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ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL TENDENCIES OF FRENCH CANADA EsDRAS MINVILLE ECONOMIC and social life, in strict dependence one on the other, are functions of the collective life. .As such, they are facts of civil- · ization, and hence the manifestation of a certain general philosophy of life. Without some knowledge of the thought of French Canada, there cannot be any full explanation of the tendencies of its economic and social life; for if the latter differs in form from that of the AngloCanadians , this is owing first ,and foremost to the fact that the everyday activity of the two groups proceeds from different conceptions of life, from different national cultures. · For 175 years, the French Canadians have been struggling for the preservation of their own identity in the framework of the Canadian state, and these struggles have been directed against the AngloCanadian influence. The conflict was first made ev]dent in the political field, because it was here that the two conceptions of life most directly clashed. Today, that stage has been passed, and recent efforts are being directed to the economic and social sphere. Why is this so? Quite simply because French Canadians know that as long as they do not manage their economic and social life by themselves and according to their own way of thinking, their political freedom cannot be completely assured. Now, when they thus proclaim their desire to preserve their particular way of life, to protect themselves· as an ethnic group, what in the long run are they wanting to safeguard, if not their cultural origin from which spring those values of civilization which are their own-creed, language, manners, traditions, ways of life? And herein may be seen plainly outlined the main links between the matter under study and the dominant historic thought of French Canadians. However, the analysis must be continued even further. If· ,the notion of French culture be examined in some detail, a culture of which French Canadians claim to be the heirs in Canada and America, four principal factors will be discovered in close interdependence -factors themselves arising from the relationship of ancient France with the old Greek and Latin civilizations. First, there is the sense of man, of his specific vocation, of his high dignity of being, endowed with intelligence and free will. Second, there is the aspiration toward personal improvement in_ terms of an hierarchic order, that is to say, according to an order of values integrated in the human personality, and discovering in itself the highest satisfaction. Third, 141 - - - - - - - - - - - - - 142 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY there is the sense of liberty, which is considered one of the attributes of the human person, and essential for the enhancement of personality. Finally, there is the sense of tradition, especially of family tradition, the family being regarded under its two main aspects as a social institution and a cultural community. Christianity, embracing these various notions, has placed them along the very path of the absolute, thus communicating to them their plenary significance. From the practice in common of this philosophy of life, there was bound to arise through the centuries, in the psychological and moral order, a human type; in the social order, usages, customs, and traditions ; in the juridical order, laws and institutions. One might recognize generally in the French type, of which we claim to be a replica, certain distinctive characteristics: a sense of -honour, a devotion to good work and constant care as to its quality, a politeness of manners and sense of hospitality, together with the cult of personal independence . Among the n1ost typical social institutions of our civilization, we may mention two: a mode of appropriation of material goods which allows the individual to meet his responsibilities towards himself and towards those dependent on him (that is,_the autonomous establishment), and a liberal education, that is to say the training of a man for the enhancement of his own personality and for the conquest of the truth. As to the juridical institutions, our civil laws provide the synthesis of them. They all spring from this idea that the rights of the human person are not conferred upon him by the state, but have their roots deep in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 141-157
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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