We are “the heirs of this fantastic adventure that was an America that was at first almost entirely French and, even more, of the collective obstinacy which made it possible to keep alive this part of it called Quebec. All of this lies at the bottom of this personality which is ours. Anyone who does not feel it at least on occasion is not or is no longer one of us”.
Who is the dreadful “identity nationalist” who dared to utter these words? You’ll never Gess. It is obviously René Lévesque. The same who castigated the “Rhodesians of Westmount” and who had titled the first chapter ofQuebec Option “We others”. The text also opened with a quote from Fernand Dumont, who said he believed “in the virtue of small nations” since “these are those where common values are likely to reach deep roots”.
“Heirs”, “common values”, “roots”, one imagines the witchcraft trial that would be brought against the authors of these lines today. It is worth rereading them at a time when some are trying to separate the Quebec national movement into the good “civic” nationalists of yesterday and the evil “identity” nationalists of today. I obviously want to talk about the documentary by my former and esteemed colleague Francine Pelletier, Battle for the soul of Quebec.
His entire statement is intended to support the well-known thesis that Quebec nationalism once “open to the world” and “progressive” has become “reactionary” and “identitarian”. A thesis that has nothing new or even specifically Quebec since we hear it everywhere in Europe as soon as the national question arises.
I quoted René Lévesque, but I could have quoted de Gaulle and how many other leaders of that era, as globalization accompanied by its multicultural preaching today seeks to disqualify any form of national affirmation. In Quebec as elsewhere in the West.
However, if we don’t want to disregard the real world, we have to recognize that during all these years, it is not so much nationalism that has become “identitarian”, since it always has been, that the irruption of globalization and its diverse ideology which declared it persona non grata. We are victims of an illusion. They want us to believe that the train is moving when it is the train next door that is moving in the opposite direction.
What indeed is “identity nationalism”, if not a pure pleonasm? As water is wet, all nationalism is in essence more or less identity. What is nationalism for if not to defend a nation which has been formed over the ages and which has its own history, culture, language and customs? In short, what is called an identity.
From Lionel Groulx to Maurice Séguin, from Michelet to Renan, from Honoré Mercier to René Lévesque, in memory we have never seen non-identity nationalism, except in the rantings of academics who confuse Quebec with a station hall. Which does not mean that this nation is not open to others. Any being endowed with reason is in a position, as generations of immigrants have done, to learn a language, to acquire a culture and to conform to the mores of the majority. As long as we want it, of course, and don’t give in to the temptation of the ethnic ghetto advocated by Canadian multiculturalism, invented for the sole purpose of instrumentalizing immigration in order to marginalize and ethnicize Quebecers.
Some claim that after the terrible defeat of 1995, Quebec nationalism closed in on itself. However, if something has changed in post-referendum nationalism, it is on the contrary that it has never ceased to give pledges of its “openness” and its “progressivism”. All the reasons were good for independence (ecology, women’s equality, the fight against discrimination), except the defense of a culture and a language that are in danger.
The wave of repentance that swept through the Western world hit Quebec hard at the worst time in its history, when it had been knocked out. by two referendum failures. This is why we never stop apologizing for existing and for dissolving our “bad conscience”—to use the expression of sociologist Jacques Beauchemin—in all the ideologies of globalization, of which “wokism” is today the extreme expression.
It is also largely this sanitized and tasteless nationalism, coupled with this inability of the PQ to be both nationalist and separatist as René Lévesque knew how to do, which explains the flight of activists and voters to the ADQ of Mario Dumont, then the CAQ of François Legault.
It is not nationalism that has changed, but the world. Such is the blind spot of these reasonings for which nationalism will never obtain a patent of morality until it has completely denied itself.
This is what René Lévesque called the “permanent temptation of this refusal of oneself, which has the attractions of an easy slope at the bottom of which would be comfortable drowning in the great whole”.
You could also call it Louisiana.
To see in video
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Did you say “identity”?
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