The recent relative failure of two PEGIDA strolls, one in Toronto and one in Montreal, raises the question of the feasibility of a PEGIDA movement in Canada. If in Germany the movement continues to thrive, attracting on its first anniversary yesterday tens of thousands of anti-Islamization protesters, in Canada it failed to attract more than a dozen people in the country’s most populous city.1
What is at stake here is not the motivation of such a movement; an anti-Islamization movement could gain a lot of popularity in Canada. What matters is our reflection on the vehicle used, mostly the banner PEGIDA.
The people who want to import the PEGIDA movement into Canada wish to emulate the German movement that started from scratch in Dresden (PEGIDA Dresden) and began to draw thousands of supporters and gain international media attention. Not only do those people wish to copy the German grassroots movement, but they want to surf on their recent success, like an entrepreneur opening a franchise of a popular chain instead of building his own restaurant from scratch.
There is a bit of wishful thinking involved in the motivations of the Canadian PEGIDA organizers. The success of the movement in Germany does not imply in any way that the movement will be successful anywhere else. It must be remembered that originally, the PEGIDA protests only drew a dozen supporters who through hard work, perseverance and courage through adversity became hundreds and then thousands. It is the normal rise of a grassroots movement and any such organization in Canada will have to start from nothing, whatever the banner used. To think otherwise is a major mistake.
It is not the first time that patriots wished to emulate or copy a successful foreign movement. In Quebec, besides PEGIDA, many people talk about starting a National Front, like the one headed by Marine Le Pen. After the historical breakthrough of the Swedish Democrats ten years ago, many European countries saw their own “Democrats” emerge. The British National Party saw a part of their support leave the movement and form the English Democrats, a movement copying the successful Swedish nationalists. Ironically a few years before, it was the British that exported the English Defence League. Every Western nation saw the rise of a small group of Canadian, Danish or else Defence League. None of these groups actually gained any success, except where it all started: in England.
This logic of copying a foreign movement in order to gain the success attached to the name is wrong. No success is guaranteed and, in fact, in history there is no example of a copycat movement rising above the original. The copycat movements are doomed by their very essence to stay below the original one. The well-intentioned organizers fail to realize that they are imposing on themselves a limit to the eventual growth of their movement.
In order to be successful, a movement must be rooted in the country’s culture. An organization using foreign slogans and imagery will never be as successful as a local movement using culturally consistent messages and visuals. The words used in the acronym PEGIDA mean nothing to the Canadians who may not understand why a German organization is trying to gain a foothold in Canada. Although minimal, the risk of repelling nationalists does exist.
It must also be stressed that even if the core goals are similar; to halt immigration and reverse the Islamization of our respective countries, the specific demands will differ because Germany and Canada have different problems and ways of addressing them. For instance, in Canada the veil during the citizenship ceremonies is a huge issue, while in Merkel Germany the most important issue is definitely the flood of “refugees” crossing the unprotected border. Some laws in Germany might be questioned, while in Canada it is other issues that may be more problematic. Germany and Canada do face the same general problems, but the nationalists’ demands will be different without any doubt.
Furthermore, being associated with a foreign movement is risky in many instances. First, the actions of the leaders or the organization in the home country will be associated with the copycat movement in Canada. Recently the German PEGIDA leader has been investigated for “racial hatred incitement”. Whatever that Orwellian term may mean, the wanna-be PEGIDA Canada needs to defend everything the German organization may do or say. Therefore, the Canadian “branch” starts on the defensive, with already one strike against it.
On the other hand, the PEGIDA movement might disappear any time either after being banned by the authorities or as part of an eventual deal with the government. What will the Canadians do in that context? The Canadian organizers are creating a state of dependency in which they gain absolutely nothing and risk a lot.
It is possible to inspire ourselves from foreign organizations, like I mentioned in a previous article on Casapound, without copying them. The Reclaim Australia rallies and the Manif pour tous in France are inspiring movements that we can look at. They both attracted crowds on the streets to defend politically incorrect causes. What is to be learnt from them is that a nationwide organization focusing primarily if not only on street demonstrations is something feasible. The Australian movement might be easier to draw lessons from as they are geographically similar us; a wide country with huge distances between the cities. Europe will always be hard to emulate as it is possible to drive from one capital to another in a single day. Still importing the banner Reclaim Canada would not be something truly realistic in my mind.
The separatist movements in Quebec and Scotland do draw inspiration from Catalonia and they see what worked and what did not, but it would never cross their mind to import the same logos, slogans, organization names, associations and all. Our nation is unique and so is our collective mythos. Therefore, a purely Canadian/Quebecer approach should be taken.
To sum it all up, trying to surf on a foreign movement’s popularity is doomed to failure, even if it may seem like an appealing option. Canada does have many grassroots movement already fighting against immigration and Islamization. Some people may feel those groups are not nearly as big as PEGIDA, but then, they will only grow if they get support. Politics is not a fairy tale; a movement won’t gain immense support after starting from scratch and without any effort. If we are to inspire ourselves from PEGIDA, then we must realize that they started as a local organization and persevered despite the bad press, the setbacks, and the constant opposition. It is those lessons that we should apply to our own movements. There are several nationalistic organizations in Canada that are growing. Instead of creating yet another one, the focus should be on helping those already there to grow and to get more exposure.