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The Fall of the Bloc and the Ideology of Losing Colonialism

I am not going to write a post that provides a general analysis of the Canadian federal elections because I think my last post, the conclusion to the Vote With Your Feet series, was enough.  Besides, two good post-election posts are already up in the Canadian left blogosphere: Speed of Dreams has a great post re-emphasizing a rejection of colonial-capitalist parliamentarianism; Ms. Marx also has a great post but from a slightly different perspective.


What I find most interesting about the recent federal elections (aside from the fact that again around 40% of registered voters refused to participate) was the crushing defeat of the Bloc Quebecois.  Normally this Quebec nationalist party dominates its province: it is not only as "social democratic" as the NDP (if not more so), but its Francophone nationalist line tended to make it more appealing to many left-inclined French Canadians.  This year, however, like the Liberal party it was completely decimated.

The Revolutionary Communist Party Canada (PCR-RCP) that emerged in Quebec, and in the midst of Quebecois left struggle, has long argued that Quebec nationalism is a dead project: "as a nation, Quebec is no longer subjected to any form of oppression that would prevent its own development and would then justify––as some people still want us to believe––a national liberation struggle." Furthermore, the PCR-RCP argued that the entire Quebec national movement "has for the most part harboured ideas contrary to the interests of the proletariat" and that Quebec "is not on the side of the dominated countries, but on the side of the dominating countries."  These insights were proved this election when the majority of the people who would normally vote for the sovereigntist Bloc voted NDP instead––now even the lingering ideology of Quebec nationalism no longer holds sway in the imagination of the average Quebecois voting participant.  And yet Gilles Duceppe went out in a Quebec sovereigntist blaze of glory, ranting about how Quebec "liberation" was somehow still a relevant issue when, if anything, it is only the issue of racist cultural nationalists who would rather vote for the retrograde Parti Quebecois than the Bloc.

Quebec nationalism, though providing important moments of revolutionary struggle (i.e. the Front de Libération du Québec), was by-and-large a false revolutionary nationalism.  While it is true that the francophone sovereigntist struggle emerged in response to anglo-chauvinism, it was still the product of a nation of losing colonizers.  The French arrived to settle, enslave, and genocide this hemisphere's indigenous population––just like the English––they just happened to lose a colonial war and become a nation of subjugated colonizers.  Even when they were under the economic domination of the Anglophones, they remained a parasitic settler-colonial nation: they would send their police to smash indigenous resistance, their sovereigntism was most often a denial of anti-colonial struggle because the only national struggle it recognized was a struggle of settlers.  And this nationalism is, to paraphrase Fanon and Cesaire, ultimately nothing more than "a war amongst brothers."

And yet, for a long time, the Canadian left has tried to argue that Quebec nationalism is the only nationalism that counts––the primary national liberation demand of Canada, more important than actual anti-colonial struggle.  This conception of false revolutionary nationalism, the focus on Quebec's right to secede as a nation, is still defended by certain sectors of the left: for example, some groups still argue (and do so publicly) that only Quebec constitutes a "nation", whereas the various indigenous nations do not, and so while the former has the revolutionary right to secede, the latter should just integrate.  The terribly economistic and chauvinist theory behind this assertion is that only Quebec possesses a "real political economy."  Although how its political economy is any different from other provincial political economies, and how it is not integrated into the overall colonial-capitalist state of Canada, is a question conjured away behind this supposedly robust claim about nationhood.  At the end of the day, despite any rhetorical flourishes and despicable sophistries, the argument is nothing more than colonial ideology: indigenous people cannot constitute "nations" because they are supposed to be outside of history, frozen in time, apparitions of a landscape no different from trees or other roaming animals––this was the racist thinking behind colonial ideologies like terra nullius.

The national question that emerged in the Leninist period of marxism––discussed to its most minute details by Lenin and by the participants of the Third International's Second Congress––should not be reduced to such pathetic colonial qualifications.  Of course, those who defend this false conception of the national question do so because they benefit, as so many of us do, from colonial-capitalism and this benefit, this privilege, produces and ideological mindset: it is in our interests to reject a concrete analysis in a concrete situation of the national question… far better to apply it to a population of losing colonizers who, if they ever secede from the rest of Canada, will maintain colonialism and capitalism.

And many of these groups who still push Quebec nationalism as the only revolutionary nationalism that counts were extremely angered by the PCR-RCP's analysis of the national question that rejects Quebec nationalism in favour of anti-colonial indigenous nationalism.  This is a more concrete and revolutionary understanding of the national question, and one that even takes anglo-chauvinism into account, because it understands that capitalism in Canada grew out of colonial conquest––a colonialism initiated, and now maintained, by English and French alike.

If anything, the fall of the Bloc demonstrates that French Canadian voters do not care about this false understanding of the national question promoted by antiquated "marxist" organizations who still imagine that they're living sixty years ago.  Quebec sovereignty must no longer be relevant to the Quebec middle class if all of their class needs are being satisfied by a Canadian capitalism that now treats French Canadians no different from English Canadians.  And the Quebec proletariat probably does not care if the exploiting bourgeoisie is Francophone or Anglophone, either.  As the PCR-RCP argued in the chapter of their programme that defends native sovereignty over and above Quebec sovereignty:
"To claim that Québec has played the part of an oppressed nation historically within Canada is one thing.  To voluntarily blind oneself to its current reality and in the face of changes that have taken place after almost 40 years of domination – if not hegemony – by the national movement in Québec: this is a big mistake, that has been made at the cost of the proletariat."
Hopefully the Bloc's humiliating defeat in these recent federal elections will finally exorcise the ghost of that predatory nationalism that has lingered over the mass graves of indigenous peoples since its emergence.

Comments

  1. I wrote a response to this curious post:

    http://clarissasbox.blogspot.com/2011/05/will-nationalism-in-quebec-ever-succeed.html

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  2. Yes, yes, yes!

    I have been arguing exactly these points for who knows how long!

    You practically take the words right out of my mouth when you say:

    "Quebec nationalism, though providing important moments of revolutionary struggle (i.e. the Front de Libération du Québec), was by-and-large a false revolutionary nationalism. While it is true that the francophone sovereigntist struggle emerged in response to anglo-chauvinism, it was still the product of a nation of losing colonizers. The French arrived to settle, enslave, and genocide this hemisphere's indigenous population––just like the English––they just happened to lose a colonial war and become a nation of subjugated colonizers. Even when they were under the economic domination of the Anglophones, they remained a parasitic settler-colonial nation: they would send their police to smash indigenous resistance, their sovereigntism was most often a denial of anti-colonial struggle because the only national struggle it recognized was a struggle of settlers. And this nationalism is, to paraphrase Fanon and Cesaire, ultimately nothing more than "a war amongst brothers."

    When I first got involved in the Canadian left one of the first things I noticed was the wide spread acceptance of Québec as an oppressed nation with the right to self-determination. While I certainly had Canadian leftist friends who on an individual level did not buy into the whole Québec oppressed nation complex, it wasn't until I read the RCP-PCR's program that I encountered an organization that took as its line that Québec is not an oppressed nation.

    However, I go further, I think, than the RCP-PCR. They argue, as you quote them, that "as a nation, Quebec is no longer subjected to any form of oppression that would prevent its own development and would then justify––as some people still want us to believe––a national liberation struggle." I however don't think that Québec was ever put under any kind of national oppression.

    As you note, the contradiction between Anglo-Canada and the Québécois is born of Anglophone chauvanism, but I don't think that ever made them an oppressed nation in the same way the indigenous people of the Americas are.

    The contradictions that exist between Anglo-Canada and the Québécois is same contradiction that exist between all imperialist and colonial powers. It's a struggle for control of land and resources that do not belong to either nation, because they were stolen from the indigenous people, who, despite the best efforts of the Anglo and French settlers, are still here.

    The real revolutionary anti-colonial struggle is the struggle waged by indigenous people against imperialist white power, settler-colonialism, parasitic capitalism and the very existence of the Canadian nation state. The fact that the settler “left” in Canada cannot, or refuses, to see that point shows where they truly lay in the alignment of forces.

    Anyway, again, great post!

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  3. I wrote a brief comment under your post, but I'll add more here. The point about the national question, and radical nationalisms, has never been about purity or about some culturalist notion of a nation outside of space and time (like a Platonic essence) for historical materialists. My brief rejection of the Trot-left definition of a nation, designed to deny indigenous sovereignty struggles, is meant to indicate exactly that.

    The point for any anticolonialist, especially those of us who live in a settler society, is to look at the concrete contradictions that arise, historically, in order to define a nation. Here in Canada (and in the US and other settler-colonial societies) the colonial contradiction between oppressed and oppressor nations, is currently not anglo versus franco and has primarily and always been white supremacist settlers versus indigenous inhabitants. When we argue for the self-determination of nations we argue that there are people who constitute themselves as nations and who do not have the right to define themselves as such: this is the meaning of revolutionary nationalism, as opposed to reactionary nationalism which makes the nation into something real.

    The PCR-RCP's analysis, that I support, says that the Quebec nation currently does not constitute an oppressed nation. As an organization that emerged from within revolutionary French nationalism, but who broke from it when they concretely engaged with its limits, I think we need to take their analysis to heart - especially since French nationalism has worked historically to deny the anticolonial struggles of indigenous peoples. Quebec has already integrated itself in bourgeois society and, to quote the PCR-RCP again, "in the last 20 years… was able to hold three referendums on the constitutional issue. Quebecers were able to express themselves as freely as possible under bourgeois democracy… in order to exercise their right to self-determination." Hence the Bloc's failure to even appeal to left french-canadians anymore. The biggest french sovereigntists today are PQers and they are extremely reactionary, ant-immigrant, etc.

    Indigenous nations, however, have been and still are struggling for the right to self-determination and, in the contradiction that makes up settler-colonial society, are fundamentally connected to the material reality of this nation's colonial-capitalism whereas Quebec nationalism, as I will continue to assert, is the product of losing colonialism.

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  4. Enaemaehkiw Túpac Keshena: Sorry, my last comment was in response to Clarissa's post and I hadn't seen yours yet - so it looks rather illogical under yours...

    Yes, I tend to be on your side (as this post's position should demonstrate) than completely with what appears to be said in the PCR-RCP's programme. At the same time, though, I think they are just making a case for nuance: "if it is true that Quebec was an oppressed nation, then only the *was* was relevant because its aims have been completed." In some of the articles they've written in their Digest, they are much more clear about the principal contradiction within settler-colonial society. And I suppose it all has to do with defining what constitutes a nation, or even a marginally oppressed nation.

    Anyhow, thanks for liking it: hope my above comment that was a response to the first commenter didn't confuse you!

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  5. I agree that it is a matter of nuance, and not a matter of major importance, as we agree (the RCP-PCR and I) agree that whatever the past, Québec is an oppressor nation NOW.

    However for me, in my experience, the myth that Québec is an oppressed nation is a pugnacious one that must be dismantled, including on the historical front.

    For example, just under two week (like 13 days) ago on the other site that I edit, People of Color Organize!, someone left a comment on the first article I had ever posted there, which was about the Oka Revolt. They were from the group Réseau de Résistance du Québécois (here's a link to a wiki article on them if you, like me, had never heard of them http://tinyurl.com/3hj44pz).

    While my French is pretty poor (and my Canadian French is even worse, having been raised in Bermuda and schooled at a British school)I did understand that they were asking if "we" (I couldn't tell if they were talking about POCO! or indigenous people) would support the Québécois national project, or at least their version of it.

    In order to try and convince "us" of their case for alliance between indigenous people and the Québécois nation of settlers they posted part of their program, specifically the part titled "Aboriginal Affairs." To say the least it painted a very rosy picture of indigenous-French settler relations, especially vis-à-vis the Anglo-settler nation.

    Now, while I do realize that Réseau de Résistance du Québécois is a fringe element (hehe, not like we aren't "fringe" elements ourselves), my interaction with them shows the role that the HISTORICAL myth of Québec still plays in the Québécois national-settler project. They also aren't the only time I've encountered this, it's just the most recent time.

    While I think it is important and possible to demonstrate that Québec in the world TODAY is fully integrated into Canadian imperialism and colonial-capitalism, the myth of Québec the oppressed nation is rooted in a mythologized reading of history.

    Just as Sakai roots out the true history of the White American settler nation in "Settlers" or Ward Churchill does as well in his book "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality," I believe it may be necessary, at least at times, to expose the actual history of the Québécois settler nation and the mythology-as-history that the Québécois national-settler project and many sections of the Anglo-Canadian settler "left" push.

    Also, no, I wasn't confused by the other comment :)

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  6. (Hahaha: glad that you weren't confused... When I looked up the comment string line I was like: "oh no, he'll think I'm referring to his position about nationalism as culturalist/idealist/platonic!")

    Agreed... And though I'd never heard of this group, I have heard the whole myth of indigenous-french utopia from others. Definitely the myth of Quebec as an oppressed nation fits squarely within a very specific colonial narrative about Canada - one of the arguably more left-inclined myths, perhaps, but problematic for sure.

    Fighting myths take a long time, though, and while I am in agreement that the comments in the PCR-RCP's programme should have been much more clear on the "losing colonizer" front, in some ways I understand why they grant past status to Quebec as an oppressed nation. If anything we can see them as an oppressed settler nation, though that is rather confused and contradictory and probably a concept only worth interrogating in academic literature––if that! The question might be (might be) how to convince franco-lefty sovereigntists to abandon the sovereignty project as revolutionary and instead support primarily indigenous self-determination: that is a tough nut to crack, though I think far less so if the Bloc's current failure now means anything significant.

    But yeah, I do wish they went further in their programme to demythologize the history. As I indicated above, however, I think they're much more clear about this in articles contained in the PWD. Programmes are always such a vague literature.

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  7. JMP,

    I've found it difficult since last night to avoid drawing conclusions that are too far-reaching. Whether it's the death of Quebecois nationalism or the relegation of the Liberals to the dustbin of history, we need to look behind seat counts to get a better picture.

    The BQ, smashed as they are as a force in the House of Commons, still garnered just shy of a quarter of the popular vote in Quebec. A ghost of its former performance but still a force to be reckoned with in the province (I'd imagine). Without being intimately familiar with the political landscape in Quebec, I can only hazard that Quebecois nationalism is still living and vital. As much as I agree with your (and the PCR-RCP's) position on Quebecois nationalism and sovereignty, it seems a little hasty to pronounce its death following this election.

    Interesting times nonetheless. Have you caught any flak from folks hoping to scapegoat the Harper majority on the boycott campaign?

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  8. Fair enough: it could be a little hasty, but it does signify a growing trend of the realignment of the political landscape. In many ways I was using this unexpected change in the BQ's power to interrogate the issues behind the obsession with French nationalism that lingers with the left.

    Haven't caught any flak yet. And if we're going to be scapegoated for anything, why not also for pressuring people who disagree with us to go out and raise votes for the NDP this year? Both charges would be equally baseless... And yet people looking to blame something for the conservatization of society (which also affects the NDP) probably will give some of us flak.

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  9. "as a nation, Quebec is no longer subjected to any form of oppression that would prevent its own development and would then justify"

    First, this is utterly false. Second, that affirmation means that Canada should reunite himself with United Kingdom because Canada is no longer oppressed by United Kingdom, by your own standard.

    "Furthermore, the PCR-RCP argued that the entire Quebec national movement "has for the most part harboured ideas contrary to the interests of the proletariat" and that Quebec "is not on the side of the dominated countries, but on the side of the dominating countries.""

    I agree. But the same thing applies to Canada: the entire Canada national movement "has for the most part harboured ideas contrary to the interests of the proletariat" and Canada "is not on the side of the dominated countries, but on the side of the dominating countries.

    So Canada should reunite with United Kingdom, by your own standard.

    "it is only the issue of racist cultural nationalists who would rather vote for the retrograde Parti Quebecois than the Bloc."

    What's this? And there is a far more powerful racist cultural nationalism in Canada than Québec's one, that's called the Art-Peur's CON-SERV-ative Party of Canada, the party in power in Canada right now.

    So Canada should reunite himself with United Kingdom to fight against these racist CON-SERV-ative terrorist bastards? Geeeezzz....

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  10. This logic makes no sense. How would reuniting with the nation that, before secession, was the motherland of colonialism end settler-colonialism in Canada? To assert Canada is part of the worldwide centres and maintains internal colonies does not mean, for some bizarre reason, to also assert that some even MORE reactionary return to the British crown would end colonialism. Your attempt to impose this as my argument is so far outside of the realm of argumentative, let alone historical, logic that it is silly. So to say that this is by my own standard is utterly ludicrous because: a) it would assume that Canadian secession was due to Canada being an "oppressed nation" (which is utterly untrue because it was always a white settler nation); b) that Canadian secession was a revolutionary struggle (also untrue since it was one group of the bourgeoisie declaring political independence from another and then maintaining colonial hegemony in the wake of this).

    What I have argued is that Quebec nationalism initially posed (unlike Canadian secessionism) as a revolutionary nationalism in line with other anti-imperialist movements around the world. If this was the case (and my indigenous comrades argue that it was not), then it is clearly no longer the case and so to make Quebec sovereignty the main issue of leftist politics in Quebec is rather problematic.

    As for the Conservative party being far more racist and cultural nationalist I agree. This article, however, was discussing something very specific and that was whether or not Quebec sovereignty was an issue of revolutionary nationalism (which could also be internationalism) or not. I am not interested in making a category mistake by comparing the Quebec sovereignty issue with Canadian secessionism. The fact is that Canada exists as a nation in the way that Quebec does not - if Quebec had separated during the days of the FLQ I wouldn't be arguing for its reintegration but be taking its existence as a fact - and that the Quebec bourgeoisie and the proletariat, as a whole, are no longer as interested in separationism as they once were. So the question is why?

    To reemphasize: the logical form you attempted to place my argument in his a fallacy known as a category mistake. My own standard does not draw a parallel between actually existing Canada as the product of secession and a non-separated Quebec. These are distinct epistemic categories.

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  11. "So to say that this is by my own standard is utterly ludicrous because: a) it would assume that Canadian secession was due to Canada being an "oppressed nation" (which is utterly untrue because it was always a white settler nation); b) that Canadian secession was a revolutionary struggle (also untrue since it was one group of the bourgeoisie declaring political independence from another and then maintaining colonial hegemony in the wake of this)."

    If Canada wasn't an oppressed nation and Québec is not an oppressed nation, why Canada independence is valid and why Québec independence isn't?

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  12. You've still utterly misunderstood what I'm saying and I don't consider it worthwhile to keep repeating it over and over. Look at what I said in the second and third paragraphs: your comparison is a false analogy, a category mistake.

    I don't consider the entire EXISTENCE of Canada-as-Canada as valid because it is a colonial-capitalist state. The fact that it seceded from Britain just happens to be a point of reality and to argue to go backwards in history is just ludicrous: whether or not there was secession it was colonialist either way. So to argue that I'm trying to say that Canadian "independence" is valid/invalid, is an utter red herring and detracts from the points I am making.

    My argument is about the progressive, anti-colonial, and revolutionary position. I don't care if Canada separated from Britain, I don't think it was revolutionary, but it just happens that it *did* happen and I am not confusing oughts with ises here, as you seem to be doing, hence your bizarre misreading of what I'm saying.

    Again: if Quebec was separate then I would take that as a fact and argue, along with whatever the rest of Canada was calling itself, that it should be overthrown because, judging by the content of Quebec separatism, they would equally be capitalist-colonial states. But it remains that it is still part of Canada and my argument is that supporting Quebec sovereignty is no more or less progressive than supporting Canadian sovereignty: both are colonial positions and as those of us who care about anti-colonialism, about the concrete contradiction of colonizer-colonized that defines this country, we shouldn't imagine that separatism is revolutionary.

    If you ask the same question again, which has already violated two rules of logic (false analogy or category mistake, and red herring), then I'll have to assume that you aren't arguing honestly.

    Please read my comments policy.

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  13. Okay, by your own standard, you consider that Quebec's independence is valid because Canada's independence had happen. But for you, Québec separatists don't address their cause the right way. Maybe you're right about it, but not all separatists can think the same way.

    Also, I think you misread the actual situation. Québec is less CON-SERV-ative, less capitalist, more socialist, less racist and less terrorist than the Rest Of Canada (ROC). ROC CPC's surge and Orange Crush's surge in Québec are a patent proof of it.

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  14. "I don't consider the entire EXISTENCE of Canada-as-Canada as valid because it is a colonial-capitalist state."

    I agree. I don't consider ANY state as valid. I'm an anarchist. That's my point!

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  15. And I support Native Separatism.

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  16. Again, you're still misreading me: I don't think Quebec is more conservative than the rest of Canada - actually I think it has a more left/progressive political culture. A culture that produced the PCR-RCP which is the most vital left org. in Canada right now but still, despite its emergence from Separatist struggles, argues that the prime national question and colonial contradiction is indigenous, not Quebecois, sovereignty. Actually, let me quote what I wrote in and above comment about this: "As for the Conservative party being far more racist and cultural nationalist I agree. This article, however, was discussing something very specific and that was whether or not Quebec sovereignty was an issue of revolutionary nationalism."

    So yes, I agree that Quebec's electoral scene, due to this culture, would be more prone to vote social dem. As I argued in this article, those who would normally vote social dem in Quebec *used to* as a whole vote for the BQ since it was like an NDP but with the sovereignty issue attached (and I would probably go further and argue that the BQ in many ways is more social dem than the NDP). Now they rejected the the Bloc and voted NDP: this shows that the separatist issue is less relevant than it once was - and I was discussing the possible reasons surrounding this.

    SO AGAIN: don't misread what I'm writing. Simply because I'm examining the lack of revolutionary potential behind Quebec sovereignty, and pointing out the fact that both the French and English settled here as colonizers and how we must understand this, if we want an anticolonial politics, does not mean I'm arguing that Quebec is somehow "more conservative" than the rest of Canada. Nowhere have I made that argument and, just like your initial comments about my article on Clarissa's site, you're attributing claims to my post that neither it, nor I, express. In fact, outside of the bounds of this article I would go further and argue that the separatist movement - especially in the FLQ days - is what contributed to this political culture with more radical potential. By attributing strange absolutist and ahistorical positions to what I'm arguing you've been: a) missing the main point; b) performing strange logical generalizations. Where did I ever argue that Quebec was "more conservative" than the rest of Canada? Nowhere. There was a point where I argued that the PQ was more conservative than the BQ, but what does that have to do with claiming that Quebec as a whole is more conservative than other provinces. It is not, I never made such a claim, though you've been making this assertion in earlier comments.

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  17. As for the state issue, and the national question issue, because I am not an anarchist (though I used to be a social anarchist) and believe that a revolutionary state is required to smash capitalism, to eliminate the ideology and persistence of the capitalist class, etc. This is outside the bounds of this article, however, so I will not argue it here. If you want to complain about my communism (about my Maoism) do it on another article that discusses the issues and read my comments policy.

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  18. I will not discuss against your Maoism here (Duceppe is a former Maoist). No problem with that.

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  19. "that have to do with claiming that Quebec as a whole is more conservative than other provinces. It is not, I never made such a claim, though you've been making this assertion in earlier comments. "

    No, you had seem to believe that Québec is as much as CON-SERV-ative than the ROC. But you recognize that it's not the case. Great!

    "There was a point where I argued that the PQ was more conservative than the BQ"

    PQ is the same thing as BQ, but PQ could form a Québec governement. PQ is less conservative than Liberals and ADQ (Conservative's sister in Québec, is a lesser canadian-colonialist version than even the Liberals).

    "Now they rejected the the Bloc and voted NDP: this shows that the separatist issue is less relevant than it once was - and I was discussing the possible reasons surrounding this.Now they rejected the the Bloc and voted NDP: this shows that the separatist issue is less relevant than it once was - and I was discussing the possible reasons surrounding this."

    No, you explain why the method used by the Bloc and the separatist movement has failed, not why the separatist issue is less relevant.

    "A culture that produced the PCR-RCP which is the most vital left org. in Canada right now but still, despite its emergence from Separatist struggles, argues that the prime national question and colonial contradiction is indigenous, not Quebecois, sovereignty.

    I support individual independence, so I support "small-community independence", indigeneous independence,Québec independence, Canada independence, USA independance, Afghanistan independence, Irak independence, Serbia independence, Kosovo independence, Palestine independence, Israël independence, etc.. Why "pick-and-chose" here?

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  20. Okay: and to make things clearer about the PQ vs. BQ, my argument was generally that the former was more conservative than the latter - not to compare them to the Liberals and/or Conservatives, both of which, as national parties, are clearly more conservative than both separatist parties. I think you would agree, though, that the Bloc is generally more to the left than the Parti (and also more to the left on overall policies, I would even argue, than this incarnation of the NDP).

    As for supporting independence in the way that you've suggested I think this is where we differ and where maybe all of the misunderstanding has emerged. As an anticolonialist and anti-imperialist, and as someone who does work on the revolutionary understanding of the national question, I support the right of oppressed and colonized nationalities over nations that have been established, through genocide and apartheid and slavery, as parasitical on indigenous populations. This was the presupposition behind this article - a presupposition that is clearly emphasized in the work of Fanon, Cabral, Cesaire, and every anticolonial thinker - which is why I support the national self-determination of revolutionary anticolonial movements and think that colonial states (such as Canada [which includes Quebec], the US, Israel, etc.) should be decolonized since their existence as nations is determined by a history of genocide and apartheid. For the same reason I would not have supported the existence of Rhodesia or the Afrikaaner South Africa. Picking and choosing national self-determination is important when it comes to progressive politics, just as I think it is vital to pick and choose between the rights of the bourgeoisie to persist as a class versus the proletariat to persist as a class. But again, this is a larger issue than what was discussed on this post - which was a narrow focus on the issue of Quebec separatism now (as opposed to in the 1960s-70s) in the context of radical self-determination) and that took this historical understanding of national liberation struggles as a priori.

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  21. Oh, and just to add to this so that this discussion which is beyond the limits of this post does not continue forever here and thus cause me to regurgitate what I have posted in the past, I discuss the contradiction of oppressor/oppressed nations within the broader framework of revolutionary politics here:

    http://moufawad-paul.blogspot.com/2011/01/four-categories-of-contradictions.html

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  22. "I think you would agree, though, that the Bloc is generally more to the left than the Parti (and also more to the left on overall policies, I would even argue, than this incarnation of the NDP)."

    I agree. A little more leftist than PQ.But they support the terrorist invasion of Libya...and that is insane from their part.

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  23. Indeed: and even the NDP supported the intervention. So did a lot of other supposedly "left" organizations, strangely and frighteningly. It's kind of what happened with the Yugoslavia intervention. Sad and insane, yes, but these mistakes are made time and time again.

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  24. "Often these nations have nationalist movements that might not have the best ideology. Political Islam, for example, is not a very progressive ideology––but the point is that it is progressive in the very small context of anti-imperialism. That is, imperialism is the bigger problem and the petit-bourgeois nationalists are still fighting against imperialism."


    Okay. That's clearer!

    PQ's social-mediocracy nationalism, for example, is not a very progressive ideology (but far more progressive than political islam)––but the point is that it is progressive in the very small context of anti-colonialism, anti-conservatism and anti-militaro-terrorism.

    That is, colonialism, conservatism and militaro-terrorism are bigger problems and the petit-bourgeois Québec nationalists are still fighting against those concepts.

    Maybe native nationalism is more relevant that Québec nationalism (and I will continue to support native separatism after Quebec separation), but Quebec nationalism is not de facto irrelevant because of that.

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  25. I would argue that it is, because Quebec is the product of colonization and a nation of colonizers, just like the rest of Canada, so here I guess we differ.

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  26. And Political Islam is not a result of a colonization process?

    And if Canada is a product of a colonization, why Canada's independence is relevant?

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  27. Political Islam might be a result of colonization and imperialism, but it is not a COLONIZER and Quebec WAS A COLONIZER AS WAS THE REST OF CANADA. The second part of what I said, Quebec being a nation of colonizers as the rest of Canada is a nation of colonizers, is the key point. Quebec was not colonized it was established as the settler state. Political Islam, in the areas where it is possibly anticolonial, is an ideology that emerges due to the victimization of colonialism. Quebec was not a victim of colonialism but a participant in genocide, apartheid and the wholesale land theft of the first nations - a participant with, of course, English speaking Canada.

    And as I have argued before, I have never said that Canada's independence is relevant aside from the fact that it *is* a nation, and Quebec as a whole participates in this nation like any other province. And Canada - including Quebec and every other province - is a settler nation, a colonial nation, that maintains itself by colonial-capitalism.

    That has been my point from the beginning and yet you are still distorting what I am saying. Since you continue to argue on my blogspace, in defiance of my comments policy, this is the last statement on this issue. Any other comments on this string - all of which demonstrate an intentional misreading of what I write and are beginning to feel like red-baiting - will be deleted. This comments string, considering that now you are just repeating yourself without demonstrating a willingness to even understand what I am saying - or in fact the entire history of anticolonial theory - is now becoming counter-productive and a waste of my time. If you want to reply again, read Fanon, Cabral, Cesaire, and the entire history of anticolonial thinking before replying.

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  28. But just to be clear about what I'm saying, and to cite historical precedence, we only need to look at the situation of colonial South Africa. Both the Dutch and the English were involved in colonizing that geography and, like the French in Canada, the Dutch lost to the English. So the Afrikaaner nation was a "product" of colonial encounters but it was also a colonizing product, like every settler-colonial nation.

    It would be utterly ludicrous to state that Afrikaaner independence was somehow revolutionary when, clearly, the historical record shows that, due to its colonial history and nature, Afrikaaner independence was about being in charge of colonizing and not limited by the British colonial mandate. And arguably the Afrikaaners were dominated by the British, and were subjected to Anglo-chauvinism - in fact the Boer War demonstrates that, unlike the Quebecois, the Afrikaaners were placed in concentration camps. Did all of this mean that their separation was something that any progressive-minded person should embrace? That they should have the right to be independent and that the revolutionary quandary of the national question, in that colonial context, applied to them - to losing colonizers?

    Obviously the answer to these questions, judged by the historical record, is a resounding "no". Once they achieved their independence they demonstrated that they were identically colonialist, just another group of people who came from outside and settled and dominated a group of people, considering their colonial policies of apartheid.

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  29. Bad news for you: a majority separatist governement in Scotland!

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/election/snp-wins-majority-rule-over-scottish-parliament-1.1099937

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  30. "Quebec was not colonized"

    Are you kidding me?

    "Political Islam might be a result of colonization and imperialism, but it is not a COLONIZER"

    Islamists are bona fide colonizers in numerous arab countries.


    I support Afrikaaner independence. The problem is they didn't respect the independence of their native nations.

    Right now, native people in Canada and in Quebec have superior rights than other people. This is far different than South Africa's Apartheid!

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  31. Not really: as I indicated above, you clearly do not understand what I mean by separatism and anticolonialism. I actually support Scottish separatism, as I do Irish independence, but you have no way of understanding why I support these separatisms because, as I pointed out above, you refuse to understand what I'm arguing. You also conflate categories into one homogenous "separatism" and "nationalism." Read what I wrote in the comment above about the Boers/Afrikaaners. If the Scottish-background settlers who are part of the colonial front in Ireland decided to separate and form their own nation that would be more akin to Quebec separatism than Scotland separating.

    As I said above, this conversation is over since you clearly refuse to understand what I'm arguing AND are now trolling. I allowed this last comment but that is it. Go troll someone else.

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  32. And when Islamists are colonizers I support the colonized against them in those contexts. Your understanding of colonialism is utterly flawed, and any colonized people in the world would find it laughable that you think white settlers who were colonizers are actually the colonized. The entire premise of Afrikaaner independence was colonialism so to say "the problem is they didn't respect the independence of their native nations" is akin to saying "there can be good racism" - it is a laughable assertion, and one that the entire radical anti-colonial movement in Africa would see as racist/imperialist/offensive.

    You actually think native people have superior rights to everyone else in Canada? Seriously? Now I know that you are a white racist trolling my site. Check the comments policy: you are not welcome here.

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  33. JMP: how far back in history are you prepared to go to try to figure out who was originally on each stretch of lands on this planet? If you take Mexico, for example, you'll see that the country is a product of a conquest of an Aztec empire by a brutal Spanish Crown.

    However, the Aztecs themselves were also brutal colonizers who came from the North and subjected the people already living there.

    However, it has now come to light that the people who were already living there also had come from somewhere else and colonized the lands.

    How do we figure out now who is entitled to fight for the independence of each particular stretch of land? And why should we engage in this at all?

    I witnessed the moment when my country achieved independence from a brutal colonial regime. While we danced and sang in the streets, our enthusiasm was used by a bunch of folks who grabbed the power and enriched themselves. Every independence movement I have ever seen always leads to the same results, irrespective of whether it's the movement of truly colonized people or not.

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  34. It's not about going back in history, it's about looking at the modern era of colonialism and the concrete material problems that arise from the colonizer-colonized divide: a division that is fundamental for the way the world is run today. Those that I support who fight for independence are those who are living under settler-colonialism, and this settler-colonialism is part of how the colonial state, and in connection to global capitalism, functions.

    Otherwise, yes, it would be quite senseless. Which is why my understanding of anticolonialism comes from Fanon, and other anticolonialists in that era, who rejected the culturalist understanding of anticolonial struggle as non-sensical.

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  35. Do you think that the fact that an independence movement fights against settler-colonialism will ultimately impact the degree to which a newly independent state will be oppressive?

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  36. Yes and no... There are clearly other contradictions contained in anticolonial movements - where they could go (and have gone) dangerously culturalist. Fanon talks about these problems in Wretched of the Earth as "pitfalls of national consciousness" ... I support anticolonial movements in general, but in the moment of decolonization I support those lines within these movements who understand their nationalism as also internationalism, and who have a program based on a radical understanding of human needs.

    These are always difficult problems, however, because colonized peoples, who are emerging from the modern yoke of colonialism, are emerging in what Lewis Gordon has called, in reference to Fanon, a "tragedy of violence" and this definitely could deform, and has deformed, the struggle. Amilcar Cabral, who was an anticolonial leader, spoke a lot about this as well. There is also the external pressures that have been brought to bear on post-colonial states (what Babu has termed "colonialism by remote control") that cause further degeneration.

    But there are more contradictions than the colonial contradiction in this modern world, and I talked about that in a piece earlier that I cited up this comment string.

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  37. I agree with you, and you should have censored this white racist way before!

    But, just to make this debate more clearer for me, do you support the Alberta sovereignty, for example? I don't think Alberta is a colonizer nation, personally.

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  38. This is a strange comment... I see Canada in general as a colonial nation, so that would include all of its provinces.

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  39. So, for you, Alberta is a colonizer nation? Why?

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  40. Canada is a colonizer nation, that is why. Canada was established by settler-colonialism through genocide and displacement: all of its provinces were established in a similar manner. Canada is also a capitalist nation and an imperialist nation: its provinces might be different but its bourgeois class is in agreement here. I don't see Alberta as a separate nation, with a radical national struggle that is anticolonial (because it is established on native land), anymore than I see different states in the US as sovereign and outside of US colonialism.

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  41. So, since Alberta is not a colonizer nation contrary to Quebec, do you support Alberta sovereignty?

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  42. What? That makes no sense. Read what I wrote just above. My argument from the very beginning is that Canada is a colonial nation and that Quebec, and thus every province, participated in maintaining colonialism. The thing that makes Quebec an issue for people, though, is that it was also the product of predominantly french, as opposed to anglo, colonialism, and so it has arguably a different linguistical culture. Hence a history of national struggles. My argument, though, was that it is part of the overall Canadian colonial framework, if anything the product of losing colonizers who are now just the same as the rest of Canada and should be considered as part of the total Canadian colonial whole.

    Alberta is also a part of the whole and so, no, I don't support its sovereignty as progressive. I don't even recognize it as a constructed nation in any sense, far less so than Quebec, since it emerged through the westward pushing of Canadian colonial-capital, established by dispossessing and murdering indigenous peoples: it's entire existence, even more so than Quebec, is bound up in Canadian colonial policy. I support native sovereignty/self-determination as the anticolonial position. Supporting Albertan sovereignty is not anti-colonial, nor is it even marginally progressive considering that it is premised on extremely capitalist ideology.

    A note to general commenters who have appeared on this blog and apparently do not understand the political tradition and concepts within I am working: please read my comment policy, please do not troll, and please stop asking questions that are generally illogical and filled with all sorts of strange fallacies. I'm not sure, now, if these questions are honest or trolling due to the long back-and-forth above that I eventually realized was dishonest. Any more comments I consider dishonest I will remove: I do not have the time or energy to engage myself in senseless debates.

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  43. In fact, I agree with your position. So I don't support Scotland sovereignty for the same reason than you don't support Alberta sovereignty and Quebec secession.

    But why Scotland, a member of the colonialist United Kingdom, is so different than Alberta?

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  44. That's a good question, actually. I may have jumped the gun on the Scotland one, and to tell the truth I'm not entirely certain of my position there, but that was also because of the commenting avenue I was being sucked down at the time!

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  45. Okay, and I think you should apply the same reasoning to Irish independance for the same reason.

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  46. But Ireland has a long history of waging anti-colonial struggle and the difference between north and south is still a serious issue. On the whole, though, I think comparing Scotland and Ireland to Quebec/Alberta/any other province is a category mistake. Ireland was settled and colonized so it has a history of waging an actual anti-colonial struggle. Quebec and Alberta are, as part of Canada as a whole, are settler-colonial entities.

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  47. I've just spent way too much time reading this back and forth!

    But it's been very interesting.

    JMP, I think you very clearly and thoughtfully express your views on native sovereignty/self-determination vs. that of Quebecois nationalists. I'm also generally more familiar with arguments for and against Quebecois sovereignty, but I completely lost my way when Chapman_fan brought Alberta into this.

    The fact that all provinces in Canada are a product of the country's colonial/settler history seems pretty clear to me, so I'm not sure where a claim for Alberta to have sovereignty comes from. How is Alberta different than the other colonial/settler provinces of this nation?

    I'm not sure if you have the answer JMP, or if you might know of somewhere I can read more about this. Or perhaps someone else reading this might be able to shed some light on this. (not that I think shedding light on this will actually make a difference since I already assume any such claim to not be in line with anti-colonial politics).

    In any event, this has certainly been an interesting (though at times very frustrating to read) discussion.

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  48. But Scotland is also settler-colonial entity, as a part of United Kingdom (a settler colonial nation like Canada) as a whole, I think.

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  49. Thanks Xtina.

    And Chapman_fan: maybe the difference is coming out of how we understand settler-colonialism. It is not the same as imperialism (and you're probably right that Scotland is part of UK imperialist policy), though similar, because its material definition is a state/nation that is established parasitically and directly upon another nation. Scotland was brought into the UK by being settled by Brits. Is the colonizer-colonized distinction in Scotland between Brits-Scots, or not? Probably less pointed and pre-modern era colonialism than Ireland - which is why you're probably right in placing it within the UK as a whole and seeing its demands and not the same as other anticolonial demands.

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  50. And if Scotland should not separate from United Kingdom, Canada should not have separated from United Kingdom too, I think.

    As a monarchist, I'm glad with this!

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  51. But are you agreeing with my last assertion?

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  52. No. I'm not a monarchist. I just don't want to engage in this debate here because I feel it will go down the same avenue as the last comment flame war and am not interested in engaging.

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  53. At this point, since the comments are past 53 and I'm getting tired of backs-and-forths with the same people, I am closing this string. I have other entries to write, and my own work to do. Unless there is a unique and productive comment, and one by someone new, I'm closing this comments string.

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  54. I know you're not a monarchist, and I respect that, but are you agreeing with my latter assertion stipulating that Canada should not have been separated from United Kingdom?

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  55. I will just allow this last one, because it was in my box before publishing my closing of this list, and be clear: I answered this already in my back-and-forths with "David Gedron" above. I'm not going to repeat myself here since I feel like it will be a waste time to rewrite what I wrote six or seven times.

    Now the list is closed.

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  56. Hi JMP,

    Just to let you know, "David Gendron" and "Chapman_fan" are actually two aliases of the same right-wing troll.

    He wrote about it on his blog:
    anarchopragmatisme.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/un-maoiste-qui-traite-un-anarchiste-de-white-racist-ca-existe/

    Let's hope this guy is done, and won't pollute your blog again under another name. If he does, you might consider blocking his IP address.

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  57. Thanks for the heads-up. Their arguments seemed to follow the same demented logic so I suspected they were the same.

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  58. Also I want to add that I find it extremely annoying that another reader of this blog commented on that troll's site claiming I had no "arguments" and name-called instead. I wasted an entire day "arguing" with someone incapable of logic who ends up claiming that indigenous people in Canada have more political rights than any other citizen. After dealing with the same arguments over and over, and a refusal to even understand what I was arguing, I had no energy to deal with the typical white-settler ideology of "natives-have-it-better-than-us" bullshit.

    I also have a comment policy: I don't have time to argue with stupidity.

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