A dominican in the heart of the turmoil

Un dominicain au cœur de la tourmente

People of my generation have not known the father Georges-Henri Lévesque, but have heard so much about.

Georges-Henri Lévesque, a cleric in the age of modernity
Jules Racine St-Jacques
Éditions Boréal”>

Georges-Henri Lévesque, a cleric in the age of modernity
Jules Racine St-Jacques
Éditions Boréal

A dominican, a precursor and inspirer of the quiet Revolution, the founder of the School, and the Faculty of social sciences of the Laval University, it was not running the streets. I was curious to see what it was, and this biography gives me the opportunity.

Who was this cleric, who died just twenty years ? A catholic intellectual gloss engaged in his time, mainly from 1932 to 1962, while the social changes are rapid and radical. This reading allows us to revisit the episodes crucial to the intellectual history contemporary québécois.

What you retain the most of father Georges-Émile Lévesque, it is his opposition to the prime minister, Maurice Duplessis, who personifies the ” great darkness “. But the author warns us from the outset. It would be wrong to see Georges-Henri Lévesque father or architect of the quiet Revolution, which it would have rejected. At the most, in the “grand-father” suggested the historian.

Jules Racine St-Jacques traces the history of the establishment of the Dominican order in Quebec, an order “open on the rational thought,” where these members enter into a relationship with the bourgeoisie, educated and professional French-speaking Canada. By doing this, the Dominicans take a more active part in the intellectual life and a flourishing of the cities in which are concentrated those who criticize the power conservative.

For the young father Lévesque, the modernity of the Québec economy must take the path of the co-operative movement. Rejecting capitalism, which “unravels the social fabric” and communism, which ” negates the religion and drowns the person in the mass of his fellows “, the father Levesque will begin the search for ” a third way properly christian “. How to reconcile the individual interest and the common good ? asks he, like many intellectuals of the period between the two world wars.

Corporatism social will be this third way, by combining ” the idea of social and national idea “. Strongly opposing communism, it does not, however, to the interventions of the State in some areas, by promoting, for example, the nationalization of electricity, or by demanding a tightening of the ” social legislation “. Other progressive social measures are also put forward as allowances for large families, a program of hospital insurance and assistance to the unemployed, among others.

Not loved by all

The sociologist dominican therefore proposes to humanize the economy, by removing the islets of poverty, a fertile ground for communist ideas, and” adapt the material goods to meet human needs “. It will move away little by little of corporatism to reconnect with the co-operative movement, doctrine is more radical and ” alternative solution that is more credible to a liberalism failed “. The School of social sciences, directed the dominican will be the promoter.

Will ensue a abundant correspondence between the abbé Groulx, then in the fifties, and the father Lévesque, who was then in the thirty, which will reflect a ” changing of the guard generation within the intelligentsia and catholic French-canadian […] the bearer of a perfect néonationaliste “. Supporter of the denominational co-operatives, the dominican will raise the anger of a good part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, including cardinal Villeneuve.

A few years later, serving on the royal Commission on the advancement of the arts, letters and sciences in Canada, it will back the intelligentsia in nationalist québec, including André Laurendeau, in promoting federal intervention in higher education.

Man of his time, but one foot in front of the other, a character often questioned left and right, the father Levesque has been at the heart of the rupture between two worlds, the ancient and the modern.

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