, it’s a rhetoric: it is not a cookie, but a way of selling it – changing the packaging does not affect it in any way. Nationalism, it’s a way of maintaining one and only one vision of what life in common could be: the one in which, by means of the notion of permanent menace, the population is summoned to obey elites who, because of the gravity of the situation as they describe it themselves since they are the only ones allowed to talk, don’t have to seriously answer to anyone.”

In all fairness Télé-Québec aired the movie once. La Presse and, incredibly, the weekly Suburban (google English), published excerpts (google English) – in French ! – and Dubois was recently invited to Tout le Monde en Parle, a major talk show, again on Radio-Canada.

Most of the above media are considered by Québec nationalists as propaganda organs of the vast Canadian conspiracy to destroy Québec specificity so it only strengthened their conviction that Dubois was a federalist agent earning a comfortable Canada Council of the Arts job with some timely Québec-bashing.

“You’re so vain you think this song is about you….”

Québec’s nationalists are so narrow-minded that they took it personally, but Dubois was talking about a much broader phenomena. Let’s read the passage I quoted again:

“Nationalism is not an ideology, it’s a rhetoric: it is not a cookie, but a way of selling it – changing the packaging does not affect it in any way. Nationalism, it’s a way of maintaining one and only one vision of what life in common could be: the one in which, by means of the notion of permanent menace, the population is summoned to obey elites who, because of the gravity of the situation as they describe it themselves since they are the only ones allowed to talk, don’t have to seriously answer to anyone.”

The outer menace is Americanization, the inner menace is… Québec’s separatists. The situation is so fragile that any questioning of bilingualism, the senate, the division of power between provinces and the federal government could lead to the break-up of the greatest country on earth!

If nationalist had bothered to read the book before condemning it they would have come so hard they would’ve ejaculated blood reading how Dubois tears apart their arch-enemy Pierre-Elliot Trudeau.

Early in the book Dubois remembers how in the days of the Great Darkness Québec free thinkers used to flee to Ottawa – the university and the federal institutions – where they felt they had more wiggle room to think.

“In the middle of the XIXth century, the ultramontane clergy – the catholic equivalent of the Talibans – seize total power inside Québec society, letting the few remaining real democrats to play by themselves in Ottawa. They can run, anyway, one day or the other they will be caught up with and the score settled.”

The score was settled, according to Dubois, when the Jesuit-educated Trudeau and his suite take over the Liberal party and Ottawa in the 1960’s. Proof? His decision to suspend civil liberties and send the army in the streets of Montreal in October 1970. “How do call what I’ve just described? A fascist coup.”

René-Daniel Dubois conclusion that the Quiet Revolution was a sham because television in Québec sucks and and the Cultural Affairs Ministry doesn’t properly fund Artistes like him is not entirely convincing. His demonstration that Pierre-Elliot Trudeau and FLQ terrorists really belonged to the same nationalist elite is, to say the least, very sketchy.

But, the way in which nationalists in Québec immediately rejected Dubois’s work as federalist propaganda and, inversely, the way the federalists, oblivious to the fact his book depicted their messiah as the ultimate incarnation of Québec fascist nationalism, used it as an argument against the separatists…

What could be more convincing proof that Québec is a society where people don’t think!

Don’t think, don’t read, don’t know shit!

The reaction to his book on all sides vividly demonstrates his thesis that Québec is a society where thinking is not only discouraged, but where it simply doesn’t happen!

Feels like we are going to have to keep looking for his books in back alleys for a while….

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 2, 2008 at 10:55 am

10 Responses

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  1. courage mon ami,

    half of what we hear is misunderstood – half of what we say is misunderstood – all that we write is open to interpretation.

    i am sad to this day that the war measures act was invoked – happy that it lived a short life. but, facist – it was not. our society is based on law and order. kidnapping and murder do not fall under those headings.

    my dad was in the canadian armed forces at the time – and he was definitely a man of peace and reason (more a lover than a fighter.) because he was in the military – he was issued a sidearm – and it was frightening. and i will share this with you – the most scary sound i have ever heard was the sound of boots on pavement – i was downtown on ste-catherine and it was men (the army) with guns. legal violence of the state manifest.

    “Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have. … The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.” ~ Thomas Jefferson


    March 3, 2008 at 7:45 pm

  2. agf,

    and just when you thought things couldn’t get more depressing……

    i am an optimist and i continue to read angryfrenchguy.


    March 3, 2008 at 9:22 pm

  3. Dubois is more of a literary mind (he writes plays basically) than a thinker, which helps to explain his faulty generalizations, his free associations running loose like a brush on a canvas, while he makes no attempt at following even the most basic notions of theory making. I am not even talking about scientific theory, just plain rational discourse. Oh, and he is guilty of a very common human flaw which in French we call l’esprit de contradiction.

    When literary minds attempt to write-non fiction, they almost always fail, because they do not second guess their intuitions, they follow them all the way like they do when they create.

    Regarding the problem of people voicing their opinion on a book they never read, I recommend “Comment parler des livres que l’on n’a pas lus ?” by Pierre Bayard, 2007, 162 pages

    I can’t tell you much about the book, because I HAVE NOT READ IT OF COURSE! ;-)

    Regarding the underlying problem of partisanship, I recommend “Réflexions sur l’esprit de parti” by André Chénier, 1791, which I have read. It is available online at Wikisource.

    Very enlightening, and “toujours d’actualité” some two centuries after.

    Mathieu Gauthier-Pilote

    March 4, 2008 at 7:29 pm

  4. merci mathieu. j’y vais le chercher. tootdeesweet. :)


    March 4, 2008 at 8:59 pm

  5. There have been two notable interventions by the Canadian Forces in Québec since 1970, the first during the Oka crisis in 1990, and the second during the ice storm in 1998. Would readers here distinguish those two interventions from the one in 1970, or are they similar?


    March 10, 2008 at 6:25 am

  6. littlerob,

    anytime you have the army in town – you’ve got serious problems. let’s not forget the floods in saguenay 1996.

    and mel (ha ha) lastman’s snow storms in toronto 1999.

    they’re way too busy in afghanistan to help with the snow in montreal this week. besides we don’t need them. we can handle this winter. we’ve seen worse. we’re quebecois. i once saw an interview with robert charlebois and in it he said that it was winter and snow that made quebec and quebecois what they are. that has resonance.

    france was so “je ne sais quoi” with their “quelques arpents de neige.” ah, short-sighted. that’s the word i was looking for. pass the cake please.


    March 11, 2008 at 10:09 pm

  7. That day arrived!
    Yes! Today we took decision to list our house for sale and live Montreal for wherever in Ontario. I am not very happy, in fact I am said, but is no way we stay here anymore.
    AngryFrenchGuy and alike should be happy, their culture is no longer in danger and they can enjoy alone their snowy, cold winter. The snow will be all their. But I will take some of the French (not Jual though) language with me, sic!
    Our daughter received an ultimatum that she has no longer the right to be educated in the languages of her choice, English and French, she has to be in a French only school even is we are paying 100% for her education. I was naive enough that in a democratic country you can learn in whatever language you want (i swahili if I want and afford), but it looks that the “pure laine” decided for the others what to speak and learn. I don’t feel reasonably accommodated and we have to find our way out, again.
    Unfortunately but truly most of Quebecers sucks (the 49% “Yes” part)!
    In this moment I think that the Queen and British army has been too generous with them and should have fix that problem long time ago as they did in Acadie. It looks like they have short memory and they forgot they agreed to be loyal to the Crown in order to be granted the right to live in Canada. They are not capable of treating the others in the same manner. And I was stupid enough to belive that they will be thankful, but I was wrong.


    April 6, 2008 at 11:12 pm

  8. AngryAloGuy–I don’t know what the logistics and finances of such a thing would entail, but would you consider staying in Québec, sending your daughter to a French school, and supplementing her education by hiring a private tutor to give her lessons in English for a couple of hours a week?


    April 7, 2008 at 7:00 am

  9. Hum… AngryAloGuy… Everyone’s got a right to be angry, but at least be angry at real things, don’t get angry at bullshit and lies, that’s a waste of time.

    1. If you are paying 100% of your kid’s education, in Québec that means you have the right to send her to French, English or, yes, Swahilli school, if you want.

    Since I understand you were told you had to send your sent her to French School, that means you were NOT paying 100% of your kid’s education. It means you were sending her to a public or SUBSIDISED private school. That means all the québécois, including the 49% you don’t like, were also paying for her education.

    2. Please tell me in what democratic countries you are free to get a public education in the language of your choice?

    Let me see… the United States? Nope. English only. Mexico? Nope. Spanish only. France? French only. The UK? English only. Belgium? Well… In the French part of Belgium it’s French only and in the Flemish part of Belgium it’s Flemish only. Switzerland? No French schools in the German part. No German schools in the Italian part. Italy? Only Italian schools. Germany? Only German schools.

    The Rest of Canada? Ok, there’s a choice. Not freedom of choice, but A choice between French or English.

    But you already said you didn’t want a French education for your child… so your “choice” in Ontario will be: English only!


    April 7, 2008 at 1:09 pm

  10. René Daniel Dubois is crazy. Why give importance to that pretentious fart ? Who listens to a “folle” like him ? He can say any stupid thing he wants. Anyways, nobody listens to that prick.

    Marc Authier

    April 11, 2008 at 6:35 am

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