The nationalism he advocates is neither racial nor, technically, ethnic. It is cultural, with a place for only one culture.
Supremacist, noun: A person who believes in or advocates the supremacy of a particular group, esp. determined by race or sex (also attributive: supremacist group). Supremacism, noun.
Supremacy, noun (pl. -cies): 1, The state of being supreme in authority, rank, or power. 2, Ultimate power or authority.
— Canadian Oxford Dictionary
In a book recently plugged by the premier of Quebec, a reader was startled to see an apology for defenders of symbols of an American pre-Civil War Southern “civilization” built on the whip-scarred backs of black plantation slaves.
Among these defenders, in their 2017 Charlottesville “confrontation” with “extreme-left militants” to which author Mathieu Bock-Côté refers, were neo-Nazis.
Apparently, for all his ostentatious erudition, Quebec’s most prominent nationalist intellectual is unaware that more than 60 years ago, American white supremacists adopted the Confederate battle flag to show resistance to black civil rights.
To Bock-Côté, the defenders of Confederate “heritage” are, like him, brave “dissidents” defying what the title of his book calls “L’empire du politiquement correct.”
His book arrives late to that struggle, however. By the time it was published earlier this year, the mainstream media he blames for helping to create “the empire of the politically correct” had long been routed by the internet. And it had been nearly three years since the empire’s defeats in the Brexit referendum and the Trump election.
They may not be aware that in Quebec, he prolifically bloviates from the province’s dominant mainstream media platforms — the Québecor empire of the politically incorrect, if you will.
He has the ear of the emperor, Pierre Karl Péladeau. And he enjoys the admiration of Québecor’s other nationalist commentators (one of whom, Denise Bombardier, in a recent tribute, swooned over “this boy with the physique of an American football player”).
So, in Bock-Côté’s homeland, there is little evidence of the main theme of his book: Not only freedom of expression but national identity, democracy, and even Western civilization, are threatened by “massive” immigration, pushy minorities (sexual as well as cultural), and the noisy “multiculturalists” who support them.
Bock-Côté advocates a nationalism that is neither racial nor, technically, ethnic. But unlike Canadian nationalism, it is not “civic,” or inclusive, either.
It is cultural, with a place for only one culture, that of the majority. Immigration is limited to easily assimilated numbers and cultures, so that the majority is not reduced to “stranger(s) in (their) own home.” There is no “government of judges” enforcing charters protecting minority rights. The “sovereignty of the people,” majority rule, is absolute.
Apparently written for readers in France, Bock-Côté’s book seldom mentions Quebec. But its application to the author’s homeland is obvious to a regular reader of his Québecor columns and blog posts advocating for Quebec’s “historic French-speaking majority” — that is, ethnic French-Canadians, and others that they have assimilated. Here, he is the champion of the overdog, of the political majority.
(His defence of Confederate statues is consistent with his unsuccessful argument against the removal of the National Assembly crucifix, which represented “the symbolic predominance of the historic French-speaking majority in the public space.”)
At least one Quebec reader has been inspired by the book. “Have read Bock-Côté’s latest,” François Legault tweeted late last month.
“Some media in our present societies,” he said, condemn nationalism. “Fortunately, in Quebec, we’ve restored nationalism to its place.”
That’s the internally divisive cultural nationalism of Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec’s government by the majority, for the majority. In his book, Bock-Côté (who accepted an invitation to address the CAQ youth wing last weekend) articulates an intellectual justification for that majoritarianism that ennobles it above mere populist pandering: Legault is fighting for Québécois national identity, democracy and Western civilization. And the book encourages him.
Legault’s enthusiastic response, and what that says about his government’s nationalism, are what makes Bock-Côté’s book matter.