Workers have no country
On 30 October 1995 the Quebec Sovereignty Referendum failed by the slimmest of margins— 50.6 percent NO, 49.4 percent YES. Nothing has been resolved, the sovereigntists say that they’ll keep trying, and the federalists hardly got a resounding show of support. The issue remains, and it’s an issue that spans the globe. Everywhere, it seems, people want ‘their own’ sovereign country.
There are two ways to look at Quebec sovereignty.The first is an emotional, irrational approach that considers ideas of power as opposed to the reality of power, and uses claims (long proved false) of how the economy functions.
The other is to consider what will really change if Quebec, some day, decides in favour of sovereignty.
Both sides, YES and NO, chose the emotional and irrational approach.
The Yes side argues that Quebecois will be inherently better off in a nation governed by Quebecois. They have not shown any real benefits to the Quebecois working class. Nor has the history of “independence” around the world been supportive of the Yes claim.
The No side predicts the most dire results for Quebec, ignoring the fact that Canada would suffer if it did not trade with Quebec. The No side lined up an impressive list of company owners, directors and such. Some sovereigntists responded, without justification, that if the rich oppose “independence” then “independence” must be good for those who aren’t rich.
The necessities of life
Most sane people are more worried about the necessities of life: putting food on the table, a roof over their head, and other such mundane—and ultimately far more important—considerations, than the name of the state they happen to live in.
History has shown, without doubt, that the Yes or No choice is a choice of which politicians get to sit next to the steering wheel as the ship of state careers back and forth in the winds of economic reality.
“Independence” is a word used to stir up emotions. An “independent” Quebec will be no more independent than it is today. It will still have to conform to global economic pressures which govern how much food will be on the table of the average person. The current economic system doesn’t play favourites based upon national, ethnic, or cultural sovereignty.
Capital investment and migration is based upon the likelihood of making better profits, not upon which of the largely irrelevant politicians form the government.
Nationalist, quasi-racist”issues” such as Quebec “independence” are not the issues that will solve the problems that working class people in Quebec, Canada, and the rest of the world face every day. The fundamental differences are far greater between rich Canadians and working class Canadians, than between working class Canadians and working class Quebecois or working class Peruvians, or any member of the working class anywhere.
Different languages, skin tones, sexes, and customs pale next to the economic differences in a single country or ethnic grouping. The working class will never be served by nationalism or its bed-mate, racism. Since the referendum failed, several prominent sovereigntists including the, now resigned, Premier of Quebec, have blamed the “ethnics” for the defeat of the referendum. Their racist undercurrent for the white descendants of the original French conquerors of Quebec has come out.
It is no surprise that the “International Socialists” (same as SWP in the UK) supported Quebec “independence” just as they support most such inherently racist “independence” movements, while claiming to oppose racism.
If Quebecois, in the future, decide to separate, they should not expect it to improve their lives. Capitalist economics has a very forceful way of ensuring that the world remains class-divided, and that the working class is at the bottom of that division.
Quebecois, and the rest of the world’s working class don’t need a change in politicians. we need an end to class division.
Steve Szalai (Socialist Party of Canada)