Categories
USA

90 Miles free from Empire: A Tribute to Fidel Castro and the Cuban People

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President. Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation. While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for el Comandante. I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honor to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba. On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.” — Justin Trudeau

(Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro)

 The above statement by Prime Minister Trudeau pushed me the closest I have ever felt in my adult life to feeling national pride. Even this (I think quite moderate) praise of the achievements of the Cuban revolution has earned Trudeau considerable backlash, from neighbors in the other imperialist countries of the USA and Europe as well as right-wing forces around the world, despite the fact that political leaders representing over 3/4ths of the world’s population joined him in praise of the late Cuban leader.
I do not mean to present Trudeau as some sort of special rebel against the imperial establishment. In fact, he quite quickly backed down from directly defending Castro. I simply note that even “giving the devil his due” so to speak, as Trudeau did (probably begrudgingly) with his statement on Castro, is maligned in the current “end of history” media discourse. Despite plenty of history happening since Francis Fukuyama claimed it was over in 1992, mainstream media clings to a world where the liberal, capitalist-imperialist order reigns supreme despite the fact that this system is bursting at its seams. With the establishment in such a conundrum, it is no wonder they want to vilify such a powerful example of a working alternative as Cuba.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world mourns the death of larger-than-life revolutionary who helped lead his country, despite being only ninety miles from the coast of Florida, to expel US-backed dictator Batista and embark on one the most profound experiments in national self-determination the world has ever seen.

United States of Hypocrisy

To be sure, Fidel did not always have the moral high ground in the way he dealt with his enemies, though I would argue neither did they. In some ways, he was not even a “good” communist.  But for setting an example that shook the arrogance of the American empire to its core, he will be always remembered. 

No doubt, this time of mourning has provided an opportunity for the Empire to bite back at defiant Cuba. The United States maintains that Cuba has scores of political prisoners locked away, yet when prompted cannot produce a list of said political prisoners, when they were arrested, or where they are held. Implying either that there are no or very few political prisoners in Cuba or that the United States is incredibly good at guesswork. Meanwhile, numerous political prisoners languish in American jails on trumped-up charges, including (but not limited to) Chelsea Manning, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Oscar Lopez-Riviera, and others. The United States also has the world’s largest prison population overall. When they’re not in prison, Black people in the United States are targeted by police violence.

This is alone shows the utter hypocrisy of the United States and its partners, but it doesn’t stop there! We should not forget that the United States and American capitalism was built on a foundation of genocide and slavery. The United States continues to operate an international network of torture and intimidation, including in Guantanamo which it refuses to return to Cuba. The United States also continues meddle in other countries affairs either through direct intervention or regime change strategies, with costly human consequences.

Meanwhile, despite the United States acquiring vast amounts of loot from the rest of the world, everyday Americans are increasingly impoverished by neoliberal trade policies whilst Indigenous peoples live in pockets of third-world conditions.

And of course, I must comment on my home country of Canada. In addition to in many instances aiding and abetting the atrocities above (such as Trudeau’s “badass” defense minister’s role in torturing Afghan civilians), Canada is also built on genocide and exploitation in its own right. Canada’s reservations are, to this day, arguably even more atrocious than some in the United States, and Canada’s working class is living on the edge struggling to buy food.

I will not comment on Europe but I hope all readers are aware that each European power has committed more than its fair share of atrocities and genocides in the course of colonization and today plays an active role in NATO imperialism.

Whether you believe the ridiculous allegations against Cuba or not, none of the Imperial powers have any moral right to lecture Cuba on human rights.

NATO the Destroyer versus Cuba the Healer

For sure, all is not well in Cuba. There are serious problems impeding development and sustainability of the Cuban system which its leadership and its people will have to address together. However, I believe that such problems are extremely exacerbated by the massive embargo against Cuba enforced by the United States on the rest of the world, which the Cuban government estimates has an impact of $753.69 billion on the island. That’s a lot.

Yet, despite this, Cuba remains independent and resilient, continuing to build on the gains of its independence and share those gains with the world. Where NATO destroys, Cuba heals.

Below, I attempt to provide an outline of some of the most immense achievements and key elements of the Cuban revolution:

Self-Determination and Dignity for Cubans

fidelspeaks

The current government of Cuba came to power in a popular revolution led by Fidel Castro,  which ousted repressive US-supported dictator Batista. The fact that the revolution ousted such a government is an achievement in and of itself. How could Cubans ever have any sense of democracy or self-determination whilst being culturally, politically, economically, and physically dominated by the United States and its lackeys? Whether you agree with the current direction of the Cuban government, is it not more “democratic” to not be dominated by an occupying power?

However, for those who think elections are the only indicator of popular power, elections do take place in Cuba. Elections to Cuba’s national parliament (the National Assembly) take place every five years and elections to regional Municipal Assemblies every 2.5 years. Everyone is allowed to participate, including liberal dissidents despite having almost no popular support on the island. Cuba’s current socialist constitution was approved by referendum, after all. To be sure, Cuba is what we would call a one-party state and not a liberal democracy, but the idea that liberal democracy is the only kind of democracy and that anyone living under any other system is oppressed is an ethnocentric notion (for more on Cuban democracy, see book Cuba and its Neighbors linked below).

The average Cuban voter can hardly be easily deceived by sham elections when education is free, universal, and of high quality and almost the entire country is literate, a passion project of Castro’s. Cuba is ranked at number 16 in UNESCO’s Education for All Development Index, higher  than the US, which is ranked at number 25. Cubans also enjoy zero homelessness as housing is considered a human right.

Medical Internationalism

“Cuba demonstrates how much nations can do with the resources they have if they focus on the right priorities – health, education, and literacy.” — Kofi Annan

Cuba’s healthcare system is one of the crowning achievements of its socialized economy. Cuba “boasts better health indicators than its exponentially richer neighbor 90 miles across the Florida straits” (emphasis added). Life expectancy is an impressive 79. Infant mortality is 4.83 deaths per 1,000 live births compared (better than the US figure of 6.0, and incomparably better than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is around 27 deaths per 1,000 live births). Cuba has the lowest HIV prevalence rate in the Americas. There is one doctor for every 220 people in Cuba – “one of the highest ratios in the world, compared with one for every 370 in England” (emphasis added). These successful healthcare initiatives are based in communities they serve, oriented towards holistic health and prevention, and mostly free at the point of use as they are funded through state revenue from other industries.

In addition to rebuilding the health system of its sister socialist country, Venezuela, Cuba’s international medical aid has helped restore sight to millions of people across Latin America and the Caribbean. Cuba also has spread its hard-won expertise in the field of saving lives across huge number of other countries in the Global South. “A third of Cuba’s 75,000 doctors, along with 10,000 other health workers, are currently working in 77 poor countries.” Cuba is especially very active in the fight against the scourge of AIDS internationally, for example having helped Zambia to start manufacturing its own antiretrovirals, a project which reflects Cuba’s deep commitments to Africa (more below). Cuba also provides medical training to numerous countries through the  la Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina, including Black Americans.

Cuba, Caribbean, Africa

“As Fidel ascends to the realm of the ancestors, we summon his guidance, strength, and power as we recommit ourselves to the struggle for universal freedom. Fidel Vive!” (Black Lives Matter)

Image result for castro and malcolm xFidel was, to put it simply “an unwavering champion of racial equality, bumping elbows and building friendships with some of the most regarded members of the Black liberation struggle, especially Nelson Mandela, as well as more maligned Black and African radicals such as Malcolm X (pictured) and Moammar Qaddafi. Fidel embraced his own African heritage and Africa’s strong influence on Cuba and the Caribbean islands, long maligned by western-backed regimes. The revolution quickly started attacking racism at its roots, vowing to “straighten out what history has twisted.

Perhaps even more significant and monumental is Fidel and Cuba’s immense sacrifice to secure African independence from colonialism, a struggle which it continues to support. Cuban troops fought side-by-side with Angolan and Namibian revolutionaries to liberate their nations from the domination of European imperialism and the scourge of Apartheid. This culminated in victory at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale (“Africa’s Stalingrad”) after immense struggle by Angolans, Namibians, and their Cuban allies.

I cannot understate the power and significance of such solidarity. In the words of Nelson Mandela:

The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character… We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defense of one of us (emphasis added).

In addition, Fidel Castro has defended US political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and provided asylum for Asata Shakur and numerous other Black Panthers fleeing political repression in the United States.

With all this in mind, we should not be surprised, for example, at Colin Kaepernick’s tacit endorsement of Cuban literacy programs and support for African liberation, as this has directly benefited Africans and Afro-Americans.

Rainbow Solidarity, Gender Equality, and Fidel’s Self-Criticism

In a display of humility and honesty very rare for a politician, Fidel Castro admitted responsibility for the mistreatment of gays and other queer people in Cuba in the early decades of the revolution. This of course, should not excuse Castro and the Cuban government of further criticism in this area. However, I do think the attempts at reconciliation with the LGBTQ+ community of Cuba and the world are profound. As David Duran writes: “Cuba is leading by example and positively affecting the lives of not only the LGBT people who reside there but others all over the world who see these massive changes taking place so quickly in a country where most would think the topic of homosexuality would be off-limits.”

To emphasize this state support for LGBTQ+ rights, Cuba has instituted the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) campaigns for “the development of a culture of sexuality that is full, pleasurable and responsible, as well as to promote the full exercise of sexual rights.” This includes especially working to combat homophobia and to move away from elements of “machismo” culture often associated with Latin America.

In addition,  43% of parliament members are female. 64% of university places are occupied by women. “Cuban women comprise 66% of all technicians and professionals in the country’s middle and higher levels. Women are given 18 weeks’ maternity leave on full pay, with extended leave at 60% pay until the child is one year old.

“By several measures, Cuba has achieved a high standard of gender equality, despite the country’s reputation for machismo, a Latin American variant of sexism. Save the Children ranks Cuba first among developing countries for the wellbeing of mothers and children, the report points out. The World Economic Forum places Cuba 20th out of 153 countries in health, literacy, economic status and political participation of women – ahead of all countries in Latin America except Trinidad and Tobago.” (Emphasis added, Center for Democracy in the Americas).

The “New Indians” and Decolonization

This is an area where Trudeau could learn from Castro. As noted before, the conditions of indigenous peoples in North America is atrocious, exacerbating by colonial exploitation of their lands and resources. Castro immediately recognized the conditions on Native reservations and compared them to the impact of sanctions on Cuba. Castro understood that colonialism is a relationship of economic exploitation rather than purely cultural conflict, saying of Cuba:

we are the new Indians of this hemisphere. I was saying that in my opinion, when we analyze the social and economic situation of our peoples, I said that the level of exploitation is greater, and in my opinion, in this hemisphere our peoples have become net exporters of capital to the rich countries, to those who have exploited us for centuries, those who made themselves the owners…those that became rich with our sweat and blood, and today continue to exploit us”. (emphases added, Fidel Castro, 1990)

Because of this shared experience of colonial exploitation and repression, Cuba upon request recognized the Seminole Nation of Florida in 1960 as a sovereign nation with the right to independence. Cuba has also provided life-saving diabetes treatments to the Mohawk Nation. It is clear Cuba recognizes the importance of indigenous peoples and decolonization, which might explain the reemergence of the Taino peoples, which the Spanish supposedly exterminated, on the island in recent years.

Cuba and the Philippines: Fraternal Nations

As someone with an interest in Maoist politics, it is interesting to me that despite the Cuban revolutionaries choosing to side with the Soviet bloc over China (as was their prerogative) that the Cuban revolution remains important to Maoist movements despite their substantial differences. This is especially true of the Philippines, which also shares a history of both Spanish and American colonization with Cuba. Jose Maria Sison, leader of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Philippines notes”While Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolutionaries were still in the Sierra Maestra, their revolutionary struggle caught the attention of the world and of course the student organization to which I belonged in the University of the Philippines. Our organization [the underground Patriotic Youth] was engaged in forming study circles for the purpose of resuming the unfinished Philippine revolution for national and social liberation against foreign and feudal domination.”

Even among non-revolutionary Filipinos, the Cuban revolution stands tall. President Rodrigo Duterte has sent emissaries to Cuba in hopes of emulating its healthcare system, de facto following the policy recommendations of the National Democratic Front’s think tank.

In short, according to Sison:

“There is a strong sense of solidarity and empathy between the Filipino and Cuban peoples because they have suffered under Spanish colonialism and US imperialism and struggled against these two foreign powers. They admire each other’s revolutionary struggles and victories. The Filipino people are inspired by the great victory of the Cuban people in liberating themselves from US imperialism and local reactionary classes of big compradores and landlords represented by the Batista regime.” (emphasis added, Jose Maria Sison)

The full interview with Sison by Julia Camagong appears below:

[Many thanks to Carlos Martinez for providing many of the sources cited above, which originally appeared in his article 20 Reasons to Support Cuba

Recommended Further Reading:

cuba_and_its_neighbours

Cuba and It’s Neighbors: Democracy in Motion by Arnold August

Arnold August’s Cuba and its Neighbours  “explores Cuba’s unique form of democracy, presenting a detailed and balanced analysis of Cuba’s electoral process and the state’s functioning between elections. By comparing it with practices in the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, August shows that people’s participation in politics and society is not limited to a singular U.S.-centric understanding of democracy. For example, democracy as practised in the U.S. is largely non-participatory, static and fixed in time.” (From the book description). August is a Montreal, QC resident.

I also recommend people reading Dr. Maximilian Forte’s review of August’s book, where Forte discusses the concepts of Cuban and socialist democracy in greater detail and compares them to liberal democracy, which he terms “democratic elitism”. See Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Cuba: A Revolution in Motion by Isaac Saney

This accessible, up-to-date and comprehensive introduction to Cuba today provides both students and general readers with a sense of the changes-and continuities-in Cuba through the 1990s.  Saney describes the economic crash, new policies and subsequent recovery during the ‘Special Period.’

If like me, you are from the Atlantic region of Canada, Saney is especially engaging, as he teaches at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS and is regularly involved in socialist and anti-imperialist politics there.

Exit Music

There is so much more that I wish I could dedicate time to comment on concerning Fidel Castro and Cuba’s immense achievements. In addition to the accomplishments above, Cuba boasts a sustainable system of organic agriculture, excellent achievements in science,and  uncompromising solidarity with Palestine against Israeli colonization.

In short, rest in power Fidel; history has absolved you.

 

Other Commemorations to Fidel Castro:

Updates:

I am truly overwhelmed. I do not think I was using hyperbole when I said that 3/4ths of the world is in mourning this month (if not many more people). In addition to the two new commemorations I have added, one from the Chinese Premier and one from the ALBA Social Movements, the United Nations has held a minute of silence to respect Castro’s passing, and Cubans have turned out en masse to mourn their fallen commandante.

Categories
USA

Syria to Standing Rock: Everywhere is a No-Fly Zone

“Every single Empire in its official discourse has said that it is not at all like the others, that its circumstances are special, that it has a mission to enlighten, civilize, bring order and democracy, and that it uses force only as a last resort. And, sadder still, there is always a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming word about benign or altruistic empires, is if one shouldn’t trust the evidence of one’s eyes watching the destruction and the misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizartice” — Edward Said

I do not think any pundit or critic, even those committed to the causes of indigenous people, could have anticipated that the confrontation over the Dakota Access Pipeline would play such a prominent role in political discourse, especially in light of the blackout by major media. Yet, the people gathered at Standing Rock have overcome numerous obstacles to catapult their struggle to the limelight.

After numerous treaties, historical reviews, truth and reconciliation commissions, protests, policy consultations, and outbreaks of rebellion, Indigenous people in Turtle Island/ North America are still brutalized in spectacular fashion, and they are granted no recourse – even the most basic of treaty laws are ignored or “lost” not unlike how the United States, Canada, and other accomplices to NATO blatantly violate international law.

The Imperial Connection

Let me put it frankly and simply, America is an Empire and not, in any quantifiable sense, a  Democracy. While most everyday “Americans” experience the unfairness, aloofness, and ridiculousness of the American capitalist and imperialist system to some extent or another, none experience it more blatantly than the nationalities America has colonized. Within American borders there are the Dene, the Lakotah, the Irqouois, and hundreds of other nations I do not have the time to name. Beyond American borders, we can include in this Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, and numerous other peoples dominated by US financial and military might by direct or indirect means.

Image result for hands off syria

As this empire stretches itself further across the globe, it experiences crises and strangulation, prompting the need for more intense exploitation and violence at home to facilitate and legitimize the next expansion. The US has long been set on regime change in Syria, for example, but has experienced a number of setbacks in what they thought would otherwise be a swift victory. It is in this context that we see a rushed, desperate attempt to force “development” of the American “homeland” at the expense of the actual Indigenous population

The Hypocrisy of the No-Fly Zone

Image result for standing rock protests

Forte describes the logic of regime change discourse, used systematically to advocate for no-fly zones and invasions across the world, best embodied by the assault on Libya (Forte, 2013) but now equally applicable to Syria, which Hillary Clinton has slated for being the next No-fly Zone, without regard for how many Syrians it will lead to their demise.

1) Moral Dualism: We see this in the vilification and dehumanization of resisters and land defenders; the persistence of the “savage” image in mass media, the depiction of land defenders as inherently backwards (as if destroying the environment is not violently backwards!). Yet somehow US imperialism is benevolent.

2) Moral Narcissism: The hypocrisies of settler-colonialism and imperialism are on full display. While the US government rains drone strikes on the colonized world and sanctions the right of armed gangs of whites to lay claims to stolen land, peaceful protesters are seen as such as threat as to incur brutal violence and imprisonment.

3) Demonization: Again, the image of the “savage” or the “indian” or more recently the “security threat” rears its ugly head when Indigenous people break into the media cycle.

We have seen military tactics and deployments used to further internal colonialism in the United States before, most notably in the military’s role in the evacuation of New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. The United States military blatantly discriminated against black evacuees, preferring whiter, wealthier victims to save, yet the despondency of black communities in New Orleans today is treated as a product of “natural disaster” (the hurricane) rather than the product of discriminatory responses to that crisis (Noel, 2013). Years from now, I wonder if the environmental destruction of the Standing Rock territory by the Dakota Access Pipeline will be recorded as the result of “natural” causes.

The pipeline resisters at standing rock have also been subject to a no-fly zone not unlike the one visited on Libya and perhaps soon on Syria. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has restricted flights, banned the use of drones within a radius of about four-and-a-half miles of Cannon Ball. Only aircraft affiliated with the North Dakota Tactical Operation Center are allowed within the restricted airspace. The flight restriction is scheduled to  last until November 5. This is a blackout in anticipation for an “invasion” of the protester camp.

For Canadians: We Are Not Innocent

It would be easy for Canadians to attribute the violence at Standing Rock to just another case in the gargantuan farce called an election that the United States insists is democratic and legitimate while its order collapses at focal points along its chain of authority. But Canada, like the United States, is a Settler-Colonial society, founded on the same genocide and conquest which gave rise to the Pax Americana Empire in the first place. Our own indigenous population is brutalized, policed, imprisoned, and dispossessed in much the same manner as the peoples at Standing Rock. We should note the courage and intensity of resistance required by the people of Standing Rock and their allies when our own pipelines are prepared to be laid.

Unlinked Citations

Forte, C. Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa. 

Noel, A. “America’s Own Backyard: Hurricane Katrina and Military Intervention” Emergency as Security: Liberal Empire at Home and Abroad. (New Imperialism, Vol. 3). Ed. Kyle McLoughlin & Maximilian C. Forte. Montreal, QC: Alert Press, 2013.

Recommended: No Platform (Taryn Fivek) Coverage of Standing Rock

 

 

Categories
AFRICA ANTHROPOLOGY ANTI-IMPERIALISM EMPIRE GLOBALIZATION IMPERIAL DECLINE LATIN AMERICA NEOLIBERALISM POLITICAL ECONOMY

Political Economy of Eurocentrism: The Post-WW2 “Development Project” As Colonialism

Our understanding of global interactions – economic, political, social, and cultural – are still deeply shaped by the often misunderstood period of economic restructuring between 1945 and 1970. Many questions that plague our modern world – why the US continues to expand militarily, why Haiti is in such dire straits, etc. – can be partially explained by the developments of this period. This piece endeavors to begin an outline and investigation of these developments.

The period from 1945 to 1970 is sometimes called the era of the Bretton-Woods system, but more recently has been referred to as the “Development Project”.  This is the terminology used in McMichael’s work Development and Social Change, where the development of a world economy is described as progressing in three distinct stages; European Colonization, the Development Project, and Globalization. The phrase “Development Project” is apt as it refers to the global focus on the industrialization of newly-independent colonies; industrialization is often understood as development. To this day various international agencies classify countries as “developed” and “developing” (McMichael, 2016).

While each of these stages represent distinct historical developments in global politics and economy, several continuities persist. Indeed, the post-World War “development project” would not have existed without European (and later American and Canadian) imperialism becoming the primary actor in the maintenance of the modern world-system. Likewise, neither would Globalization have become the defining paradigm without the collapse of the Bretton-Woods system as the guarantor of the “Development Project” while still building upon its major institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

The wording of “world-system” is important here. A world-system is a political and economic framework which imposes itself as totalizing and universal. Capitalism, and what we call capitalist development, is the first such complete world-system in human history. Its origins lie in colonialism, which both allowed the spread of European capitalism to the Americas, Africa, and Asia, and the exploitation of these continents to further the consolidation of capitalism and capitalist profit-making (O’Brien and Williams “Forging a World Economy”, 2007; McMichael, 2016).

Thus, understanding that the economic eras of capitalism proceed from each other, it can be inferred that the inequalities entrenched under colonization persisted throughout the development model period. In fact, the development model period can be understood as a new era of social and economic imperialism, colonization being the first. Development model period imperialism represented a shift, rather than a transformation, of the colonial project.

Therefore, while the Development Project succeeded in preserving the capitalist world-system, it was a failed to provide adequate restitution and improvement for the peoples of the ‘developing’ world.

Pax Imperialism and the Dollar Dictatorship

Cuba. First demonstration in support of the Revolu
The Cuban 26 July Movement storming Havana, the victorious moment of the Cuban Revolution.

The imperialist countries’ shift from colonization to ‘development’ can be understood as a reaction to three distinct processes threatening the capitalist-world system, (1) the wave of decolonization and nationalism sweeping the Europe’s colonies, (2) the weakening of the European powers by the world wars, and (3) the subsequent emergence of a socialist state (the Soviet Union) as a world power.  In response to these developments, the United States replaced Great Britain as the “center” of this new orientation in the capitalist world-system and financial domination replaced traditional colonialism as the method by which “Center” countries dominated colonized “peripheral” countries.

As much as the Development Project transformed the capitalist world-system away from the colonial model, it also continued colonial policy in two key ways. First, the currency of the leading imperialist power functioned as the stabilizer and equivalent for all exchanges within the world-system. During the Victorian era, the British Pound-Sterling was the universal equivalent in almost all exchanges (O’Brien and Williams, “Pax Britanica” 2007). Under the Bretton-Woods System, the U.S. dollar was made equivalent to gold and thus functioned in the same way as the Pound (Cohen, 2001).

It should be noted that at the time of independence for most former colonies, Europe had extracted vast amounts of wealth which it was not subsequently obliged to repay their now-independent colonies (McMichael, 2016).

So while the Development Project transformed the newly-independent states of the colonized world with an influx of industrial hardware and organization, industrial projects took place unilaterally, under the dictates of U.S. economic security and geopolitical interests. The control of the United States in this arrangement cannot be understated. In effect, Pax Americana replaced Pax Britanica, the period of almost absolute British dominance. This control of the Development Project was so complete that through the Bretton-Woods system, the U.S. congress could use fiscal policy, inflating or deflating the dollar, to influence the outcomes of trades the United States otherwise played no part in (Cohen, 2001; McMichael, 2016). Like how British supremacy created competition between European imperialisms leading up to World War I (O’Brien and Williams “Pax Britanica”, 2007),  the United States’ dominance also led to dissent from Japan and Europe who lamented the rigidity of the dollar-pegged system (Cohen, 2001).

Cold War Containment

bretton-woods-sign
Sign describing the Bretton Woods System

Another factor in these contradictions was location. Both Japan and the European powers bordered socialist states; China and the Eastern Bloc countries respectively. In a strategic compromise, U.S. policymakers allowed developmental models to improve other imperialist states’ position, to the point of destabilizing of the internal U.S. economy (Cohen, 2001). Hence why West Germany was the main beneficiary of the Marshal plan as part of staving off the “Soviet wave” the U.S feared would sweep Europe. The major successes of the Development Project – Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong – were also strategically located in East Asia (McMichael, 2016) to contain the socialist revolutions in places like China and Vietnam, while opening a proverbial ‘eastern front’ against the USSR.

While the Development Project was framed as an effort based on the nation-state, self-sufficiency in the area of agriculture was completely denied to emerging nation-states. Troubled by the enthusiastic and rapid communization of agriculture in China, development agencies sought to reduce the power of peasants to self-organize in India and countries with large agriculture potential through specialization in crops produced for European and North American consumption (McMichael, 2016). While U.S farmers were encouraged to grow staples like wheat and grains, India was roped into growing commodities for western consumption, making India and other countries in similar arrangements dependent on western markets for basic sustenance. India was also the poster-child of the “green revolution” in agribusiness, which created a market for excess chemical weapons the United States was  looking to reprocess (they became fertilizers). This made India responsible for the immense costs of externalities created by U.S. war activity, including ecological destruction and massive rural decline (McMichael, 2016).

Both these examples from India are demonstrative of wider processes of economic and ecological “Unequal Exchange” which perpetuated the colonial reorganization of the world. It may be easy to explain the unevenness of the world economy and the dependency of the ‘developing’ world on the ‘developed’ as simply the vestiges of colonialism. However, this would ignore the active role which the United States played in perpetuating these uneven arrangements through the Bretton-Woods system, with the consent of the other imperialist countries (and when Bretton-Woods failed to foster favourable arrangements, NATO was always on standby). Thus the problems of the development project were precisely because the objectives of the most powerful actors were the preservation of the capitalist, imperialist world-system.

The Next Phase

Understanding the deeply imperialist elements of the Development Project is essential to understanding what comes next, Globalization. Just as Britain spread ‘civilization’ across the world, facilitating the global colonial supply chain, so too did the United States spread ‘development’ through the IMF and World Bank, leading to our now deeply Americanized period of Globalization; the similarities are stark (O’Brien and Williams, “Pax Britanica”, 2007). If we are to address the contradictions of globalization, we must understand the Development Project’s impacts in shaping the globalized world into one of dependency and renewed imperialism.

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References

Cohen, B. “Bretton-Woods System” Routledge Encyclopedia of International Political Economy. Ed. RJ Barry Jones. Routledge, 2001.

McMichael, P. Development and Social Change (6th ed.). Sage Publishing, 2016.

O’Brien, R. and Marc Williams. “Forging a World Economy, 1400-1800.” Global Political Economy (2nd ed.). p. 43-76. Palgrave/Macmillan, 2007.

O’Brien, R. and Marc Williams. “The Industrial Revolution, Pax Britanica, and Imperialism.” Global Political Economy (2nd ed.). p. 77-105. Palgrave/Macmillan, 2007.

 

Categories
DONALD J. TRUMP USA

Nativistic Movements

This online version was posted on the Zero Anthropology blog, but was originally published as

ralphlinton“Nativistic Movements”By Ralph Linton and A. Irving HallowellAmerican Anthropologist, 45(2), 1943, pp. 230-240 (http://0- http://www.jstor.org.mercury.concordia.ca/stable/pdfplus/663 272.pdf)

NATIVISTIC MOVEMENTS By RALPH LINTON

———-page 230———-

AT THE time that the centennial meeting of the American Ethnological Society was planned, the writer was invited to contribute a paper on nativistic movements in North America. When he attempted to prepare this it soon became evident that there was a need for a systematic analysis of nativistic phenomena in general. Although the Social Science Research Council’s Committee on Acculturation1 had made some progress in this direction much remained to be done. The present paper is an attempt to provide such a systematic analysis and is presented in the hope that its formulations may be modified and expanded by further research.

The first difficulty encountered in the study of nativistic movements was that of delimiting the field. The term “nativistic” has been loosely applied to a rather wide range of phenomena, resembling in this respect many other terms employed by the social sciences. For the writer to determine arbitrarily which of several established usages is to be considered correct and which incorrect is not only presumptuous but also one of the surest ways to promote misunderstanding of the theoretical contributions he hopes to make. The only satisfactory definition under such circumstances is one based upon the common denominators of the meanings which have come to be attached to the term through usage. With this as a guide, we may define a nativistic movement as, “Any conscious, organized attempt on the part of a society’s members to revive or perpetuate selected aspects of its culture.”

Like all definitions, the above requires amplification to make its implications clear. Its crux lies in the phrase “conscious, organized effort.” All societies seek to perpetuate their own cultures, but they usually do this unconsciously and as a part of the normal processes of individual training and socialization. Conscious, organized efforts to perpetuate a culture can arise only when a society becomes conscious that there are cultures other than its own and that the existence of its own culture is threatened. Such consciousness, in turn, is a by-product of close and continuous contact with other societies; an acculturation phenomenon under the definition developed by the above mentioned committee.2

The phrase “selected aspects of its culture” also requires elaboration. Nativistic movements concern themselves with particular elements of culture, never with cultures as wholes. This generalization holds true whether we re-

———-page 231———-

-gard cultures as continuums of long duration or follow the usual ethnographic practice of applying the term “a culture” to the content of such a continuum at a particular point in time. The avowed purpose of a nativistic movement may be either to revive the past culture or to perpetuate the current one, but it never really attempts to do either. Any attempt to revive a past phase of culture in its entirety is immediately blocked by the recognition that this phase was, in certain respects, inferior to the present one and by the incompatibility of certain past culture patterns with current conditions. Even the current phase of a culture is never satisfactory at all points and also includes a multitude of elements which seem too trivial to deserve deliberate perpetuation. What really happens in all nativistic movements is that certain current or remembered elements of culture are selected for emphasis and given symbolic value. The more distinctive such elements are with respect to other cultures with which the society is in contact, the greater their potential value as symbols of the society’s unique character.

The main considerations involved in this selective process seem to be those of distinctiveness and of the practicability of reviving or perpetuating the element under current conditions. Thus the Ghost Dance laid great stress on the revival of such distinctive elements of Indian culture as games and ceremonial observances, elements which could be revived under agency conditions. At the same time it allowed its adherents to continue the use of cloth, guns, kettles and other objects of European manufacture which were obviously superior to their aboriginal equivalents. In fact, in many cases the converts were assured that when the dead returned and the whites were swept away, the houses, cattle and other valuable property of the whites would remain for the Indians to inherit.

All the phenomena to which the term nativistic has been applied have in common these factors of selection of culture elements and deliberate, conscious effort to perpetuate such elements. However, they differ so widely in other respects that they cannot be understood without further analysis. At the outset it is necessary to distinguish between those forms of nativism which involve an attempt to revive extinct or at least moribund elements of culture and those which merely seek to perpetuate current ones. For convenience we will refer to the first of these forms as revivalistic nativism, to the second as perpetuative nativism. These two forms are not completely exclusive. Thus a revivalistic nativistic movement will be almost certain to include in its selection of elements some of those which are current in the culture although derived from its past. Conversely a perpetuative nativistic movement may include elements which had been consciously revived at an earlier date. However, the emphases of these two forms are distinct. The revivalistic type of nativism can be illustrated by such movements as the Celtic revival in Ireland, with its emphasis on the medieval Irish tradition in literature and its attempt to revive a mori-

———-page 232———-

-bund national language. The perpetuative type of nativism can be illustrated by the conditions existing in some of the Rio Grande Pueblos or in, various Indian groups in Guatemala. Such groups are only vaguely conscious of their past culture and make no attempts to revive it, but they have developed elaborate and conscious techniques for the perpetuation of selected aspects of their current culture and are unalterably opposed to assimilation into the alien society which surrounds them.

There is a further necessity for distinguishing between what we may call magical nativism and rational nativism. It may well be questioned whether any sort of nativistic movement can be regarded as genuinely rational, since all such movements are, to some extent, unrealistic, but at least the movements of the latter order appear rational by contrast with those of the former.

Magical nativistic movements are often spectacular and always troublesome to administrators, facts which explain why they have received so much attention from anthropologists. Such movements are comparable in many respects to the Messianic movements which have arisen in many societies in times of stress. They usually originate with some individual who assumes the role of prophet and is accepted by the people because they wish to believe. They always lean heavily on the supernatural and usually embody apocalyptic and millennial aspects. In such movements moribund elements of culture are not revived for their own sake or in anticipation of practical advantages from the element themselves. Their revival is part of a magical formula designed to modify the society’s environment in ways which will be favorable to it. The selection of elements from the past culture as tools for magical manipulation is easily explainable on the basis of their psychological associations. The society’s members feel that by behaving as the ancestors did they will, in some usually undefined way, help to recreate the total situation in which the ancestors lived. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they are attempting to recreate those aspects of the ancestral situation which appear desirable in retrospect.

Such magical nativistic movements seem to differ from ordinary messianic and millennial movements in only two respects. In the nativistic movements the anticipated millennium is modeled directly on the past, usually with certain additions and modifications, and the symbols which are magically manipulated to bring it about are more or less familiar elements of culture to which new meanings have been attached. In non-nativistic messianic movements, the millennial condition is represented as something new and unique and the symbols manipulated to bring it about tend to be new and unfamiliar. Even in these respects the differences are none too clear. New elements of culture often emerge in connection with magical nativistic movements, as in the case of the distinctive Ghost Dance art. Conversely, messianic movements may lean heavily upon the familiar symbolism of the culture, as in the case of most

———-page 233———-

Christian cults of this type. The basic feature of both messianic cults and magical nativistic movements is that they represent frankly irrational flights from reality. Their differences relate only to the ways in which such flights are implemented and are, from the point of view of their functions, matters of minor importance.

What we have chosen to call rational nativistic movements are a phenomenon of a quite different sort. While such movements resemble the magical ones in their conscious effort to revive or perpetuate selected elements of culture, they have different motivations. What these are can be understood more readily if we reintroduce at this point the distinction previously made between revivalistic and perpetuative nativistic movements. Rational revivalistic nativistic movements are, almost without exception, associated with frustrating situations and are primarily attempts to compensate for the frustrations of the society’s members. The elements revived become symbols of a period when the society was free or, in retrospect, happy or great. Their usage is not magical but psychological. By keeping the past in mind, such elements help to reestablish and maintain the self respect of the group’s members in the face of adverse conditions. Rational perpetuative nativistic movements, on the other hand, find their main function in the maintenance of social solidarity. The elements selected for perpetuation become symbols of the society’s existence as a unique entity. They provide the society’s members with a fund of common knowledge and experience which is exclusively their own and which sets them off from the members of other societies. In both types of rational nativistic movement the culture elements selected for symbolic use are chosen realistically and with regard to the possibility of perpetuating them under current conditions.

It must be emphasized that the four forms of nativistic movement just discussed are not absolutes. Purely revivalistic or perpetuative, magical or rational movements form a very small minority of the observed cases. However, these forms represent the polar positions of series within which all or nearly all nativistic movements can be placed. Moreover, it will usually be found that a given nativistic movement lies much closer to one end of such a scale than to the other if it is analysed in terms of the criteria used to establish the polar positions. If we combine the polar positions in the two series, the result is a fourfold typology of nativistic movements, as follows:

1. Revivalistic-magical
2. Revivalistic-rational
3. Perpetuative-magical
4. Perpetuative-rational

Forms 1, 2, and 4 in this typology recur with great frequency, while form 3 is so rare that the writer has been unable to find any clearly recognizable example of it. The reason for this probably lies in the conditions which are usually responsible for magical nativistic movements. The inception of such movements

———-page 234———-

can be traced almost without exception to conditions of extreme hardship or at least extreme dissatisfaction with the status quo. Since the current culture is associated with such conditions and has failed to ameliorate them, magical efficacy in modifying these conditions can scarcely be ascribed to any of its elements. Nevertheless, a perpetuative-magical movement might very well arise in the case of a society which currently occupies an advantageous position but sees itself threatened with an imminent loss of that position. It is highly probable that if we could canvass the whole range of nativistic movements examples of this type could be found.

An understanding of the various contact situations in which nativistic movements may arise is quite as necessary for the study of these phenomena as is a typology of such movements. There have been many cases of contact in which they have not arisen at all. The reasons for this seem to be so variable and in many cases so obscure that nothing like a satisfactory analysis is possible. The most that we can say is that nativistic movements are unlikely to arise in situations where both societies are satisfied with their current relationship, or where societies which find themselves at a disadvantage can see that their condition is improving. However, such movements may always be initiated by particular individuals or groups who stand to gain by them and, if the prestige of such initiators is high enough, may achieve considerable followings even when there has been little previous dissatisfaction.

Although the immediate causes of nativistic movements are highly variable, most of them have as a common denominator a situation of inequality between the societies in contact. Such inequalities may derive either from the attitudes of the societies involved or from actual situations of dominance and submission. In order to understand the motives for nativistic movements the distinction between these two sources of inequality must be kept clearly in mind. Inequality based on attitudes of superiority and inferiority may exist in the absence of real dominance, although situations of dominance seem to be uniformly accompanied by the development of such attitudes. As regards attitudes of superiority and inferiority, two situations may exist. Each of the groups involved in the contact may consider itself superior or one group may consider itself superior with the other acquiescing in its own inferiority. There seem to be no cases in which each of the groups involved in a contact considers itself inferior. The nearest approach to such a condition is the recognition of mixed inferiority and superiority, i.e., the members of each group regard their own culture as superior in certain respects and inferior in others. Such a condition is especially favorable to the processes of culture exchange and ultimate assimilation of the two groups. It rarely if ever results in the development of nativistic movements.

The type of situation in which each society considers itself superior is well illustrated by the relations between Mexicans and Indians in our own South-

———-page 235———-

west. In this case factors of practical dominance are ruled out by the presence of a third group, the Anglo-American, which dominates Indian and Mexican alike. Although the two subject groups are in close contact, each of them feels that any assimilation would involve a loss of prestige. The transfer of individuals from one social-cultural continuum to the other is met by equal resistance on both sides and the processes of assimilation never have a chance to get under way. Under such circumstances the life of each of the societies involved becomes a perpetuative-rational nativistic movement. Each group is conscious of its own culture and consciously seeks to perpetuate its distinctive elements. At the same time this consciousness of difference is devoid of envy or frustration and produces no friction. The members of each group pursue their own goals with the aid of their own techniques and, although the situation does not preclude economic rivalries, witness the constant quarrels over water rights, it does preclude social rivalries. It seems that the establishment of such attitudes of mutual social exclusiveness, without hatred or dominance, provides the soundest basis for organizing symbiotic relationships between societies and should be encouraged in all cases where the attitudes of one or both of the groups in contact preclude assimilation.

Contact situations comparable to that just discussed are not infrequent but they seem to be less common than those in which both groups agree on the superiority of one of the parties. It must be repeated that such attitudes are not necessarily linked with conditions of actual dominance. Thus the Japanese during the early period of European contact acquiesced in the European’s estimate of his own superiority and borrowed European culture elements indiscriminately although maintaining national independence. Again, the disunited German states of the eighteenth century acknowledged the superiority of French culture and were eager for French approval even when no political factors were involved.

When two groups stand in such a mutually recognized relationship of superiority and inferiority, but with no factors of actual dominance involved, the contact will rarely if ever give rise to nativistic movements of the magical type. The relationship cannot produce the extreme stresses which drive the members of a society into such flights from reality. On the other hand, the contact may well give rise to rational nativistic movements, but these will rarely if ever appear during the early contact period. At first the superior group is usually so sure of its position that it feels no reluctance toward borrowing convenient elements from the culture of the inferior one. Conversely, the inferior group borrows eagerly from the superior one and looks forward to full equality with it as soon as the cultural differences have been obliterated. During this period impecunious members of the superior group are likely to turn their prestige to practical advantage by marrying rich members of the inferior one and, for a time, genuine assimilation appears to be under way. In such a

———-page 236———-

situation the nativistic trends will normally appear first in the group, superior which is naturally jealous of its prestige. The movements inaugurated will generally be of the perpetuative-rational type, designed to maintain the status quo, and will include increasing reluctance to borrow elements of culture from the inferior group and the increase of social discrimination against its members and those of the superior group who consort with them.

When such a nativistic movement gets well under way in the superior group, there will usually be a nativistic response from the inferior one. Finding themselves frustrated in their desire for equality, with or without actual assimilation, the inferiors will develop their own nativistic movements, acting on the well known sour grapes principle. However, these movements will be of the revivalistic-rational rather than the perpetuative-rational type. The culture elements selected for emphasis will tend to be drawn from the past rather than the present, since the attitudes of the superior group toward the current culture will have done much to devaluate it. In general, symbolic values will be attached, by preference, to culture elements which were already on the wane at the time of the first contact with the superior group, thus embodying in the movement a denial that the culture of the other group ever was considered superior.

We have already said that attitudes of superiority and inferiority seem to be present in all cases of contact involving actual dominance. Combining these two sets of factors we get the following possible situations for contact groups:

1. Dominant-superior
2. Dominant-inferior
3. Dominated-superior
4. Dominated-inferior

These situations assume agreement on the part of the groups involved not only with respect to dominance, readily demonstrable, but also with respect to attitudes. The frequent lack of such agreement makes it necessary to add a fifth situation, that in which the dominant and dominated group each considers itself superior. The other possible combinations, those involving attitudes of inferiority on the part of both dominant and dominated and those involving attitudes of mixed inferiority and superiority on both sides, may be ruled out from the present discussion. The first of these possible combinations simply does not occur. The second occurs rather frequently but, as in the cases where it occurs without domination, normally results in assimilation rather than the production of nativistic movements.

The idea that nativistic movements may arise in dominant as well as dominated groups appears strange to us since most of our experience of such movements comes from the contact of Europeans with native peoples. However, we must not forget that Europeans have occupied a singularly favored position in such contacts. Even where the European settles permanently among a

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native population, he remains a mere outlier of white society and, thanks to modern means of transportation and communication, can keep close touch with the parent body. This parent body is shielded from contact and assimilation and is thus able to send out to its colonial ruling groups constant increments of individuals who are culturally unmixed. Moreover, the technological superiority of European culture has, until recently, rendered the dominance of colonial groups secure. The nativism of Europeans has, therefore, been largely unconscious and entirely of the perpetuative-rational type. It has manifested itself in such things as the practice of sending children back to Europe to be educated or the Englishman’s insistence on dressing for dinner even when alone in a remote outpost of empire. Most dominant groups have been less fortunate. They have found themselves threatened, from the moment of their accession to power, not only by foreign invasion or domestic revolt but also by the insidious processes of assimilation which might, in the long run, destroy their distinctive powers and privileges. This threat was especially menacing when, as in most of the pre-machine age empires, the dominant and dominated groups differed little if at all in physical type. Among such rulers the frustrations which motivate nativistic movements in inferior or dominated groups were replaced by anxieties which produced very much the same results.

Returning to the contact situations previously tabulated, we find that dominant-superior groups tend to initiate perpetuative-rational nativism as soon as they achieve power and to adhere to them with varying intensity as long as they remain in power. Thus the various groups of nomad invaders who conquered China all attempted to maintain much of their distinctive culture and at the height of their power they issued repressive measures directed not only against the Chinese but also against those of their own group who had begun to adopt Chinese culture.3 It seems probable that revivalist-rational forms of nativism will not arise in a dominant-superior group, at least as regards elements of culture which were moribund at the time of their accession to power, although this form of nativism might develop with respect to culture elements which had fallen into neglect during the period of power. It seems possible also that, under conditions of extreme threat, some form of brief revivalist-magical nativism might arise in such a group, but information that might verify these conjectures is lacking.

The situation in which a dominant group acknowledges its cultural inferiority to the dominated is one which must arise very infrequently. However, examples of it are provided by such cases as that of the Goths at the time of their conquest of Italy. Such a group immediately finds itself caught on the horns of a dilemma. It can remove its feelings of inferiority only by undergoing cultural if not social assimilation with the conquered society, while such as-

———-page 238———-

-similation is almost certain to cost it its dominant position. It seems probable that such a society might develop nativistic movements either when its desire for cultural assimilation with the conquered was frustrated or when it found its dominant position seriously threatened, but again information is lacking.

There is abundant information on nativistic movements among dominated groups and in discussing these we stand on firm ground. A dominated group which considers itself superior will normally develop patterns of rational nativism from the moment that it is brought under domination. These patterns may be either revivalist or perpetuative but are most likely to be a combination of both. One of the commonest rationalizations for loss of a dominant position is that it is due to a society’s failure to adhere closely enough to its distinctive culture patterns. Very often such nativism will acquire a semi-magical quality founded on the belief that if the group will only stand firm and maintain its individuality it will once again become dominant. Fully developed magical-revivalist nativism is also very likely to appear in groups of this sort since to the actual deprivations entailed by subjection there are added the frustrations involved by loss of dominance. These frustrations are somewhat mitigated in the cases where the dominant group recognizes the superiority of the dominated group’s culture. Such attitudes strengthen the rational nativistic tendencies of the dominated group and diminish the probabilities for magical-revivalist nativism of the more extreme type. Lastly, in cases where the dominant group concurs with the dominated in considering certain aspects of the latter’s culture superior but will not grant the superiority of the culture as a whole, this attitude will stimulate the dominated group to focus attention upon such aspects of its culture and endow them with added symbolic value.

A dominated group which considers itself inferior, a condition common among societies of low culture which have recently been brought under European domination, is extremely unlikely to develop any sort of rational nativism during the early period of its subjection. It may, however, develop nativism of the revivalist-magical type if it is subjected to sufficient hardships. The threshold of suffering at which such movements may develop will vary greatly from group to group and will be influenced not only by the degree of hardship but also by the society’s patterns of reliance upon the supernatural. A devout society will turn to nativism of this sort long before a skeptical one will. If the hardships arising from subjection are not extreme, the inferior group will usually show great eagerness to assume the culture of the dominant society, this eagerness being accompanied by a devaluation of everything pertaining to its own. Nativistic movements tend to arise only when the members of the subject society find that their assumption of the culture of the dominant group is being effectively opposed by it, or that it is not improving their social position. The movements which originate under these circumstances are prac-

———-page 239———-

-tically always rational with a combination of revivalist and perpetuative elements. In this respect they resemble the nativistic movements which originate in inferior groups which are not subject to domination and there can be little doubt that the primary causes are the same in both cases. These movements are a response to frustration rather than hardship and would not arise if the higher group were willing to assimilate the lower one.

Rational nativistic movements can readily be converted into mechanisms for aggression. Since the dominated society has been frustrated in its earlier desires to become acculturated and to achieve social equality, it can frustrate the dominant society in turn by refusing to accept even those elements of culture which the dominant group is eager to share with it. Dominated societies which have acquired these attitudes and developed conscious techniques for preventing further acculturation present one of the most difficult problems for administrators. Passive resistance requires much less energy than any of the techniques needed to break it down, especially if the culture patterns of the dominant group preclude the use of forcible methods.

One final aspect of nativistic movements remains to be considered. The generalizations so far developed have been based upon the hypothesis that societies are homogeneous and react as wholes to contact situations. Very frequently this is not the case, especially in societies which have a well developed class organization. In such societies nativistic tendencies will be strongest in those classes or individuals who occupy a favored position and who feel this position threatened by culture change. This factor may produce a split in the society, the favored individuals or groups indulging in a rational nativism, either revivalistic or perpetuative, while those in less favored positions are eager for assimilation. This condition can be observed in many immigrant groups in America where individuals who enjoyed high status in the old European society attempt to perpetuate the patterns of that society while those who were of low status do their best to become Americanized.

In a rapidly shrinking world the study of nativistic movements, as of acculturation in general, has ceased to be a matter of purely academic interest. As contacts between societies become more frequent and more general, the need for an understanding of the potentialities of such contact situations becomes more urgent. The troubles which they usually involve can be traced, with few exceptions, to two factors: exploitation and frustration. The first of these is the easier to deal with and may well disappear with the spread of modern science and techniques to all parts of the world. The second is more difficult to deal with since its removal entails fundamental changes in attitudes of superiority and inferiority. Without these there would be no bar to the assimilation of societies in contact situations or to the final creation of a world society. However, this seems to be one of those millennial visions mentioned elsewhere in this report. Failing assimilation, the happiest situation which can arise out

———-page 240———-

of the contact of two societies seems to be that in which each society is firmly convinced of its own superiority. Rational revivalistic or perpetuative nativistic movements are the best mechanism which has so far been developed for establishing these attitudes in groups whose members suffer from feelings of inferiority. It would appear, therefore, that they should be encouraged rather than discouraged.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
NEW YORK, N. Y.

DISCUSSION

Professor Linton has not only given us an illuminating analysis of the conditions under which nativistic movements among primitive peoples have been observed; his conceptualization of the problem offers a program for a much more systematic study and comparison of such movements than has been heretofore attempted. The social functions of these movements in particular need careful study. Perhaps today under the impact of Nazi-Fascist ideology, implemented by armed force, those of us living in the democracies can better appreciate the situation in which primitive peoples have found themselves when their fundamental cultural values have been threatened. Viewed in the broadest terms, the attempts on the part of any group to “revive or perpetuate the society’s distinctive culture” is not, after all, such a far cry from the reaction to the threat that menaces a large sector of western civilization today. In America we are finding fresh virtues in Democracy and there are more and more vigorous assertions of the values of our way of life being expressed in various ways. Potentially, this trend has some of the same elements and performs some of the same functions as the nativistic movements that Professor Linton has treated in his able paper.

A. IRVING HALLOWELL
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

———-end of page 240———-

Notes

1. R. Redfield, R. Linton, M. J. Herskovits, “A Memorandum for the Study of Acculturation” (American Anthropologist 38, 1935), pp. 149-152.

2. “Acculturation comprehends those phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original culture patterns of either or both groups.” Redfield, etc., op. cit.

3. Karl A. Wittfogel and C. S. Feng, History of Chinese Society, Liao, ms.

About ZA:

Maximilian C. Forte is a Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa (2012) and Emergency as Security (New Imperialism) (2013).

See his publications here; read his bio here. He writes at the Zero Anthropology website, which is described on the  About page :

Anthropology after empire is one built in part by an anthropology that is against empire, and it need not continue, defensively, as a discipline laden with all of the orthodoxies from which it suffers today. Indeed, the position taken here is that there can be no real critical anthropology that is not simultaneously critical of (a) the institutionalization and professionalization of this field, and (b) imperialism itself.

Anthropology, as we approach it, is a non-disciplinary way of speaking about the human condition that looks critically at dominant discourses, with a keen emphasis on meanings and relationships, producing a non-state, non-market, non-archival knowledge.

Max’s interviews by various news media are listed here.

For select listings of his online essays, see:

See his Academia.edu page.

For more, please see the main site for the Zero Anthropology Project.

He can be reached at max.forte@openanthropology.org

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From the Margins: False Security, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

The October 2nd episode of From the Margins features interviews with authors and professors, Kent Roach and Jennifer Brant.

From the Margins spoke to Roach on his new book, False Security: The Radicalization of Canadian Anti-Terrorism, co-authored with Craig Forcese.

Brant spoke about the new book she co-edited with D. Memee Lavell-Harvard, Forever Loved: Exposing the Hidden Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.

False Security

false-security

Kent Roach is Professor of Law and Prichard-Wilson Chair of Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He served on the research advisory committee for the inquiry into the rendition of Maher Arar, the Ipperwash Inquiry into the killing of Dudley George, and as volume lead for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report on the Legacy of Residential Schools. False Security won the Canadian Law and Society Association best book prize.

On 20 October 2014, a terrorist drove his car into two members of the Canadian Armed Forces, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Two days later, another terrorist murdered Corporal Nathan Cirillo before storming Parliament. In the aftermath of these attacks, Parliament enacted Bill C-51 — the most radical national security law in generations. This new law ignored hard lessons on how Canada both over- and underreacted to terrorism in the past. It also ignored evidence and urgent recommendations about how to avoid these dangers in the future.

For much of 2015, Craig Forcese and Kent Roach have provided, as Maclean’s put it, the “intellectual core of what’s emerged as surprisingly vigorous push-back” to Bill C-51. In this book, they show that our terror laws now make a false promise of security even as they present a radical challenge to rights and liberties. They trace how our laws repeat past mistakes of institutionalized illegality while failing to address problems that weaken the accountability of security agencies and impair Canada’s ability to defend against terrorism.

Brant: Forever Loved

forever-loved-final-cover-smallJennifer Brant is currently employed at the Tecumseh Centre for Aboriginal Research and Education, as the Program Coordinator for the Gidayaamin Aboriginal Women’s Certificate Program. She is a PhD candidate in Educational Studies at Brock University, where she is researching barriers Aboriginal women face in mainstream education, and the vision for a holistic support model that honours the educational realities and familial responsibilities of Aboriginal women.

The hidden crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada is both a national tragedy and a national shame. In this ground-breaking new volume, as part of their larger efforts to draw attention to the shockingly high rates of violence against our sisters, Jennifer Brant and D. Memee Lavell-Harvard have pulled together a variety of voices from the academic realms to the grassroots and front-lines to speak on what has been identified by both the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations as a grave violation of the basic human rights of Aboriginal women and girls. Linking colonial practices with genocide, through their exploration of the current statistics, root causes and structural components of the issue, including conversations on policing, media and education, the contributing authors illustrate the resilience, strength, courage, and spirit of Indigenous women and girls as they struggle to survive in a society shaped by racism and sexism, patriarchy and misogyny. This book was created to honour our missing sisters, their families, their lives and their stories, with the hope that it will offer lessons to non-Indigenous allies and supporters so that we can all work together towards a nation that supports and promotes the safety and well-being of all First Nation, Métis and Inuit women and girls.

LISTEN to From the Margins

About From the Margins

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In more of an analytical / in-depth spirit, From the Margins covers issues of local, regional and international concern (present and historical), in that order. Over the years, I’ve covered issues revolving around workers, students, unemployed people, the arts and even sports. Buried in the heart of the From the Margins is an understanding that social problems are rooted in the socioeconomic system, capitalism, through which social relations are mediated. The show is about lived realities within this context and political challenges to these relations. That sense weaves in into many of the pieces, but can be subtle at times or can be completely in the background so perhaps no one can see it but me. The show features live and recorded interviews, recordings of presentations, the odd reading of something interesting, discussions and sometimes more creative approaches. There may be surprises.

H : I : S : T : O : R : Y

From the Margins originally started out as a radio show in the deep woods of Fredericton on the airwaves of CHSR 97.9 FM, the campus – community station amongst thickets of trees. It’s original concept was as an anti-poverty show that largely publicized and discussed the activities and ideas of the Advocacy Collective, an anti-poverty collective in Fredericton at the time. Eventually, the show’s issues became more generalized, discussing the struggles people faced at the expense of Capital. It weaved in and out of production in Fredericton, with the odd co-hosts here and there. Then, yours truly moved to Halifax and decided to re-start the show on CKDU 88.1 FM. And there it stayed for a few years…

But then we (me) started to realize how much we loved those old woods. And we were also unemployed and SOOL in Halifax. We sadly left CKDU, but were happy that it was safe and in capable hands. We trotted to Fredericton for another chapter of our existence. Trudging through the woods we found CHSR’s warm hearth and found an abundance of good things. Now, From the Margins is ready to embark on more of its critical news coverage, analysis and occasional creative approaches to addressing subjects. We remain venomous towards the dictates of capital. Ever our nemesis, we shall do our part against it: providing information and understanding of its lived reality, mechanics and ongoing resistance to its many facets. Well, we’ll try our best, “from each according to our ability … ” and all that jazz. We hope the journey will prove interesting.

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Excerpt of a Speech by Dr. Roland Chrisjohn

Speech delivered in Edmonton, Alberta by Dr. Roland Chrisjohn
Member of Iroquois Confederacy (Oneida), healer (“psychologist”), author of The Circle Game
Date of speech unknown

Excerpts transcribed by Jim Craven
cravjm@ooi.clark.edu
as posted to sovernet-l on September 1, 1998

…”Residential schools were one of many attempts at the genocide of the Aboriginal Peoples inhabiting the area now commonly called Canada. Initially, the goal of obliterating these peoples was connected with stealing what they owned (the land, the sky, the waters, and their lives, and all that these encompassed); and although this connection persists, present-day acts and policies of genocide are also connected with the hypocritical, legal and self-delusion need on the part of the perpetrators to conceal what they did and what they continue to do. A variety of rationalizations (social, legal, religious, political and economic) arose to engage (in one way or another) all segments of Euruocanadian society in the task of genocide. For example, some were told (and told themselves) that their actions arose out of a Missionary Imperative to bring the benefits of the One True Belief to savage pagans; others considered themselves justified in the land theft by declaring that the Aboriginal Peoples were not putting the land to ‘proper’ use; and so on. The creation of the Indian Residential Schools followed a time-tested method of obliterating indigenous cultures, and the psycosocial consequences these schools would have on Aboriginal Peoples were well understood at the time of their formation.

Present-day symptomology found in Aboriginal Peoples and societies does not constitute a distinct psychological condition, but is the well-known and long-studied response of human beings living under conditions of severe and prolonged oppression. Although there is no doubt that individuals who attended Residential Schools suffered, and continue to suffer, from the effects of their experiences, the tactic of pathologizing these individuals, studying their condition, and offering ‘therapy’ to them and their communities must be seen as another rhetorical maneuver designed to obscure (to the world at large, to Aboriginal Peoples, and to the Canadians themselves) the moral and financial accountability of Eurocanadian society in a continuing record of Crimes Against Humanity.

I’m not denying that people in the Residential Schools–some of them–are having troubles today. But I don’t want to talk about the pathology, the alcohol and drug abuse, and the suicide of people who went to Residential School when that takes us away from talking about the real issues, and that is, what are the political, the economic and the legal ramifications of what occurred to First Nations People in these schools. We keep talking about how sick we are but we never ask: how sick were these people who created these things? Why is the sickness on our side? Why is it we have to prove how sick we are in order to get something done about these kinds of things?

I was in a room, early on in the Royal Commission work [Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples], and everybody was telling me oh, well, all this great work you are going to do, that is going to talk about the healing and the therapy that is necessary with Residential Schools. And I’m looking around, there’s a former Supreme Court Justice, there’s a lawyer, there’s another judge over here, there’s another person with legal training who has written law books or whatever, they’re sitting around telling me all of this and I said “it sounds like I’m in a room with damn psychologists.” In a room full of judges and lawyers does nobody recognize that crimes have been committed here? And why aren’t we talking about crimes? No, no that’s not even a fit topic for conversation. What we have to talk about is how sick the damn Indians are; and well we are going to take care of them.

Right. Let’s see how that game works; how the “Therapeutic State” works here. Well the Indians are sick, so do we do? We’re going to take some money, we’re going to give to largely, white, anglo-saxon protestant Eurocanadian therapists, and they’re going to visit with these people for 20 fifty-minute hours, after which time they’re going to be cured. So isn’t interesting that we’re going to transfer white people’s money from one pocket to another pocket and we’re going to call this ‘money spent on Indian People.’

The same game is being played in the education system. Where what we do, is if weve got a child with some difficulty with education, we send them to a psychologist, and in the Province of Alberta, that psychological assessment costs $4,500. That’s $4,500 that goes from the Federal Government to the pocket of a white, anglo-saxon, protestant psycholgist who writes a report and says ‘kid is not learning very much.’ Oh, well thank you for clearing that up. That’s $4,500 that is counted as ‘money spent on Indian Education’, but it’s money that we merely get to authorize the transfer of from the Federal government to the private pockets.

Now does anybody point out, does anybody wonder that the fact that the assessments are not validated, the statistical properties are not established for First Nations children, means that such an assessment is an ethical violation of Canadian and American psychological testing standards? Oh, no, nobody bothers to bring that up; there’s money to made here.

Notice what happens, when, uh–Dr. Hanson was saying about blame the victim– look at how the system reacts to a child who is having difficulty in school: there’s got to be something wrong with the child. We can’t ask the question: Is it possible that maybe there is something wrong with the curriculum?; Is it possible that there’s something wrong with the way that the structure of learning is set up so that some idiot stands up in front of a large group of people and talks, so somebody hears a loudspeaker, and everybody else is a tape recorder, and this is how education is supposed to behave? This is how it is supposed to take place?

We’re not allowed to inquire into the dynamics of the educational system. What we have to do is accept that there’s something wrong with us. We’re the problem. The Residential School does exactly the same thing: the treatment of alcoholism as a disease that First Nations People have as a genetic thing or learned behavior that we don’t seem to be able to get around. Time and time again, the same process is taking place, and that process is, let’s not ask about the systemic kinds of things, let’s not ask about larger factors, let’s not ask about other responsibilities that may be entailed, let’s find what’s wrong with the specific case, what’s wrong with the Indians in this particular instance….

…we must misunderstand Indian Residential School to the extent to which we think that the pathology in the system lies within the survivors of the individual survivors of the Residential School experience. The pathology that you are looking for is not in the pathology of the people who went through the experience, the pathology is in the system of order that gave rise to that Residential School, that saw it in operation, that put it in operation, that thought it was a good thing, that patted itself on the back occasionally saying: ‘aren’t we doing well by our brown cousins?; we’re bringing them freedom and we’re bringing them into this particular world; aren’t we generous?; and all they are paying for it is all of their land, all of their trees, all of their minerals, all of their water, their freedom, their language, their religions, every aspect of their form of life, that’s all their paying.’

Now the fact that they didn’t make that bargain, that they didn’t ask for that, means that well they are kind of stupid you know; they don’t recognize just how superior our way is. So even though they are kicking and screaming, we’re going to do for them. There’s the patriarchy, there’s the patronizing aspect of it. The “Therapeutic State” will constantly congratulate itself that it’s doing good as it is doing the most horrendous thing.

…the extent to which we ourselves as First Nations People have continued that task, by not examining those kinds of questions, by accepting that the problem is our own individualized pathology, by running all kinds of workshops where we’ll say ‘we’ll let’s get together and we’ll hug a lot and this will overcome what happend to us in the Residential School.’

Oh, I’m sorry, it is a political problem, it is a legal problem, for the churches and for the Government of Canada, it’s also a financial problem, because they’ve got mighty big bills to pay if the Canadian public begins to realize what what done to human beings in their name. This is one of the reasons you won’t find the United Nations’ Genocide Charter inside history books, textbooks and in Canadian schools because the Canadians don’t want to tell their people what they’ve been doing in their name. They don’t want to see, starkly, in Article Two and Article Three, what their responsibilities were as human beings, and how, the acquiesence to the Residential School, even if they never even heard of an Indian or ever saw an Indian, how they were implicated in the crime as well–by their governments, by their churches.

They don’t want to hear about that, so we don’t put this in the textbooks. We don’t put in the textbooks what Canadian responsibilities are in terms of language, religion, education, our educational rights as human beings on this planet. Where they say ‘oh, well, we don’t have enough money for that. You want to have your own Indian university or you want to have your own Aboriginal research center, we’ll, there’s just not enough money.’ Well, that’s a violation of the Common Law of Nations that Canada is signatory to. Their avoiding their responsibilities and they’re covering-up by putting over it all the veneer of the “Therapeutic State.”

And God help us; a lot of us are involved in that “Therapeutic State.” We sit down and we do not go into the grounds of what’s going on, why is this happening, what are the historical backgrounds for this. One of the wisest things Dr. Szasz has ever said is: ‘the libraries are open, go and read, you want to find out about this stuff…’

There’s nothing here in The Circle Game that’s esoteric; we didn’t have to burrow into the national archives late at night and come out with secret scraps of paper. Everything we’ve got is public, and open and available. But we’ve got blinders on, and the blinders are ‘oh well Indian people are suffering and we’ve got to deal with that.’

I’ll tell you. Give us back all the land, gives back the payment for everything stolen, meet your obligations under the Treaties and I will see how many of us are still sick. Even if we are sick, we have the right as sovereign people to decide what we are going to do about it–not accept Health and Welfare Canada’s pronouncement that ‘it’s twenty sessions with a psychologist and you’re out the door, that’s it, you’re cured.’

These are part of our sovereign responsibilities. We do not need research; we need to think clearly about these issues. I come to a conference like this and I hear people saying ‘there aren’t any practical suggestions. Well, I’m sorry, when Dr. Szasz says that ‘you’re not fighting facts, you’re fighting ideologies’, that’s what we have to understand. The philosophy that stands behind what was done to us in the Residential School is the philosophy that stands behind the health and welfare cuts, stands behind the dismantling of the educational system in the Province of Alberta and so on and so on. We have to understand that ideology. We’re not doing any of that as we sit around hugging each other saying ‘oh, you had a bad time and I had a bad time too.’

We should be madder than hell about this; and we should be doing what Dr. Szasz has been doing: educating people about the history, the background, the ideology, the commonality of experience that is involved in this.

There’s a part in “Schindler’s List” which is the most horrible part of “Schindler’s List” of a most horrifying movie, that’s a moment that all of us have to say to ourselves ‘this is to be avoided entirely.’ It’s that moment when he has to stand there and say to himself and say to the people around him, ‘I could have done more.’ If we go to our graves and we say to ourselves ‘I could have done more’, I call myself a healer, I call myself a therapist, and I could have done more, then we’re gonna relive that horrible moment in “Schindler’s List” over and over again, and we’re gonna be doing it while we smile and while we pretend that we’re being generous and honest and open with the people who have come to us for help.

That, will be another crime against our own humanity. Thank you.

transcribed by Jim Craven

About Roland Chrisjohn

Image result for roland chrisjohn

Roland Chrisjohn is  is a member of the Iroquois Confederacy (Oneida), a healer (“psychologist”), and the sole tenured professor at the Department of Native Studies at St. Thomas University, in Fredericton, New Brunswick where he focuses on a critical introduction to the history of colonization and its impact on the applied social sciences, particularly psychology and social work.

He is the author of The Circle Game: Shadows and Substance in the Indian Residential School Experience in Canada, which outlines the manner in which the Canadian state has intentionally misrepresented and obscured the history of residential schools. He frames the Residential School system in the wider context of settler-colonialism and the ongiong genocide of indigenous peoples.

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USA

Liberal Antiwar Activism is the Problem

I have reproduced Vincent’s compelling poelmic, which appeared on CounterPunch and Wrong Kind of Green in full here: 

“Liberalism itself has failed, and for a pretty good reason. It has been too often compromised by the people who represented it.”

– Hunter S. Thompson

Every election season, veterans and their families are used as political pawns. During the Democratic National Convention in Philly, the Khans, the mother and father of a Marine Captain who was killed in Iraq, conveniently filled the role for Hillary Clinton and the Neoliberals. At the Republican National Convention, Patricia Smith gladly took the stage for the Neofascists and talked about the death of her son and the non-scandal that is, Benghazi.

In the meantime, anyone who opposes U.S. Empire is shit-out-of-luck when it comes to presidential elections and the two major parties. Here, we should commend Gary Johnson and Jill Stein for remaining principled in their views surrounding foreign policy, militarism, torture and surveillance. They’re the last of a dying breed.

***

My transition from obedient Marine to antiwar veteran was swift. In 2004, while deployed to Iraq, I enthusiastically cast an absentee ballot for John Kerry. Four years later, I was protesting Obama and the Democrats at the DNC in Denver. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Democratic Party was a party of Empire and Capitalism.

Unfortunately, 2008 was the last time a significant number of antiwar activists protested Obama’s foreign policy. Yes, a small number of Americans made a fuss when Obama first threatened to bomb Syria, but those protests were driven by partisan and sectarian interests (the first and only time I saw Republicans and Communists working together). Furthermore, those protests weren’t sustained in any meaningful fashion, so the energy quickly dissipated. As everyone now knows, Obama eventually launched military strikes in Syria and the U.S. continues to bomb the country today.

The millions of liberals who enthusiastically marched against the Bush/Cheney regime have remained utterly silent during Obama’s reign in the White House. And they should be ashamed.

***

Why are liberals and progressives so unprincipled when it comes to U.S. Empire? In my thinking, a large part of the problem is ideological: the majority of liberals and progressives, including many who supported Bernie Sanders, fully identify as Americans. They’ve bought into the notion that the U.S. is a special nation that enjoys a special place in our geopolitical reality. Liberals perpetuate the myth of American Exceptionalism and fully endorse the concept of American Nationalism. As a result, these ideologies are employed in their rhetoric and reflected in their bankrupt policies.

In the future, any antiwar movement that hopes to be successful, must undoubtedly challenge these myths and ideologies and remind Americans of our brutal history. When I think of American Exceptionalism, I don’t think about the moon landing or the U.S. Constitution, I think of exceptional madness: the genocide of North America’s indigenous population, slavery and 200 years of Empire.

When I see an American flag, my blood boils. Technically, I’m an American. But I don’t self-identify as an American. I’d rather identify as a global citizen or simply a human being. Maybe some of this sounds petty, as the flag is simply the symbolic representation of U.S. Empire, but to me, and many millions around the globe, it represents murder, plunder and extreme hubris. Again, nothing to be proud of, and surely nothing to defend.

***

Another fundamental problem in the antiwar movement was individual careerist interests. Let’s be honest, many people failed to protest Obama’s militarism because it wasn’t economically prudent to do so. In short, it was bad for peoples’ potential careers in the world of non-profits. Many of the veterans and antiwar activists I met during the Bush-era now work for any number of liberal NGOs. The revolving door of professional activists and paid consultants dampened any potential radicalism that could have sprouted from any number of organizations we worked with. We were told, “Don’t offend the donors!”

Eventually, I sat on the board of directors of an internationally known antiwar organization. I remember having a conversation with my fellow board members about fundraising. At the time, we were having financial difficulties and donations were sparse. Consequently, the board decided that we should conduct a fluff, top-down campaign to attract funding. Instead, I proposed that we should call our donors and explain that the antiwar movement has disappeared and that we’re having difficulties keeping members active and engaged. You know, the truth. I was told that’s not how NGOs work and that I was immature and uneducated about the topic. You know, just another working-class buffoon.

Today, that organization is a shell of its former self. Hell, I’m not sure if the organization even exists outside of a few art projects and street theater performances. Conventions are held, but they’re no more substantive than a high school reunion. It’s sad and unfortunate.

I don’t recall these memories or provide these reflections with any pleasure. To be honest, it breaks my heart that this is the state of the antiwar movement. Peoples’ lives around the world depend on those of us in the U.S. to create movements capable of stopping Uncle Sam’s imperial madness. So far, we’re losing. And in many ways, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

***

I live in a Rust Belt town in Northwest Indiana, hence most of the people I interact with on a daily basis are not radical activists or political organizers. These folks might attend a local political or cultural event, or even vote in the primaries, but they’re not full-time activists. They don’t spend their days reading Tariq Ali and Arundhati Roy (though they should). These are people who wake up (early), go to work (usually for shit pay), come home (if they have one), eat some dinner (usually fast food or frozen meals) and watch Netflix or ESPN. Their realities and interests are dramatically different than the people I met in the antiwar movement, particularly those working for NGOs.

Several years ago, at a strategic workshop in Chicago, we spent the first two hours of each day talking about pronouns. That’s right, pronouns. Now, is there anything inherently wrong with discussing gender identities? Of course not. But we were attending a strategic workshop for an antiwar organization, not a lecture on gender and civility.

It became clear to me that Identity Politics had infected the organization. But where did this ideology come from? San Francisco, of course.

Many of our members attended anti-oppression workshops, where they talked about privilege and collective liberation. Of course, 95% of the people conducting and attending these workshops were white, upper-class, highly educated and firmly isolated from reality. Yet, here they were,back in Chicago, telling me about privilege and questioning whether or not I was truly a good person because I didn’t understand what cis-gender meant.

If anyone reading this essay ever wondered why more working-class and poor people don’t join antiwar organizations or attend leftist political events, well, now you know. Because the Left is a fucking weird place.

Instead of educating people about the connections between militarism and austerity, Empire and Capitalism, workshop facilitators had people talking about pronouns and doing breathing exercises. I guess that sort of shit might fly in Portland or San Francisco, but not in the Rust Belt.

***

Speaking of the privileged and highly educated, isn’t it interesting that the people who argue for interventionist policies are often people who have the proper educational and cultural pedigree? Here, I’m thinking of the Rachel Maddows and Charlie Roses of the world.

The Humanitarian Interventionist isn’t a steelworker or a bartender at the local pub. Why? Because that bartender or steelworker’s son or daughter could very well end up fighting those interventionist wars abroad. They have some skin in the game, unlike the many professional-class liberals and societal managers who make absurd arguments about the merits of American Exceptionalism and hegemony.

One of the more interesting dynamics of the 2016 race has been Trump’s double-speak on foreign policy. On the one hand, Trump makes absolutely insane statements about nuclear weapons and so forth. On the other hand, Trump occasionally sounds like an isolationist and/or anti-interventionist.

Now, do I believe a word Trump utters? No. But what’s interesting is the fact that large portions of the GOP base, primarily white, working-class and poor people, are no longer buying what Uncle Sam is selling. Their sons and daughters have been ravaged from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with more veterans committing suicide than died overseas. The people who live in Small Town America are the Americans who’ve sacrificed the most since 9/11. And for all the wrong reasons: namely, nationalism, revenge, greed and power.

To me, this antiwar sentiment, however jumbled, unprincipled and unsophisticated it may be, is something to tap into. Without question, large swaths of the American public, especially Sanders and Trump’s supporters, are fatigued from almost fifteen years of non-stop war.

The next step is to use this sentiment to organize and mobilize a new antiwar movement. The only way this will happen is if the Left drops its pretentious bullshit and learns how to talk to regular Americans without getting offended. And that includes some of Trump’s supporters.

***

While the most Americans were focused on the Khan family and Donald Trump’s inability to keep his mouth shut, Obama launched his latest attack in Libya. The White House claims the U.S. will regularly drop bombs for the next month. Unsurprisingly, there was no debate, no congressional approval. The U.S. is bombing Libya and there’s nothing anyone can say or do about it. That’s the sad reality we endure.

Meanwhile, groups such as Vets vs. Hate, and opportunistic liberals, protest Trump’s bigotry but remain utterly silent when it comes to Obama and Clinton’s many war crimes and atrocities. Liberal groups have little to say about the links between U.S. Empire and Climate Change. Refugees aren’t even mentioned. Afghanistan is an afterthought. Libya and Syria might as well not exist. And not a word about civilian casualties.

Moreover, Vets vs. Hate reinforces the false notion that veterans are heroes. Yes, plenty of veterans sacrificed, but not for “democracy” or “freedom.” We killed and died for oil companies, geopolitical interests and banks. And the Democrats share as much responsibility as the Republicans.

The U.S. is the richest and most powerful Empire in history. And for the last 50 years we’ve been killing peasants around the globe. That’s honorable?

In the end, people who want to dismantle the U.S. Empire – Libertarians, Greens, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists – had better get our shit together, drop the sectarian nonsense, find our courage and form organizations that aren’t beholden to wealthy donors or the NGO complex because we’re running out of time. And neither the planet, nor humanity can endure another decade of liberal antiwar activism.

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UNCATEGORIZED

Roland Chrisjohn – It’s Not Gonna Happen: The Indigenous Response to Capitalism in an Era of Unbridled Capitalism

An important intervention by Professor Roland Chrisjohn at St. Thomas University I found while browsing the STU Native Student Council archives. Chrisjohn has a long history of anti-colonial organizing dating back to the founding of the American Indian Movement (AIM). His academic works on the psychology of colonialism, a Marxist analysis of neo-colonialism in Canada, and a critique of “invented traditions” is also invaluable.

https://videopress.com/v/4uLnNHCW

Full recording of the lecture

 

About Roland Chrisjohn

Image result for roland chrisjohn

Roland Chrisjohn is  is a member of the Iroquois Confederacy (Oneida), a healer (“psychologist”), and the sole tenured professor at the Department of Native Studies at St. Thomas University, in Fredericton, New Brunswick where he focuses on a critical introduction to the history of colonization and its impact on the applied social sciences, particularly psychology and social work.

He is the author of The Circle Game: Shadows and Substance in the Indian Residential School Experience in Canada, which outlines the manner in which the Canadian state has intentionally misrepresented and obscured the history of residential schools. He frames the Residential School system in the wider context of settler-colonialism and the ongiong genocide of indigenous peoples.

Native Student Council

Dr. Roland Chrisjohn is a member of the Oneida Nation of the Confederacy of the Haudenausaunee (Iroquois). He gives his review of his lecture held during the 2011 STU Native Awareness Days in Fredericton, NB.

Press play to hear Roland’s lecture!

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