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A

ALT-RIGHT

A far right movement, based primarily in the United States, which openly espouses white supremacist and misogynist positions, and which has a strong internet presence, especially on platforms like 4chan, reddit, and the like. The alt-right soared to prominence in 2016 due to their significant support for Donald Trump’s successful bid for president, which led in turn to the term being used in some news reports to refer to any phenomenon to the right of the mainstream, especially those with a strong internet presence or an aggressive rhetorical style. Nonetheless, the actual alt-right is a much smaller and more coherent ideological current that should be considered a contemporary fascist movement. While its origins were very much on the internet, in 2017 it began to develop a real street presence, most notably in the street fighting in Charlottesville, Virginia.

ANTI-SEMITISM

Hatred, fear, and hostility towards Jews has a long history in Europe, going back to the early Christian church. In Quebec, this became a touchstone of the far right in the 1920s, drawing on anti-Semitic Church doctrines, and spurred on by hostility to the wave of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe at the time. Jews were associated with communism, as well as with big business and wealthy bankers; they were also accused of having “killed Christ”, and associated with “the English”.

At the time, anti-Jewish ideology constituted common ground between Québec fascists and large sections of the nationalist and Catholic mainstream, and also between Québec fascists and far rightists around the world. In 1934, interns at the Hôpital Notre Dame went on strike to protest against a Jewish doctor being hired as chief intern—the strike soon spread to numerous other hospitals, and after three days Dr Rabinovitch resigned his position.

At the same time, Montreal’s anglophone community was also rife with antisemitism; for instance, housing covenants prevented Jews from buying property in upper Westmount, Jewsish student enrollment at McGill was limited and Jewish students were required to demonstrate higher high school matriculation grades than non-Jews,[1]and Jewish professors were denied tenure at McGill University. For Nazis around Adrien Arcand’s Parti d’Unité Nationale Canadienne, Jews were not even considered human.

[1]http://museeholocauste.ca/app/uploads/2017/01/brief-history-antisemitism-canada.pdf


B

BORDERS

Borders are artificial geographic divisions created to separate states and control the circulation of people and merchandise. The borders of imperialist countries are intrinsically racist, and the majority of the the world’s population cannot freely cross them, in spite of the right of free movement (Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state; Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country—Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 13), given that national governments establish xenophobic regulations, generally with a particularly Islamophobic focus (9/11 provided an impetus for barring certain peoples from entering “our” countries). Borders have also become lethal, annually causing the deaths of thousands of people who try to cross them to escape war, hunger, and repression, and to reunite with their families. The case of Mavis Otuteye, a fifty-seven-year-old Ghanian woman who died of hypothermia on May 26, 2017 attempting to cross the border between Minnesota and Manitoba to reunite with her family in Toronto and meet her newborn granddaughter, came as shock to many Canadians.

“Borders controls are most severely deployed by those Western regimes that create mass displacement, and are most severely deployed against those whose very recourse to migration results from the ravages of capital and military occupations. . . We are all, therefore, simultaneously separated by and bound together by the violences of border imperialism.”

― Harsha Walia, Undoing Border Imperialism


C

CAPITALISM

[Partially adapted from the definition provided by CLAC]

Capitalism is an economic, political, and social system where the means of production are privately held and used to generate the highest level of profit possible as quickly as possible.

The relationship of different social classes and their respective places in the chain of production and the economic system are determinant in the capitalist model. The owners of the means of production (the bourgeoisie) purchase the workers labour power to produce their wealth. As such, there is a permanent structural tension between the capitalist class and the working class: capitalists own the capital but produce nothing, while the workers produce all wealth, only to be dispossessed of it. It is this permanent tension that underlies the “class war.”In certain highly conflictual situations between the classes, the bourgeoisie can instrumentalise the far right to quell the revolt, but this is only in only one example of how the far right functions in a capitalist sytem, albeit the classic model for most of the traditional left.

Since the origin of the capitalist system there have always been people who although not part of the bourgeoisie are more comfortable and privileged than the average worker. This not only includes entrepreneurs and professionals but also a “labour aristocracy” or “workers’ elite”—primarily white men—that benefits from better working conditions and higher wages. Some would argue that the majority of workers in the imperialist countries fall into this category. This subclass nonetheless experiences economic insecurity and has interests distinct from those of the bourgeoisie, and its situation is often threatened by the demands of the less privileged, both locally and throughout the world. This contradictory situation and the concomitant anxiety provides a base for populist and far-right organizing, one that is reflected in the populist anti-capitalist rhetoric of groups like Storm Alliance and La Meute.

Politically, there is a certain symbiosis and community of interest among the key players representing different political organizations and the protagonists of the dominant economic model, most particularly an adherence to so-called liberal democracy, which is more a plutocracy in practice. As such, we can describe this system more accurately as a plutocracy, more capitalist aristocracy than an authentic form of democracy. Not all capitalists, however, share the same interests, and—what is good for one may well prove harmful to another, and there is also competition between different capitalists and important differences within each industry—as a result, the ruling class is to some degree factionalized. Even if all of the factions share a common interest in maintaining the system, conflicts between them on various issues can be quite intense.Normally, it is the bourgeois state’s role to address such contradictions. When the state is unable to mediate between different factions of capital in a manner unacceptable to certain capitalists, the latter may well look for other solutions, sometimes leading particular factions of the bourgeoisie to support the far right.

 

COLONIALISM

[Adapted from Warrior Publications: see https://warriorpublications.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/colonization-decolonization.pdf &
https://warriorpublications.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/comic-what-is-colonialism/]

An ongoing relationship where one people or nation are controlled and exploited by another.

Colonialism begins first with small recon forces that map out new lands or regions and gather intelligence. These are often celebrated today as voyages of “exploration” and “scientific discovery.” The second phase is invasion, which begins a period of armed conflict as Indigenous nations resist colonial forces. The invasion stage may occur over years or even decades. In the Americas , biological warfare devastated Native populations. If successful, colonial forces establish control through an occupational regime. Occupation is the third stage of colonization.

A colonial occupation can last for centuries. The Romans occupied much of Western Europe for 400 to 500 years. Only through occupation can large settlements exist, as well as large-scale resource extraction. Long-term occupation can lead to the establishment of settler nation-states.

Occupation sets the state for the final stage of colonization: assimilation. Assimilation means erasing much of the Indigenous culture and way of life. In North America, residential schools were used to indoctrinate Natives into European civilization. Apartheid laws, such as Canada’s Indian Act, are also used by colonial states. The Indian Act established reserves and band councils to control the surviving indigenous population.

A common colonial tactic is to use collaborators for local governance over an indigenous population. These collaborators gain power, prestige, and profit from the colonial system. At times they seem to be in conflict with the colonial regime, but ultimately they rely on the regime for legitimacy. As part of their strategy for control the state will also fund native political groups, arts and culture, and so forth. This funding also prevents the rise of real grassroots movements and self-organization. Despite all the money and bureaucracy, however, the colonial regime must constantly work to keep control. When money and propaganda fail to secure control, the police, who generally work closely with the collaborators in the Native community, are called in. The police strategy is to isolate radicals by criminalizing them and their acts of resistance. While criminalizing the radicals, the police and state officials promote reformists and collaborators. When the state and police are unable to control and repress the resistance, state military forces are deployed.

Ultimately, from its earliest stage to the ongoing occupation of land, colonialism relies on state violence. Such a regime is, of course, unsustainable.

Colonialism is a relationship between people that does not require pre-existing racism. That said, the colonial relationship will always lead to the the rise and normalization of racism against the colonized among the colonizers.

Colonialism inevitably gives rise to anti-colonial movements among the colonized.

CONFUSIONISM

Confusionism is an attitude or tendency that seeks to create ongoing emotional confusion and to prevent an objective analysis of reality. Politically, the term confusionism is often used to denounce the methods adopted by different far-right currents to increase their social capital and / or win over a credulous electorate. This form of confusionism strives to introduce into political rhetoric ideas or themes that undermine its opponents (e.g., criticisms of liberalism, references to the people, advancing secularism, supporting gender equality, demanding direct democracy, etc.) Confusionism facilitates the masking of classic elements of far-right discourse and disguises a view of society as a political chessboard. The space created by the decline of left-wing ideology works to the advantage of confusionism, which can capitalize on economic and social crises, weakening the position of the political and economic elites. All of this has been exacerbated by the development of the internet, social media, and the general omnipresence of media.

CONSERVATISM

Conservatism opposes progress and rejects political, social, and even technological innovation and is often expressed as support for so-called conservative political parties. Fundamentally, conservatism is a counter-revolutionary political current that considers the Enlightenment principles associated with the French Revolution as contrary to human nature. Conservatism defends an order that it claims is based on tradition; at the most extreme this translates into uncompromising support for a monarchy. A few favourite conservative themes are: the defense of traditional values (nation, family, authority, morality .. .); an adherence to order, hierarchy, and discipline;defense of private property; a largely non-interventionist state with a “muscular” defense policy.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES

Conspiracy theories illegitimately and dishonestly portray an event or phenomenon as the outcome of a plot organized by the authorities or by a secret society, generally an elite minority (the deep state, transnational capital, financial interests, the military, a religious organization, etc.). The generally accepted explanation is replaced by an alternate interpretation of history based on a secret plot with a hidden objective. This alternate explanation is generally unsupported by any sound reason. One key attribute of a conspiracy theory is the systematic omission of elements that contradict the narrative and cannot be suitably addressed.A conspiracy theory is inevitably developed in a way that prevents it from being contradicted by fact, but which also renders it un-provable. It cannot be refuted, because any evidence to the contrary is dismissed as one of the plotters’ lies, thereby discrediting the official explanations delivered through the media as part of the conspiracy. As with any belief, being irrefutable does not make a conspiracy theory correct. In fact, the burden of proof is flipped on its head;the onus is not on the theory’s advocates to prove it, but rather on those who reject the theory to somehow effectively refute it.

It’s not unknown for people on the left to accept conspiracy theories, and they often ring true to those who suffer the system’s most brutal oppression, who as a result know that things are seriously fucked up and that it is always possible that people will unscrupulously abuse their power. However, the conspiracy theory framework undermines a structural understanding of social questions and precludes an analysis of how society is to be changed. The general outcome is the idea that if we toss out the “bad” and the “corrupt,”the existing system can serve the common good.

Conspiracy theories and what is sometimes referred to as conspiracism are a staple of far-right and fascist political currents.The contemporary radical right and the identitarians, e.g., the U.S. alt-right and the populist vloggers who pop up all over the place, are strong supporters of a conspiracy theory around the machinations of pernicious “globalists.” These theories often incorporate traditional antisemitic elements.


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F

FAR RIGHT

The term “far right” describes a range of parties and political movements that defend right-wing beliefs and values and are nationalist and / or based in a marked adherence to tradition, generally expressed as radical opposition to liberal and socialist political tendencies. The far right’s authoritarianism and hostility to democratic principles, sometimes cast as revolutionary, leads some far-right movements to engage in violence, and even terrorism, to impose their views. The far right is also characterized by a range of expressions of xenophobia, sometimes openly racist, that scapegoat outsiders. They frequently allege that “globalism” is a conspiracy of the “Jewish Lobby.”

According to the French historian Michel Wintock, there are nine characteristics to far-right discourse (although not all far-right groups will exhibit all nine traits):

  • a hatred of the present, which is considered decadent;
  • nostalgia for a golden age;
  • eulogies to stability that reflect a rejection of change;
  • anti-individualism in response to individual rights and universal suffrage;
  • apologetics for elitist societies, with the absence of an elite considered a sign of decadence;
  • nostalgia for the sacred, whether religious or moral;
  • fear of miscegenation and demographic decline;
  • moral censure, particularly targeting sexual liberation and homosexuality;
  • anti-intellectualism and a belief that intellectuals are out of contact with the real world.

Far-right movements take various forms, from political parties to potentially violent insurrectionist groupuscules and neo-Nazis who admire the Third Reich.

FASCISM

[Adapted from multiple sources, including CrimethInc.: see https://crimethinc.com/2016/12/13/feature-does-trump-represent-fascism-or-white-supremacy]

Fascism as a political movement was first developed in Italy in the early twentieth century by Benito Mussolini and served as an inspiration for the Nazis and for fascist movements in Spain and Chili. Fascism is not just any extreme right-wing position; it is a popular movement under the hierarchical direction of a political party that cultivates parallel loyalty structures in the police and military to conquer power either through democratic or military means. Once in power, fascism establishes total control of a country’s political and social life by a single-party totalitarian state, based on a cult of the personality constructed around both a charismatic leader and the country’s founding fathers.The fascist state abolishes electoral procedures to guarantee single-party continuity and creates a new social contract with the domestic working class, on the one hand, ushering in a higher standard of living than could be achieved under liberal capitalism and, on the other hand, protecting the capitalists with a new social peace.Fascism relies on a strong army and complete repression Once in a position to do so, fascism eliminates its internal enemies, whom it blames for the destabilization of the prior regime.

Over the years, numerous often contradictory theories of fascism have been elaborated by militants, academics, and political organizations of every stripe from the far left to the far right. This makes it impossible to use the word as more than an insult directed at any overly authoritarian person or regime without providing a definition in advance. When it is used by the modern antifascist movement, the word “fascism” designates movements that reject contemporary bourgeois democracy and aspire to brutally exacerbate interpersonal hierarchies and systems of domination, such as racism and sexism (to name just two).

See also the first entry in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this site.

FEMINISM

A current of thought that primarily aims to struggle against gender inequality in all of its forms. Historically, there have been a number of waves of feminism. Several decades ago intersectional analysis came to define much of contemporary feminism. Intersectionality, a concept elaborated by Kimberlé Crenshaw in the eighties, draws on a long history of struggle and theory developed by feminists of color, most specifically Black feminists. Current intersectionality tends to reject any binary conception of gender, and its primary perception is that different forms of oppression interlock in accordance with each person’s social position, resulting from the interplay between gender, ethnic heritage, skin colour, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, etc. It stresses that all forms of oppression must be simultaneously targeted, rather than focusing on one or another specific form. Feminism is the object of widespread hatred and disdain on the right and the far right, and in recent years intersectional feminism has been especially aggressively attacked, notably by those who use women’s rights as pet theme in their attacks on religion in general and Islam in particular.

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

An individual’s legally recognized right to express their political, religious, and cultural views without risk of state repression. We tend to associate it with freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. It is a right that is nonetheless limited by a number of laws, including the prohibition on hate speech.

Racist, far-right, and fascist groups, trash radio shock jocks, and certain comedians who promote hatred with their racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, and Islamophobic positions frequently point in defense to their freedom of expression. The question this raises is: How much can we allow the far right to freely advance their xenophobic discourse, with its echoes of historical fascism? Where does freedom of expression end and hate speech begin?Our answer is that when any of scapegoats are clearly identifiable in an exclusionist—us and them—discourse, and when the scapegoats correspond immediately to marginal or oppressed groups surrounded by a dominant majority (e.g., people of colour and / or racialized “immigrants” in a society where white supremacy continues to prevail; feminists in a patriarchal society; Indigenous people in a colonized society; queers and / or trans people in a resolutely hetero-sexist, homophobic, and transphobic society, etc.), it is not simply a moral imperative but part of a community self-defense strategy to resist these discourses and dismantle these groups and movements by any means necessary.

FUNDAMENTALISM

A doctrine that advocates the integrity and maintenance of religious dogmas and traditions. By extension, and in a pejorative sense, the term religious fundamentalism describes the attitude of those who, in the name of doctrinal integrity, refuse any evolution of dogma and any change to traditional practices, which can go as far as the demand for the precise application of this dogma and the related practices in daily life. Catholic fundamentalism is an important historical tendency within the far right in Québec, as is also the case in Europe. In extreme cases Catholic fundamentalists even reject the legitimacy of the pope and the modern Catholic hierarchy. This is the case, for example, with the Fraternité St-Pie X and the Lefebvrists, a far right Catholic sect with close ties to fascist networks in Québec.


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H

HETEROSEXISM

A belief in the inherent normalcy and / or superiority of heterosexuality, and by extension its right to domination, or even complete cultural hegemony. It designates an ideological system and institutionalized models of oppression that deny, depreciate, marginalize, and stigmatise any and all non-heterosexual attitudes, identities, relationships, and communities.

HOMOPHOBIA

An irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals and / or queers more generally (people whose identity or sexual orientation doesn’t correspond to hetero-normative standards). It is an attitude based on a desire to preserve a strictly heterosexual social order dependent upon fundamentally oppressive gender roles. (See also Heterosexism.)


I

IDENTITARISM

It is important to distinguish between ideologically identitarian movements like the Bloc Identitaire in France and the diffuse mainstream currents that we are familiar with in Québec , e.g., the Parti Québécois, which focusses on preserving the Québécois identity not just in opposition to immigration and accommodations but also Canadian multiculturalism, for example. Leaving to one side marginal groups like Atalante, the identitarian movements found in Québec are not always consciously racist and are not part of a far-right current that wants to radically alter the existing system.As a result they have significant power and influence and are very much integrated into the system, making them quite different from identiarian movements in the U.S. and Europe, which can best be described as small far-right groupuscules. What we call identitarianism in Québec is as much an electoral issue for a nationalist movement that has lost its bearings and lacks any coherent project (a fact expressed in the reasonable accommodations debate and the Charter of Values) as a conscious expression of the desire to dominate immigrant communities.

IMMIGRATION

People always have and always will migrate, and this will always provoke the resentment of nationalists and identitarians. The idea of a static national population within given borders is relatively recent, corresponding as it does to the parallel development of the nation state and the capitalist system.The reality is that no one gets to choose where they are born, making nationality the luck of the draw. Beyond that, there is no legal foundation for “illegal immigrant” status. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies “the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state” and “the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” Legal niceties aside, from an ethical point of view the idea that national laws and regulations could legitimately declare a human being “illegal” is absurd on the face of it.

ISLAM

Founded in the seventh century, Islam is one of the three Abrahamic religions, alongside Judaism and Christianity. Islam’s prophet is Muhammad, and its sacred book is the Koran. Like the two other Abrahamic religions, and like all organized religions, but no more than any other, there are problematic and oppressive elements in the sacred writings and the practice of Islam. And like other religions it also has numerous elements related to peace, human solidarity, and universal love. The particular hostility against Islam in Western countries has been stoked in the past twenty years by simplistic rhetoric organized around an “clash of civilizations” to which humanity is allegedly condemned. This rhetoric has been integral to and systemic within neoconservative political regimes (particularly in the U.S. under George W. Bush and in Canada under Stephen Harper).It is also advanced by numerous geopolitical commentators, particularly vigorously whenever fundamentalist jihadist attacks occur in the West (e.g., September 11, 2001;July 7, 2005). The idea of a clash of civilizations or of an ipso facto incompatibility between Muslims and Western values is implicit in the xenophobic and racist discourse advanced by contemporary far-right and /or populist nationalist currents, both in Québec and elsewhere. The fact is that the first and the main victims of Islamic fundamentalism the world over are Muslims who don’t adhere to a strict, retrograde, and oppressive view of their religion. When these people are forced to flee persecution—for example, the Syrian refugees in recent years—they find themselves victimized a second time when the Islamophobic political currents in the country they arrive in promote a hateful discourse that presents them, the first victims, as proponents of the very terrorism they are fleeing.

ISLAMOPHOBIA

Unreasonable fear and hatred creating an anti-Muslim “panic”. Islamophobia takes different forms, depending on the country and the context, but it is always based on the idea that there is a “Muslim problem” that requires immediate intervention. This “problem” is connected to an alleged “invasion of migrants” that will impose “foreign” practices, values, laws, and ultimately beliefs on society at large. Although Muslims are not a race but a heterogeneous religious group, Islamophobia tends to reduce Islam to Arab populations and treat cultural differences as markers of “race.” Another recurrent assertion is that Muslim populations refuse to integrate into the society that takes them in. But even when Muslims are born in the country where they live (including Canada, France, and the U.S.), Islamophobia portrays them as part of an illegitimate foreign body. Ignoring all their different countries of origin, the different classes and genders, and the distinct cultural characteristics, Muslims are reduced to stigmatized effigies that embody by nature all of the negative prejudices we project upon them—and therefore they don’t deserve consideration or respect. In short, Islamophobia denies the dignity of Muslim populations and rejects the ideal of equality between people regardless of their country of origin,the colour of their skin, or their belief system. Among the “solutions” frequently proposed to “solve the Muslim problem” are surveillance, controlling and disciplining Muslim populations, forced assimilation, deportation, and closing national borders. Even if in theory this contradicts the democratic principles Québec and Canada are said to be based on, it nonetheless forms part of a seamless history of racist scapegoating and xenophobia in this country.


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L

 

LIBERALISM

Liberalism is a political doctrine that appeared in the nineteenth century, demanding political, religious, and economic freedom in the spirit of French Revolution Enlightenment values—or, put differently, in response to absolutist regimes. The Englishman John Locke, who placed inalienable individual rights (including individual freedom and property rights) at the core of social relations, was an intellectual precursor to liberalism. Politically, liberalism defends so-called democratic institutions and individual freedom.

 


M

MEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVISM (MASCULINISM)

Masculism (cf. the Men’s Rights Movement in the English-speaking world) is a reactionary and anti-feminist movement that defends the dominant position of men in society, with all of the associated privileges. It promotes a bipolar conception of men and women, legitimizing male domination with arguments based in biology and denouncing any progress made by feminism as an infringement on male rights. A corollary of this anti-feminist discourse is, for example, the assertion of the superiority of the father over the mother, and of men over women generally, which, for these men, can go as far as legitimizing conjugal violence. Marc Lépine, who shot twenty-eight women, killing fourteen, at the École Polytechnique in Montréal, on December 6, 1989, is an emblematic example of the violence and domination associated with masculism. A number of contemporary far-right figures in Québec, e.g., the YouTuber and La Meute afficionado “Stu Pitt,” use their soapboxes to deliver this sort of anti-feminist and masculist discourse. (See also Misogyny).

MULTICULTURALISM

Most societies are effectively multicultural, if by this we mean that many cultures and people make up society. Multiculturalism became federal policy in Canada in 1971; it was subsequently recognized in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, and was reaffirmed by the Conservative government under Brian Mulroney in 1988. These government policies were sometimes the result of struggles waged by various cultural communities and at other times an expression of the Canadian state’s neo-colonial aspiration to manage a society where there is always a strong link between social class and ethnic or cultural background.However, the federal government’s multicultural policy was perceived as an insult and a threat by some important sections of the Québec nationalist movement that saw it as programme meant to use minority cultural communities to weaken Québec. This hostility to multiculturalism is an important point of reference for many people who could not be accused of being on the far right. However, an essential hostility to multiculturalism laid the base for the Islamophobia we’ve seen over the last twenty years, making it possible, even in 2017, for La Meute to write, “Canadian multiculturalism is a a subservient multiculturalism that obliges Canadian citizens to adapt to other cultures by accommodating them to detriment of our culture, values, and laws.”


N

NATIONALISM

Nationalism is a political and / or ideological doctrine that can either advance political independence from foreign domination or underpin a conservative identitarianism that places the interests of the (idealized) nation ahead of any other consideration. This second form of nationalism focuses on external threats or an internal enemy (xenophobia, antisemitism, Islamophobia) and leads to a certain isolationism and a return to the (also highly idealized) values the nation was founded upon.

Key to nationalism is placing national solidarity ahead of any other form of solidarity, e.g., class solidarity. When nationalism prevails over international solidarity, the workers and lower classes in the nation, Québec, for example, rather than expressing solidarity with working-class and lower-class immigrants actively oppose them, scapegoating them for systemic social problems (unemployment, precariousness, etc.). Obviously, this serves the interests of the capitalist class, allowing it to exploit immigrant workers with impunity, secure in the support of the the “naïve” national working class and lower classes. This narrow nationalism is represented perfectly by the far-right slogan: “Les nôtres avant les autres” [Our people ahead of the rest].

While both models (progressive and conservative) cut across the entire history of Québec nationalism, the transition from an ostensibly liberating perspective of the sixties and seventies(ranging from the left impulses of organizations like the Rassemblement pour l’indépendance nationale, which would shape the original Parti Québécois’s social democratic tendencies, through Marxist urban guerrillas like the FLQ, whose masterful manifesto encapsulated the far left positon of the day) to one that by the twenty-first century had gravitated to the right wing of conservatism(e.g., the PQ’s Charter of Values) is in some senses unique. This is not to suggest that in 2017 every Québec nationalist is necessarily right-wing.It is, however, undeniable that the current nationalist movement is overwhelmingly focused on preserving Québec’s national heritage(the French language and a more or less secularized “Catholic tradition, and all of the related cultural trappings) in the face of imaginary threats (prominent among them multiculturalism and immigration), in part because Québec no longer need resist any dominant foreign power (as was the case in the past, when Canada was more centralized).

When looking at nationalism it is necessary to examine the global position and status of the nation in question. Until the Quiet Revolution, the Québécois were clearly second-class citizens, economically, politically, and socially subjugated by Canada and by U.S. capital. Québec’s Union Nationale government, which demanded just enough provincial autonomy to fatten up the homegrown bourgeoisie, was far more keenly interested in preserving Québec’s national traditions than in freeing the province from the grasp of the Canadian state. Nationalist sentiment could not, however, be permanently suppressed, and with the election of Lesage Liberal Party in 1960, the dam broke, unleashing a process that would set in motion the Quiet Revolution, sending shock waves through Québec society and simultaneously kickstarting a process that would see the nationalist movement gradually integrated into the state apparatus.This culminated in the 1976 Parti Québécois election victory and the creation of “Québec Inc.,” which was followed by a period of economic stability and relative prosperity. Under the PQ two referendums on independence were defeated, the first in 1980 and the second in 1995. During this period, under the leadership of the economist Jacques Parizeau, the PQ shed the last of its progressive pretensions and took a resolute neoliberal turn. The 1990 “Oka Crisis,” which occurred under Robert Bourassa’s provincial Liberal Party and involved the Mohawk nation, Québec, and Canada, contributed to the PQ’s gradual but steady descent into a permanent identity crisis.This identity crisis reflected the increasingly odd situation the Québec nationalist movement finds itself in.While nationalists still hold on to their original narrative of Québec as a colonized, subjugated, and abused nation, the province has, in fact, achieved a fairly favourable position both within confederation and at the international level.

The neoliberal blowback has not, of course, been insubstantial, and sections of the Québec working class and middle class have been looking for someone to blame for economic stagnation for a while now. Rather than accuse the political and economic elite (including the key role played by the PQ and Québec Inc.) and the capitalist system overall, the most reactionary layers of the nationalist movement, typified by the “angry péquistes” and the members of groups like La Meute, are turning to off-the-shelf scapegoats (immigrants, Muslims) to justify an aggressive conservatism that quickly laps over into racism and xenophobia.

 

NATIONAL-POPULISM

Populist movements frame politics in terms of an amorphous group, “the people,” opposed to both outsiders and “the elite.” There have been populist movements around the world and throughout history; while they can play either a progressive or a reactionary role, in the traditionally racist nations of the wealthy West, these movements currently tend to the right or far right of the political spectrum. In these societies, “the people” are almost always identified with the white middle class, supposedly threatened from both “below” (people of color and the poorest of whites) and “above” (shadowy elites and corrupt politicians, often assumed to be foreign and/or Jewish or Muslim).

In the case of Quebec, “the people” are considered both the productive core of society and the source of its legitimacy as a nation. Quebec is seen as being threatened by immigrants (especially Muslims), corrupt politicians (especially the Liberal Party and Québec Solidaire), and (in most versions) the spread of English and the power of the Canadian state. As such, this milieu builds on positions and rhetoric often associated with the Quebec nationalist movement, all the while bringing its own xenophobic, conspiracist, and anti-elitist politics to the table. This is why we refer to it as “national populist.”

While the most important national populist group at the moment is La Meute, the milieu is broad, has numerous points of overlap with various other political currents, and can lend itself to all kinds of political positions. National populists can even stake out positions normally assumed to be “progressive” or “left-wing,” around the environment, austerity measures, or political repression, for instance. Nonetheless, as a framework, even in its most “left” form, national populism undercuts struggles against colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy, claiming either that these are simply not problems, or that if they are problems corrupt individuals or forces outside of the nation are responsible. Given its focus on these individual and external causes for social problems, national populism tends to avoid efforts at systemic analysis or theoretical rigour, preferring appeals to “common sense,” “everyone knows that,” and emotional outrage.

The national populist milieu encompasses several pro-fascist and openly racist elements, alongside others who are uncomfortable with such politics. Since the massacre at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City on January 29, 2017, the influence of these fascist elements has increased, as the broader milieu has felt itself under attack, besieged by things like Bill M-103, the Commission on Systemic Racism, and media reports describing them as “far right.” While not all fascists have their roots in the national populist milieu, this milieu provides the most obvious base of support for their politics and can be considered an incubation chamber in which these more radical tendencies can grow.

NATIVISM

(Partially adapted from It’s Going Down)

Nativism is a political stance mostly associated to the U.S., which was characterized in its beginning by a few elements, the first of which is the hostility towards immigrants for the ways they were perceived to be different, culturally or otherwise, and anxiety that they would take “American” jobs. Nativism flourishes when the class gaps widen that divide the poorest from the rest of society and the richest from the rest of society. Both the poor and the rich become protective of their positions, and cast suspicious eyes on any who seem likely to take what little they have or threaten their place at the very top.

NAZISM & NEO-NAZISM

The word Nazism derives from the German nationalsozialismus (national socialism), the far-right ideology formulated by Adolph Hitler and his associates in the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, commonly referred to as the Nazis. This ideology is a form of fascism based on the myth of the superiority of the Aryan race (North Europeans). It advances the false notion that there are numerous human races and some are superior to others. The Nazis hoped both to conquer “Lebensraum” [living space] for the German people and to exterminate so-called “inferior” races, e.g., the Jews, and individuals, e.g., homosexuals, disabled people, and anyone who opposed the party.Nazism was also hostile to the free press and trade unions and hoped to rally the support of the working class by promoting class unity around a homogeneous white national community. This ideology led to World War II, the concentration camps, the Holocaust, and the deaths of millions of people.

In Québec, the pro-Nazi party during Hitler’s time was Adrien Arcand’s Parti d’Unité National du Canada, a ferocious opponent of Québec nationalism. After the war, Arcand and the PUNC carried on with their antisemitic and anticommunist propaganda. However, while revolutionary far-right currents across the world developed into a new neo-Nazi movement, the PUNC never went beyond ultra-conservatism.

From the fifties to the seventies, neo-Nazi organizations had a certain influence on some extremely marginal political and cultural currents in Québec. Then came the eighties and the boneheads—originally just groups of friends but later organized as United Skinheads of Montreal and White Power Canada. The aggressive recruitment of these groups by U.S. and European neo-Nazis gave birth to genuine neo-Nazi currents in Québec. In 1992, in what was a homophobic murder, Yves Lalonde was assassinated in Angrignon Park by boneheads associated with White Power Canada and the international neo-Nazi NSDAP-AO (based in the U.S.). The boneheads were also suspected of a number of other murders of gay men in the nineties.During this period, the Heritage Front (based in Toronto) and Longitude 74 (a KKK cell in Québec) were the key groups attempting to organize in Québec.

For a number of years now, with the help of social media, neo-Nazi ideas and affinities have been diffused across Québec by European and U.S. groups. In 2014, the Fédération des Québécois de souche was founded by Maxime Fiset as a neo-Nazi organization with direct links to the Mouvement National Socialiste Français and the U.S. Stormfront website.


O

OPPRESSION/ANTI-OPPRESSION

Opression is a matter of power and domination. There are numerous forms of oppression, and they are often woven together in a mutually reinforcing way: racism, sexism, class oppression, heterosexism, antisemitism, ableism, ageism, etc. Illegitimate institutional power creates and reinforces the domination of some groups by others, particularly at a formal level. Most people suffer some kind of oppression or other, while at the same time benefiting from certains forms of privilege, which means that every situation warrants careful analyses. Anti-oppression refers to the theory and practice of social movements that resist all forms of oppression.


P

POPULISM

A political movement with its roots in the United States and Russia in the late nineteenth century that purports to represent “the people” against the elite and against the “others” that endanger “us” more generally in a world that is divided into “us” and “them.” It is the politics of resentment represented by populism that make it central to a far-right discourse of simplistic dichotomies and antagonisms. However, populism is not the sole purview of the far right, and we are now entering a “populist moment,” as Chantal Mouffe put it, where both the left and the right are increasingly reaching out to a definable people, with a suitable man (or woman) claiming to incarnate that people. In Québec, we can associate Gabriel Nadeau Dubois with a form of left-wing populism and Bernard “Rambo” Gauthier with a form of right-wing populism. The people, particularly the working and lower classes, are not de facto populist, but they do provide the pretext for populism.

PRIVILEGE

Undeserved social power bestowed by formal and informal social institutions on all members of a definable dominant group (including white skin privilege and patriarchal privilege, to take two prominent examples), with individual members benefiting in different ways on the basis of issues such as class or gender identification. Most people suffer oppression of one kind or another, while simultaneously benefiting from certain privileges, making a careful and critical analysis of each situation necessary. Privilege is usually invisible to the people who hold it, because we are all conditioned not to recognize it. But, recognized or not, privilege gives its beneficiaries advantages over others.


Q

QUEER

A word used differently in different contexts. It is, for example, a generic term enveloping lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans-gendered people, intersex people, “genderqueers,”and a number of other identities. As “straight” society uses the word “queer” as an insult, its positive use redirects and re-appropriates a word with previous negative connotations. The word “queer” is also used to designate gender and sexual fluidity and a rejection of imposed social categories. (See also Heterosexism and Homophobia)


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RACE

A specious classification of human beings that facilitates assigning value and social status on the basis of the idea that “whites” are de facto the model of humanity and the summit of human accomplishment, with the goal of establishing and maintaining an array of privileges. (See also White Skin Privilege)

RACISM

The belief that race is a legitimate biological concept that allows human beings to be differentiated and placed in a hierarchy. Such theories have been used both to create distinct social classes and human categories and to allow the extermination or near extermination of entire peoples.

When scientific theories supporting racism became untenable, there was a shift to a discourse focused on cultural phenomena and social class.

Racism manifests both individually and systemically; individually in interpersonal interactions and the attitudes and practices encountered; systematically in that racism is embedded in social practice and in public institutions, where it is often reproduced by people who are not racist, or at least are not conscious of their racism.

Racism is not, however, uniquely or even principally reducible to the attitudes and behaviours of white people toward people of colour. These attitudes and behaviours are a very serious issue and can even at times turn murderous, but they are only symptoms of a system based on the oppression of of people of colour to ensure white privileges. (See also White nationalismWhite skin privilegeRace; White supremacy.)

REACTIONNARY

A reactionary, as the word suggests, adheres to a politics of reaction, up to and including being a member of a movement opposed to any social evolution and change that does not clearly arise from accepted traditional values. Reactionaries support tradition over progress and encourage the maintenance or reestablishment of ancestral organizational frameworks and institutions. The present is seen as de facto decadent and disreputable, with the call made to return to an idealized past.“Reactionary” is a synonym for ultra-conservative and a pejorative that designates an overly strict conservatism or a person who identifies with such a politic. In Québec, Mathieu Bock-Côté would be an emblematic contemporary reactionary. He has dark fantasies of a Québécois society in free fall because of feminist, antiracist, and LGBTQ movements, with the reaffirmation of traditional institutions like the nuclear family, religion, and the nation the last line of defense.

REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS

An indispensable mechanism for different people to live together in relative peace and harmony. A ‘reasonable accommodation’ means to do what is reasonable to make a service accessible to someone with specific requirements. Most ‘reasonable accommodations’ are made as a result of requests to accommodate people with a disability. While, by their very nature, ‘reasonable accommodations’ must be dealt with on a case by case basis, the hostility towards making accommodations lends itself easily to the far-right complaint that the ‘silent white majority’ is being ‘oppressed’ by both the government and by people of color.

In Québec, the “Reasonable Accommodation Debate” can be traced back to 2006,when a number of very different requests from people of different faiths were all sewn together into a narrative about members of racialized and non-Christian religious communities making unreasonable demands on a generous and long-suffering Québécois majority. Various forces worked in tandem to construct this narrative. The Québecor media empire, of which future Parti Québécois leader Pierre-Karl Peladeau was at the time president and CEO (as he is again now), specialized in finding mundane examples of someone asking for some accommodation and turning it into the next day’s front-page newspaper story. With the media setting the stage, Mario Dumont, leader of the Action démocratique du Québec political party, declared Québec a European society with values based on its religious past, attacked the Liberal government for “genuflecting” before immigrant communities, and called for measures to reinforce Québec’s “national identity” and protect its “traditional values.” Since then, ‘reasonable accommodations’ have been made into a political hot-button issue for mainstream politicians and journalists in Québec, who have succeeded in inciting outrage and outright racism by treating the normal kinds of negotiations involved in living together as ‘proof’ that ‘minorities’ have too much power.

Next, the city council of the small town of Herouxville made a decisive intervention, passing a racist ‘Code of Conduct for Immigrants’ that played on stereotypes of ethnic and religious minorities, particularly Muslims, implying that they needed to be told not to engage in misogynist practices such as stoning women and genital mutilation. Among other things, the Herouxville code explained, “The only time you may mask or cover your face is during Halloween, this is a religious traditional custom at the end of October celebrating All Saints Day,” and that “the lifestyle that [immigrants] left behind in their birth country cannot be brought here with them; they will have to adapt to their new social identity.” Herouxville made headlines around the world. Fearmongers had succeeded in whipping up a generalized atmosphere of racist xenophobia,which they simultaneously framed as a criticism of the provincial Liberal Party government, accused of being “soft” on immigrants, an accusation that would pick up steam with time. (It might be noted that the man behind the Herouxville resolution, André Drouin, was later active in the Canadian far-right group RISE Canada, led by Ron Banerjee, and for a while associated with the openly fascist Fédération des Québécois de Souche, which, following his death earlier this year, eulogized him as a “courageux combattant” in the pages of its magazine Le Harfang.)

The Liberals under Jean Charest tried to deflate this uproar by setting up a roaming commission led by intellectuals Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor to hear people’s concerns and table recommendations on how to deal with the reasonable accommodations ‘crisis.’ The Bouchard-Taylor Commission, which ran from February 2007 to June 2008, became a platform for racists across Québec to come out and complain about Muslims and Jews and Sikhs and . . . (but especially Muslims), while at the same time legitimizing the initial fiction that growing immigrant populations represented some kind of crisis that needed responding to.The Commission produced the Bouchard-Taylor Report, whose recommendations were never applied in any meaningful way.

At the end of the day, Québec’s reasonable accommodation panic is one of the clearest contemporary examples of sections of the establishment and the state engaging in racist scapegoating in a way that helped feed the growth of the far right.


S

SECULARISM

Secularism is based on the principle of the separation of church and state. This separation guarantees the citizens of a state a free conscience and the right to express their convictions (the right to believe or not, to adopt a new religion, to participate in or abstain from religious ceremonies). It also guarantees the state’s neutrality in religious matters. No one religion is privileged and there is no hierarchy of beliefs or between belief and non-belief.

That said, certain ways of seeing the nation and the state clear the path to a more authoritarian and potentially racist understanding of secularism, allowing the state to suppress or restrict certain religious practices, simply because they are judged to be religious. As religion influences the general culture (and vice versa), practices that are seen to be “religious” are normally those associated with minority communities and more recent arrivals. So, for example, the fact that December 25 is a statutory holiday and we say that it’s 2018 are not viewed as religious issues, but taking off Yom Kippur or saying it’s 5778 are.

SEXISM

Sexism perpetuates a patriarchal system that maintains male power and subordinates women.

SHARIA (SHARIA LAW)

(Adapted from La Libre.behttp://www.lalibre.be/actu/international/qu-est-ce-que-la-charia-51b8dd8be4b0de6db9c3da2e)

Sharia, which in Arab means “the unifying thread of life,” is the “Islamic code of conduct,” a collection of rules, provisions, prohibitions, and sanctions based in tradition and jurisprudence.It is derived from the Koran and the Sunna (the utterances of the prophet Mohammad)and codifies the rights and responsibilities of Muslims, both individually and as a group, dictates personal and familial standing, determines penal and civil law, and governs religious, social, and individual life.Sharia is applied with greater or lesser rigour in different Islamic states.

The Islamophobic discourse among today’s far-right and nationalist-populist stoke confusion and panic around sharia and the alleged threat that it poses to Western countries. In reality, there are Muslims only make up 3 percent of the population of Canada, and they are subject to the same laws ans regulations as the rest of the population. This includes the Civil and Criminal Codes, which are not in any way threatened of even contested by any so-called Koranic law.

“SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR” (SJW)

A pejorative used by the right and the far right in recent years to mock movements struggling for social justice and their supporters. One tactic of contemporary reactionaries is to use extreme examples of social justice initiatives, usually related to “identity politics,” to tar the entire left with the same brush. It’s an odd insult, in that the majority of people targeted by it would nota priori dissociate themselves from the idea of struggling for social justice, and some people even use similar designations themselves.There’s nothing wrong with acting for social justice, which raises the question of whether the people who use the term as ridicule are not in some small way in favour of . . . injustice. I think we know the answer.


T

THIRD POSITION

Designates a range of far-right and neofascist tendencies characterized by a simultaneous rejection of capitalism and communism in favour of an identitarian ultra-nationalism based on a sometimes confusing mix of far-left (socialist) and far-right (nationalist) theory. At an international level Third Position dominates among far-right revolutionary fascist currents. In Québec, the neo-fascist Atalante falls into the so-called revolutionary nationalist Third Position tendency.

TRANSPHOBIA

An aversion to transsexual or transgender people on the basis of their gender identity. It is based on a desire to maintain binary gender categories (i.e.,“men”and “women”) that deny the fluidity of gender identities. Transphobia can manifest both in physical violence (agression, hate crimes, rape, and murder)and in discriminatory and intolerant behaviour (e.g., employment and housing discrimination and denial of access to medical treatment). Transphobia is an extremely common attitude among contemporary far-right currents, including the so-called alt-right.


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W

WHITE NATIONALISM

(Partially adapted from Ctrl-Alt-Delete)

A form of white supremacist ideology that advocates a concept of nationhood based on membership in the supposed white race. White nationalists claim that European culture and white people’s strengths and virtues are the basis for all that is great about the Western society. Some white nationalists want to restore white people’s explicit dominance and primacy within the framework of existing political entities. Other white nationalists want to overthrow the established political order and either replace it with a new all-white nation or break it up into multiple racially defined “ethnostates.”

WHITE SKIN PRIVILEGE

White skin privilege is a historically and institutionally perpetuated system that includes:

  1. A preferential predisposition toward white people based on the colour of their skin and their European ancestry;
  2. Racial and national oppression based on skin colour and on African, Asian, or Middle Eastern heritage.

WHITE SUPREMACY

(Partially adapted from Ctrl-Alt-Delete)

Both a social system and an ideology, which may be expressed either explicitly or implicitly. The system of white supremacy, a form of racist oppression, gives people defined as “white” a privileged status above all other people.It is an ideology that first arose during the early capitalist era to bolster the power of economic and political elites. The specific privileges associated with whiteness may be legal, economic, cultural, and/or social and may vary widely depending on the specific historical context. The ideology of white supremacy explicitly states that racial categories are inherent, primary determinants of human experience rather than social constructs; that white people are superior to and more important than people of colour; and that whites should either hold formal power and privilege over people of color or should eliminate them entirely. As a system, white supremacy is and always has been central to the social order in Europe and in all countries colonized by Europeans. Although white supremacy is no longer the recognized official ideology in most of these societies, it lingers on in the guise of social tradition, for example, in the argument that Islam is a religion whereas Christian symbols and practices are part of cultural heritage. A majority of white people in modern European and Euro-American societies embrace perspectives like “colorblindness” or even multiculturalism that often prove to be little more than subtler and more sophisticated expressions of systemic white supremacy that go largely unchallenged. (See also White skin privilege; Race; Racism)


X

XENOPHOBIA

An irrational fear of those considered foreign accompanied by a racist discourse. It is marked by apprehension, hostility, and hatred toward people from different cultures, with different religious beliefs, speaking different languages, having different skin colours, etc. Foreigners, who are seen as a threat to social stability and identity, elicit fear and hostility and are construed to be enemies. Xenophobic sentiments often arise during periods of economic crisis, with foreigners scapegotated in ways that easily degenerate into hate and violence.


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