The Events of October 1970: From Yesterday to Today

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2217 ... October 16, 2020

The Events of October 1970: From Yesterday to Today

Marc Bonhomme

In 1970, the national question and the social question were merged (especially in Montreal). The big "bosses" were English. The overwhelmingly francophone working class was exploited as well as oppressed and vice versa. Language on signs and in the workplace, and the names of companies, were predominantly in English.

A petty-bourgeois "Quiet Revolution" (1960-1966) was followed by a proletarian "Quiet Revolution" (1966-76), the zenith of which was the general strike of 1972 with its brief pre-revolutionary moments. The latter was defeated by the hegemony of the petty-bourgeois Parti Quebecois (PQ) whose social project was the construction of Quebec Inc., which enjoyed temporary success with Ottawa’s help, for example, in supporting Bombardier and SNC-Lavalin.

The events of October 1970 expressed a lack of confidence that the proletarian-but-inarticulate project of national liberation combined with social emancipation could succeed. The relative electoral success of the left-wing independentist Rassemblement pour l’Indépendance Nationale (RIN) of 1966 (6 per cent of the vote) gave way to the PQ... with its right-wing sovereignty-association orientation. The PQ first swallowed up the ‘indépendantiste’ right-wing RN (Ralliement national) and then, against the will of its left wing, the RIN, enabling it to receive 23 per cent of the vote in the spring 1970 election. Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau’s draconian anti-demonstration repression did the rest, creating the illusion of a Quebec that was a "Cuba of the North," in line with the armed national liberation struggles of that era.

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