Quebec’s search for a new God

How the Right created its own blind faith

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December 18, 2012


Matthieu-Hugo-LOGOQUEBEC CITY, QC, Dec. 18, 2012/ Troy Media/ – In the 1940s and the 1950s, conservatism and the Catholic Church dominated Quebec politics. This alliance of tradition and faith was at the heart of the government of Maurice Duplessis, Quebec’s most reviled Premier. His government was dogmatic, populist, unscrupulous and corrupt.

Then came the Quiet Revolution, which began in 1960 with the election of Jean Lesage, a Laval University Law school graduate, and his Liberals. From the outset, the Quiet Revolution was about throwing off the yoke of the Catholic Church and giving the government and politics back to the people. In the wake of the revolution, the Church lost its privileged role and Catholicism declined.

As Quebec underwent major social and economic changes, rapid industrialization, rural exodus, education and nationalism, the void left by Catholicism had to be filled.

Along came a charismatic young politician who, unwittingly, created a new cult. His name was Rene Levesque and the new church was Sepa-Syndic (Separation-Syndicalisation), a new faith built on the hallowed duality of separation and unionization.

For a long time, the power of this faith seemed unbreakable. Trade unions were all powerful, sovereignty a constant preoccupation.

But time erodes all things and so it went for Quebec’s new church. After 40 years, the Quebec model, the social and political manifestation of the new Truth, was not ageing well.

Then at the turn of the 21st century arose a new gospel to offer solace to the disenfranchised and challenge the old faith! It was the advent of the Lowbrow Right and it gave comfort to all the complainers, the whiners, the frustrated and the disillusioned.

A bizarre tandem of preachers first spread this new faith: a junior politician and a talk radio host. From their pulpits in Quebec City, these demagogues spread the Word. Through a veil of political and social reform, they preyed on the fears and the insecurities of Quebecois. In the face of an ever-changing world, they painted a portrait of absolutes and one-dimensional simplicity, all the better to feed the anxieties of the herd mentality: unions are bad, immigrants are profiteers, leftwing politicians are communists, the Welfare state is a failure, taxes equal robbery and artists are subversive.

Alas, this herd mentality is a common affliction that transcends class or education. Not only has the Lowbrow Right been able to convert disciples in the proletariat, it has made impressive gains with the bourgeoisie, which is always looking to transfer its economic advantage into political gains.

Their ministry took flight and they were extremely successful. The radio host’s morning show sat at the top of the ratings, the politician became leader of the official opposition.

Through their ministry, these individuals sowed the seeds of intolerance, conformism, economic confusion, selfishness, conservatism, cynicism and rather less eloquently, stupidity.

Fortunately, try as they might, these latter day saints were unable to deceive the totality of the province. Many saw them in their true light, what Nietzsche referred to as the Men of Resentment. Fuelled by a morbid will to take revenge against society for imagined slights, these men glorified and promoted a regressive ideal.

Stricken down by libel lawsuits and electoral defeat, these preachers became the first martyrs of their cause, heralding a second coming.

The second coming of the Lowbrow Right was a Goliath, a giant born on the Right side. This Goliath was the offspring of media convergence.

With television, radio, print and Internet at its disposal, the Goliath has been disseminating the gospel of the Lowbrow Right to the four corners of the province. This unprecedented media access has given the movement an unparalleled influence among the population of Quebec and has cemented the faith into a new position of dominance.

Through its continued production of infotainment and mundane commercial slop, the Goliath has insured that the seed of stupidity, planted by its mentors, has grown into a strong, wide-trunked tree, with roots so corrosive that they eat away all debate.

Under the sway of the Goliath and the renewed clout of the Lowbrow Right, Quebec’s political reality has sunk to an all time low. By refusing to confront the religious zealousness that characterizes Quebec politics today, the province is abandoning itself to the worst elements of society, the herd animals, those who want others to think in their place.

It is time for another revolution in Quebec, this time a not so quiet one, so that our people can finally cast-off the shackles of the herd mentality, parochial thinking and demagoguery.

Troy Media Syndicated Columnist Hugo Mathieu is a Political Science and Law school graduate, a former Liberal party of Canada riding President and Vice-President for the Association des Étudiants en Droit de l’Universite Laval.

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