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December 10, 2005

Comments

Craig

The point of parties like the Bloc is to make it look like Canada is dysfunctional.

As opposed to the radical thought that the Bloc might be an expression of a dysfunction in the Canadian polity? i.e., maybe the Separatist claim is legitimate?

Mandos

It's quite possible and I have entertained and argued the thought but in general I disfavour nationalism based on cultural identities. I'm aware of the history. I may post on this later. Yet another promise. But this post fulfilled one, at least.

Craig

Clearly, I'm no fan of nationalism (be it cultural or state based). The idea is, at best, silly and, at worst, extremely dangerous. We can all think of examples of each quite easily. Similarly, I'm no fan of their (more or less) claim to sovereignty on the basis of a clearly defined nation (i.e., nation-state) on the Westphalian model. This is a longer argument, but, in short, the 'Westphalian model' is a symbolic arrangement that has never reflected, as it were, reality. Like I said, a longer argument -- but I am writing a book ("dissertation") on the topic (more or less).

And here it is: but, I'm also not a fan of domination. In fact, I reject the concept entirely. Any form of domination is always contrary to justice. Furthermore, domination can only be known from the perspective of the dominated. Having a bunch of Anglos (including those, like us, who speak English or who are not of WASP background) running around saying, "No! There is no domination! You are just being annoying! You are creating a problem where there is none! Ferme ta gorge!" Well, that misses the point. Those engaged in domination never see their acts as such. (We have a long history of it: "White Man's Burden", for instance.)

The argument is parallel to a feminist claim: even pro-feminist men cannot fully appreciate the feminist argument. It's also the same as an anti-racist argument: white's cannot be fully anti-racist.

Call me naive if you will, but, in general, I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the dominated every time.

Mandos

"Furthermore, domination can only be known from the perspective of the dominated. Having a bunch of Anglos (including those, like us, who speak English or who are not of WASP background) running around saying, "No! There is no domination! You are just being annoying! You are creating a problem where there is none! Ferme ta gorge!""

I'm going to have to depart philosophically from you here. How do distinguish between claims of domination that are invented or mistaken and claims that have a physical manifestation? You don't make the victim the judge. I am not saying that this directly applies to Quebec, but I've seen your argument being used in a number of instances where I find it dubious.

Obviously you don't make the dominator as such the unequivocal judge either.

"Call me naive if you will, but, in general, I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the dominated every time."

Yes but in this case the dominated are highly equivocal on what the domination is. Many sovereigntists don't even think of their ideology in terms of domination any more, at least not primarily. The ones who most strongly use domination as a primary reason are now a fringe; they write books like "The Black Book of English Canada" which apparently visit the sins of the fathers on the sons.

The idea that seems to have been brought forth from the time of Levesque is one of fructification: somehow nation-states are entities that ripen on the vine, and [i]selon lui[/i], Quebec is now ripe to be picked. This appears to be the mainstream argument for sovereignty. With this metaphor, it no longer requires a radical consciousness of any kind to be a sovereigntist: Lucien Bouchard can be a sovereigntist. Quebec is a fruit to be picked by simply a different set of dominators. Of course, politically progressive elements are still for historical reasons the mainstay of the sovereigntist movement.

That and other reasons make your argument somewhat weak in the case of Quebec.

Craig

First, domination isn't necessarily from the barrel of a gun. When a women -- according to the most recent surveys -- still makes S0.76USD for every $1.00USD a man makes doing the exact same job, we legitimately say that this is a form of domination. We point to the contradiction between formal equality and substantive equality. While women are formally guaranteed to receive the same wage, they substantively do not. No one is garnishing $0.24USD from each dollar a women "earns". She never receives it in the first place. To be marginally fasciticious (but not entirely), the only difference between a slave and a woman is, apparently, $0.76USD! There's no way around it: this is domination.

Whether the Quebecois speak the language of domination is irrelevant. If they feel they are getting the shaft vis a vis the rest of Canada and if they are, then they are dominated. And this domination is not calculated on the basis of transfer payments, social programs or golf balls. If the Quebecois routinely elect separatist representatives it is because they believe in a separatist movement: separatism only makes sense in the context of domination.

Even the minimal separatist definition you give -- we are now a nation and, thus, we need to be a nation -- reveals this simple point. If they are prevented from realizing their nationhood, this can only be explained with reference to the domination of the entity that prevents the realization!

How do distinguish between claims of domination that are invented or mistaken and claims that have a physical manifestation?

Quite easily: false claims of domination have no next to no existence. False claims almost-always exist in the minds of the dominators -- take five minutes and look at any idiotic "men's rights" website: "Rape? No way! She changed her mind!" You'd be hard pressed to find a statistical analysis that would demonstrate that false claims of rape, for instance, have any statistical import vis a vis "legitimate" claims. Like I said, the benefit of the doubt.

Mandos

Even the minimal separatist definition you give -- we are now a nation and, thus, we need to be a nation -- reveals this simple point. If they are prevented from realizing their nationhood, this can only be explained with reference to the domination of the entity that prevents the realization!

I have to go now, but this is jumping the gun a little bit. Peregrinations regarding the Clarity Act and so on aside (ones that won't ultimately bear fruit), we do not have an unequivocally expressed belief on the part of the Quebec population that

1. The present situation prevents them from expressing their nationhood.

2. Nationhood can only therefore be expressed via full statehood.

This is simply one strain of thought that is actually a subset of what Quebeckers seem to mean by sovereignty. It may eventually become sufficiently large for your argument to obtain full validity.

The rest I'll try to respond to later.

Mandos

If the Quebecois routinely elect separatist representatives it is because they believe in a separatist movement: separatism only makes sense in the context of domination.

So the voters for the Bloc are not necessarily sovereigntist, ie, as I understand it there is by no means a full correspondence between a Bloc voter and a Yes voter. There's a closer correspondence between a PQ voter and a Yes voter but it isn't 100% either.

"Separatist" is an extremely loaded word that many sovereigntists mock as a ham-handed Anglo (and Liberal) misapprehension. The correct English words are sovereigntism (souverainisme) and independentism (indépendentisme). Only the latter corresponds roughly to something like what Anglos consider to be "separatism", but increasingly they are mixed up with each other and differ more in motivations than goals. The latter is a much fringier position in Quebec as well.

Your rape analogy doesn't quite work, as I understand it. MRA tomfoolery aside, I'm given to understand that there's no real consensus on the rate of false accusation, for some of the same measurement reasons that it's often hard to get convictions in court. I could be wrong about this, though. (However, even with a high false accusation rate, it doesn't mean that rape isn't ubiquitous. I've never seen anyone seriously dispute that the rate of unreported accusations is very high. The latter is probably a lot easier to measure, as well.)

But statistics aside, I don't think that all cases of victimhood are so easily compared. There are cases in the world where ethnic subgroups have made claims of domination (possibly even well-founded ones) partly in order to exact revenge on a minority. Yugoslavia, Croatia and the Krajina come to mind, IIRC. I'm not saying that Quebec is like that either, but that's why I don't give the benefit of the doubt as easily as you.

Lastly, and I think most importantly, I think we differ on at least one fundamental principle. For me, at least, it's very hard for me to observe the domination of a class when I'm not capable of observing the relative material oppression of some of its individual members (including economic disadvantage, etc, etc). Secondly, I'm not ready to consider unfulfilled political desires to be in itself a sign of oppression. I can say that "Native people are oppressed" because I know that while some are successful, the class impediments are such that as a group they are disproportionately not.

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