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Archive for December 1st, 2012

Sometimes I try to think about the differences between Quebec and Anglo Canada, and it at times proves difficult. But there are differences in the perspectives brought by the linguistic divide. This is probably one of the most irresponsible posts I have ever written because I am making sweeping and unjustified statements about diverse groups of people based on only two songs. So you know, take this with a grain of salt, but there are two songs that seem (to me) to exemplify some of the differences between francophone and anglophone Canada (and neither of these songs are even by Canadians, so you know…).  But nevertheless, I think some songs recently popular among the two language groups prove instructive. First, here is the Francophone song by HK and the Saltimbanks “On ne lache rien”

And the Lyrics in translation from the French to English:

From deep in my ghetto
To the depths of your countryside
Our reality is the same
And everywhere revolt is brewing
We didn’t have our place in this world
We didn’t have the right face to get a job
We weren’t born in a palace
We didn’t have daddy’s Credit Card
Homeless, unemployed, workers, peasants, immigrants, illegals (without papers)
They wanted to divide us
And I have to say, they succeeded.
As long as it was each man for himself,
Their system could prosper.
But we had to wake up some day,
And head would have to roll again!

We don’t give up!
We don’t give up!
We don’t give up! We don’t give up! X2

They talked to us about equality,
And like fools, we believed them.
“Democracy” my ass!
If that were the case we would have known.
What’s our ballot paper worth
Against the law of the market?
It’s dumb my dear countrymen, but…
…we got fucked big time!
And what are human rights worth against the sale of an airbus?
The bottom line is there is only one rule, to sum it up:
“To sell some more to sell some more”
The Republic is whoring itself on the sidewalk of dictators.
We don’t believe their sweet words any more.
Our leaders are liars!

We don’t give up!
We don’t give up!
We don’t give up! We don’t give up! X2

It’s so stupid, so easy,
To talk about peace and brotherhood,
When the homeless are starving on the street,
And when illegals are hunted down.
When they throw crumbs to workers
Just to pacify them.
So they won’t go after the millionaire bosses, “Too precious for our society.”
It’s amazing how shielded they are, our wealthy and powerful.
There is no doubt, it helps to be a friend of the President.
Dear comrades, dear “voters,” dear “citizen-consumers”
The alarm clock has gone off, It’s time to reset the counters to zero.

As long as there is struggle, there is hope.
As long as there is life, there is fighting,
As long as were are fighting, we are standing,
As long as we are standing we won’t give up
The rage to win flows in our veins.
Now you know why we fight.
Our ideal, much more than a dream.
Another world, we have no choice!

We don’t give up!
We don’t give up!
We don’t give up! We don’t give up! (repeated to the end)

So in the francophone version we have a tale of struggle, and hope: of perseverance in the face of stacked odds. Now lets look at an Anglo song that also deals with these kinds of modern-times problems:

With our eyes wide open, we…
With our eyes wide open, we…

So this is the end of the story,
Everything we had, everything we did,
Is buried in dust,
And this dust is all that’s left of us.
But only a few ever worried.

Well the signs were clear, they had no idea.
You just get used to living in fear,
Or give up when you can’t even picture your future.

We walk the plank with our eyes wide open.

We walk the plank with our eyes wide open, we…
(Walk the plank with our eyes wide open, we…)
Yeah, we walk the plank with our eyes wide open, we…
(Walk the plank with our eyes wide open.)

Some people offered up answers.
We made out like we heard, they were only words.
They didn’t add up to a change in the way we were living,
And the saddest thing is all of it could have been avoided.

But it was like to stop consuming’s to stop being human,
And why would I make a change if you won’t?
We’re all in the same boat, staying afloat for the moment.

We walk the plank with our eyes wide open, we…
(Walk the plank with our eyes wide open, we…)
Yeah we walk the plank with our eyes wide open, we…
(Walk the plank with our eyes wide open.)
We walk the plank with our eyes wide open,
We walk the plank with our eyes wide open,
We walk the plank with our eyes wide open, we…

With our eyes wide open, we walk the plank, we walk the plank.
With our eyes wide open, we walk the plank, we walk the plank, we walk the plank.
With our eyes wide open, we walk the plank, we walk the plank.

That was the end of the story. (Source)

The francophone song is one of resistance, while the anglophone song is one of fatalism and succumbing. Neither song presents these as good options, but the francophone song presents these options as something to resist in solidarity. In contrast, the anglophone song presents these problems as something that is impossible to resist because solidarity itself is impossible: “And why would I make a change if you won’t?”

So there is a very unsupported argument for why social change (for e.g. in the form of student strikes) might be more possible in Quebec than in the rest of Canada.

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