Nation Building. Thoughts on Alternatives, etc.
04-21-2006, 12:22 PM
Nation Building. Thoughts on Alternatives, etc.
This article is a good one to start with. A very good thought provoking commentary about the emerge of democracy in Africa. should it be rushed if the outlook is violence and conflict? or should economic stability be made priority and elections made to wait until stability is present? One of the Author's main points is that why should Africa be expected to throw together a shabby clone of western democracy in a few decades when it took the west centuries (and he quips) perhaps milleniums to build theirs, which don't work perfectly even today? Instead he says Africa should build a African styled democracy over time when and as it is ready... meanwhile basic freedoms like expression, press, and basic human rights.
Africa Insight-Africa not ready for elections, so let’s forget about them for now
Story by Ali A. Mufuruki
Publication Date: 4/21/2006
A political framework for Africa that could work is one that de-emphasises democracy for its own sake and instead creates space for responsible leadership so that countries can focus on building their economies, argues Ali A. Mufuruki
During a business trip to Hong Kong, I went to dinner with my Chinese host. Also present was a retired British couple on a long holiday away from freezing Cheshire where they live. As the dinner conversation revolved around the incredibly low prices of computer accessories in Hong Kong, the British pensioner blurted completely out of the blue: "I cannot understand you Africans, so articulate, well educated and so good-hearted and yet you are so completely hopeless at running the affairs of your countries in a fairly decent manner. Can you tell me why?"
There was a sudden cold silence around the table. My Chinese host was clearly embarassed by the question. I was neither shocked nor embarrassed. It is true that some of us can be incredibly articulate, well educated and kind-hearted all at once, and it is also true Africa has had its fare share of fiercely articulate leaders who failed so dramatically when it came to delivering on the aspirations of their people.
My new British friend went on to speak nostalgically about a 14-week trip he made with his wife across West Africa some 12 years ago, immediately after he retired. Now well into his Seventies, he could not believe what had become of beautiful Sierra Leone, where he had memories of very nice and generous people, beautiful landscapes and most importantly, a sense of serene calm that he had ceased to believe existed anywhere in the world. I could therefore understand his anguish when he asked again: "Why is Africa always failing?"
Fortunately, I was able to put together a quick response based on a book I had recently read — World on Fire by Prof Amy Chua, a Chinese American — on the conflict between markets, democracy and globalisation in countries that have an economically dominant ethnic or racial minority.
Given its history of colonialism on a grand scale that accentuated and even exploited ethnic rivalries and suspicions, Africa fits squarely that description. It is made up of countries that invariably have a minority that dominates commerce, industry, politics, the military or all of the above at the exclusion of a larger, poorer and very often angry ethnic or racial majority.
World on Fire actually makes a very good attempt at explaining the often disastrous efforts by successive African (and other) leaders to make markets work for the majority of their people while at the same time opening up democratic space far too quickly. The well-documented mass slaughter in Rwanda, for example, erupted on the eve of a peace deal that would have allowed the minority Tutsi to participate in the country’s political life for the first time in more than 40 years. The removal of a despotic dictator in Somalia has left that country without a formal government for more than 15 years now. Multi-party democracy has created turmoil in once prosperous Zimbabwe, turning former liberation heroes into despised despots and pro-democracy campaigners into lackeys of white farmers.
To be fair, the mess we see in Africa today is not entirely due to the democratisation and globalisation waves that are sweeping the continent. There were dramatic African failures of leadership during a time when the Cold War kept the disruptive forces of capitalism and free market democracy at bay. These are the times when Africans made a conscious choice to pursue a particular political path to economic and social redemption, very often driven by our collective hatred of what life was like during the colonial days. Like all recently liberated people, we strode confidently into the bright new future, hopeful of a much better life in which we would be masters of our own destiny, or so we thought.
In some countries, the leadership policies of the day were supported by huge sections of society (such as in Tanzania, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire during the first 20 years of independence) and in others the people were brutally bludgeoned into submission by repressive governments (such as in apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia, Uganda, DR Congo, Nigeria and Togo, among others).
Quickest way out of our misery
Interestingly, regardless of the type of policies that the early leaders of Africa chose, they all surprisingly delivered more or less the same outcome. Poverty of the most brutal kind remains pervasive, primitive wars continue to kill, maim and scar the lives of young African children, the looting of African natural resources today by far exceeds colonial proportions and entire populations of countries are threatened by preventable and treatable diseases such as malaria, TB and HIV/Aids. Add to this desperate situation the pressures brought to bear on fragile national governments by the forces of democracy, globalisation and free markets then you begin to understand just how big the African problem is.
Our development partners, spearheaded by the Bretton Woods institutions, the US and increasingly the United Nations, are telling us that the best and quickest way out of our misery is to embrace democracy, open up our markets and make the best of globalisation. We are told repeatedly that as long as we do not build democratic institutions and live by their rules, Africa will continue to be a place of endless poverty and misery, where life is nasty, brutish and short.
To be sure, quite an impressive number of African countries have quickly adopted constitutions that are based on democratic principles in recent years. Of these, quite a few have actually tried to live a democratic political life but as explained by Prof Amy Chua, there has always been the inevitable, almost reflexive, frequent backlashes against democracy that start almost always with rumblings of disaffection among the masses who feel that globalisation (and even democracy itself) is only benefiting a select smart few who happen to be either foreigners or members of a long hated dominant ethnic or religious group.
The human wave that topples democratic governments, chops limbs or massacres thousands across the continent picks, as its first target, the well-spoken and well-educated black elite who see unlimited opportunities in a democratic, capitalist and globalisation-friendly state. The elite form part of the hated group that welcomed these “killer applications” (democracy, free markets and globalisation) in the first place and hence must go.
More appropriate democracy
The odds are stacked heavily against democracy — at least the kind of democracy we have been trying to implement on the continent over the past two decades. So maybe the answer to our problems lies in a new, more appropriate and customised definition of democracy.
So what kind of democracy is right for Africa? Five years ago, we witnessed a backlash against a free market economy in Zimbabwe. Having failed to raise the living standards of his people after 20 years in power, Robert Mugabe identified the inequitable distribution of farmland as the real reason for his people’s problems. A few years later, Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth and made noises about getting out of the UN — a backlash against globalisation.
Most African countries quietly supported the land seizures simply because they could relate to the plight of the poor black Zimbabweans. The West, on the other hand, roundly condemned the move, orchestrated the isolation of the Mugabe government and actively worked toward its removal from power.
In the midst of the storm over land seizures, Zimbabweans handed Mugabe & Co a resounding electoral victory, the biggest he has ever won in any democratic elections, though dismissed by the opposition as having been rigged.
Tanzanians have a new President, Jakaya Kikwete. As a member of the private sector in Tanzania, a sector that has grown significantly during the past 10 years of the Benjamin Mkapa rule, I am most interested in the economic policies that the Kikwete leadership will pursue. The ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) still calls itself a socialist party, yet over the past 20 years we have witnessed a remarkable metamorphosis of this formerly staunch advocate of the command-and-control economy into a pro-privatisation, pro-markets, pro-liberalisation and pro-private sector political establishment. As a result, CCM’s real political philosophy remains very unclear, but does this really matter? What matters to most Tanzanians is that the country remains peaceful and the economy keeps growing.
So what should we do when a party that is known to be incapable of maintaining peace and growing the economy appears to be on the verge of electoral victory in a democratic election — as has been the case in Zimbabwe? Should we declare the elections null and void, not free and fair or flawed? Should we storm the State House if the majority proceed to confirm the democratically elected but ineffective leader? What will the masses that elected the person think? I doubt that this will work.
Option is not to hold elections
The best option therefore is not to hold elections at all until we are ready to live with whatever kind of leadership the democratic election process produces and until our political institutions are strong enough to allow the peaceful and constitutional removal of an unacceptable leader from office, for example, through a vote-of-no-confidence, early elections or impeachment.
As long as our only response to bad leadership is violence, as is the case in Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Burundi and many other African flash points, the blind pursuit of democracy will remain a senseless and bloody mess.
I am all for democracy, but my only problem is how we are expected to achieve something within decades that everybody before us took centuries, if not millennia of learning, to do so badly. The journey to democratic heaven should start with the building of a strong economy in which everybody has a stake. It should end with people submitting to democracy and the rule of law, not for its own sake, but primarily to protect themselves and their hard-won property from each other.
During the economic build-up phase (about 20 to 30 years), the people must be prepared to forgo frequent and divisive democratic elections at the national level. But democracy practised at village level during the early stages of this process is a good thing and could help entrench the culture of power-sharing, accountability and consensus-building before embarking on a more sophisticated “full blown democracy” in the years ahead.
The only freedoms that cannot be delayed or sacrificed, however, are the freedom of expression, freedom of the media and respect for basic human rights of all people.
Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea have done this with impressive outcomes and they had to weather a storm of Western criticism for many years but stuck to their guns nevertheless. China is doing the same today and apart from an occasional Western reprimand meant mostly for media consumption, China is not only enjoying global support for its rapid advance towards democratic maturity, but it is also being admired. The same should be possible for Africa.
A political framework for Africa that could work is one that de-emphasises democracy for its own sake and instead creates space for responsible leadership so that countries can focus on building their economies by directing resources to education, infrastructure and technological projects, food production, environment management and public health.
The international community must exercise prudence and patience while supporting countries whose leaders are genuinely committed to, and actively engaged in, efforts to achieve economic progress, and, indeed, punish those governments that are corrupt.
Ali A. Mufuruki is a Tanzanian business leader
Africa Insight is an initiative of the Nation Media Group’s Africa Media Network
04-23-2006, 09:28 AM
The white search for "normalcy" is, in reality, an ongoing crime
against humanity. Saturday's election is intended to bestow respectability
to the crime
Black Commentator #180 - Apr 20, 2006
'New Orleans is our Gettysburg'
A Generation's Defining Event
by BC Publishers Glen Ford and Peter Gamble
This Saturday's elections in New Orleans represent yet another element of
the vast crime committed against Black America. With as many as 300,000
residents, overwhelmingly African American, strewn about the country in
government-engineered exile, the elections are an insult to the very idea of
democracy, and to the dignity of all Black people.
This farcical exercise in faux democracy will no doubt be followed by
corporate media declarations that New Orleans is returning to "normalcy" -
the same term that the media bandied about when the city held a shrunken
Mardi Gras, in February.
Behind that bland word, "normalcy," lies a wish list and narrative that sees
white rule as normative in America - the way things should be - and Black
electoral power as an aberration, a kind of organized pathology in which
people are assumed to be up to no good. Despite Katrina's vast damage to
Louisiana infrastructure and commerce, there is a current of elation among
white elites and common folk alike, at the winds and waters that cleansed
New Orleans of its two-thirds Black majority, which was seen as a sore on
the body politic, a den of Otherness and iniquity.
The white American narrative, which begins with national "democratic"
elections after the birth of the republic in which only a tiny fraction of
the population - white male owners of substantial property - could vote,
bestows mythic significance to the electoral exercise, no matter how bogus
and profoundly undemocratic. Thus, two ink-dipped elections in U.S.-occupied
Iraq are heralded as benchmarks of progress, despite the deepening and
widening conflict and misery that afflict the Iraqi people. In New Orleans,
the mystical mantra of elections in which the majority of the population
cannot fully participate, is equated with a kind of "recovery" from the
storm and flood - when no such thing has occurred.
But the whites of New Orleans are free of the overwhelming Black presence -
free at last! - a prerequisite for the creation of a "new" and "better"
city. Some speak openly of the new lease on life that the dispersal of Black
residents has afforded the high-ground whites that have found themselves the
new majority. (See "New Orleans Elections Fever,"
.html>April 20, 2006). When their rule is sanctioned by this weekend's
elections, "normalcy" will be just around the corner.
"At the same time that they were talking about holding elections, they were
holding evictions," said Rev. Lennox Yearwood, chairman and CEO of
<http://www.hiphopcaucus.org/h2c/%3EHip> Hop Caucus, who has
immersed his organization in New Orleans political organizing and relief
work. "What needs to happen is the organizing of our people, wherever they
The task is formidable, because the entire national and state white power
structure is determined to be permanently rid of those exiled by Katrina.
The Louisiana state legislature has rushed to put New Orleans schools up for
sale, to preclude the return of Black families. The bill states that "the
recovery district may sell any property which the school district determines
will not be used for providing educational services on or before August 29,
"Recovery district." What a deformation of the English language. The white
powers-that-be want only to "recover" New Orleans for themselves, and ensure
that there will be no place for even the most determined Black exiles to
return to. The white search for "normalcy" is, in reality, an ongoing crime
against humanity. Saturday's election is intended to bestow respectability
to the crime.
However, a bleached New Orleans will never be legitimate to African
Americans, who understand that they have been collectively raped of their
personhood, not by weather, but by man. Bogus elections provide a false
facade of due process - a fragrance to hide the stench of raw expulsion of a
people - but it does not fool a single African American anywhere in the
In the words of University of Chicago political scientist
hael Dawson, Katrina "could very well shape this generation of young people
in the same way that the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King
shaped our generation" - the men and women who developed their political
consciousness in the Sixties.
Rev. Yearwood agrees. "People are becoming much more political," said the
26-year-old minister. "The common person in Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans
is much more engrossed in politics, in the spirit of self-determination. I'm
Katrina is becoming a rallying cry for all of Black America, creating a new
generation of activists. "I'm beginning to see more
<http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/hamer.html%3EFannie> Lou Hamers emerging," said
Rev. Yearwood. "People don't need more organizations telling them what to
do. They are saying, Just give me the tools and I'll get the job done."
While the powerful conspire to make a fait accompli of the New Orleans
diaspora, the results of which will be certified by the most undemocratic
election since passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the political
consciousness of Black America is being transformed. A horrible lesson has
been relearned: Katrina "suggested to Blacks the utter lack of the liberal
possibility in the United States," says Prof Dawson. We must strike out on
our own path, with whatever allies are willing to make common cause with us.
The New Orleans election will never be "closure" for us.
"New Orleans is our Gettysburg," said Rev. Yearwood. "If we lose there, we
lose all the marbles."
The forces arrayed against a Black return to New Orleans do not realize that
they have set in motion the entire national Black polity. Just as President
John Kennedy inspired western Europeans when he declared "Ich bin ein
Berliner" ("I am a Berliner") in 1963, all Black people see their fates
entwined with the New Orleans diaspora - "I am a New Orleanian."
We understand that the enforced exile of hundreds of thousands of our
brothers and sisters is an assault and disenfranchisement of us all, and
that we cannot afford to lose in this twilight struggle. Defeat is not an
option. As Rev. Yearwood put it: "You can live in LA - you lose. You can
be in New York - you lose. If we lose in New Orleans, we lose it all."
Elections be damned.
[BC Publishers Glen Ford and Peter Gamble are writing a book to be
entitled "Barack Obama and the Crisis of Black Leadership."]
04-25-2006, 12:14 PM
A need to be THE "greatest?"
got this article in my inbox today and this is what I thought:
"Sounds a bit like a long round-a-bout way to self-justification to me. It always strikes me as amazing when I hear folks declare that America is the greatest nation on earth. Instead I'd like to think that any nation is indispensable and that no nation is the greatest, in God's eyes or my own. It is in this same way that I think of myself."
... so i wonder where is the humility that is truely suppossed to be pleasing to god?
i think we suffer from vanity and enlarged ego. i think these characteristics would be found at the very root of most (if not all) of humankind's troubles...
Is US Being Transformed Into a Radical Republic?
By Lawrence Wilkerson
The Baltimore Sun
Sunday 23 April 2006
We Americans came not from a revolution but from an evolution.
That is in large part why our so-called revolution produced success while most throughout history did not. We came as much from the Magna Carta as from our own doings, as much from British common law and parliamentary development as from the Declaration of Independence and Continental Congress.
Unlike the true revolution on the other side of the Atlantic that led to Napoleon's dictatorship and strife and conflict all across Europe, our evolution founded the greatest country the world has ever seen. That was true in every element of power and in the uniqueness that makes us great, our constant striving for "a more perfect union" and, as we do so, our open arms for the other peoples of the world "yearning to be free."
As Alexis de Tocqueville once said: "America is great because she is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
In January 2001, with the inauguration of George W. Bush as president, America set on a path to cease being good; America became a revolutionary nation, a radical republic. If our country continues on this path, it will cease to be great - as happened to all great powers before it, without exception.
From the Kyoto accords to the International Criminal Court, from torture and cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners to rendition of innocent civilians, from illegal domestic surveillance to lies about leaking, from energy ineptitude to denial of global warming, from cherry-picking intelligence to appointing a martinet and a tyrant to run the Defense Department, the Bush administration, in the name of fighting terrorism, has put America on the radical path to ruin.
Unprecedented interpretations of the Constitution that holds the president as commander in chief to be all-powerful and without checks and balances marks the hubris and unparalleled radicalism of this administration.
Moreover, fiscal profligacy of an order never seen before has brought America trade deficits that boggle the mind and a federal deficit that, when stripped of the gimmickry used to make it appear more tolerable, will leave every child and grandchild in this nation a debt that will weigh upon their generations like a ball and chain around every neck. Imagine owing $150,000 from the cradle. That is radical irresponsibility.
This administration has expanded government - creation of the Homeland Security Department alone puts it in the record books - and government intrusiveness. It has brought a new level of sleaze and corruption to Washington (difficult to do, to be sure). And it has done the impossible in war-waging: put in motion a conflict in Iraq that in terms of colossal incompetence, civilian and military, and unbridled arrogance portends to top the Vietnam era, a truly radical feat.
In Eugene Jarecki's documentary Why We Fight, Richard Perle, head theoretician for the neo-Jacobins who masquerade under the title "neoconservatives," claims that America was changed forever by 9/11. He tells us that those attacks are responsible for all this radicalism. The Jacobins were members of a radical political club during the French Revolution that instituted brutal repression in what became known as the "reign of terror."
Mr. Perle says that we may think we can go back, but we cannot. "We are not the same people we were before," he says emphatically, as if he were our king. If he's correct, then our country is as spent as was Rome, Spain, the Netherlands, Britain and a host of other great powers before each toppled from the mountain.
Mr. Perle is not correct.
First, it was Mr. Perle and people such as he who put us where we are today, not the terrorists of 9/11. A somnolent Congress assisted - a Congress that, as Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia said as the Senate failed to debate in the run-up to the Iraq war, was "ominously, ominously, dreadfully silent."
Second, people such as Mr. Perle do not represent the bulk of Americans, who are anything but radical. Instead, they represent the Robespierres and Napoleons of this world, the neo-Jacobins of today. Robespierre was a leader of the reign of terror.
We can turn back; moreover, we must if the world is to continue on a trajectory of more freedom and more prosperity for increasing numbers of people. Without American leadership - the good America - the world cannot progress.
If we are in some way the indispensable nation that a few Americans have said we are, then that is why. And it is no arrogance of power to say it; rather, it is to admit abiding reverence for the way the world works.
Such awesome responsibility generates not the swaggering ineptitude of which we have witnessed so much of late, but the abject humility that should flood us when we confront such unprecedented responsibility. I imagine the feeling to be something akin to what Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower felt moments before the invasion of Normandy began June 6, 1944.
Congress can awaken and discover that the Constitution is correct, that Congress is in fact a separate and equal branch of government. The American people will find a way to deal with the remainder of the radicals, whether at the ballot box, in the courts or in the Senate.
We can halt the precipitate slide in our standing around the world, convince the majority of the Islamic world that we can and must co-exist - and eventually prosper together - and at the same time confront, confound and defeat the small element in Islam's midst that lives to murder innocents, Christian, Jew and Muslim alike.
All we need do, in reality, is return to our roots. Never in our almost 800-year history since the Magna Carta have we been radicals.
Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a visiting professor of government at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell from 2002 to 2005. His e-mail is email@example.com.
06-15-2006, 04:13 PM
Tribal governments change, not always for better
I just got put up on Dorreen Yellow Bird, but from reading a few of her columns I can tell she's a strong and important voice.
Tribal governments change, not always for better
Column by Dorreen Yellow Bird
In Indian Country, tribal governments seem at times to be hurtling
toward great change, with some tribes on a steady course and others
careening wildly. The engine is power - power that is bolstered by
casino money; power that results in some leaders voting in hefty
paychecks and too-generous benefits for themselves.
Unfortunately, checks and balances often seem to stumble over each
other, stymieing rather than furthering good government.
One of those checks could be a free press. But many reservation
newspapers are funded by the tribe, and the salaried staff doesn't want
to bite the hand that feeds them.
Without a free press, some tribal memberships have found a way to bring
tribal governments to account. The recall of tribal council members and
chairs is becoming common.
The most recent is the recall of J.C. Crawford, chairman of the
Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. His council voted him out
amid allegations that he misappropriated $698,000 since 2003, reported
the Indian Country Today newspaper of Rapid City, S.D. Crawford strongly
denied the charges.
Last year, I covered the recall of Valentino "Tino" White from his post
as tribal chairman of the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe. He was accused of
abusing power. White did not appear at the June 23 hearing to defend
himself, and the membership moved ahead with action. Myra Pearson was
elected in his place.
Eli Hunt, tribal chairman of the Leech Lake Ojibwe Tribe of Minnesota,
was recalled in 2002. Cecilia Fire Thunder, tribal chairman of the
Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, has
been served with recall petitions, but they were found unjustified. So
Fire Thunder continues to be the first female chairman of this Lakota
nation in southwestern South Dakota.
I don't know about the guilt or innocence of these tribal chairmen. I
only know they were put on the chopping block - some escaped the ax,
others are history. The bottom line is that recall seems to be a growing
method of toppling tribal governments.
Does having the threat of recall hanging over their heads make tribal
leaders more accountable? In my experience with the Three Affiliated
Tribes on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, recall is a
roll of the dice. Some rumors about a particular leader may be true, but
others are only as real as a scary ghost story.
When my mother and aunt were alive, they and their friends would bend my
ear about the wrongdoings of the tribal council. After I was riled up
enough, I would check out their accusations. But many times, what they'd
heard was based on rumor. In reservation communities where we know each
other well, we get bits and pieces of a rumor, then start to chew on
those tidbits until we've formed a story into something that pleases us.
Watching the government squirm can be entertaining.
Of course, not all rumors are untrue, and some councils should squirm.
The Three Affiliated Tribes' tribal council has done poorly with
finances. From information gleaned from an elder's newsletter, I found
our tribe is about $80 million in debt. This growing debt is fed by
council members' salaries that far exceed the wage of the average person
on the reservation. In addition to those hefty salaries, councilmen also
are allocated pickup trucks and other things that are paid for with
"How can they justify this?" I asked a council member from White Shield,
N.D. The council members are managing large budgets and deserve big
salaries, I was told. They are like the executives of big corporations.
But those national CEO's don't live in areas where you get a meal for $5
or pay $300 or $400 a month for a house.
A free press on the reservations is sorely needed but hard to build.
Tribal government skirmishes are covered by mainstream press when there
is a major crime or a recall petition, but other than that, there is
little day-to-day coverage by off-reservation media. That is where
hometown, reservation-type newspapers could come in. They can change
tribal government. If the press is not controlled by the tribal
government, it could cause that tribal officials to pause and have
second thoughts before misappropriating funds or abusing power.
There are some downsides to a free press on reservations. The press has
to be free to provide both sides of a story and be unencumbered in the
process. To be unencumbered, they need funding from sources other than
the tribe. Unfortunately, there are few reservation newspapers that can
keep themselves afloat with revenue from subscriptions and advertising.
There is also the issue of bias. If, for example, a tribal member can
own and manage a newspaper, would not his or her biases be evident in
the writing? It is hard not to let your own experience color what you
But "the perfect is the enemy of the good," as the saying goes. A
newspaper that makes an good effort is better than a whole community in
Traditionally, tribes did have good governments, but they were
different. I remember listening years ago to Byron Wild, Sahnish
councilman from White Shield, N.D. He was one of the old guard on the
council. These old men had to have their arms twisted to take a council
seat. Not everyone met the criteria; they had to be respected, fair,
generous, strong and a good leader.
Too bad that some of our tribal governments have changed, and we've come so far from that kind of requirement. And it's too bad that we've
incorporated so much of the non-Indian kind of government, where power
and money have come to be the new culture of some tribal governments.
06-15-2006, 04:17 PM
April 12-Day of Action in Support of Six Nations
On March 3rd, 2006, members of the Rotinoshon'non:we (Iroquois) people set up camp on the Haldimand Tract, located at the entrance to Douglas Creek Estates, a 71-lot subdivision under construction by Henco Industries Ltd. on Six Nations territory.
This land has at no point been surrendered to Canada, and was formally recognized by the Crown as Six Nations territory as part of the 1784 Haldimand Deed. The Plank Road Tract was subsequently registered as a land claim with the federal government in 1987. The Six Nations, in their submissions to Ottawa, stated that the reserve was
never properly compensated for land sold to non-natives and land that was taken to build the Hamilton to Port Dover Plank Road. The Six Nations reserve now covers less than 5 per cent of the original tract of six miles each side of the Grand River from the mouth to the source. Meanwhile, the province of Ontario passed legislation allowing this tract of land to be developed as part of a scheme to draw 4 million settlers into the Golden Horseshoe area.
Henco Industries successfully obtained a court injunction last month to have members of Six Nations who are camped out on the territory forcibly removed by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). A revised injunction issued by an Ontario Supreme Court Judge on March 28th states that those who refuse to vacate the property are guilty of
criminal and civil contempt, and will be fingerprinted and photographed as part of a probation order. In delivering his judgment, Provincial Court Judge David Marshall said this to the Clan Mothers: "What's the matter with you people? Why don't you forget all about the past and listen to me?" On the evacuation deadline date issued by Justice Marshall, there were roughly 300-500 people lined up at the road in support of theSix Nations. The Clan Mothers held an action that had 50 women blocking
the construction crews from building.
In the face of mounting police presence at Six Nations- including two dozen marked and unmarked police vehicles parked outside a nearby elementary school currently being used as a command post, a number of police cruisers scattered throughout the neighbouring town of Caledonia, and scores of undercover officers around the periphery of the Six Nations reserve - and a mobilization of the state reminiscent
of the lead-up to the murder of Dudley George by the OPP at Ipperwash in 1995, the Clan Mothers and Six Nations community have requested solidarity in their struggle to affirm their inherent right to self-determination and sovereignty on the land. "Canada must stop using guns to resolve its legal disputes with the indigenous people," states Jacqueline House.
The clan mothers have mostly recently issued the following statement:
The Women, being Title Holders to all lands of Turtle Island, assert our constitutional jurisdiction over the Haldimand Tract. We have never and cannot ever give up our land or our sovereignty.
1. The Six Nations are distinct original nations. We are to be dealt with on a nation-to-nation basis by the Crown and all other nations.
2. The Crown must respect our original relationship as set out in the Two Row Wampum, our jurisdiction as provided in our constitution, the Kaiannereh'ko:wa, and as respected by Sections 109 and 132 of the BNA Act, 1867 and according to international covenants that Canada has signed.
3. We are to be dealt with on a nation-to-nation basis, as was the custom before Canada separated from the British Empire. Respect for the independent international status of the Six Nations by Canada was established before Canada achieved recognition as a state or gained the ability to sign treaties on its own. The independent international identity of the Six Nations identity has never been
4. The band councils were established with procedures that violated international law. They continue to function as colonizing institutions.We have never consented to their establishment nor their representing us.
5. Canada and all its politicians, bureaucrats, agents, assignees and appointees should cease and desist immediately their attempt to criminalize and apprehend our people for defending what is rightfully ours, the land to which we hold title. Any further action by Canada, Ontario and their agents shall be viewed as being a
direct violation of the Two Row Wampum, the constitutional accord between the Ratino'shon:ni and Canada and international law.
6. The claims of Canada and the province of Ontario to have a right to legislate for the Rotino'shon:ni Six Nations and to grant private title to our land has no foundation in law.
06-15-2006, 04:19 PM
DORREEN YELLOW BIRD COLUMN: Tribal governments need checks
Some tribal governments have a reputation as having too much power and too little experience in governing. Inept and abusive governments can and do affect the tribal members.
Unfortunately, that's also true in the federal and state governments. It isn't uncommon to read of a congressman or senator tendering his resignation amid scandal or as a result of unscrupulous deals. And its no secret that presidents have been impeached or threatened with impeachment because they were caught in some kind of misdeed.
That said, here is some of what I learned about the tribal government of the Three Affliliated Tribes in New Town, N.D. -- my tribe.
A few weeks ago, I was there for a couple of days and had a chance to look into the workings of the government.
From that trip, I wrote a story and two columns. The first column was about Tex Hall, tribal chairman, and his new horse, Sitting Bull. With Hall, there is no just sitting and talking casually. He loves the game of politics and readily talked about the tribe and where it is going. There are major issues before the tribe, and Hall seemed to know all the aspects of each one. He also is toying with the idea of taking his marbles and playing with the "Big Dogs" in Washington. Hall is considering running for a federal or state political position.
I remember him as the coach and teacher in Mandaree (N.D.) High School in Mandaree and as someone who loved the game of basketball. He has taken that love for sports -- that competitive spirit -- and used some of that energy as tribal chairman.
There are things, however, about Hall's administration that concern me. As chairman, he sets the pace for how the tribe progresses or doesn't progress. The budget of the tribe is deep in the red and, I understand, the council is borrowing to keep the tribal government's head above water. So, when I see Hall and some of the council members with shiny new pickups provided by the tribe, I am uneasy at what else they're providing for themselves.
I told other council members about my concerns. Several of them said they attend many late-night meetings, commute long distances to the tribal office and use their pickups to help tribal members, so they deserves this extra benefit. I thought to myself, "Welcome to the real world." If you're a manager, you should expect to work those extra hours and to help the people. That's why you get extra pay -- and, I might add, these council members are given good salaries.
Serving the people isn't always fair, Nathan Hale, Mandaree District councilman, told me. Council members sometimes help the people who complain the loudest, while someone else might get overlooked because they don't complain.
This councilman said he doesn't agree with overspending or a budget deficit, but he is only one voice. Some of the most distressing words came from his grandson, he said. After school one day, his grandson asked, "Grandpa, is it true that all councilmen are crooks?" That's what this little guy had heard at school about the tribal council, Hale said.
What this young man said to his grandfather is not unique. We do accuse our leaders -- for good cause at times, while at other times, it's only because we don't agree with them.
And sometimes, we don't have the whole story. I remember how angry my aunts and mother would get over an issue they'd heard at a meeting. Then, when I looked into the issue, sometimes I found it was mostly an untrue rumor.
It is popular to accuse tribal councilmen of being crooks because there are some council members who have been jailed for mismanagement.
I asked Hale about a free press. He said they fund the tribe's newspaper. I know this is true, but I also know that much of the news is filtered through one of their staff writers.
Could a newspaper survive on the reservation without the subsidy -- that is, solely on sales of the paper and advertising? I don't think so. There aren't enough businesses to buy the ads, nor would the subscriptions and rack sales be big money-makers. A paper would need outside or tribal support.
During the years I worked on the reservation, I managed the radio station and newspaper. It was hard to keep it going, even with outside grants. The tribe funded the newspaper and radio station minimally, but it was enough to give them control -- so when the tribal chairman didn't want the tribal minutes in the paper, he removed me as manager.
That was years ago. Today, tribal minutes are in the newspaper; but as I said, other news is filtered through the tribal office.
There is hope that we will have good governments if we continue to examine and work toward that goal. A new tribal constitution is in the works, and that's evidence that progress is being made. There still is work to be done on that constitution, but it does have three branches of government that should act as checks and balances on each other.
As important, in my view, is funding for a free press, to be administered without tribal interference. This funding (and funding only) could be written into the constitution; that could ensure another check for a better government.
06-16-2006, 12:57 PM
Native Hawaiians find their voice
Native Hawaiians find their voice
But the U.S. is still devaluing its island allies.
By James D. Houston
JAMES D. HOUSTON divides his time between California and Hawaii. His new novel, "Bird of Another Heaven," will be published early next year.
June 16, 2006
LAST WEEK, a bill recognizing the rights of native Hawaiians failed in the Senate. Though a bipartisan majority supported the legislation, it came up four votes short of the 60 needed to bring it to the floor for a full debate.
Democrat Daniel K. Akaka, the first U.S. senator of Hawaiian background, who introduced the bill in 2000, had persevered through six years of procedural stalls and delays. In the end, 41 Republicans voted no, backed by the White House, which strongly opposed the bill because it would reverse the country's melting-pot tradition and "divide people by their race."
The banner of colorblind pluralism can come in very handy when someone is asking the government to acknowledge rights that have been withheld along ethnic lines since the end of the 19th century.
We heard a much different note from the White House in 1993, on the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of Hawaii's sovereign government, when President Clinton signed into law what's known as the Resolution of Apology. It admitted that the U.S. supplied military aid to the conspirators and contributed to "the deprivation of the rights of native Hawaiians to self-determination."
Until 1893, Hawaii was our ally, recognized as an independent kingdom. But in the spirit of Manifest Destiny, the United States yearned to push farther west, to get a step closer to lucrative Asian markets and to establish a military hub — Pearl Harbor — in the mid-Pacific. Meanwhile, the sons and grandsons of New England missionaries came of age in Hawaii feeling that same destiny in their blood. For them, joining with the United States seemed inevitable, the path to protection and profit, trading advantage and the end of tariffs on their sugar.
In January 1893, with the aid of U.S. Marines, Queen Liliuokalani's government was overthrown by force. Five years later, Hawaii was annexed to the U.S. by the Senate. No one asked the Hawaiians. In fact, in 1897 a petition protesting annexation bearing 21,000 Hawaiian signatures — a little more than half the native population — was sent from Honolulu to Washington.
Soon the Hawaiian language would be stolen just like the kingdom. Early in the 20th century, it was banned in schools and in public offices. It was a devastating policy. When an indigenous language is devalued, replaced with another, the culture suffers, and something in the spirit suffers too.
That colonial cloud finally began to lift in the 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a widespread reclaiming of ethnic pride. In Hawaii, it started with music and dance. The traditional hula came back to life. Old songs almost forgotten were sung by new generations of performers. Drumming and chanting were revived, as was long-distance voyaging, along with navigational skills that had allowed Polynesians to explore and settle the Pacific. Once again schools offered classes in the native tongue. What is now called the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance spawned a new political consciousness and a new level of dialogue about land rights, access to resources and the status of native Hawaiians vis-a-vis the state and federal governments.
The resolution that Clinton signed was a major step. Its language is unequivocal: "The Congress apologizes to native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow …." Congress "urges the president of the United States to also acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow … and to support reconciliation efforts between the United States and the native Hawaiian people."
Akaka's bill was an effort to act on that mandate. It laid out a process for creating a "native Hawaiian governing entity" that could negotiate with the federal government, much as most Native American tribes negotiate now. This entity could address such matters as the long-contested status of 1.4 million acres ceded by the federal government to the new state of Hawaii in 1959, to be "held as a public trust for five purposes, one of which is for the betterment of conditions for native Hawaiians." The bill then stressed that the assets and revenues associated with these lands "have never been completely inventoried or segregated."
Even in Hawaii, not everyone lamented the outcome of the Senate vote. Some critics argue that special treatment for Hawaiians could come at the expense of other ethnic groups. And some activists in the sovereignty movement believe it's wrong for Hawaiians to negotiate on any level with the government that betrayed them.
Though the bill is dead for this session of Congress, that doesn't mean the issues will go away. Akaka will try again, or some revised form of legislation will emerge. What underlies the bill isn't secession, as some opponents fear, nor racial divisiveness. It is a people's long journey to recover a voice that was almost lost. Fueled by the ongoing cultural revival, that voice grows stronger day by day.
06-18-2006, 06:02 AM
The Basis of African Socialism
By Julius Kambarage Nyerere
Socialism, like democracy, is an attitude of mind. In a socialist society it is the socialist attitude of mind, and not the rigid adherence to a standard political pattern, which is needed to ensure that the people care for each other's welfare.
The purpose of this paper is to examine that attitude. It is not intended to define the institutions which may be required to embody it in a modern society.
In the individual, as in the society, it is an attitude of mind which distinguishes the socialist from the non-socialist. It has nothing to do with the possession or non-possession of wealth. Destitute people can be potential capitalists--exploiters of their fellow human beings. A millionaire can equally be a socialist; he may value his wealth only because it can be used in the service of his fellow men. But the man who uses wealth for the purpose of dominating any of his fellows is a capitalist. So is the man who would if he could!
I have said that a millionaire can be a good socialist. But a socialist millionaire is a rare phenomenon. Indeed he is almost a contradiction in terms. The appearance of millionaires in any society is no proof of its affluence; they can be produced by very poor countries like Tanganyika just as well as by rich countries like the United States of America. For it is not efficiency of production, nor the amount of wealth in a country, which makes millionaires; it is the uneven distribution of what is produced. The basic difference between a socialist society and a capitalist society does not lie in their methods of producing wealth, but in the way that wealth is distributed. While, therefore, a millionaire could be a good socialist, he could hardly be the product of a socialist society.
Since the appearance of millionaires in a society does not depend on its affluence, sociologists may find it interesting to try and find out why our societies in Africa did not, in fact, produce any millionaires--for we certainly had enough wealth to create a few. I think they would discover that it was because the organization of traditional African society--its distribution of the wealth it produced--was such that there was hardly any room for parasitism. They might also say, of course, that as a result of this Africa could not produce a leisured class of landowners, and therefore there was nobody to produce the works of art or science which capitalist societies can boast. but works of art and the achievements of science are products of the intellect--which, like land, is one of God's gifts to man. And I cannot believe that God is so careless as to have made the use of one of His gifts depend on the misuse of another!
Defenders of capitalism claim that the millionaire's wealth is the just reward for his ability or enterprise. But this claim is not borne out of the facts. The wealth of the millionaire depends as little on the enterprise or abilities of the millionaire himself as the power of a feudal monarch depended on his own efforts, enterprise, or brain. Both are users, exploiters, of the abilities and enterprise of other people. Even when you have an exceptionally intelligent and hard-working millionaire, the difference between his intelligence, his enterprise, his hard work, and those of other members of society, cannot possibly be proportionate to the difference between their "rewards." There must be something wrong in a society where one man. however hard-working or clever he may be, can acquire as great a "reward" as a thousand of his fellows can acquire them.
Acquisitiveness for the purpose of gaining power and prestige is unsocialist. In an acquisitive society wealth tends to corrupt those who possess it. it tends to breed in them a desire to live more comfortably than their fellows, to dress better, and in every way to outdo them. They begin to feel they must climb as far above their neighbors as they can. the visible contrast between their own comfort and the comparative discomfort of the rest of society becomes almost essential to the enjoyment of their wealth, and this sets off the spiral of personal competition--which is then anti-social.
Apart from the anti-social effects of the accumulation of personal wealth, the every desire to accumulate it must be interpreted as a vote of "no confidence" in the social system. For when a society is so organized that it cares about its individuals, then, provided he is willing to work, no individual within that society should worry about what will happen to him tomorrow if he does not hoard wealth today. Society itself should look after him, or his widow, or his orphans. This is exactly what traditional African society in doing. Both the "rich" and the "poor" individual were completely secure in African society.
Natural catastrophe brought famine, but it brought famine to everybody--"poor" or "rich." Nobody starved, either of food or of human dignity, because he lacked personal wealth; he could depend on the wealth possessed by the community of which he was a member. That was socialism. That is socialism. There can be no such thing as acquisitive socialism, for that would be another contradiction in terms. Socialism is essentially distributive. Its concern is to see that those who sow reap a fair share of what they sow.
The production of wealth, whether by primitive or modern methods, requires three things. First, land. God has given us the land, and it is from the land that we get the raw materials which we reshape to meet our needs. secondly, tools. We have found by simple experience that tools do help! So we make the hoe, the axe, or the modern factory or tractor, to help us to produce wealth--the good we need. And thirdly, human exertion--or labor. We don't need to read Karl Marx or Adam Smith to find out that neither the land nor the hoe actually produces wealth.
And we don't need to take degrees in Economics to know that neither the worker not the landlord produces land. land is God's gift to man--it is always there. but we know, still without degrees in economics, that the axe and the plough were produced by the laborer. Some of our more sophisticated friends apparently have to undergo the most rigorous intellectual training simply in order to discover that stone axes were produced by that ancient gentleman "Early Man" to make it easier for him to skin the impala he had just killed with a club, which he had also made for himself!
In traditional African society everybody was a worker. there was no other way of earning a living for the community. Even the Elder, who appeared to be enjoying himself without doing any work and for whom everybody else appeared to be working, had, in fact, worked hard all his younger days. The wealth he now appeared to possess was not his, personally; it was only "his" as the elder of the group which had produced it. He was a guardian. the wealth itself gave him neither power nor prestige. the respect paid to him by the young was his because he was older than they, and had served his community longer; and the "poor" Elder enjoyed as much respect in our community as the "rich" Elder.
When i say that in traditional African society everybody was a worker, I do not use the word "worker" simply as opposed to "employer" but also as opposed to "loiterer" or "idler." One of the most socialistic achievements of our society was the sense of security it gave to its members, and the universal hospitality on which they could rely. But it is too often forgotten, nowadays, that the basis of this great socialistic achievement was this: that it was taken for granted that every member of society--barring only the children and the infirm--contributed his fair share of effort towards the production of its wealth.
Not only was the capitalist, or the landed exploiter, unknown to traditional African society, but we did not have that other form of modern parasite--the loiterer, or idler, who accepts the hospitality of society as his "right" but gives nothing in return! Capitalistic exploitation was impossible. Loitering was an unthinkable disgrace.
Those of us who talk about the African way of life, and, quite rightly, take a pride in maintaining the tradition of hospitality which is so great a part of it, might do well to remember the Swahili saying: "Mgeni siku mbili; siku ya tatu mpe jembe"--or, in English, "Treat your guest as a guest for two days; on the third day give him a hoe! In actual fact, the guest was likely to ask for the hoe even before his host had to give him one--for he knew what was expected of him, and would have been ashamed to remain idle any longer. Thus, working was part and parcel, was indeed the very basis and justification of his socialist achievement of which we are so justly proud.
There is not such thing as socialism without work. A society which fails to give its individuals the means to work, or having given them the means of work, prevents them from getting a fair share of the products of their own sweat and toil, needs putting right. Similarly, an individual who can work--and his provided by society with the means to work-- but does not do so, is equally wrong. He has no right to expect anything from society because he contributes nothing to society.
The other use of the word "worker," in its specialized sense of "employee" as opposed to "employer," reflects a capitalistic attitude of mind which was introduced into Africa with the coming of colonialism and is totally foreign to our own way of thinking. In the old days the African had never aspired to the possession of personal wealth for the purpose of dominating any of his fellows. He had never had laborers or "factory hands" to do his work for him.
But then came the foreign capitalists. they were wealthy. they were powerful. and the African naturally started wanting to be wealthy too. There is nothing wrong in our wanting to be wealthy; not is it a bad thing for us to want to acquire the power which wealth brings with it. But it most certainly is wrong if we want the wealth and the power so that we can dominate somebody else.
Unfortunately there are some of us who have already learned to covet wealth for that purpose, and who would like to use the methods which the capitalist uses in acquiring it. That is to say, some of us would like to use, or exploit, our brothers for the purpose of building up our own personal power and prestige. this is completely foreign to us, and it is incompatible with the socialist society we want to build here.
Our first step, there fore, must be to re-educate ourselves; to regain our former attitude of mind. In our traditional African society we were individuals within a community. We took care of the community, and the community took care of us. we neither needed nor wished to exploit our fellow men.
And in rejecting the capitalist attitude of mind which colonialism brought into Africa, we must reject also the capitalist methods which go with it. One of these is the individual ownership of land. To us in Africa land was always recognized as belonging to the community. Each individual within our society had a right to the use of land, because otherwise he could not earn his living and one cannot have the right to life without having the right to some means of maintaining it. But the African's right to land was simply the right to use it: he had no other right to it, nor did it occur to him to try and claim one.
The foreigner introduced a completely different concept, the concept of land as a marketable commodity. According to this system, a person could claim a piece of and as his own private property whether he intended to use it or not. I could take a few square miles of land, call them "mine,' and then go off to the moon. All I had to do to gain a living from "my" land was to charge a rent to the people who wanted to use it. If this piece of land was in an urban area I had no need to develop it at all; I could leave it to the fools who were prepared to develop all the other pieces of land surrounding "my" piece, and in doing automatically to raise the market value of mine.
Then I could come down from the moon and demand that these fools pay me through their noses for the high value of "my" land; a value which they themselves had created for me while I was enjoying myself on the moon! Such a system is not only foreign to us, it is completely wrong. landlords, in a society which recognizes individual ownership of land, can be, and usually are, in the same class as the loiterers I was talking about: the class of parasites.
We must not allow the growth of parasites here in Tanganyika. The TANU government must go back to the traditional African custom of land holding. That is to say, a member of society will be entitled to a piece of land on condition the he uses it. Unconditional, or "freehold," ownership of land (which leads to speculation and parasitism) must be abolished. We must, as I have said, regain our former attitude of mind--our traditional African socialism--and apply it to the new societies we are building today. TANU has pledged itself to make socialism the basis of its policy in every field. The people of Tanganyika have given us their mandate to carry out that policy, by electing a TANU government to lead them. So the government can be relied upon to introduce only legislation which is in harmony with socialist principles.
But, as I said at the beginning, true socialism is an attitude of mind. It is therefore up to the people of Tanganyika--the peasants, the wage-earners, the students, the leaders, all of us--to make sure that this socialist attitude of mind is not lost through the temptations to personal gain (or to the abuse of positions of authority) which may come our way as individuals, or through the temptation to look on the good of the whole community as of secondary importance to the interests of our own particular group.
Just as the leader, in our former society, was respected for his age and his service to the community, so, in our modern society, this respect for age and service will be preserved. And in the same way as the "rich" elder's apparent wealth was really only held by him in trust for his people, so, today, the apparent extra wealth which certain positions of leadership may bring to the individuals who fill them, can be theirs only in so far as it is necessary aid to the carrying out of their duties. It is a "tool" entrusted to them for the benefit of the people they serve. it is not "theirs" personally; and they may not use any part of it as a means of accumulating more for their own benefit, nor as an "insurance" against the day when they no longer hold the same positions. That would be to betray the people who entrusted it to them. If they serve the community while they can, the community must look after them when they are no longer able to do so.
In tribal society, the individuals or the families within a tribe were 'rich" or "poor' according to whether the whole tribe was rich or poor. If the tribe prospered, all the members of the tribe shared in its prosperity. Tanganyika, today, is a poor country. The standard of living of the masses of our people is shamefully low. But if every man and woman in the country takes up the challenge and works to the limit of his or her ability for the good of the whole society, Tanganyika will prosper; and that prosperity will be shared by all her people.
But it must be shared. The true socialist may not exploit his fellows. so that if the members of any group within our society are going to argue that, because they happen to be contributing more to the national income than some other groups, they must therefore take for themselves a greater share of the profits of their own industry than they actually need; and if they insist on this in spite of the fact that it would mean reducing their group's contribution to the general income and thus slowing down the rate at which the whole community can benefit, then that group is exploiting (or trying to exploit) its fellow human beings. It is displaying a capitalistic attitude of mind.
There are bound to be certain groups which, by virtue of the "market value" of their particular industry's products, will contribute more to the nation's income than others. But the others may actually be producing goods or services which are of equal, or greater, intrinsic value although they do not happen to command such a high artificial value. for example, the food produced by the peasant farmer is of greater social value than the diamonds mined at Mwadui. But the mine-workers of Mwadui could claim quite correctly, that their labor was yielding greater financial profits to the community than that of the farmers. If, however, they went on to demand that they should therefore be given most of that extra profit for themselves, and that no share of it should be spent on helping the farmers, they would be potential capitalists!
This is exactly where the attitude of mind comes in. It is one of the purposes of Trade unions to ensure for the workers a fair share of the profits of their labor. but a "fair" share must be fair in relation to the whole society. If it is a greater than the country can afford without having to penalize some other section of society, then it is not a fair share. Trade Union leaders and their followers, as long as they are true socialists, will not need to be coerced by the government into keeping their demands within the limits imposed by the needs of society as a whole. Only if there are potential capitalists amongst them will the socialist government have to step in and prevent them from putting their capitalist ideas into practice!
As with groups, so with individuals. There are certain skills, certain qualifications, which, for good reasons, command a higher rate of salary for their possessors than others. But, here again, the true socialist will demand only that return for his skilled work which he knows to be a fair one in proportion to the wealth or poverty of the whole society to which he belongs. He will not, unless he is a would-be capitalist attempt to blackmail the community by demanding a salary equal to that paid to his counterpart in some far wealthier society.
European socialism was born of the Agrarian Revolution and the Industrial Revolution which followed it. The former created the "landed" and the "landless" classes in society; the latter produced the modern capitalist and the industrial proletariat.
These two revolutions planted the seeds of conflict within society, and not only was European socialism born of that conflict, but its apostles sanctified the conflict itself into a philosophy. Civil war was no longer looked upon as something evil, or something unfortunate, but as something good and necessary. As prayer is to Christianity or to Islam, so civil war (which they call "class war") is to the European version of socialism--a means inseparable from the end. Each becomes the basis of a whole way of life. The European socialist cannot think of his socialism without its father--capitalism!
Brought up in tribal socialism, I must say, I find this contradiction quite intolerable. it give capitalism a philosophical status which capitalism neither claims nor deserves. For it virtually says "Without capitalism, and the conflict which capitalism creates within society, there can be no socialism!" This glorification of capitalism by the doctrinaire European socialists, I repeat, I find intolerable.
African socialism, on the to her hand, did not have the "benefit" of the Agrarian Revolution or the Industrial Revolution. it did not start from the existence of conflicting "classes" in society. Indeed I doubt if the equivalent for the word "class" exists in any indigenous African language; for language describes the ideas of those who speak it, and the idea of "class" or "caste" was nonexistent in African society.
The foundation, and the objective, of African socialism is the extended family. The true African socialist does not look on one class of men as his brethren and another as his natural enemies. He does not form an alliance with the "brethren" for the extermination of the "non-brethren." He rather regards all men as his brethren--as members of his ever extending family. that is why the first article of TANU's creed is "Binadamu wote ni ndugu zangu, na Afrika ni moja." If this had been originally put in English, it could have been "I believe in Human Brotherhood and the Unity of Africa."
"Ujamaa," then, or "familyhood," describes our socialism. It is opposed to capitalism, which seeks to build a happy society on the basis of the exploitation of man by man; and it is equally opposed to doctrinaire socialism which seeks to build its happy society on a philosophy of inevitable conflict between man and man.
We, in Africa, have no more need of being "converted" to socialism than we have of being "taught" democracy. Both are rooted in our own past--in the traditional society which produced us. Modern African socialism can draw from its traditional heritage the recognition of "society" as an extension of the basic family unit. But it can no longer confine the idea of the social family within the limits of the tribe, nor, indeed, of the nation. For no true African socialist can look at a line drawn on a map and say, "The people on this side of that line are my brothers, but those who happen to live on the other side of it can have no claim on me." Every individual on this continent is his brother.
It was in the struggle to break the grip of colonialism that we leaned the need for unity. We came to recognize that the same socialist attitude of mind which, in the tribal days, gave to every individual the security that comes of belonging to a widely extended family, must be preserved within the still wider society of the nation. But we should not stop there. our recognition of the family to which, we all belong must be extended yet further--beyond the tribe, the community, the nation, or even the continent--to embrace the whole society of mankind. this is the only logical conclusion for true socialism.
07-10-2006, 11:50 AM
It's often used by those who are oppressed as a rallying call. I agree that in the long view the ideal is a humanity that does not cling to these things out of insecurity... just as we hope that individual humans do not cling to such things out of insecurity. But in the short view I don't see how we can deny that it is often necessary. It's like how the communists and Russia were trying to get Black people to "see past" their black nationalism, but they were doing so without a realistic short term alternative strategy... their suggestions were vague and idealistic... based on some vague idea of the "universal working man" but not taking into consideration the very real issues of race and nationalism that exist and uniquely shaped the American reality. So while I somewhat agree with Zinn here (especially in the long view) we have to be careful both ways...
The Scourge of Nationalism
By Howard Zinn
From the June 2005 issue of "The Progressive"
08-10-2006, 01:37 PM
Indigenous World Leaders say that BP oil field shut down...
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY
(If you wish to be added to the Native Movement listserve send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Join" written in the Subject field)
REDOIL Network (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands)
Evon Peter, Native Movement (928) 814-0778 / email@example.com
Faith Gemmill, REDOIL Network (907) 750-0188 / firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release
August 8, 2006
Indigenous leaders say that BP oil field shutdown is a wake up call to the Industry, US, and World:
Energy Crisis, Global Warming, Environmental Devastation, and Indigenous Peoples Rights on the cutting board
BP recently shut down Prudhoe Bay oil field operations, the largest oil producing field in the US, due to detection of severe corrosion along most of its twenty-two mile transit pipeline. The corrosion was discovered only after government ordered inspections following a March pipeline rupture that spilled an estimated 270,000 gallons of oil, the largest recorded spill on the North Slope of Alaska. The Prudhoe Bay field produces about 2.6% of the US daily supply, which equates to approximately 400,000 barrels a day. BP officials apologized to the American public for their negligence and are speculating that it may take weeks or months to correct the problems. But some Indigenous leaders believe that these incidents speak to broader issues facing their communities, the American people, and the world.
In an interview on the PBS Newshour Steve Marshall, president of BP Alaska admitted that a device known as a “smart pig” which tests for damage within the pipeline “has not been run through the pipeline in its history….in operation since 1977.”
“The fact that BP only discovered the corrosion after government ordered inspections is a testament to the negligence and greed in oil industry operations,” states Evon Peter, chairman of Native Movement and former Neetsaii Gwich’in Chief. “ExxonMobil alone announced 36 billion dollars in profits for 2005, while at the same time fighting court ordered payments for damages caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 to Alaskan waters, wildlife, peoples, and coast line. Around the world the Industry standard is one of pressuring governments to allow exploitation of oil in a way that maximizes profits for the industry at the expense of the environment and human rights, in particular those of Indigenous peoples.”
In his State of the Union Address, Bush stated that we as a nation of people are “addicted to oil.” The oil industry and Bush administration make arguments that the solution to our energy needs is to provide more incentive and access for the industry to develop sacred sites and national refuges such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Faith Gemmill, coordinator of the REDOIL Network, differs in her analysis of our situation, “This country must take a good hard look at the current energy situation, the U.S. does not have an energy policy in place that is sustainable for future generations, or a back up plan besides the drill it all mentality. Places such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must remain protected. It makes no sense to cause further harm to the environment that sustains us for a possible six-month supply of US oil consumption. When there is an energy crisis such as this shut down of Prudhoe Bay, it is a wake up call that ought to motivate this country in creating real solutions to our energy needs based on renewable energy and conservation. The American people are victims of the oil and gas industry as fuel price gauging occurs after such incidences. Furthermore, government bodies such as the State of Alaska, which is about 80% funded through oil industry royalties and taxes, practically function as a branch of the oil industry in some regards. This leaves devastation within Indigenous Peoples homelands such as alarming health issues that are tied to pollution of our lands, air, waters, and wildlife.”
The shut down may leave Americans with higher costs at the pump, which will lead to stronger efforts by the oil and gas industry to seek access to more lands within the State of Alaska for oil and gas development such as: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, NPRA Teshepuk Lake, Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge as well as areas offshore such as the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Bristol Bay region. Industry has been vying to gain access to each of these areas in the State of Alaska despite the fact that many Alaska Natives rely upon these lands to meet their subsistence needs and oppose any sort of development of these areas.
Evon Peter responds, “we need to realize as a nation of people that our consumption of oil is not sustainable. Oil is a finite resource and the longer we rely on oil the more negative impacts we will bring upon human life and the environment. The oil industry practices are tied directly and indirectly to violations of human rights here and abroad. Furthermore, the burning of fossil fuels is the major cause of CO2 emissions that are resulting in global warming. Global warming is leading to shifts in the world environment that are resulting in a significant increase in devastation such as Hurricane Katrina. We have the knowledge, technology, and wealth in North America to make the shift to healthier ways of relating to each other and the earth. Incidents such as the March oil spill and connected shut down of the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska should be taken as a sign that we need to change our ways,” concludes Peter.
The effects of global warming alone include altered weather patterns, more severe storms, erosion of coastal areas, and migratory disruptions of key wildlife resources. These impacts lead to loss of subsistence resources and rights, relocation of communities, and ultimately to negative social statistics related to human and ecological health. Alaska Natives have been calling upon the U.S to create an Energy Policy that will curb these alarming effects of global warming such as renewable energy technology and fuel efficiency standards.
“The fossil fuel industry is leaving a legacy of pollution and destruction in Alaska. Instead of continuing to rely on an irresponsible industry we feel that this is the time for a sustainable and clean energy policy that respects Indigenous rights and will curb our dependence on oil so that when there is a shutdown of supply the U.S. is not left crippled and forced to make bad energy decisions that put our homelands, cultures, livelihood, and health at threat,” concludes Faith Gemmill.
The REDOIL Network and Native Movement are calling upon U.S policy makers to take concrete measures to address the current energy issues. The fact is that we own only 3% of known global oil reserves yet we consume 25% of the World’s energy resources. This alarming statistic displays the imbalance of our supply and demand. The use and reliance on fossil fuels must be curbed now. It is past due for us to initiate renewable energy sources that are ecologically sound and sustainable with minimal impact on Indigenous peoples rights, homelands, and livelihood.
Native Movement is dedicated to healing relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples as well as between human beings and mother earth. We work to implement projects that support the transition to sustainable and healthy livelihoods while helping to protect sacred sites and raise awareness about related issues.
The REDOIL Network consists of grassroots Alaska Natives of the Inupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Tlingit, Gwich'in, Eyak and Denaiana Athabascan tribes who have formed a network to address the human and ecological health impacts of the unsustainable development practices of the fossil fuel industry in Alaska. The REDOIL Network strongly supports self-determination rights of tribes in Alaska as well as a just transition from fossil fuel development and promotes the implementation of sustainable development on or near Indigenous lands. The REDOIL Network is a project of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
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