Wednesday, February 12, 2020

WHY THEIR FIGHT IS TRULY OUR FIGHT – Indigenous Struggles and Overcoming the Settler's Damaged Being.

Liberal “sympathizers”, let alone the haters, do not realize that the victory of any Indigenous struggle is a victory for all of us, Indigenous or not. To explain what I mean by this statement, it is necessary to review the situation that we all face, no matter our origins:

There is the on-going, ever-advancing climate crisis and the unwillingness of our governments to do anything about it. We really have no say over how resources and the land are used. This is the purvue of the provincial governments, who inevitably serve corporate interests. There is the housing crisis, speculators and overseas hot money driving prices though the roof and the building of affordable housing a mere drop in the bucket. Ironically, in a part of the world where there is nothing but vacant land and trees! A major source of these problems is the crisis of democracy. Governments are elected which do not carry out their promises, and use their power to bully the populace into accepting their corporate welfare schemes.

Indigenous people point the way out of this morass. For them, the land and resources belong to their traditional territory and their use is determined by stewardship. The fight is to maintain that stewardship in the face of the corporate desire to plunder these lands. When they regain control over the traditional territories, any development will have to be approved by the stewards. This will mean a much more environmental approach and an end to money-guzzling, destructive megaprojects. The idea of community control and stewardship need not be limited to First Nations either. Stakeholder-based, democratic control of land and resources ought to be something adopted at the regional-municipal level. NIMBY could thus be harnessed in a progressive, ecological way.

Community ownership of the land base completely changes the picture when it comes to housing. Indigenous territory is owned in common, and if you are a member of the group you are entitled to some ground to build a dwelling. Imagine this done at the municipal level – whole areas set aside as land trusts for coop and non-profit housing. Taking the land mass out of the hands of the provincial governments and regionalizing/municipalizing control could also lead to the development of new towns, rather than continuing the existing ecologically destructive suburban sprawl.

Traditional First Nations governance involves participation and consensus. While every individual may not be directly part of this process, a consensus of all the groups that make up that society is needed. In our system, there is no attempt at consensus. Governments force though policies that negatively impact significant minorities of the population – or as we have seen, even majorities of the population. This gives rise to social anomie and unceasing conflict. While pure consensus could not work with a large population, most of whom are strangers to each other, a modified version would solve these problems.

Most aspects of daily governance are not controversial – paying bills, adding a cross walk etc. You don't need to develop a consensus in these areas. Modified consensus would be used in a situation where some significantly large minority of the population might be harmed by proposed legislation (example – severely curtailing day care) Unless those effected are on board, such legislation could not pass. As a result, conflict would be greatly reduced and government actions would more closely reflect the desires of the population.

But there is more to gain. We, the settlers are a damaged people. A thousand years of serfdom and wage slavery, cruel religions, child abuse and genocide, all of these crimes our ancestors have faced. As a result, we are a people totally alienated; from each other, from our long-suppressed traditions and from nature. We have no respect; for ourselves, for each other, for the elders, for the learned - everyone and everything is treated with contempt. We must look back to our earlier selves, before authoritarian religion and empire – back to our communally owed land, our village-based communities, our tribal gatherings, our nature spirituality. We must also connect with our centuries-long resistance – the peasant revolts, the Luddites, the syndicalists, I say this, not with a desire to artificially recreate the peasant “pagan” world, or romanticize past struggles, but merely to reconnect with that deeply hidden aspect of ourselves which has so much in common with the Indigenous way of being. When we purge ourselves of the authoritarian poison within us and become fully human again, then, and only then, can there be Reconciliation, and we will live as brothers and sisters on the land.


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