by Comrade Amil – 19 January 2013
In the interest of advancing a discussion on some of these questions (not an exhaustive list) in our circles, amongst those seriously engaged with Idle No More, and amongst the aware but unengaged masses of non-Indigenous exploited and oppressed people in this country, please repost to your Facebook pages, or comment directly on this page….
In a recent piece I wrote, called “Mass Work and Proletarian Revolutionaries”– where I was trying to open a discussion on where to find the “advanced masses” in Canada based on the contradictions in Canadian society – there were some points raised on the question of Indigenous anti-colonial struggles that I think we should revisit. That whole excerpt is reproduced at the end of this article.
In the context of the rising Idle No More mass movement – an unprecedented convergence and upsurge of Indigenous struggles in “Canadian” history – I would like to review some of the main points I made in that passage to open up a discussion amongst our forces and amongst revolutionaries in general that is urgently in need of elaboration. The points I bring out here reflect some of the discussions and thinking circulating within our organization on the question of the struggle of Indigenous Nations for self-determination and decolonization – thinking which has to rapidly catch up with the emergence of the Idle No More movement, and the grassroots militancy that has been released under its banner. An earlier compilation of previous passages and excerpts of ours on Indigenous liberation can be found here.
In the context of Idle No More, there are three points in the excerpt below that I’d like to highlight and build upon for the important questions that they provoke at the current conjuncture:
Point 1: The anti-colonial movement – what is popularly called a movement for “decolonization” – is limited in its ability to defeat Canadian imperialism without revolutionary unity with the rest of the proletariat. “Any form of indigenous self-determination that keeps Canadian imperialism in tact will be nothing but neo-colonialism.” This is not a critique of native militants, their initiative, and their anti-colonial work – since these mass struggles have proved to be the most militant and sustained for decades. Rather, if anything, it’s a call to proletarian revolutionaries “to effect a convergence between the anti-colonial movement in Canada with the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist movements”. It is not the place of the non-indigenous part of a united revolutionary movement to dictate what form the national liberation movement will take for any given nation of indigenous people. It’s the task of the proletarian revolutionary movement to assert the need to build a revolutionary united front with the Indigenous national liberation movement, struggling to unite the movements of the most oppressed and exploited settlers and immigrants with it.
- In this very moment, where the question of Indigenous nationhood cannot be ignored, how do non-Indigenous revolutionaries provide support to the grassroots militancy rising under the banner of Idle No More? Is it limited to attending rallies, or even getting on the front lines of the blockades? That’s important, that’s something – but is that all we can be doing?
- Are there more important ways we can intervene, ways that seize upon this unprecedented moment in Canadian history where Indigenous Nations have asserted themselves and are “in the spotlight” to push through, as intensely as possible, a deeper understanding amongst non-Indigenous exploited and oppressed peoples about the colonial character of this country?
- Are there conditions of possibility to build a revolutionary united front like never before, to unite revolutionary anti-capitalists and anti-imperialists with revolutionary Indigenous peoples through a developing common program for a new society?
- In essence, how to non-Indigenous peoples intervene in this moment?
Point 2: That there is an antagonistic contradiction between Indigenous Nations as such and Canadian imperialism. Right now, Canadian imperialism is a parasite upon dozens of Indigenous nations. The two cannot co-exist indefinitely. One must do away with the other. The Canadian state and the monopoly capitalists its serves must “plunder the lands and resources of native lands and exterminate native peoples as such” in order to advance capitalist accumulation).
- What are the conditions of possibility for “decolonization” of Canadian society? Can the Harper government concede anything that will satisfy the struggles of Indigenous people that have coalesced like never before?
- What are the strategic options for the Canadian state and its imperialist bourgeoisie (especially the monopoly capitalists of the extractive industry and their associated partners in finance and industry)?
Loaded questions, perhaps. But questions that require deeper elucidation and an extensive debate to prepare ourselves for the ideological struggles and battles ahead…
Point 3: That there there exists a bureaucrat capitalist / comprador class structure within Indigenous nations (institutionalized under the Indian Act, through the Band Councils and through the Assembly of First Nations, and via resource-sharing agreements that leave some rich and most poor). Zig Zag has touched upon these divisions in this recent piece, “Oily Chiefs, Idle No More, and the AFN.” This comprador structure is not a matter of “corrupt chiefs” and the misspending of Federal dollars, but rather an appendage of the system of Canadian imperialism as a whole, a class that does the bidding of the colonial structure of Canada and gets rich off of it.
- What is the class composition of the various Indigenous Nations across Canada? How do they vary by region? What is the class composition internal to Indigenous communities through the forces of colonialism?
- What are the forces of compromise, capitulation, and neo-colonialism within Indigenous communities? What is their ideological expression at this particular moment?
- What are the strata of Indigenous communities and nations that can only move forward through a revolutionary rupture with Canadian imperialism as a whole?
- How long will this tenuous unity remain between these various strata of Indigenous nations under the banner of Idle No More? How will the Harper regime try to split these forces?
Here is the full excerpt from “Mass Work and Proletarian Revolutionaries”: