AngryFrenchGuy

Posts Tagged ‘nationalism

I am Not as Much of a Nationalist as Gilles Duceppe (or Stéphane Dion)

with 21 comments

There is a federalist credo in Québec which all but the most intransigent centralists repeat like a mantra, it goes:

“I am a nationalist, not a sovereigntist.”

That’s Stéphane Dion meant the other day when he said he was “as much of a nationalist as Gilles Duceppe”.  It’s only because Dion’s used to be the Liberal’s point man in the war against the ‘separatists’ that the statement got anybody’s attention.  If any other candidate of any other federalist party had said the same thing, no one would have spilled their Starbuck’s over it.

There is a long tradition of nationalist-federalists in Québec.  Prime Minister Jean Lesage used to say “Le Canada c’est mon pays, le Québec c’est ma patrie” (Canada is my country, Québec is my homeland) and Daniel Johnson, the official leader of the No camp used those exact same words as a slogan in the 1995 referendum campaign.

Then there are the Canadian nationalists.  The Holy Trinity of Pierre and Justin Trudeau and Jean Chrétien – the Father, Son and Sketchy Uncle of Canada – who managed to export a peculiar kind French-Canadian ‘Chosen People on a Divine Mission’ nationalism – a nationalism that has it’s roots in the missionary fervor of the first Catholic settlers of New France –  right across the federation.

Yet even them, the most centralists of federalists who truly, sincerely believe that Canada is the ‘bestest’ country in the world, never miss a chance to remind us that they are proud to be Québécois.

I’m not.

I am not proud to be Québécois.  I am not a nationalist.  I am an indépendantiste.

Saying you’re proud to be Québécois or Canadian is the exact same thing as saying your proud to be white or right handed.  How can you be proud of an absolutely random twist of genetics and fate?

I  am Québécois.  I’m not proud of it.  I’m proud of things I do.  I didn’t make Québec.  It was here before I got here and it’ll go on without me.  I have, as of yet, not contributed anything of particular importance to it’s economy, culture or history.  I admire what Serge Fiori, Leonard Cohen, Efrim Menuk, Bruny Surin and Pierre Péladeau have acheived.  Can’t say I had anything to do with it.

I also admire Bob Marley.  I feel touched by his music and recognize a little bit of myself in his art.  Does that make me proud to be Jamaican?

I feel privileged to live in a pretty cool place.  Not proud.  Privileged.

I have gratitude – not pride – gratitude for the hard fought battles of Louis-Joseph Papineau, René Lévesque and Pierre Bougault to right some wrongs and to empower the powerless. I also feel a sense of duty to protect and expand those powers.

That’s why I am indépendantiste.  It’s not about being something, it’s about doing something.   It’s a plan. It’s a project. It’s an administrative reorganization of a political structure that could truly empower people.

I became a sovereigntist myself because of Québec’s language legislation.  I understood it but I didn’t like it.  I struggled to find a way to protect and empower French in North America without a Sign Law.  I think an independent Québec is the best idea anybody’s had so far.

There are other good ideas.  Federations are great political structures, allowing to balance local and central power.  But they need to be flexible and able to adapt to changing realities.  We tried that a few times in Canada, from the radical decentralization of the PQ’s Souveraineté-Association project to the timid Lake Meech accord.

Every time the nationalists – canadian nationalists, that is – stood in the way with flags and fear.

That’s why I want an independent Québec.  Because we need to get rid of the nationalists.  All kinds.  Blue and Red.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

September 10, 2008 at 10:14 am

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

Justin Trudeau is right

with 2 comments

Justin Trudeau is absolutely right. The recognition of Québec as a nation by the House of Commons last year was a bad idea. He made the comments in the Parc-Extention News, a local newpaper in the Montréal riding where he plans in representing the Liberal Party in the next federal election.

The motion is the equivalent of placing the Québécois on Canada’s endangered list along with the Metis, Algonquin, Abénakis and Mohawks. We are now just one step away from the reservation. It’s the trading of ancestral rights for a bottle of whisky.

I don’t want to be part of a Nation. I don’t even know what that means. I want to be a citizen. I want to be the citizen of a country that doesn’t treat me like a second class citizen. I want to be the citizen of a country that will represent my culture and my values in international forums and on the world stage. I’d like to be the citizen of a country where I can speak my own language when I call my embassy. I’d like to be the citizen of a country where all citizens earn as much, regardless of the colour of their skin, their gender or the language they speak. That country is not Canada.

Justin Trudeau is right once again when he says the concept is an antiquated one from the 19th century. It does raise the question of who is a member of this nation. All the residents of Québec or only the « Québécois de souche »? All residents of Canada are in theory equal. All residents of an independent Québec would be in theory equal. If you don’t like your country, you are free to change it by participating in the political process, or to leave it altogether by moving away. You can’t do either of these things in a Nation.

I agree with Justin Trudeau that the House of Commons motion recognizing the Québec Nation is wrong. I totally disagree that the kind of Canada he represents and that used to be peddled by his father is any better.

In Justin’s father’s bilingual and multicultural federation 50% of Canada’s french speaking population outside Québec has been disappearing with every generation. Canadians of colour born in Canada are among the lowest earners in the country. Natives still live in conditions somewhere between those of pre-civil rights movement blacks in Alabama and India’s untouchables.

Nothing can guarantee that an independent Québec would be a more Just Society. Like most countries it will probably fall short of the grand goals it sets out for itself. But if America’s french-speakers wish to increase their political power at home and in the world, political independence of the only state that is their own is something concrete they can do about it.

A House of Commons motion that recognises the « Québec Nation » is just another broken mirror used to buy off a defeated nation.

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 19, 2007 at 4:19 pm

The Devil and Ms. Barbara Kay

with 11 comments

Barbara Kay likes it both ways. One year ago in an infamous column in the National Post called The Rise of Quebecistan, she linked a Montreal march for peace in the Middle-East and “cultural and historical sympathy for Arab countries from the francophonie — Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon” as proof of rampant Quebec anti-semitism.

She now does a full 180 and in her October 31st column now accuses the Sovereignists and Pauline Marois of trying to stir up hate against the people that she herself, no just last year, was calling : “Hezbollah-supporting residents of southern Lebanon cash(ing) in on their Canadian citizenship and flee(ing) to the safety of Quebec”.

Ms.Kay prides herself on having predicted last summer that “the Bouchard-Taylor Commission would likely stir up dormant sovereigntist mud at the bottom of what has been a relatively clear pond since the provincial Liberals took office in 2003″.

The proposed Quebec Identity Act was a ploy by Marois to stir up the dormant racism that Ms. Kay is convinced lies at the root of Quebec Separatism. “(…)she’s planting seeds in the muck at the bottom of Quebec’s political pond(…)”

While Barbara Kay was digging in the mud and muck at the bottom of Quebec pond looking for proof of Quebec racisim and bigotry, seven ChineseCanadian fishermen were victims of violent racist attacks while fishing in southeastern Ontario. Andy Zhang, president of the Chinese Anglers Sports Club of Canada, said last week that many Asian fishermen have had rocks thrown at them, have been pushed off bridges and have had their gear thrown in the water.” The RCMP is investigating the attacks.

So far no Quebec separatists seem to be involved. That’s probably why Barbara Kay is not writting about this story.

“The devil is always on the lookout for the moral relativism that signals a latter-day Faust, and it seems he has found some eager recruits amongst Quebec’s most prominent spokespeople,” wrote Ms. Kay in The Rise of Quebecistan. I’m guessing she includes herself as one of these spokespeople…