Intercultural studies 

ANG 160 Fall 2005

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Nationalism

          Nationalism has appeared in many forms in different states over the centuries. In many cases, nationalism has been used to integrate the members of an existing or future state. Nationalism in Quebec has been associated with the desire by many Quebecois for an independent state. Nationalism is defined as the “collective action of a politically conscious ethnic group (or nation) in pursuit of increased territorial autonomy.” (Jackson, p.98).

          First, “English-Canadian” or “English” are used interchangeably in Quebec to identify people in the rest of Canada who don’t speak French or who are not of French descent. They imply the existence in Canada of only two races. The implication of the words “Canada” and “Canadian” have come to mean “English Canada” and “English-Canadian”. Having established that Canada is composed of two races, nature or cultures, the arguments goes on to say that only the French nation is conscious if its own identity and destiny, and without Quebec Canada would become Balkanized. The most impressive facts about the English-speaking view of Canada are that it rejects racial nationalism and that is the product of a deep commitment to slowly developed historical tradition. A very large number of English-speaking Canadians believe that the corrective power of the federal government should be used to maintain minority rights inside the province.

          Nationalism developed a system of defense in which all the opposite propensities were emphasized: The French language, Catholics, authoritarianism[1] and rural life. The government of Quebec has resisted the federal imposition, but the efforts of a corrupt and conservative provincial administration were relatively ineffective. Quebec has demanded new institutions and procedures by which the federal authorities will consult with the provinces with respect to all matters were provincial interests are directly engaged. The changes in Canadian institutions and in Canadian behavior must be made, if we are bent on making federalism compatible with the effective exercise if the public power in the face of the challenges, which confront us. New institutions and procedures are needed to defend the French-Canadian community in federal matters (of direct and obvious incidence) and to better protect French-speaking minorities outside Quebec.

          Quebec political consciousness has always been torn between two choices: loyalty to Canada as a whole and supreme loyalty to its own nationality and community. It is significant and fortunate for Canada, that the patriots preceded the nationalists. Nationalism is essentially a highly subjunctive and emotionally charged issue. The degree’s intensity of patriotism is variable within each individual and his community. It is very important to note that today the nation and the state have become one. Patriotism and nationalism both needed a geographic home and a land upon which the loyalty and affection of its population can focus. Education is always a basic concern to the patriot and the nationalist. They focus on the training of coming generations in the unspoken understanding that the national community and its spirit represents a certain historical stability projected into the future.

         When we put all this together, we can say that nationalism is one aspect of the total political phenomena. To understand Quebec nationalism today, it is necessary to analyze the changes that have been taking place in Quebec society and the Canadian society in general.

References:

Jackson, D., Jackson, J. R,. (2002). Canadian Government in Transition. Toronto: Prentice Hall.

http://www.utpjournals.com/product/chr/833/politics2.html

[1] The term authoritarian is used to describe an organization or a state which enforces strong and sometimes oppressive measures against those in its sphere of influence, generally without attempts at gaining their consent and often not allowing feedback on its policies.