The history of NEFAC in Quebec-city (2001-2008)
A text from the magasine Ruptures
Summing up My Involvement
I have been involved in the anarchist movement for the past ten years. Before coming to anarchism, I worked for 5 or 6 years in the radical movement of the early 1990s, a mixture of Trotskyism, antifascism and students' struggles. After several years of involvement at UQAM with MDE (Movement for the Right to Education) and with the PAC (Political Action Committee), I participated in the creation of the libertarian Frayhayt group in September 1999, and the the CLAC in March of 2000. [Français] [Castellano]
I learned about NEFAC a few months before the Summit of the Americas during the summer of 2000, if I recall correctly. I admit to have been rather skeptical about its chances of success. How could there be anarcho-communists in Quebec? A dozen? No, really, it could not work. It must be said that the experience in which I was plunged in the CLAC was-to say the least- promising. What we wanted, a mass anti-capitalist movement, was taking shape before our eyes, driven by the anti-globalization wave. We were able to mobilize thousands of people, not only on vague slogans denouncing the effects of neoliberalism (as was the case for several years), but on a clear rejection of the foundations of the capitalist system. Better still, the principles of direct democracy, self-organizing and popular education were central to this approach. If the months preceding the Summit could be exhilarating (and stressful), the Summit itself was up to my expectations. I was hardly aware of the participation of NEFAC (1) in these events as the streets of Quebec abounded with anarchists and revolutionaries of all kinds.
After the Summit I was quickly disenchanted. By the month of June, I joined with those who, in Quebec, had re-grouped under the acronym CASA (Committee to Welcome the Summit of the Americas) for a weekend of reflection near Valcartier. About thirty people, mostly students at Laval University, participated in the orientation assembly . Despite interesting debates, no clear perspective could be deduced from the meeting. The Summit was now over, and with it, several of those present would gradually abandon activism. This perspective-or lack of perspective-hardly attracted me. I was working more and more regularly at the newspaper "Rebelles." I thought I could continue the momentum on my return to Québec. Unfortunately, the collective that published "Rebelles" also ceased its activities during the summer. I turned then to the only organization capable of bringing about a long-term involvement, for which a common project - libertarian-communism- was not a "taboo", but something fully assumed.
I become a supporter of NEFAC in July 2001. A few days later, on July 23, I spoke on behalf of the anarchist group Émile Henry in a demonstration to denounce the murder of Carlo Giuliani, at the Italian consulate in Limoilou. I become a member of the federation shortly thereafter . Despite some flaws in the platform of NEFAC, it seemed more important to join a group wishing to develop an organized anarchist movement than to go from summit to summit, from one season to another, without a revolutionary perspective .
My first year as a member of NEFAC was at least as loaded! By the end of summer, we produced the first issue of a newsletter of the Local NEFAC Union called "La Nuit" (in homage to the anarchist newspaper of the same name produced in Montreal from 1976 to 1986). This bulletin prefigured the "Cause Commun" of a few years later : a newsletter that appears on a regular basis and which is distributed in demonstrations and in public places. "The Local Union "group replaced the Émile Henry collective of NEFAC in Quebec, following the departure of several people and the arrival of others. The first issue of "La Nuit" addressed the issue of patriarchy and wage slavery , two themes that will recur periodically in our publications.
As with almost all the radical left, the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 took us by surprise. The Local Union, nevertheless, issued a NEFAC communique, written by our comrades in the United States, during a protest in Quebec City at the end of September. We took this opportunity to announce a series of upcoming events, including the upcoming release of a new NEFAC publication ... in French. On the 13th of October the first number of Ruptures finally came out. Published in 1000 copies, it was produced entirely in Quebec, thanks to the collaboration of a few supporters and sympathizers. The launch took place in the basement of the Church of St. John the Baptist, in the presence of a hundred people.
Ruptures has not gone unnoticed, especially the text "We are platformists," which raised many reactions and taunts on the part of the anarchist "mileau". Among "exs" of CASA, many turned their backs on the NEFAC and some unhealthy competition developed between the "organized" (that's us) and the "unorganized" (the others) militants and activists . It was also a time of schism with two friends who soon increased (for a time) the ranks of the "ultra-left" in Montreal, with various texts and pamphlets denouncing their former comrades.
The Fall was marked by several other public activities, some organized under the People's University of the Popular Committee of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, others independently. On the weekend of November 23, we presented not one but two public lectures: on Friday with Gaetan Heroux, of the OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty), and Sunday with Nivardo Juan Rodriguez, of Juventudes Libertarias (Bolivia) , at Lucien-Borne. Despite a limited mobilization, the room was full! The Summit of the Americas is making itself felt ...
On the 1st and 2nd of December 2001, NEFAC organized a weekend of reflection on patriarchy in Montreal on the Loyola campus, west of the city. This was the first public event jointly organized by various groups since the Quebec Summit of the Americas. The program, somewhat loaded, was developed by groups in Québec City and Montréal. Several former members of CASA were present, and present also, were a large number of supporters and sympathizers from the Montréal region and the United States. Despite numerous logistical problems and a lack of political preparation, the event was a success in terms of participation. It prepared the ground for the second issue of Ruptures which came out in April 2002.
In the winter, the NEFAC began the first tour "of the region." The invitation was launched for anarchists living outside Montréal and Québec City to organize events with us in their corner of the country. Members of the Local Union of Québec went to Sorel on 25 March 2002 for a conference to present an introduction to anarchism at the Café-Bistro Le Cinoche. On 24 April, we went to Saint-Georges-de-Beauce at the invitation of students of the college to conduct a workshop on globalization. Nearly forty people were present. On 6 May, I went to Sherbrooke to present a conference on education to a small libertarian group of cégépiens and cégépiennes(CGEP students-Molly).
These activities did not prevent us from holding more public events in Quebec. On 2 April, we were mobilizing a caravan to the G8 meeting in Kananaskis (Alberta). A large crowd rushed to listen to various speakers and presenters, including Jaggi Singh. Three weeks later, on 20 and 21 April, the NEFAC held another weekend of debate in Québec this time on social class and class struggle. People from everywhere attended this meeting, including a group of students from St. Jerome. On 5 May, we returned with an "internationalist" conference in Québec. Chekov Feeney of the Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland), Laurent Scapin of Alternative Libertaire (France) and Phoebus (for our group) presented the different realities of the anarchist movement and the different horizons that were opening for organization. It was during this period that the Local Union of Québec became the anarchist La Nuit Collectif . The name change reflected a desire to clarify our method of organization and our goals and to break the vicious "activist" circle" into which we had plunged . The idea of "closed" affinity groups (such as Émile-Henry) was set aside. From the moment a person shared our political views, a formal process of integration was set in motion, leading to the membership (or not) of the person after three meetings. The group's objective was to participate and create a libertarian "pole" in Quebec, to develop a strategy to implement in our living, work and study and to support social struggles. The collective's action was based on an analysis of the situation in the short, medium and long term. We also wanted to alternate the meetings between theoretical ones and ones of more technical stuff.
The Summer of the Squat:
On the 17th of May, about 200 people, mobilized by the Popular Committee of Saint-Jean-Baptiste and other members of FRAPRU demonstrated in the streets of Quebec to demand social housing. The event finished in front of 920 de la Chevrotière a small triplex abandoned three years ago that belonged to the City of Québec. Fifteen militants and activists (including two members of NEFAC) barricaded themselves on the inside. Thus began the Chevrotière squat. The occupation, which was supposed to last 48 hours, continued for almost four months. The "920" becomes the focus of struggles in Québec throughout the summer. This was going to emerge as the La Page Noire, the self managed bookstore, in which several members of NEFAC were involved from the start (2). Our collective went on to organize two activities. On 8 June, during the Congress FRAPRU in Quebec, we launched, at the squat, a pamphlet on the housing issue written by Phoebus. Many of the delegates participating in the FRAPRU took part in the discussion. On 10 August, we showed a film with two members of the Anarchist Federation (France) passing through Québec on self management experiences in Senegal.
From 13 to 15 of September, the NEFAC met in convention in Montreal. This was the first time I met face to face my friends from the United States and Ontario. The meeting was very rough, but ended with the adoption of a common strategy. For now on, the NEFAC collectives members would work on three areas of intervention, either anti-racism / anti-fascism, the struggles in our communities and in workplaces.
Less than a week after this congress, the squatters of 920 de la Chevrotière were evicted by the police. In retrospect, we can say that the squat was vitally important in the journey of many activists in Québec. Two new groups formed themselves in its premises: the Lower Town Collective and Dada is Hungry. Both were composed mostly of former members of the CASA, especially women. As for La Nuit, the collective was weakened by this adventure. We were unable to develop a collective vision of what our response should be within the occupation. We thoroughly involved ourselves, but in an uncoordinated and individual manner . Several members, and sympathizers left our collective in the coming months to join Dada is Hungry or the Lower Town Collective. The last year had siphoned a lot of time and energy. If the number of members had increased rapidly, the group was now reduced to its simplest expression. There were only a few active members, all guys. We revolved around a core of supporters and sympathizers that we had difficulty in maintaining.
Struggle on Three Fronts:
The new orientation taken up by NEFAC was to mark the activity of the collective in its second year. While we continued to participate in the mobilizations of the political left (3) or the libertarian left (4), our action would take place mainly in the field of anti-fascist struggle and solidarity with workers.
Towards the end of the summer of 2002, a new section of RASH (5) would appear in Quebec, involving several members of La Nuit. We were aware of the Nazification of part of the punk scene of Quebec and decided to intervene in our own way. Meanwhile, increasing evidence suggested that groups of boneheads were active in the western suburbs. Our group was contacted by a group of students from the CEGEP F.X. Garneau. The activists invited us to present a conference on 2 December 2002 on the issue of racism and extreme right within the institution (6). As written by Red Roady a few years later in the pages of Ruptures: "What was our surprise to see arriving at the gates of the conference a dozen neo-Nazis who were obviously going to harm the good running of the event. After a battle, the young racists went stuttering back in their bourgeois suburb. " This was the beginning of a long series of altercations that continued for more than 5 years with different groups of extreme right (Quebec Radical MLNQ, boneheads, NSBM, nationalist skins ...). Such a climate did not favour new members ... The debates with most of the libertarian left who simply could not see the necessity of the anti-fascist fight "in the streets" and/or disapproved of some of the means used were sometimes lively. That which these militants refused to see was that was that we also did popular education in settings where the left was absent (7). But in retrospect, I think we fell several times into a certain machismo, notably during debates about tactics to be used to fight against the fascists.
On 24 January 2003, our group began one of the largest campaigns of its short history. For some weeks weeks, nearly 800 workers of car dealers in the region of Québec were locked out. Their employers wanted to break the union and impose significant new rollbacks in working conditions. This conflict occurred in a climate of general indifference, partly because of the union affiliation to the Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD). We decided to go to the picket lines, and then wrote a text explaining the causes of conflict and calling for solidarity with those locked out. A worker also contacted our group to obtain copies of the text for distribution to clients and customers of the garages (which remained open despite the conflict). On 15 February 2003, we are organized a libertarian contingent, along with other collectives, in a demonstration against war. Rather than distribute a text on our opposition to imperialist intervention, we choose to distribute our newsletter "La Nuit" with the text on the lockout. Throughout the conflict, we increased our visits to the picket lines. We contributed within our means to publicize the issues of the conflict to the people of Quebec.
The third issue of Ruptures came out in March 2003. In particular it had a history of social class and a debate on revolutionary strategy with Maxim "Tony" Fortin, a Quebec libertarian who a few months earlier published a pamphlet criticizing the analysis and the strategy of NEFAC. The content and tone of this issue of Ruptures reflected the mindset of NEFAC at this time: a certain "siege mentality " in terms of the rest of the anarchist movement and a strong penchant for quite incantatory formulas . A little awkwardly, we tried to emphasize the importance for anarchists of leaving the activist "ghetto" and militant popularizing anarchism within the working class. But we were often the only ones who thought that way and criticisms of our so-called "Workerism" were numerous. The relative success of our campaign with workers in their struggles seemed to confirm the correctness of our positions. Over the next two years, we would try again with new experiments in developing other solidarity campaigns (groceries, daycare, etc..) with variable results.
In May, our group organized two events for which we produced a magnificent "colour poster", a first for the NEFAC. On May 1, we held a "red and black" demonstration in which about forty people took part in a pouring rain. A dozen anarchists from Saint-Georges, members of Uraba (Union of self-resistance of the Beauce) walked with us, as well as members of the local Communist Party of Quebec . Two days later, we were organizing a conference on the premises of the CSN with two syndicalist NEFAC members from the United States as part of the tour "Anarchy at work" coordinated by our colleagues in Montréal. Barely a dozen people participated in the encounter ... which was a failure. It was far from our successful crowds of the previous year. One fact became obvious: the new direction taken by the NEFAC was not "taking" as easily as topics related to globalization or the mobilizations against the summits.
The election of Jean Charest:
On 14 April 2003, Jean Charest won the provincial election. The Liberal Party took up 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 Québec 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 if it wants to 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 the 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 Québec (Montréal, Sherbrooke, St-Georges and Québec). 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 had remained entirely the same for nearly two years, and we failed to break out of this impasse.
In the spring of 2004, La Nuit organized several actions with other Québec libertarian collectives . After two years during which tensions with other anarchists had sometimes been strong , our group made its "self criticism" and changed its attitude. We launched the idea of holding regular meetings bringing together members of different groups to develop common action. An internet list ("Intercollectif ") was set up for members of the "Assembly of Québec Libertarians". On 14 April, on the first anniversary of the coming to power of Jean Charest, we broadcast a call to mobilization ( "generalize the resistance") along with La Rixe, Dada is Hungry and other "Québec libertarians". " We announced our participation in the "Block Charest " action organized by the REPAC at the corner of Charest (No, it's an old name; the bugger doesn't yet have streets named after him-Molly) and Langelier streets. The appeal was also signed by a half-dozen groups in Montréal. The Assembly of Québec Libertarians also mobilized for the mass demonstration on 1 May 2004 in Montréal, which brought tens of thousands of workers (close to 100,000) against the anti-social Charest governement . At the initiative of the CLAC (including the NEFAC-Montréal) and the Assembly of Québec Libertarians, an anarchist contingent of several hundred people formed the tail of the event. Without waiting for the union march to begin (which was nearly four hours late!), we took to the streets, preceded by a PCR contingent, to assemble at Parc Jarry . On that site, the riot squad charged the anarchists and Maoists, but we had to retreat because of pressure from protesters . In parallel, we continued to develop our contacts in the 'region' by participating in lectures on anarchism in Joliette and sending, on a regular basis, the journal Common Cause to a contact in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, who distributed them in Rivière-du-Loup and Cabano. On the 28th of June 2004, the 4th issue of Ruptures (a special issue on nationalism and the extreme right) was launched at the Dorchester Tavern on the evening of the federal election. The article on the extreme right in Québec aroused many reactions. The PCR reacted strongly to the fact that its members were associated ,in the article, with a National-Bolshevik group and with the MLNQ, which was nevertheless the case. A few months after the release of this issue of Ruptures, it was the turn of Pierre Falardeau to attack us in the pages of Québecers and Du Couac. Falardeau claimed that NEFAC was being paid by the RCMP, especially because we were associated with collectives in the United States and Ontario and that we were against nationalism. This charge was so outrageous that many people took it upon themselves to shut him up without our being obliged to do it ourselves!
FROM STRIKE TO STRIKE:
In the fall of 2004, the movement for housing rights in Québec mobilized. The FRAPRU and the RCLALQ decided to organize a major joint action; for two days, dozens of militants would "camp" in downtown Québec City to demand a major construction of social housing and mandatory rent control. For some years, members of NEFAC were involved in various popular groups in the fight for the right to housing. We proposed to the Regional Union of NEFAC (which included the collectives in Québec) to mobilize for the "Camp of the badly-housed ". In Montréal, the NEFAC succeeded in securing the support of the CLAC. Some members of Québec, Montréal and St George participated in the camp. At the closing event (which brought nearly 1,000 people together on 30 October), a "red and black"contingent was formed, distributing a pamphlet on the housing issue and sticking up posters along the march.
On 19 November 2004, the employees' union of SAQ launched a general strike across the province. The timing (one month before Christmas) was not insignificant: the goal was to create a balance of power at the time of year when the SAQ realized its best sales. Unfortunately, the conflict was harder than expected. Solidarity was not always met with from the customers, and thousands of consumers visited branches that remained open. The various groups of NEFAC organized several actions in support of the strikers. In Québec, we went to one of the branches operated by scabs took action to "slow down" the tills" (ie having several grocery baskets full of bottles and refusing to pay the bill in solidarity with the strikers ). La Nuit also produced a poster that was massively glued to the stores (open and closed). One afternoon, we went to the store on Boulevard Charest to distribute a leaflet to customers and visit the few pickets who braved the temperature and the bad mood of the consumers.
When the strike at the SAQ ended, we began an extensive tour of conferences with Ashanti Alston, a former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army who had become an anarchist. From the 9th to the 15th of February 2005, we went to Montréal, Sherbrooke, Québec, Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Joliette, Chicoutimi ... This tour, developed during a retreat of NEFAC in the summer of 2004 in the region of the Eastern Townships, was a success across the board.
A week later, on the 21st of February 2005, the longest strike in the history of the student movement began. Some comrades of the student collective at Laval University were fully involved in their association. Other non-student members participated in direct actions at their side. The NEFAC published several texts during the conflict and produced an assessment of the involvement of its members in Cause Commune (No. 6, May-June 2005). At the end of the student strike , La Nuit along with some Québec libertarians co-organized a day against patriarchy and masculinism on the 10th of April 2005 at the Lucien-Borne Centre. Dozens of people took part in the event, which enrolled itself in the mobilization against the "Man Talk" Congress ", an international masculinist international meeting being held in Montréal from the 21st to the 24th of April.
On May 6 2005, came the launch of the fifth issue of Ruptures. It was a dossier on counter-power and the social movements which were written down as a continuation of the Ashanti Alston tour, but also the struggles in which we are involved in the last year. At the end of May we benefited from the visit to Québec of two activists of the French libertarian organization No Pasaran to organize a conference on anti-fascism at la Page Noir. Some twenty people were there.
On 1 July 2005, we were moving from words to action by organizing a small counter demonstration to the action that the MLNQ organizes each year to the Hotel de Ville de Québec. To the amazement of the fifty ultra-nationalists present on the scene, we shared with everyone a tract entitled "fascist pigs out of our streets!" denouncing the positions of their leader, Raymond Villeneuve. This presence made us worthy of a report (unsolicited) on the RDI and criticisms on the part of the Montréal revolutionary left (which never understood the threat posed by right-wing extremism ...). Without doubt, we can say that NEFAC's campaign against the MLNQ (initiated by our colleagues in Montréal in 2002) greatly contributed to the marginalization of this organization and its supporters until its clinical death in 2007.
We ended our summer activities by hosting two anarchists from Mexico City on August 23 2005 as part of the "Spreading Utopia" tour , lectures on free radio and the anarchist movement in Mexico that aimed to raise funds for various projects such as Biblioteca Social Reconstruir, the libertarian radio of the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Carlo Giuliani Caravan.
The fight against the right:
In the month of December 2005, our collective produced two anti-electoral propaganda posters ("Politicians expect nothing from them only struggle pays." "Our power is in the street, not in the ballot box ") in anticipation of the federal election of 23 January 2006. Hundreds were put up in downtown Québec. The campaign was backed up elsewhere in Québec by other groups of the federation. Unsurprisingly, Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party took power at the head of a minority government. The Québec region elected a majority of Conservative MPs . A few months before this, Andrée Boucher had managed to win the municipal elections, without even campaigning. The least we could say is that the populist right had the wind in their sails. Reflection began within our group on the social and political conditions and the rise of right in the Québec region. New people were joining the group and, quietly, we constructed a theoretical and tactical unity on the subject.
In the month of May 2006, the 6th edition of Ruptures came out. It contained a dossier on the involvement of anarchists in the popular movements, as well as articles on the status of the student movement one year after the strike and a review of the SRTT (Workers Solidarity Network ). On May 16, 2006, we welcomed an anarchist former member of the International Brigades George Sossenko. The conference took place at the premises of the CSN. Forty people were present in a strange atmosphere, where admiration was mixed with some discomfort (when George`s answers were completely off the subject on some questions ). In the spring, we decided to get involved in organizing the 4th Self-Management Day which took place on June 4, 2006 in the Youth Park in the Saint-Roch quarter. The Self-Management Day , as its name indicates, is an annual event dedicated to exploring the concept and practice of self-management. Each year, members of La Nuit delivered workshops and hosted a literature table.
But before the predicted demise of the Self-Management Day (because of exhaustion on the part of the organizing committee members), we choose to invest more in planning and organizing the event. Ultimately, the experience was not really conclusive. Workshops and debates attracted relatively few people. A certain feeling of déja vu settled in . There was to be no sequel in 2007.
In fall of 2006, La Nuit took charge of the production of Cause Commune. A new layout and new sections changed the appearance and content of the newspaper. We also organized several public events. On the 23rd of September two members of the collective traveled to the Regional Social Forum 02 (in Métabetchouan, Lac-St-Jean) to present workshops on self management and anarchist ideas at the invitation of a friend who had recently returned to live in the region. We believed we could help form a new collective, without, however, succeeding. On November 4, La Nuit held a conference with two members of the CIPO-RFM (8) at L'Agitée as part of a tour through Québec coordinated by our Montreal comrades. This public event would serve as an impetus to a coalition which, a few weeks later, organized a demonstration in Québec City in solidarity with the insurgents in Oaxaca. Due to lack of time, we did not participate in its activities, nor with those of other coalitions which would develop later (Guerre à la Guerre, L'Autre 400).
In the winter of 2007, La Nuit took part in the "We won't vote for anybody"campaign . Despite some hiccups, we managed to paste hundreds of posters and stickers in the downtown. In contrast , links with the RAME (9) remained non-existent before, during and after the campaign. Unlike what happened in Montreal the RAME remained in an embryonic state in the region of Québec. Its dissolution didn't affect our group. In May, we organized two public events that gained a certain success. A comrade with whom we had been in contact with since the month of September 2006 invited us to present a lecture on anarchism in Trois-Rivieres on the premises of the UQTR. More than 40 people came out. A group took shape in that city. On May 29 we hosted a launch for the 7th edition of Ruptures at the Agitée. We took this opportunity to present a panel with two members of No Pasaran on the rise of the right in Quebec and France.
The objective was to publicly present the conclusions we had arrived at on the political situation and bring libertarians to debate these issues. About 25 people took part in the discussions. On June 22, we participated in the NEFAC contingent in the demonstration of the anti-militarist coalition Guerre à la Guerre. The visibility obtained by the contingent was excellent. We took the opportunity of the demonstration to distribute hundreds of copies of Cause Commune to bystanders and passersby along the route. Some months later, la Nuit attempted to stage another anti-militarist protest in conjunction with Guerre à la Guerre. Substantial differences with some activists of the coalition led us to a cul de sac. We decided to hold the event on our own on March 28, 2008, inviting various "progressive" groups to support our approach. About 300 people answered the call and demonstrated in the downtown to mark the 90th anniversary of the riots against conscription and their opposition to military intervention in Afghanistan. We drew a very positive review by this.
Since the early fall of 2007, our collective had more and more confidence in its abilities. Several projects were relatively successful and resulted in the arrival of new members. In September, we officially launched a blog and a radio program entitled "Voix de faits" (10). In early October 2007, we took the initiative to organize a demonstration for abortion rights in conjunction with the libertarian feminist collective "Ainsi squattent-elles". We came to raise five times more people than the "pro-lifers". We repeated the experiment in October 2008 with better results. These initiatives were part of our "permanent" campaign against the populist right in Québec.
A balance sheet?
While it is too early to draw a comprehensive balance sheet of NEFAC (in Québec City, and in the province of Québec), one can nevertheless find some items that are food for thought. In the first place , the presence of an anarchist group active for almost ten years is perhaps not spectacular, but it is in itself an important achievement, at least in our political context. The present libertarian current is not the first in Quebec, but it suffers from a flagrant lack of continuity through time. Through its various mutations, NEFAC has managed to grow and renew itself before, during and after several moments of important social struggle in which we participated, from the Québec Summit and Youth through the Summit of the Americas to student , trade union and popular struggles in recent years. This continuity has allowed the group and its members to develop, and to gain experience and political maturity. The commitment of many libertarians, including members of NEFAC, in social movements has acted to demystify anarchism to many activists, particularly in popular groups in the region of Québec.
The production of a weekly radio broadcast and website activity, the distribution of tens of thousands of leaflets, newspapers, posters, books and brochures, as well as holding dozens of conferences and workshops have certainly helped raise awareness of anarchism and libertarian principles significantly in different mileaux. Several campaigns took off, like that on the issue of theft in the popular neighborhoods or those on the elections (which were particularly numerous!). But we must face the obvious: such activity is not sufficient to gain the support of many people for a political organization like ours. The "turnover" remains important, even on our (small) scale. Various factors may explain this phenomenon. What is requested of members is rather demanding, we thus plunge into a vicious circle: the less we are numerous the more each and every individual must compensate to achieve the goals we set ourselves. Moreover, our current structure does not facilitate the involvement of many people. The quasi-clandestine and affinity group nature of some of our activities that has characterized our operations for several years is an example. For the rest, reading the texts of Phoebus and Julie will bring out more relevant answers.
The least we can say is that the process of refounding NEFAC Québec aroused great interest and curiosity. We can not fail! We must therefore take the time to do things right, especially since the "failure" of NEFAC has affected the functioning of the regional union in Québec. After ten years of agitation, propaganda and organization, our current has taken an important place in the landscape of the anti-capitalist left. But these achievements are fragile. The potential is there to us to seize opportunities when they arise!
1) The process that led to the creation of the NEFAC dates back to 1999. The group Émile Henry (Québec), founded the previous year, was involved. NEFAC was officially founded at a congress held in Boston in 2000 where two delegations from Québec (one from Québec, the other from Montréal) were present.
2) The idea of an infokiosque was not born "spontaneously". Creating a space like that had germinated in the minds of some members of NEFAC for several months before. It lacked a space - free - and a good dose of organization to make it a reality.
3) As for example in the demonstration against American intervention in Iraq on November 17, 2002, we set ourselves apart by an internationalist position which rejected the "pacifism" of the official organizing committee. Our leaflet entitled "Quelle connerie que la paix sociale" (Social peace is a con game -?????Molly)was decorated with a beautiful dove clutching a molotov cocktail in its claws...
4) We relayed the word of a general strike against the FTAA in Québec on 32 October 2002 alongside Dada à Faim and the Collectif des Bas-Quartiers.
5) Red and Anarchist Skinheads
6) We returned three more times to the CEGEP Garneau to give lectures on libertarian education, "masculinism" and the Zapatista uprising.
7) We were thus approached by people from the Jacques-Cartier Community Center to organize a workshop on racism and the extreme right with the trainees. The RASH also published a fanzine ( "class against class") and organized many concerts where music and politics made a good mixture.
8) Consejo Indigena Popular de Oaxaca "Ricardo Flores-Magon"
9) Anarchist Student Network
10) Before "La Voix de Faits", members of la Nuit had hosted several radio programs on CKIA and CKRL (Level with the Daisies, Free Zone ...). But this was the first time a show was "officially" produced and presented by the collective.
== A text excerpted from the special edition of the journal Ruptures (May 2009)
Translated by Molly at Mooly's Blog. See the original blog post to read the translator introduction: http://mollymew.blogspot.com/2009/08/canadian-anarchist....html