Monday, August 10, 2009
CANADIAN ANARCHIST MOVEMENT:
THE HISTORY OF NEFAC IN QUÉBEC (CITY) PART 5:
This is another installment of our translation of an article in the Québecois anarchist magazine 'Ruptures'. As previously mentioned, when the full text is translated it will be collated into a complete article. There is a lot to be learned from the experiences of our Québec comrades for all of us who hope to build an organized and effective anarchist movement. The reader will note the change in the title above. A commentator pointed out that what follows is more of a history of NEFAC in Québec City rather than in the whole of Québec. Duly noted.
The election of Jean Charest:
On 14 April 2003, Jean Charest won the provincial election. The Liberal Party took this momentum to announce a series of measures designed to "modernize" the state (the famous "re engineering") and make the Québec economy more "competitive". Throughout the fall, we would be on the front lines in the many demonstrations against the government. The culmination of this mobilization would be the day of action on 11 December 2003. That day, tens of thousands of people went out on the streets and paralyzed Québec. We were involved in blocking the Port of Quebec where one of our comrades worked along with the the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Something unexpected was happening before our eyes: as if the labor movement finally woke from its sleep? Unfortunately, the general strike promised after the holidays by the union leadership did not materialize, killing in the bud the movement which was radicalizing. However, this upsurge of fighting unionism vividly demonstrated that the working class has the power to undermine the state and the capitalist system .. Of course it wants and decides to act against the advice of its leaders.
Also in December, the 21st issue of the anarchist newspaper "Le Trouble" came out. Produced entirely in Quebec, it was the culmination of a long process that aimed to merge this journal with the NEFAC newspaper. For several months, we wrote texts and distributed the newspaper in Quebec (up to 500 copies per issue). Members of La Nuit were also involved in the editorial committee. A little anecdote: at a demonstration of the popular movement, a "progressive" priest with whom we were discussing on the occasion pulled $50 out of his pocket for so that we could give out copies of Le Trouble to demonstrators ...
The merger process was going to fail for various reasons. There were several people in the " Le Trouble" collective who disagree with the merger. The arrival of a group of former NEFAC activists in collective definitively ended the process. NEFAC needed a newspaper to fulfill a role that Ruptures could not play : making agit-prop on a regular basis. In March of 2004, NEFAC launched its own newspaper, a 4-page publication entitled Cause Commune . The launch of the first issue took place in Quebec in "Le Lieu" gallery on the rue du Pont. We took the opportunity to show a film on the participation of anarchists in the Algerian resistance and anti-colonial struggles. Some forty people were present, including a small group of Maoists from Montreal and some anars from Saint-Georges-de-Beauce who had organized a new NEFAC collective during the summer of 2004. The federation was now present in four cities in Quebec (Montreal, Sherbrooke, St-Georges and Quebec). South of the border, NEFAC developed rapidly, as well as in Ontario. In Quebec, the collective remained the same: the question of our single sex membership(See Molly Note) had remained entirely the same for nearly two years and we failed to break out of this impasse.
Occasionally, when doing this sort of translation, I come across a word, local reference or figure of speech that completely mystifies me. This was the case with the word "mixité" in the original French of this article. I'd never heard this word before, and my trusty old Larousse (it's a pocket version) gave me no help. Various online translation services gave either null results or the translations "coeducation" or "mixed". I had to wing it on this one and assume that the term referred to a previous observation that there were no women in NEFAC Québec City at that time. Even so I couldn't find a convenient and succinct English word, or even phrase, that would translate the idea exactly. Hence my rather free translation of the last sentence above. If any francophones could suggest a better alternative, or point out where I have made a mistake, I would be happy to edit the above. Another thing that I have noticed while doing this translation is the writer's habit of using the present tense for events in the past. I presume that this is common usage, but I have taken the liberty of rendering the text using the various English imperfect, preterite and past perfect tenses as was appropriate. No doubt the original is more readable in French, but using the proper tense in English makes it more readable in English.