Le Front de Libération du Québec
Source: FLQ: Un Projet Révolutionnaire, texts assembled by R. Comeau, D. Cooper, p. Vallières. VLB Éditeur, Montreal 1990;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.
Written pseudonymously by Pierre Vallières, the best-known of the revolutionaries of the era, and published in the FLQ’s journal, La Cognée, in October 1965, this extremely critical article led to a change in direction on the part of the group.
Editor’s note: Without being a member of the FLQ, Mathieu Hébert is a convinced revolutionary. He hesitates to join us because of the weaknesses he underlines in his article. We wanted to publish his text for two reasons: in the first place, we share several of his criticisms, and it’s because of these weaknesses that our doors are open to all true militants; then, because we have said several times that we are in favor of self-criticism between movements, and this article corresponds to that wish.
There has been much talk this summer about the resounding strikes that Quebec has known, and of the re-found dynamism of the unions. Quartier Latin, in its first issue, dedicated an entire page to the following theme: Summer 1965, a stage in the revolution. There is no doubt that the awakening of the workers renders possible many hopes. But a fact that worries me concerning those who work (or who say they work) for the liberation of the Québécois people, is the absence of discipline in action, and the lack of intellectual rigor (if not of elementary knowledge) in the elaboration of coherent and realistic political ideas.
At the level of action we often seem preoccupied to act from day to day, at the whim of pretexts for bombs and Molotov cocktails, at the whim of demonstrations or certain political events, rather that as a function of a strategy elaborated on the basis of an in-depth analysis of the relation of forces in Quebec, in North America, and in the world; with the precise objective, not of making noise (for kicks), but in order to overthrow the established order and to install a Québécois government for the people of Quebec.
Instead of beginning with a serious examination of the field of struggle, and of our concrete possibilities of combat and victory over the enemy, we begin as a small number stealing a minimum of materiel (dynamite, detonators, mimeograph machines, money) that more often than not we don’t know where to hide. A distinction isn’t even made between the organization of propaganda and that of sabotage, for example. Everything is put in the same sack. Everyone knows everyone else’s activities. And finally, everyone gets arrested ... or gets discouraged.
The infantile malady of Québécois revolutionaries can be summed up as follows: every guy who has proved himself in however small a way during a demonstration, of an attack, or a slight act of sabotage believes himself invested with the mission of founding his own movement which, of course, will vaunt itself as the FLQ or the ALQ, if not the FLN or the ARQ. Not only does everyone found his own network, but within the network it often occurs that everyone feels inspired to undertake his own contacts and to have his own court of eminences grises, of delivery boys and naïve admirers.
It’s in this way that everything ends up getting mixed together, and police squealers have little problem in finding the chiefs of networks or in predicting the attacks that will be attempted. It’s in this way that, periodically, arrests succeed in dismantling the organizations which had shown little concern for security, for concrete analysis of the terrain, and the possibilities of the hour. It’s not enough to denounce police squealers. It’s necessary in the first place to examine one’s own consciousness and ask oneself: What is a patriot? What is a partisan? What is an organization of partisans? What is a national liberation struggle? These questions might seem elementary. They are. But how many among us have really asked them? Even La Cognée hasn’t yet done a tenth of what it should have done in this area.
The fight we have undertaken is not an adventure, it is a veritable war, subject to the scientific laws of war. Amateurism can only lead us to failure. We must everywhere combat infantilism and activism. Some claim that they don’t believe themselves to be indispensable to the revolution, and consequently they can allow themselves to risk everything in a dangerous action that, to be sure, is important theoretically but that, at the beginning of the struggle, can only be advantageous if it leads to complete victory. A revolutionary movement in its beginnings cannot allow important defeats that could result in its disappearance. It can also not allow the grouping together of men who don’t think themselves indispensable to the revolution. Every partisan is an irreplaceable soldier.
There is ground for worry in the lack of maturity of the revolutionary cadres. At precisely the moment when the workers and farmers of Quebec need the help of a revolutionary organization capable of concretely offering them a hope of liberation, the FLQ, to all intents and purposes, offers them nothing but a vague assembly of more or less active groupuscules, all of whose members (more or less) are known to the police and independantiste militants. Only La Cognée remains afloat, but it can’t be said that currently it really contributes to the theoretical and practical formation of revolutionary cadres. La Cognée is neither an information journal for the large public (since it is distributed to only a small number of people) nor a bulletin of revolutionary education for the few habitués that it periodically reaches.
All this is to say that there currently is a deficiency, not only at the level of the “activist’ base, but equally at the level of the “thinkers” of the revolution. On one side there are the guys who fight and want to fight even more, but who aren’t really educated; and on the other there are who think of the revolution in a void, exactly because they haven’t managed to canalize and organize the energy of the base to transform into a true national liberation movement, an effective, concrete FLQ at the service of the exploited Quebec.
There is no doubt in my mind that the people of Quebec want the advent of a strong FLQ. There is not any doubt, either, that a considerable number of young Québécois, of workers and unemployed, would like to enlist in this FLQ to liberate the homeland and themselves. At long last, when will it be realized that this FLQ will not be born of anarchy or of a few isolated acts, and even less of a few thoughts taken from a certain revolutionary manual? When will we really set out to seriously work at the organization of the FLQ?