Revolution and Self-Determination: Two Themes of CD's Quebec Coverage

By Graefe, Peter | Canadian Dimension, March-April 2013 | Go to article overview

Revolution and Self-Determination: Two Themes of CD's Quebec Coverage


Graefe, Peter, Canadian Dimension


DIMENSION'S COVERAGE of Quebec over 50 years holds two stories. The first is one of a "revolution" and its ebbing, namely the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s and the pulse of energy it gave to radical ideas and radical action through the 1960s and 1970s. From its brave coverage of the October Crisis, through to the union radicalism of the 1970s and the left pressures on the Parti Quebecois, CD gave its readers first-rate and unvarnished analysis of a society pushing against inherited structures.

By the 1980s and 1990s, the energy was largely gone, washing up onto largely the same neoliberal shores as elsewhere in the West. CD nevertheless kept its eye on Quebec, relaying key moments like the inspiring Bread and Roses march of 1995, or debating important innovations like the social economy. It caught the development of the new left party, Quebec Solidaire (QS), from its nucleus in earlier formations in the late 1990s, and ensured its experience could inform other "structured movements against capitalism" by giving space to Pierre Dostie's "Quebec Communique." Publishing six times a year, this was a tin-can telephone, but it has meant that CD and its universe of readers and contributors have been plugged into the revival of Quebec radicalism in the 2000s, be it in QS or in the peace and student movements, but also in magazines like A babord and Nouveaux Cahiers du socialisme. In a period of pessimism, the ginger and creativity seen, for instance, in the Maple Spring, open new strategic avenues for the Canadian left and rekindle the radical spirit.

The second story is CD's early, constant and steadfast adoption of national self-determination as a core principle. This was pragmatic: only in resolving the national question could you centralize Canada sufficiently to implement a socialist program.

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