February 18, 2008

Obamamania and Trudeaumania

Canadian blogger I, Ectomorph delivers one of his patented six-mile long sentences containing an instructive analogy between Obamamania and the rise to power in Canada in 1968 of that quintessential '68er, Liberal Party prime minister Pierre Trudeau (who, it turns out, had the kind of past appropriate for the title of Jonah Goldberg's book):

"If there is anything that can compare to [Obamamania], it would have to be Trudeaumania, which I am not really old enough to remember (I'm now old enough that I look rather fondly on anything I'm not old enough to remember) but which -- as I've later learned -- involved an attractive young politician who by dint of birth bridged the two solitudes of his country but also had a slightly mysterious and more radical past [see below for details] that he seemed willing to shelve away for the sake of winning power -- power that, as he campaigned for office, the candidate somewhat vaguely promised to exercise in a way that would be excitingly different than it had ever been exercised before by the old boring men who had occupied the office since time immemorial, and (in particular) in keeping with the youthful idealism of the upcoming generation. What this meant nobody knew, but it made no difference."

Somewhat like Obama, Trudeau had a Francophone father and an Anglophone mother. He spoke without an accent in either language. Subsequent Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was also bilingual from the nursery, so Canada has been ruled by Prime Ministers brought up in bilingual households for over half of the last four decades, even though only something like 3% of Canadians grow up that way. Not surprisingly, the new bilingual Canadian state that Trudeau established has been very, very good to Canadians who are bilingual.

Also like Obama, for part of his life, Trudeau didn't identify with his mother's people, and in fact was radically opposed to them.

What was Trudeau's buried past? From the Amazon write-up of Young Trudeau: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada, 1919-1944, a biography by Max and Monique Nemni, who were the editors of the political magazine founded by Trudeau.

This book shines a light of devastating clarity on French-Canadian society in the 1930s and 1940s, when young elites were raised to be pro-fascist, and democratic and liberal were terms of criticism. The model leaders to be admired were good Catholic dictators like Mussolini, Salazar in Portugal, Franco in Spain, and especially Pétain, collaborator with the Nazis in Vichy France. There were even demonstrations against Jews who were demonstrating against what the Nazis were doing in Germany.

Trudeau, far from being the rebel that other biographers have claimed, embraced this ideology. At his elite school, Brébeuf, he was a model student, the editor of the school magazine, and admired by the staff and his fellow students. But the fascist ideas and the people he admired – even when the war was going on, as late as 1944 – included extremists so terrible that at the war’s end they were shot. And then there’s his manifesto and his plan to stage a revolution against les Anglais.

This is astonishing material – and it’s all demonstrably true – based on personal papers of Trudeau that the authors were allowed to access after his death.What they have found has astounded and distressed them, but they both agree that the truth must be published.

From the back cover of the book (here's the Wikipedia write-up on it), which was written by admirers of Trudeau, with his cooperation. During WWII, Trudeau felt that:

"democracy was bad and that fascism -- as represented by Mussolini and Pétain -- was good. Thus, even as a young man of twenty-three, Trudeau was ignoring the war in Europe and plotting a revolution to take Quebec out of Canada. The picture that emerges is of a Quebec elite that was raised to be pro-fascist, and where Nazi atrocities were dismissed as English (Canadian) propaganda."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

So the guy who plunged Canada into a economic and cultural malaise was an a-hole.

No big surprise.

Darayvus said...

My understanding of Mussolini was that he was not a Catholic. He may have pretended to be one but it was entirely opportunistic. Before his takeover in 1922 he is on record as having made all manner of venomous anti-Catholic remarks, some of which got him expelled from then-Austrian Tyrol in 1909. Even after 1923 he was constantly clashing with the Pope over schools, Jews etc.

Anonymous said...

If you Americans want to understand the impact of Trudeau, just think of Ted Kennedy as head of both the executive and legislative branches of government while unilaterly appointing the judges.

Anonymous said...

From what I've read of pre-1945 literature, Hitler et al had a lot of popularity worldwide, from those who followed such stuff. Many saw the Nazis as the New! Improved! version of politics.

Anonymous said...

When the masses slavishly annoit their next savior rather than relying on the predictable but boring politic process, the track record of such messiahs is often poor:

* Bolshevik Revolution (VI Lenin, Stalin)

* Ottoman Empire Young Turks (Attaturk)

* Nazi party (Hitler)

* New Deal (FDR)

* Chinese Revolution, Cultural Revolution (Mao & Co.)

* Egyptian (Gamel Nasser)

* Cuban Revolution (Castro)

* Iranian Revolution (Khomeni)

* Zimbabwe (Mugabe)

* South Africa (Mandela)

* Ukraine Orange Revolution (Yushenko)

I've been trying to think of similar mass hysteria political movements around idol figures that turned out well. FDR and Cuba is about the best I could figure (I didn't count things like Theodore Roosevelt's Trust Busting which didn't involve the messianic charismatic propaganda that we see today).

From the track record, a better outcome would be for this all to just pan out as hallow rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

The masses won't anoint Obama. Latinos at best will split for him. White Catholics and Union members won't vote for him. White Southerns and Westerners wont' vote for him.

He'll get yuppie whites, Blacks, some Latinos, gays/feminists whatever. That's usually Dukakis territory unless the Republican does something stupid: not finish off Saddam (G HW Bush), G W Bush (who is stupid and barely beat Gore and Kerry).

Probably only Khomeni meets the mass-appeal. Lots of secularists and socialists/communists just ignored the Islam thing out of stupidity and wish-fulfillment. The rest were more elite movements backed by militias and such.

Anonymous said...

"Even after 1923 he was constantly clashing with the Pope over ....Jews etc." Tell us more: in 1923 Musso hadn't fallen in love with Hitler and was not anti-semitic - his Fascists had disproportionately high Jewish membership. Are we to take it that it was the Pope who.....?

As for the masses anointing Lenin and Stalin - you are teasing, aren't you?

Anonymous said...

My understanding of Mussolini was that he was not a Catholic. He may have pretended to be one but it was entirely opportunistic. Before his takeover in 1922 he is on record as having made all manner of venomous anti-Catholic remarks, some of which got him expelled from then-Austrian Tyrol in 1909. Even after 1923 he was constantly clashing with the Pope over schools, Jews etc.

In general, that's true. But Musso seemed to have had a change of heart after his being deposed as Duce in 1943. During his leadership of the so-called "Salo Republic" in the north from then until the end of the war, his writings indicate a palpable shift towards an explicitly Catholic ideology with respect to social teachings, and beyond ideology to a much more mystical religiosity.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Russians loved Stalin. He was like a new great Tsar for them.

The Western and especially the English media can't seem to fathom this. Partly this is because we hear mostly from expats like Solzhenitsyn and so on, partly because Communism is alien to English culture. Russians don't think in terms like human rights, personal responsibility, and so on. They are a society of little people and an occasional Big Man, and have been so from time immemorial.

Anonymous said...


It's a myth that Trudeau was a half-French, half-English schizoid. His father was French-Canadian and his mother was half-French and half-English. But she identified more with her French-Canadian mother.

What puzzles me is how Trudeau managed to migrate from the radical far right to the center-left. His critics (and some of his apologists) insinuate that he was simply going with the crowd. Yet even at Brebeuf College he was much further to the nationalist far right than most other students. At Brebeuf (as among most Catholics at that time) there was widespread sympathy for Mussolini but very mixed feelings towards Hitler and the neo-paganism that characterized Nazi ideology. Trudeau admired Hitler right up to 1945 and felt bitter towards his colleagues for not seizing the chance (during the conscription crisis) to start a revolution.

Anonymous said...

So was Trudeau's move to the left simply opportunistic, since Fascism was discredited by its defeat in World War II?

Anonymous said...

I was amused by the comparison here of Ted Kennedy and Trudeau. Following Steve's rule of being aware of extended family connections, it ought to be pointed out that Trudeau was linked by blood to the Kennedys. His mother's side were Eliots, who were one of the branches of the Kennedy clan (I don't know Kennedy genealogy enough to know exactly who and where and in which laundry basket). There were ongoing social contacts between the Quebec and New England branches of the family, so it's not too much of a stretch to suggest his Axis sympathies in the time period were influenced on some level by Joseph Sr.'s outlook and experience as US Ambassador to Britain.

Unknown said...

I can't help but note that some commenters have described the early Trudeau as of the far-right. That simply feeds into the myth that Mussolini and co. were of the far-right, rather than of the slightly-to-the-right-of-far-left variety. JG does a great job in his book of reminding the reader that the contention that the fascists were of the right was largely manufactured by Stalin and other dedicated far-leftists who wanted to paint their closest rivals with the worst color paint they could find, and separate them as widely as possible from the acceptable herd.

In this context, it does not seem obvious that the young Trudeau was of the "far right". Libertarians are of the far right. Libertarian Trudeau was not.

Anonymous said...

I agree with john. Communists and internationalist socialists have been trying to paint nationalist leftists as part of the right for the better part of a century. From time to time, genuine rightists who fear international socialism will make common cause with the nationalist left, and examples of this are played for all they're worth by the Bolsheviks. People who believe this are continuously surprised by things like Trudeau's conversion, Mussolini's conversion, LaRouche's conversion (none of them was that huge of a change), as well as the strange connivance of the mainstream integrationist left with black separatist movements.

Anonymous said...

It's a bit much to make Pierre Trudeau out to be a fascist Quebecois revolutionary. Even if he was a proto-fascist in high school, (of which I am somewhat dubious) people change. How many fascists are largely responsible for their countries' Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the passage of its democratic constitution, both of which are universally admired, and which Quebec itself has never signed? What kind of Quebec revolutionary imposes martial law on Quebec when its radical terrorist separatist revolutionaries, the FLQ, threatened chaos in Canada? Surely you can even find something Reagan-esque in his reply to the press, when asked how far he was willing to go to stop the madness - "Just watch me."

Was he an arrogant son of a bitch? Sure.

Could he be an asshole at times? Definitely.

But he was also one of Canada's greatest and most accomplished Prime Ministers. Just as many of the USA's greatest presidents could be pricks (Washington, Jackson) or glory hogs (TR).

So, I'm not sure a fitting epitaph is "fascist".