Quebec 1960

Independence and Political Action

Source: André D'Allemgane, Une Idée Qui Somnolait. Montreal, Agone, 2000;
First Published: L'Indépendance, Vol 1, No1 September 1962;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

Founded on August 10, 1960, the anniversary of the French defeat on the Plains of Abraham, the Rassemblement pour l'indépendance nationale was the final avatar of the indepéndantiste ideal before the foundation of the Parti québécois. Indeed, many of the most important militants of the cause made their first steps in RIN. Among its founding members was André d’ Allemagne, who wrote this text for the first issue of their monthly journal, L'Indépendance.

In the time immediately after its formation, the RIN dedicated itself exclusively to one task: demonstrating the need for and the possibility of national independence. Though there remains much to do in their regard, we can certainly say that public opinion, at least in most of the country, is now sensitive to this question.

But independence, for Quebec as for any other nation, has many consequences. It doesn’t so much imply new problems as much as it puts the traditional problems of our society in a new perspective. At one and the same time it permits and imposes heretofore unknown solutions that are important to define and propose to the nation. What is more, independence will lead French Canada to itself assume a number of tasks which it had till now left to others, often to its misfortune. Independence thus has as an immediate consequence the need for a profound transformation of our institutions and the mentality of our society. This is what we call the “national revolution.”

Before the general reawakening that can be noted among the people of Quebec, a reawakening due in part to the activities of the RIN, one would think that our political parties would accept their new responsibilities and would seriously commit themselves to the work of national renewal. But such is not the case. The political parties have been manifestly surpassed by events. A striking example can be seen in the pusillanimity of the government in the matter of the nationalization of electricity.

Despite all the big speeches and thundering declarations on economic “liberation,” and the mission of the “State of Quebec” it is now obvious that liberation will not occur unless we do it ourselves, or at least if we are ready to do it ourselves. What we want is to not simply modify a few laws, it’s to transform a colonized country into a free and dynamic democracy. In order to effectuate this transformation we can no longer count on others.

At its last congress the RIN committed itself to seeking solutions to all the great problems of the nation. We must now commit ourselves to applying these solutions. This commitment necessarily leads to political action.

Political action can only be exercised by a pressure group or a party. This is the option offered to the RIN. But when it’s a matter of questions of national interest, the methods of pressure groups are not precisely democratic. What is more, if pressure groups can obtain — often through means very much resembling blackmail — particular measures, it is impossible for them to realize a global and coordinated policy. The democratic way of proceeding when we want to effectuate the transformation of a society is to propose reforms to the population and to ask it to signify its agreement by bringing to power those committed to the realization of these reforms. For reasons of political morality as much as those of effectiveness, only a political party can bring our society the changes we are calling for.

Of course, the fact of becoming a political party doesn’t mean that at the first occasion offered we must plunge with our eyes closed into the electoral struggle. The forms of action remain to be determined as a function of circumstances and opportunities. But it is essential that the RIN decide now how far it wants to push its commitment towards the Québécois nation. This is what its members will be called upon to do at their next congress in October.