rn- Quebec’s “silent revolution” — a model?


Richard Moore

Date:   Sun, 15 Aug 1999 22:22:57 -0300 (ADT)
From:   Daniel Haran <•••@••.•••>
To:     •••@••.•••
Subject: re:rn- regarding the development of an effective global movement...

Global revolution, eh?

In an earlier post, you write:

"There are tributary movements aplenty throughout the world, and they will
all be important, but how is the spirit of a 'massive historic movement'
going to arise?"

So I should ask: what if it arose after the fact?

Have you heard of Quebec's "silent revolution"? Few people took note while
it happened that church attendance was dropping; neighbours talking to
each other over backyard fences liberated themselves from the Church's
political-theological hegemony-- though few realized that that was what
they were doing.

Could all of the small movements finally add up to something bigger than
any programmatic approach we could ever conceive of?

Peace- d.


Dear Daniel,

I imagine you're right, that when an identifiable mass movement arises, it
may well come from an unexpected direction... and that once identified,
we'll see that it had already been underway for a while - ie, we'll notice
it "after the fact".  None of us is going to design an approach, pragmatic
or otherwise, which is going to _cause such a movement.

So is there any point in theorizing about mass movements?   I think there
is, for several reasons.  For one thing, I think it is important for those
who choose to be activists to have a sound strategic perspective.  If you
have only one shoulder to put to the wheel, you want to be sure you're
pushing in the right direction, and not pursuing a co-opted program - you
at least want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  It
is also important to understand how the process of reform itself has been
factored in to the political machinery, enabling movement demands to be
'satisfied' without really changing the system. (For example, the orwellian
establishment adoption of the slogan 'sustainable development'.)

Most important, perhaps, is the need to have a better understanding of
movement goals and strategies - in the event a mass movement arises.  One
problem with a mass movement, for example, is that involves a signficant
proportion of the population, as well it should.  But how could
communication be maintained on a mass basis?  How could decisions be made?
And how is a mass constituency to arise in the face of ongoing and skillful
corporate-media propaganda?

Quebec's experience with the Church, by the way, is not at all unique -
I've seen the same thing in France, Britain, and Ireland, and it seems to
be a general Western phenomenon of the past few decades.  To some extent
this can be viewed as people "liberating themeselves", but we must also
acknowledge that they are going with the prevailing tide toward
materialism, consumerism, and corporatism.  All traditional social
institutions are undergoing destabilization in this age of corporate
globalization.  Communities, nations, churches, political parties - all are
losing their roots, and becoming either impotent or else

As these institutions pass - leaving mega-corporations as the only
surviving institution of power - I find myself viewing what we are losing
as having some value after all.  I grew up an enemy of 'nationalism', but
was 'the nation' really the culprit?  Or was it rather the nation under the
control of capitalist imperialism?  The church acted as an agent of
hierarchical control, but it also provided an anchor for community, and
provided valuable social services.  Locally-based political parties were
corrupt, but they provided _some input to the political process that was
different than the corporate agenda.

All the postwar liberalizations seemed liberating at the time, but are we
really better off?   We're left with an atomized society, everyone for
themselves, no shared values, no sense of community, and politics has
degenerated into a form of television entertainment.  Each 'milestone of
progress' has been appealing, but where is the road heading?



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