Category Archives: Colonialism

It is Not Love that Abandons Its Treaties

The Tsilhqot’in Struggle

On 26 March 2018, Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau spoke of the six Tsilhqot’in chiefs who were arrested during a sacred peace-pipe ceremony and subsequently hanged for their part in a war to prevent the spread of smallpox by colonialists: “We recognize that these six chiefs were leaders of a nation, that they acted in accordance with their laws and traditions and that they are well regarded as heroes of their people.”

“They acted as leaders of a proud and independent nation facing the threat of another nation.”

“As settlers came to the land in the rush for gold, no consideration was given to the rights of the Tsilhqot’in people who were there first,” Trudeau said. “No consent was sought.”

In recent years, the Tsilhqot’in people were engaged in a long, drawn-out fight to gain sovereignty over their unceded territory, spurred by the attempts of Taseko Mines to situate an open-pit copper-and-gold mine near the trout-rich Teẑtan Biny (Fish Lake). Also proposed was “destroying Yanah Biny (Little Fish Lake) and the Tŝilhqot’in homes and graves located near that lake, to make way for a massive tailings pond.”

The Supreme Court decision in Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia, (2014), upheld Indigenous title as declared in an earlier Supreme Court decision, Delgamuukw v British Columbia, (1997).

The Wet’suwet’in Struggle

Sometimes the law works (even colonial law), and sometimes it doesn’t. Neither the Tsilhqot’in or Delgamuukw legal precedents have, so far, buttressed the Wet’suwet’en people’s fight against the encroachment of a pipeline corporation.

In the unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, corporate Canada and the government of Canada are violently seeking to ram a pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory despite its rejection by all five hereditary chiefs; i.e., no consent has been given for the laying of a pipeline.

The Gidimt’en land defenders of the Wet’suwet’en turned to the international forum and made a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People on the “Militarization of Wet’suwet’en Lands and Canada’s Ongoing Violations.”  The submission was co-authored by leading legal, academic, and human rights experts in Canada, and is supported by over two dozen organisations such as the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Amnesty International-Canada.

The submission to the UN was presented by hereditary chief Dinï ze’ Woos (Frank Alec), Gidimt’en Checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’ (Molly Wickham), and Gidimt’en Checkpoint media coordinator Jen Wickham. It makes the case that forced industrialization by Coastal GasLink and police militarization on Wet’suwet’en land is a repudiation of Canada’s international obligations as stipulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Their submission states:

Ongoing human rights violations, militarization of Wet’suwet’en lands, forcible removal and criminalization of peaceful land defenders, and irreparable harm due to industrial destruction of Wet’suwet’en lands and cultural sites are occurring despite declarations by federal and provincial governments for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. By deploying legal, political, and economic tactics to violate our rights, Canada and BC are contravening the spirit of reconciliation, as well as their binding obligations to Indigenous law, Canadian constitutional law, UNDRIP and international law.

Sleydo’ relates the situation:

We urge the United Nations to conduct a field visit to Wet’suwet’en territory because Canada and BC have not withdrawn RCMP from our territory and have not suspended Coastal GasLink’s permits, despite the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination calling on them to do so. Wet’suwet’en is an international frontline to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and to prevent climate change. Yet we are intimidated and surveilled by armed RCMP, smeared as terrorists, and dragged through colonial courts. This is the reality of Canada.

In the three large-scale police actions that have transpired on Wet’suwet’en territory since January 2019, several dozens of people have been arrested and detained, including legal observers and media. On 13 June 2022, the Unist’ot’en Solidarity Brigade expressed outrage that the BC Prosecution Service plans to pursue criminal contempt charges against people opposed to the trespass of Wet’suwet’en territory, including Sleydo’.

Treaty Treatment

The Wet’suwet’en are on their ancestral unceded lands. Would it have made a difference if they had signed a treaty with the colonial entity?

The book We Remember the Coming of the White Man (Durville, 2021), edited by Sarah Stewart and Raymond Yakeleya, does not augur a better outcome for the First People.

We Remember adumbrates how the treaty process operates under colonialism:

When our Dene People signed Treaty 11 in 1921, there had been no negotiation because the Treaty translators were not able to translate the actual language used in the document. There was not enough time for our People to consult with each other. Our Dene People were given a list that had been written up by bureaucrats declaring the demands of Treaty 11. They dictated to the Dene, ‘This is what we want. You have to agree, and sign it.’ We did not know what the papers contained. (p ix)

Treaties and contracts signed under duress are not legally binding. Forced signing of a treaty is on-its-face preposterous to most people with at least half a lobe. It is no less obvious to the Dene of the Northwest Territories:

How can you demand something from People who cannot understand? That’s a crime. I have often said that Treaty 11 does not meet the threshold of being legal. In other words, when we make a treaty, it should be you understand, I understand, and we agree. In this case, the Dene did not understand. (p x)

Unfortunately, the Dene trusted an untrustworthy churchman. The Dene signed on the urging of Bishop Breyant, a man of God, because they had faith in the Roman Catholic Church. (p x)

Oil appeals to those with a lust for lucre. This greed contrasts with traditional Dene customs. Walter Blondin writes in the Foreword,

We Dene consider our land as sacred and owned by everyone collectively as it provides life…. [T]here were laws between the families that insured harmony and sharing. No one was left behind to face hardships or starve when disasters such as forest fires devastated the lands. The Dene laws promoted sharing, and this was taken seriously as failure to follow these laws could lead to war and bloody conflict. (p 3)

The Blondin family of Norman Wells (Tlegohli) in the Northwest Territories experienced first hand the perfidy of the White Man. The Blondins gave oil samples from their land to the Roman Catholic bishop for testing. The Dene family never received any report of the results. Later, however, a geologist, Dr Bosworth staked three claims at Bosworth Creek that were bought by Imperial Oil in 1918. (p 5-6)

Imperial Oil told the families: “You are not welcome in your homes and your traditional lands and your hunting territory.” The Dene people were driven out. “Elders say, ‘It was the first time in living memory where the Dene became homeless on their own land.'” (p 6)

The Blondin family homes were torn down with possessions inside and pushed over the river bank. “No apology or compensation was ever received from Imperial Oil. Imperial Oil considered Norman Wells to be ‘their town—a White Man’s town’ and the Blondin family and other Dene were not welcome.” (p 6)

“Treaty 11 became the ‘treaty for oil ownership.'” (p 8)

“One hundred years after the fact, the Dene can see the collusion between the British Crown, Imperial Oil [now ExxonMobil] and the Roman Catholic Church in the fraud, theft and embezzlement of Dene resources.” (p 10)

Sarah Stewart writes, “Treaty 11 was a charade to legitimize the land grab in the Northwest Territories.” The land grab came with horrific consequences. Stewart laments that the White Man brought disease, moved onto Dene lands and decimated wildlife, and that the teaching of missionaries and missionary schools eroded native languages, cultures, and traditions. (p 14)

Indigenous People, whose land it was, were never considered equal partners in benefiting from the resource. As Indian Agent Henry Conroy wrote to the Deputy General of Indian Affairs in January 1921, the objective was to have Indigenous people surrender their territory ‘to avoid complications in the exploitation of oil.’ (p 15)

Filmmaker Raymond Yakeleya elucidates major differences between the colonialists and the Dene. He points to the capitalist mindset of the White Man: “‘How can we make money off this?’ Dene People are not motivated by that.” (p 24) A deep respect and reverence for all the Creator’s flora and fauna and land is another difference. “When you kill an animal, you have a conversation with it and give it thanks for sharing its body. There are special protocols and ceremonies you have to go through.” (p 28)

While Yakeleya acknowledges that not all missionaries were bad, (p 30) he points to a dark side:

A major confusion came to our People with the coming of the Catholic missionaries. I see the coming of the Black Robes as being a very, very dark cloud that descended over our People. All of a sudden you have people from another culture with another way of thinking imposing their laws. We see that they did it for money, control, and power. I heard an Elder say to me once that the Christians who followed the Ten Commandments were the same people who broke all of them.

The first time we ever questioned ourselves was with the coming of the Christians and to me, I think there was something evil that came amongst our People…. The missionaries were quick to say our ways were the ways of the devil, or the ways of something not good…. Now we see they are being charged with pedophilia and other crimes. (p 29)

As for the discovery of oil, Joe Blondin said, “The Natives found it and never got anything out of it and that’s the truth.” (p 159) As for Treaty 11, John Blondin stated emphatically, “We know that we did not sell our land.” (p 171)

At the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in Fort McPherson [Teetł’it Zheh], Dene Philip Blake spoke words that resonate poignantly with the situation in Wet’suwet’en territory today:

If your nation chooses … to continue to try and destroy our nation, then I hope you will understand why we are willing to fight so that our nation can survive. It is our world…. But we are willing to defend it for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. If your nation becomes so violent that it would tear up our land, destroy our society and our future, and occupy our homeland, by trying to impose this pipeline against our will, but then of course we will have no choice but to react with violence. I hope we do not have to do that. For it is not the way we would choose…. I hope you will not only look on the violence of Indian action, but also on the violence of your own nation which would force us to take such a course. We will never initiate violence. But if your nation threatens by its own violent action to destroy our nation, you will have given us no choice. Please do not force us into this position. For we would all lose too much. (p 229)

The Nature of Colonialism and Its Treaties

Spoken word poet Shane L. Koyczan captures the nature of colonialism in Inconvenient Skin (Theytus Books, 2019):

150 years is not so long
that the history can be forgot

not so long that
forgiveness can be bought with empty apologies
or unkept promises

sharpened assurances that this is now
how it is

take it on good faith
and accept it

except that
history repeats itself
like someone not being listened to
like an entire people not being heard

the word of god is hard to swallow
when good faith becomes a barren gesture

there were men of good faith
robbing babies from their cradles
like the monsters we used to tell each other about

ripping children out of their mother’s arms
to be imprisoned in the houses of god
whose teachings were love

did no one hear?
did god mumble?

god said love

but the things that were done
were not love

our nation is built above the bones
of a genocide

it was not love that pried apart these families
it is not love that abandons its treaties

The post It is Not Love that Abandons Its Treaties first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Is Europe Really More Civilized? Ukraine Conflict a Platform for Racism and Rewriting History

When a gruesome six-minute video of Ukrainian soldiers shooting and torturing handcuffed and tied up Russian soldiers circulated online, outraged people on social media and elsewhere compared this barbaric behavior to that of Daesh.

In a rare admission of moral responsibility, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian President, quickly reminded Ukrainian fighters of their responsibility under international law. “I would like to remind all our military, civilian and defense forces, once again, that the abuse of prisoners is a war crime that has no amnesty under military law and has no statute of limitations,” he said, asserting that “We are a European army”, as if the latter is synonymous with civilized behavior.

Even that supposed claim of responsibility conveyed subtle racism, as if to suggest that non-westerners, non-Europeans, may carry out such grisly and cowardly violence, but certainly not the more rational, humane and intellectually superior Europeans.

The comment, though less obvious, reminds one of the racist remarks by CBS’ foreign correspondent, Charlie D’Agata, on February 26, when he shamelessly compared Middle Eastern cities with the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, stating that “Unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, (…) this is a relatively civilized, relatively European city”.

The Russia-Ukraine war has been a stage of racist comments and behavior, some explicit and obvious, others implicit and indirect. Far from being implicit, however, Bulgarian Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, did not mince words when, last February, he addressed the issue of Ukrainian refugees. Europe can benefit from Ukrainian refugees, he said, because “these people are Europeans. (…) These people are intelligent, they are educated people. This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists.”

One of many other telling episodes that highlight western racism, but also continued denial of its grim reality, was an interview conducted by the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, with the Ukrainian Azov Battalion Commander, Dmytro Kuharchuck. The latter’s militia is known for its far-right politics, outright racism and horrific acts of violence. Yet, the newspaper described Kuharchuck as “the kind of fighter you don’t expect. He reads Kant and he doesn’t only use his bazooka.” If this is not the very definition of denial, what is?

That said, our proud European friends must be careful before supplanting the word ‘European’ with ‘civilization’ and respect for human rights. They ought not to forget their past or rewrite their history because, after all, racially-based slavery is a European and western brand. The slave trade, as a result of which millions of slaves were shipped from Africa during the course of four centuries, was very much European. According to Encyclopedia Virginia, 1.8 million people “died on the Middle Passage of the transatlantic slave trade”. Other estimations put the number much higher.

Colonialism is another European quality. Starting in the 15th century, and lasting for centuries afterward, colonialism ravaged the entire Global South. Unlike the slave trade, colonialism enslaved entire peoples and divided whole continents, like Africa, among European spheres of influence.

The nation of Congo was literally owned by one person, Belgian King Leopold II. India was effectively controlled and colonized by the British East India Company and, later, by the British government. The fate of South America was largely determined by the US-imposed Monroe Doctrines of 1823. For nearly 200 years, this continent has paid – and continues to pay – an extremely heavy price of US colonialism and neocolonialism. No numbers or figures can possibly express the destruction and death toll inflicted by Western-European colonialism on the rest of the world, simply because the victims are still being counted. But for the sake of illustration, according to American historian, Adam Hochschild, ten million people have died in Congo alone from 1885 to 1908.

And how can we forget that World War I and II are also entirely European, leaving behind around 40 million and 75 million dead, respectively. (Other estimations are significantly higher). The gruesomeness of these European wars can only be compared to the atrocities committed, also by Europeans, throughout the South, for hundreds of years prior.

Mere months after The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949, the eager western partners were quick to flex their muscles in Korea in 1950, instigating a war that lasted for three years, resulting in the death of nearly 5 million people. The Korean war, like many other NATO-instigated conflicts, remains an unhealed wound to this day.

The list goes on and on, from the disgraceful Opium Wars on China, starting in 1839, to the nuclear bombings of Japan in 1945, to the destruction of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, in 1954, 1959 and 1970 respectively, to the political meddling, military interventions and regime change in numerous countries around the world. They are all the work of the West, of the US and its ever-willing ‘European partners’, all done in the name of spreading democracy, freedom and human rights.

If it were not for the Europeans, Palestine would have gained its independence decades ago, and its people, this writer included, would have not been made refugees, suffering under the yoke of Zionist Israel. If it were not for the US and the Europeans, Iraq would have remained a sovereign country and millions of lives would have been spared in one of the world’s oldest civilizations; and Afghanistan would have not endured this untold hardship. Even when the US and its European friends finally relented and left Afghanistan last year, they continue to hold the country hostage, by blocking the release of its funds, leading to actual starvation among the people of that war-torn country.

So before bragging about the virtues of Europe, and the demeaning of everyone else, the likes of Arestovych, D’Agata, and Petkov should take a look at themselves in the mirror and reconsider their unsubstantiated ethnocentric view of the world and of history. In fact, if anyone deserves bragging rights it is those colonized nations that resisted colonialism, the slaves that fought for their freedom, and the oppressed nations that resisted their European oppressors, despite the pain and suffering that such struggles entailed.

Sadly, for Europe, however, instead of using the Russia-Ukraine war as an opportunity to reflect on the future of the European project, whatever that is, it is being used as an opportunity to score cheap points against the very victims of Europe everywhere. Once more, valuable lessons remain unlearned.

The post Is Europe Really More Civilized? Ukraine Conflict a Platform for Racism and Rewriting History first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Tectonic Shifts in the World Economy: A World Systems Perspective

Orientation 

One of the main problems with Western media (other than their non-stop anti-Russian propaganda), is the narrow and parochial manner in which they conceive world events. Like realists and liberals of international relations theory, they analyze world events two countries at a time, for example, the U.S. vs Russia. They appear to have little conception of interdependence, like Russia, China, and Iran as a single block. Or the U.S., England, and Israel as another block. No state can make any moves without considering the causes and consequences of their actions for their interdependent states. Secondly, these talking heads fail miserably in understanding that conflicts between states are inseparable from the evolution of global capitalism which, in many respects, is stronger than any state. Thirdly, their “analysis” fails to consider that the world capitalist system has evolved over the last 500 years, as I will soon present. We will see that what is going on in Ukraine is part of a much larger tectonic struggle between Eastern China, Russia, and Iran to create a multipolar world while being desperately opposed by a declining West, headed by the United States and its minions.

A Brief History of Modern Capitalism

According to world systems theory, the global capitalist system has gone through four phases. In each phase, there was a dominant hegemon. First, there was the merchant capital of Italy that lasted from 1450-1640. This was followed by the great Dutch seafaring age from 1610-1740. Next, there was the British industrial system from 1776 to World War I. Lastly, the Yankee system which lasted from 1870 to 1970. Note that over these 500 years the pace of change quickened. In the Italian phase, the city states of Venice and Genoa rose and fell over 220 years. By the time we get to the United States, the time of rise and decline is 100 years. All this has been laid out by Giovanni Arrighi in The Long 20th century. In Adam Smith in Beijing, Arrighi also lays out the reasons he is convinced that China will be the leading hegemon in the next phase of capitalism.

Five Types of Capitalism   

Historically there have been five types of capitalism. The first is merchant capital in which profits are made by trade, selling cheap and buying dear. This is what Venice and Genoa did, as did Dutch seafarers on a grander scale. Next, is agricultural capitalism, including the slave system of the United States, Britain, and parts of the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. Then, the British invented the industrial capitalism system in which profit was made by investing the infrastructure of society: railroads, factories, and surplus labor from the wage labor system. Lastly, especially in the 20th century, we have two other forms of capitalism. In addition to being an industrial power after World War II, the United States used its industrial power to invest in the military arms industry and relied on finance capital (stocks and bonds).

Destructive Forms of Capitalism

In the later stage of all four systems, making money from commodities or technologies becomes problematic because it becomes unpredictable what people will buy. For example, after the Depression from 1929-1941, the United States got out of the depression by investing in the military. This was so successful that after World War II, capitalists began investing in the military even during peacetime (Melman, After Capitalism). It provided a much more predictable profit as long as countries continued to go to war. This encourages arming your own country or supplying the whole world, which is what the United States does today. There is also finance capital, where banks invest in stocks, bonds and financial instruments rather than infrastructure (as industrial capitalists did). For the past 50 years military and finance capital are primarily where the ruling class in Yankeedom has made its profits.

In the early phases of capitalism, in all four cycles, commodities were produced which required money as mediation, but the purpose was to produce more commodities and technologies. In the decaying part of the cycle, capitalists would rather invest in finance capital than industrial capital because of the quick turn-around in profits. Investing in building bridges, repairing roads, or building schools will surely benefit capitalists in the long run. Smooth supply chains for capitalist profit and a sound education in high school and college would ensure that workers not only know how to do their jobs but that they would be creative-thinkers and innovators. Capitalists these days don’t want to invest in these things, and this is why the infrastructure in Yankeedom is falling apart and the Yankee population cannot compete with students from other countries with better educational systems.

What is World Systems Theory?

World systems theory is a macro-sociological theory of long-term social change which includes economic theory and world history. It is provocative in at least three ways. One, its basic unit of analysis is the entire world-system of capitalism rather than nation-states. Second, it argues that the so-called socialist societies were not really socialist, but rather state-capitalist. Third, global capitalism organizes itself into a transnational division of labor which ignores the boundaries of nation-states. World-systems theory has been used by historians, international relations theorists, and international political economists to explain the rise and fall of nation-states, the increase and decrease in stratification patterns, as well as rise and decline of imperialism. Christopher Chase-Dunn and Terry Boswell have specialized in understanding social movements and the timing and placing of revolutions from a world-systems perspective.

Economic Zones Within the World-system

Overview of the core, periphery                                                 

World-systems are divided into three zones: the core, the semi-peripheral, and the peripheral countries. Economically and politically, core countries dominate other countries without being dominated. Semi-periphery countries are dominated by the core, and, in turn, dominate the periphery. The periphery are dominated by both. Part of the wealth of core countries comes from their exploitation of the peripheral countries’ land and labor through colonization.

Core and periphery

The core countries control most of the wealth in the world capitalist system. Workers are highly specialized, high technology is used. It has an industrial-electronic base. They extract raw materials from the peripheral countries and sell peripheral countries finished products. Core countries have the most highly specialized workers and a relatively small agricultural base, whereas peripheral countries have strong agricultural or horticultural bases and have a semi-skilled urban working class. The peripheral countries have relatively unspecialized labor whose work is labor-intensive with low wages. Much of the work done in peripheral countries is commercial agriculture—the production of coffee, sugar, and cotton.

The core countries are the home of the transnational corporations who control the world. Additionally, the core countries control the major banking institutions that provide international loans, such as the IMF and the World Bank. Finally, the core countries have the most powerful militaries. Paradoxically, when core countries are at their peak, their militaries are not very active. They only become more active as a core country goes into decline, as in the United States. Core countries typically have the most highly trained workers. In their heyday, core countries have strong centralized states that provide for pensions, unemployment, and road construction. In their weak stage, states withdraw these benefits and invest in their military to protect their assets abroad as their own territory falls apart. Core countries have large tax bases and, at their best, support infrastructural development.

The periphery nations own very little of the world’s means of production. In the case of African states or tribes, they have great amounts of natural resources, including diamonds and minerals, but these are extracted by the core countries. Furthermore, core states are usually able to purchase raw materials and cheap labor from non-core states at low prices and yet demand higher prices for their exports to non-core states. Core states have access to cheap skilled professional labor through migration (brain drain) from semi-peripheral states . Peripheral countries don’t have a solid tax base because their states have to contend with rival ethnic and tribal forces who are hardly convinced that taxes are good for them and their sub-national identities.

Peripheral countries often do not have a diversified economic base and are forced by the world market to produce one product. A good example of this is Venezuela and its oil. Peripheral countries have relatively steeper stratification patterns because there are no middle classes for the wealth to spread across. A tiny landed elite at the top sells off most of the land to transnational corporations. The state tends to be both weak and strong. States in the periphery have difficulty forming and sustaining their own national economic policy because foreign corporations want to come and go as they please. On the other hand, if a nationalist or a socialist rise to power, the state will be very strong and dictatorial. This is because they are constantly at war with transnational corporations who seek to overthrow them. Since transnational corporations often do this through oppositional parties, those in power are extremely suspicious of oppositional parties. Hence their label as “authoritarian”. In contemporary world systems, peripheries are found in parts of Latin America and in the most extreme form in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Semi-periphery                                                 

The semi-periphery contains countries that as a result of national liberation movements and class struggles have risen out of the periphery and have some characteristics of the core. They can also be composed of formerly core countries that have declined. For example, Spain and Portugal were once core countries in Early Modern Europe. Semi-peripheral countries often take over industries the core no longer wants such as second-generation computers, appliances, or transportation systems. Semi-peripheral states enter the world systems with some degree of autonomy rather than simply a subordinate country. These industries are not strong enough to compete with core countries in “free trade”. Therefore, they tend to apply protectionist policies towards their industry. They tend to export more to peripheral states and import more from core states in trade. In the 21st century, states like Brazil, Argentina, Russia, India, Israel, China, South Korea and South Africa (BRICS) are usually considered semi peripheral.

As I said above, the world capitalist system has changed four times in the last 500 years and each time not only have the configurations of the core countries changed but so have the semi peripheral countries in the world systems. For at least half of capitalist world systems, there were some countries that were outside the periphery, including the United States. Semi-peripheral countries are not fully industrialized countries, but they have scientists and engineers which can lead to some wealth.

Which countries are in the core periphery and semi periphery countries today?

The core countries in the world today are the United States, Germany, Japan, and the Scandinavian social democratic countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Minor core countries are England, France, Italy, and Spain. Eastern European countries are in the semi-periphery. South of the border, there are four semi-periphery countries: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. More powerful up and coming semi-peripheral states include Saudi Arabia, Israel, Russia, China, and India. Most of Africa is in the periphery of the world systems with the exception of South Africa (semi-periphery).

Where did world systems theory come from?

Immanuel Wallerstein was a sociologist who specialized in African studies, so he had first-hand knowledge of the reality of exploitation by colonists. He was influenced by the work of Ferdinand Braudel who wrote a great three-volume history of capitalism. Wallerstein was also influenced by Marx and Engels, but he thought their history of capitalism was too Eurocentric. He emphasized that the core countries did not just exploit their own workers, but they have made great profits through the systematic exploitation of the peripheral countries for hundreds of years.

Modernization theory

World systems theory was in part a reaction against the anti-communist, modernization theory of international politics that prevailed after World War II into the 1960’s. Please see the table below which compares world systems theory to modernization theory.

Dependency theory of Andre Gunder Frank

Around the same time as world systems theory developed, Andre Gunder Frank developed what came to be called “dependency theory”. This theory also challenged modernization theory’s assumption that countries that were called “traditional societies” were improved by contact with the core countries. He claimed that they were systematically exploited by the core countries, made worse than they were before they had any contact with them. As long ago as 1998, Gunder Frank predicted the rise of China. See his book ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age.

Karl Polyani

Other influences on the world-systems theory come from a scholar of comparative economic systems, Karl Polyani. His major contribution is to show that there was no capitalism in tribal or agricultural civilizations and that the “self-subsisting” economy of capitalism was a relatively recent development. Wallerstein reframed this in world systems terms, with the tribal as “mini-systems”, agricultural civilization as “empires” and the capitalist system as “world economies”. Nikolai Kondratiev introduced patterns he saw in the capitalist world economy that centered around cycles of crisis and wars within very specific time periods.

Interstate System

As I said earlier, in international relations theory, realist and neo-conservative theory and neoliberal theories of the state treat each state as if they were separate units. Applied to today, that would formulate world conflict as a battle between, say, the United States and Russia. Neo-conservative and neoliberal theory treat any alliance between states as secondary epiphenomenon that can be dissolved without too much trouble. Secondly, both these theories operate as if interstate politics are relatively autonomous from economics. To the extent to which these theories mention capitalism, it is the domestic economy of nation-states. Each tries to hide the international nature of capitalism and the extent to which transnational corporations can, and do, override national interests. The ideology of the interstate system is sovereign equality, but this is practically overridden as states are treated as neither sovereign nor equal, especially in Africa.

World systems theory sees states differently. For one thing, nation-states are not like Hobbes atoms which crash against each other in a war of all against all. The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, fresh after the Thirty Years’ War, was an attempt to move beyond dynastic empires to nation-states. In core capitalist countries there were never single nation states. The Treaty created a system of nation-states which had rules of engagement, treaties, do’s and don’ts.

Today, between the core, periphery, and semi-periphery countries lies a system of interconnected state relationships. This interstate system arose either as a concomitant process or as a consequence of the development of the capitalist world-system over the course of the “long” 16th century as states began to recognize each other’s sovereignty.

Between these economic zones there were no enforceable rules about how nation-states should act, outside of not impeding the flow of capital between zones. Political domestic elites, international elites, and corporations competed and cooperated with each other, the results of which no one intended. Unsuccessful attempts have been made by the League of Nations and later the United Nations to create an international state. However, nation-states have been unwilling to give up their weapons. Therefore, the international anarchy of capitalist production is still unchecked. The function of the state is to regulate the flow of capital, labor, and commodities across borders and to enforce the structure of market rates. Not only do strong states impose their will on weak states. Strong states also impose limitations on other strong states, as we are seeing with US sanctions against Russia.

Who Will Be the Next World-Economy Hegemon?

Situation in Ukraine

Everything about Ukraine needs to be understood as the desperate clawing of a Yankee empire terrified of being left behind. The U.S. has so far convinced Europe to stay away from Russia and China, but it has nothing to offer. As Gary Olsen said, the Europeans may slowly make deals with Russia and China because they have some sense of where the future lies. So, Western hydra-headed totalitarian media all speak with the same voice: RUSSIA, RUSSIA, EVIL RUSSIA. EVIL PUTIN. Putin certainly had nerve wanting a national economy with its own economic policy. God forbid! But the time is up for Yankeedom and no terrorist police, no military drones, no Republicrats, and no stock exchange jingling with the trappings of divine honor can stop it.

The weakness of Europe

 So, if Yankeedom is in decline (and even Brzezinski admitted this) who are the new contenders? Up until maybe five years ago, I thought Germany might be, with its industrial base and its strong working class. But in the last five years German standards of living have declined. It seems that the EU is in the midst of cracking up. There is no leadership with the departure of Angela Merkel. Macron is on the way out in France. All the other countries in Europe, including Italy, are under water with debt. England is the puppy dog of the United States and hasn’t been a global power in over 100 years. Germany, Spain, Italy, and Greece could be helped enormously by allaying themselves with Russia and China, but at this point most Europeans have been bullied and complicit in myopically siding with a collapsing United States. There is a good chance the US will drag most of Europe down with them.

Collapse of the core zones?

As we have seen, according to world systems theory, the history of capitalism has had three zones: core, periphery, and semi-periphery. The countries that have inhabited the three zones have changed along with the dominant hegemon over the last 500 years, and we are now in unprecedented territory. There is a good chance that the entire batch of formerly core states, the United States, Britain, France, and the west will collapse and that the core capitalist system will be without a hegemon (with the possible exception of the Scandinavian countries). China seems to be about ten years away from assuming that position.

2022-2030 the reign of the semi-periphery?

So, is it fair to say there is a huge tectonic shift where most of the core countries will collapse and the world system will have no core for maybe 20 years? It seems clear that the new hegemon is going to be China. Arrighi and Gunder Frank both thought this. But China is still a semi-periphery country and it might take 10-15 years to enter the core. Meanwhile its allies, Russia and Iran, are also semi-periphery countries. In South America, Argentina had the foresight to sign on the Chinese Belt Road Initiative. Brazil and Chile are still uncommitted to China and occupy a semi-peripheral status. The big country in Asia is India. It is very important to the Yankees not to lose control of India, and they have all the reason in the world to beat war drums in an attempt to demonize China. If a right winger such as Modi can refuse to side against Russia in the current events in Ukraine, will a more moderate or social democratic president of India have the vision to see the future lies in aligning with China? I wouldn’t count on it given the behavior of green-social democrat leadership in Germany.

The only European countries who seem to have made their way through 40 years of Neoliberal austerity, the collapse of Yugoslavia, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the rise of fascist parties in Europe are the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. There is no reason why they could not maintain core status, though China would be the leading power.

The new hegemon China and the world-system in 2030  

I can imagine the world-system in 2030 could consist of China and the Scandinavian countries in the core, with Russia, Iran, and maybe Brazil, Argentina and Chile on the semi-periphery along with possibly India. I don’t know where to place the US and Europe. Since they are drunk with finance capital, it is unfair to put them in the semi-periphery, which is usually involved in productive scientific endeavors. Yet they are more productive than the peripheral countries. Africa could be the last battleground between the decadent Yankee and European imperialists who live on as neo-colonial crypto-imperialists attempting to either sell arms to Africans or directly set up regimes and enslave Africans to work the mines.

If China is able to develop African productive forces with the Belt Road Initiative, it might be an incentive to calm down the ethnic warfare there. It would be a wonderful thing if the African states could finally control the enormous wealth of their country. We cannot expect too much from China. The best they could do would be to invest in cultivating scientists and engineers to build up Africa as a fully industrialized continent. To me, what matters about China is not arguing whether or not it is really socialist, but that it is doing what Marx liked best about capitalism: developing the productive forces.

The prospects for a world state?

We cannot expect the Yankee state to decline peacefully and not start World War III. Is it possible to have a global capitalist realignment without starting World War III? As Chris Chase-Dunn has advocated for decades, we need a world state that has the capability to enforce a ban on interstate warfare. That is not likely now. The only attempts at this: the League of Nations and the United Nations happened after the misery of two world wars. Both attempts at world state have failed because nation-states would not agree to give up their weapons.

What about world ecology?                                                                              

But as world systems theorist Chris Chase Dunn points out, a Chinese-centered world still inherits the increasing ecological destruction that has been an inherent part of the world system since the industrial revolution and now the global pandemic. This includes extreme weather (hot and cold), pollution of land and oceans with plastics and the products of industrialization like carbon, flooding from global warming, and desertification of lands due to droughts and monocropping.

What about Marx’s dream of shrinking the ratio between freedom and necessity in the light of ecological disaster?

For Marx and Engels, the dream of socialism was based on abundance. Unfortunately, because socialism first took place in what Wallerstein would call peripheral or semi-peripheral countries, socialism has come to be associated with poverty. An implication that could be drawn under socialism is that people should expect to be poor and share the poverty equally. That is the opposite of how Marx and Engels saw things. They hoped that socialism would first break out in the west in an industrialized country, with an organized working-class party taking the lead. They hoped that the revolution of overthrowing capitalism would preserve its material abundance, technology, and scientific achievements, not tear them to the ground. They wanted to develop the forces of production that capitalism unleashed while abolishing the political economy of private property over means of production. As socialism developed, the collective creativity of workers would shrink the ratio between necessary work and freedom. What does this mean?

This meant that workers would either:

  1. a) work less and produce the same amount
  2. b) work the same amount but produce more
  3. c) work more and produce much more

In other words, workers would have an increase in the number of choices of what to do with their free time because of an increase in the technology and collective creativity to produce more with less. My question is, given the irreversible ecological situation we are in, is it still realistic to expect socialism will continue to be based on abundance? I can imagine that the way China is going, in that part of the world it may still be possible. I also suspect that in the Scandinavian countries it might be possible. The problem is that global pandemics, extreme weather, flooding, desertification, and pollution cannot easily, if at all, be contained within countries that are capitalist or socialist.

How Reliable is World-systems Theory?

I will limit criticisms of world systems theory to those of a political and economic nature. One common criticism is the struggle to do empirical research with a unit of analysis being the entire world system. This is not to say world systems theorists do not do empirical work, because they do. It is more a matter of how to derive meaningful relationships between variables at such a complex level of abstraction. Statistics for individual nation states are easier to manage, although nation-states are not autonomous actors.

Another criticism is that the successes of existing socialist states are in danger of being given the short shrift. Like many in the West, the first line of criticism by world systems theorists of socialist countries is that they are one-party dictatorships. While this may be true, there is good reason why communist parties in power are nervous about the prospect of oppositional parties being used by foreign capitalists to overthrow them. In addition, socialist countries have better records than capitalist countries on the periphery in the fields of literacy (reading and writing), low-cost housing, healthcare, and free education. Please see Michael Parenti, Black Shirts and Reds for more on this.

The third major criticism comes from orthodox Marxist, Robert Brenner. Brenner claims that the emphasis by world systems theorists on the relationship between economic zones comes at a cost to understanding the class structure within and between nation-states. I think world systems theorists are well aware of class relationships, but they choose to focus on the capitalist relationships between states. Lastly, Theda Skocpol argues that world systems theory understates the power of the state in international affairs. The state is not just the creature of transnational capital. States engage in military competition which long s capitalism. State structures compete with each other.

On a positive note, as I said earlier, Christopher Chase-Dunn has done some creative work with Terry Boswell in tracking the timing and location of rebellions and revolutions in the 500 years of the world systems in Spirals of Capitalism and Socialism. In addition, he wrote a very groundbreaking book with Tom Hall Rise and Demise, which challenges Wallerstein by suggesting that there were precapitalist world systems that go all the way back to hunter-gatherers. Also see my book with him, Social Change: Globalization from the Stone Age to the Present.

• First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Socialism

The post Tectonic Shifts in the World Economy: A World Systems Perspective first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Palestine is a Loud Echo of Britain’s Colonial Past and a Warning of the Future

[This is the transcript of a talk I gave to Bath Friends of Palestine on 25 February 2022.]

Since I arrived with my family in the UK last summer, I have been repeatedly asked: “Why choose Bristol as your new home?”

Well, it certainly wasn’t for the weather. Now more than ever I miss Nazareth’s warmth and sunshine.

It wasn’t for the food either.

My family do have a minor connection to Bristol. My great-grandparents on my mother’s side (one from Cornwall, the other from South Wales) apparently met in Bristol – a coincidental stopping point on their separate journeys to London. They married and started a family whose line led to me.

But that distant link wasn’t the reason for coming to Bristol either.

In fact, it was only in Nazareth that Bristol began occupying a more prominent place in my family’s life.

When I was not doing journalism, I spent many years leading political tours of the Galilee, while my wife, Sally, hosted and fed many of the participants in her cultural café in Nazareth, called Liwan.

It was soon clear that a disproportionate number of our guests hailed from Bristol and the south-west. Some of you here tonight may have been among them.

But my world – like everyone else’s – started to shrink as the pandemic took hold in early 2020. As we lost visitors and the chance to directly engage with them about Palestine, Bristol began to reach out to me.

Toppled statue

It did so just as Sally and I were beginning discussions about whether it was time to leave Nazareth – 20 years after I had arrived – and head to the UK.

Even from thousands of miles away, a momentous event – the sound of Edward Colston’s statue being toppled – reverberated loudly with me.

Ordinary people had decided they were no longer willing to be forced to venerate a slave trader, one of the most conspicious criminals of Britain’s colonial past. Even if briefly, the people of Bristol took back control of their city’s public space for themselves, and for humanity.

In doing so, they firmly thrust Britain’s sordid past – the unexamined background to most of our lives – into the light of day. It is because of their defiance that buildings and institutions that for centuries bore Colston’s name as a badge of honour are finally being forced to confront that past and make amends.

Bath, of course, was built no less on the profits of the slave trade. When visitors come to Bath simply to admire its grand Georgian architecture, its Royal Crescent, we assent – if only through ignorance – to the crimes that paid for all that splendour.

Weeks after the Colston statue was toppled, Bristol made headlines again. Crowds protested efforts to transfer yet more powers to the police to curb our already savagely diminished right to protest – the most fundamental of all democratic rights. Bristol made more noise against that bill than possibly anywhere else in the UK.

I ended up writing about both events from Nazareth.

Blind to history

Since my arrival, old and new friends alike have started to educate me about Bristol. Early on I attended a slavery tour in the city centre – one that connected those historic crimes with the current troubles faced by asylum seekers in Bristol, even as Bristol lays claim to the title of “city of sanctuary”.

For once I was being guided rather than the guide, the pupil rather than the teacher – so long my role on those tours in and around Nazareth. And I could not but help notice, as we wandered through Bristol’s streets, echoes of my own tours.

Over the years I have taken many hundreds of groups around the ruins of Saffuriya, one of the largest of the Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel in its ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948, the Nakba or Catastrophe.

What disturbed me most in Saffuriya was how blind its new inhabitants were to the very recent history of the place they call home.

New Jewish immigrants were moved on to the lands of Saffuriya weeks after the Israeli army destroyed the village and chased out the native Palestinian population at gunpoint. A new community built in its place was given a similar Hebrew name, Tzipori. These events were repeated across historic Palestine. Hundreds of villages were razed, and 80 per cent of the Palestinian population were expelled from what became the new state of Israel.

Troubling clues

Even today, evidence of the crimes committed in the name of these newcomers is visible everywhere. The hillsides are littered with the rubble of the hundreds of Palestinian homes that were levelled by the new Israeli army to stop their residents from returning. And there are neglected grave-stones all around – pointers to the community that was disappeared.

And yet almost no one in Jewish Tzipori asks questions about the remnants of Palestinian Saffuriya, about these clues to a troubling past. Brainwashed by reassuring state narratives, they have averted their gaze for fear of what might become visible if they looked any closer.

Tzipori’s residents never ask why there are only Jews like themselves allowed in their community, when half of the population in the surrounding area of the Galilee are Palestinian by heritage.

Instead, the people of Tzipori misleadingly refer to their Palestinian neighbours – forced to live apart from them as second and third-class citizens of a self-declared Jewish state – as “Israeli Arabs”. The purpose is to obscure, both to themselves and the outside world, the connection of these so-called Arabs to the Palestinian people.

To acknowledge the crimes Tzipori has inflicted on Saffuriya would also be to acknowledge a bigger story: of the crimes inflicted by Israel on the Palestinian people as a whole.

Shroud of silence

Most of us in Britain do something very similar.

In young Israel, Jews still venerate the criminals of their recent past because they and their loved ones are so intimately and freshly implicated in the crimes.

In Britain, with its much longer colonial past, the same result is often achieved not, as in Israel, through open cheerleading and glorification – though there is some of that too – but chiefly through a complicit silence. Colston surveyed his city from up on his plinth. He stood above us, superior, paternal, authoritative. His crimes did not need denying because they had been effectively shrouded in silence.

Until Colston was toppled, slavery for most Britons was entirely absent from the narrative of Britain’s past – it was something to do with racist plantation owners in the United States’ Deep South more than a century ago. It was an issue we thought about only when Hollywood raised it.

After the Colston statue came down, he became an exhibit – flat on his back – in Bristol’s harbourside museum, the M Shed. His black robes had been smeared with red paint, and scuffed and grazed from being dragged through the streets. He became a relic of the past, and one denied his grandeur. We were able to observe him variously with curiousity, contempt or amusement.

Those are far better responses than reverence or silence. But they are not enough. Because Colston isn’t just a relic. He is a living, breathing reminder that we are still complicit in colonial crimes, even if now they are invariably better disguised.

Nowadays, we usually interfere in the name of fiscal responsibility or humanitarianism, rather than the white man’s burden.

We return to the countries we formerly colonised and asset-stripped, and drive them back into permanent debt slavery through western-controlled monetary agencies like the IMF.

Or in the case of those that refuse to submit, we more often than not invade or subvert them – countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Iran – tearing apart the colonial fabric we imposed on them, wrecking their societies in ways that invariably lead to mass death and the dispersion of the population.

We have supplied the bombs and planes to Saudi Arabia that are killing untold numbers of civilians in Yemen. We funded and trained the Islamic extremists who terrorise and behead civilians in Syria. The list is too long for me to recount here.

Right now, we see the consequences of the west’s neo-colonialism – and a predictable countervailing reaction, in the resurgence of a Russian nationalism that President Putin has harnessed to his own ends – in NATO’s relentless, decades-long expansion towards Russia’s borders.

And of course, we are still deeply invested in the settler colonial project of Israel, and the crimes it systematically inflicts on the Palestinian people.

Divine plan

Through the 1917 Balfour Declaration, Britain gave licence for the creation of a militarised ethnic, Jewish state in the Middle East. Later, we helped supply it with atomic material in the full knowledge that Israel would build nuclear bombs. We gave Israel diplomatic cover so that it could evade its obligations under the international treaty to stop nuclear proliferation and become the only nuclear power in the region. We have had Israel’s back through more than five decades of occupation and illegal settlement building.

And significantly, we have endlessly indulged Zionism as it has evolved from its sordid origins nearly two centuries ago, as an antisemitic movement among fundamentalist Christians. Those Christian Zonists – who at the time served as the power brokers in European governments like Britain’s – viewed Jews as mere instruments in a divine plan.

According to this plan, Jews were to be denied the chance to properly integrate into the countries to which they assumed they belonged.

Instead the Christian Zionists wanted to herd Jews into an imagined ancient, Biblical land of Israel, to speed up the arrival of the end times, when mankind would be judged and only good Christians would rise up to be with God.

Until Hitler took this western antisemitism to another level, few Jews subscribed to the idea that they were doomed forever to be a people apart, that their fate was inextricably tied to a small piece of territory in a far-off region they had never visited, and that their political allies should be millenarian racists.

But after the Holocaust, things changed. Christian Zionists looked like much kinder antisemites than the exterminationist Nazis. Christian Zionism won by default and was reborn as Jewish Zionism, claiming to be a national liberation movement rather than the dregs of a white European nationalism Hitler had intensified.

Today, we are presented with polls showing that most British Jews subscribe to the ugly ideas of Zionism – ideas their great-great-grandparents abhorred. Jews who dissent, who believe that we are all the same, that we all share a common fate as humans not as tribes, are ignored or dismissed as self-haters. In an inversion of reality these humanist Jews, rather than Jewish Zionists, are seen as the pawns of the antisemites.

Perverse ideology

Zionism as a political movement is so pampered, so embedded within European and American political establishments that those Jews who rally behind this ethnic nationalism no longer consider their beliefs to be abnormal or abhorrent – as their views would have been judged by most Jews only a few generations ago.

No, today Jewish Zionists think of their views as so self-evident, so vitally important to Jewish self-preservation that anyone who opposes them must be either a self-hating Jew or an antisemite.

And because non-Jews so little understand their own culpability in fomenting this perverse ideology of Jewish Zionism, we join in the ritual defaming of those brave Jews who point out how far we have stepped through the looking glass.

As a result, we unthinkingly give our backing to the Zionists as they weaponise antisemitism against those – Jews and non-Jews alike – who stand in solidarity with the native Palestinian people so long oppressed by western colonialism.

Thoughtlessly, too many of us have drifted once again into a sympathy for the oppressor – this time, Zonism’s barely veiled anti-Palestinian racism.

Nonetheless, our attitudes towards modern Israel, given British history, can be complex. On the one hand, there are good reasons to avert our gaze. Israel’s crimes today are an echo and reminder of our own crimes yesterday. Western governments subsidise Israel’s crimes through trade agreements, they provide the weapons for Israel to commit those crimes, and they profit from the new arms and cyber-weapons Israel has developed by testing them out on Palestinians. Like the now-defunct apartheid South Africa, Israel is a central ally in the west’s neo-colonialism.

So, yes, Israel is tied to us by an umbilical cord. We are its parent. But at the same time it is also not exactly like us either – more a bastard progeny. And that difference, that distance can help us gain a little perspective on ourselves. It can make Israel a teaching aid. An eye-opener. A place that can bring clarity, elucidate not only what Israel is doing but what countries like Britain have done and are still doing to this day.

Trade in bodies

The difference between Britain and Israel is to be found in the distinction between a colonial and a settler-colonial state.

Britain is a classic example of the former. It sent the entitled sons of its elite private schools, men like Colston, to parts of the globe rich in resources in order to steal those resources and bring the wealth back to the motherland to further enrich the establishment. That was the purpose of the tea and sugar plantations.

But it was not just a trade in inanimate objects. Britain also traded in bodies – mostly black bodies. Labour and muscle were a resource as vital to the British empire as silk and saffron.

The trafficking in goods and people lasted more than four centuries until liberation movements among the native populations began to throw off – at least partially – the yoke of British and European colonialism. The story since the Second World War has been one of Europe and the United States’ efforts to reinvent colonialism, conducting their rape and pillage at a distance, through the hands of others.

This is the dissembling, modern brand of colonialism: a “humanitarian” neocolonialism we should by now be familiar with. Global corporations, monetary
agencies like the IMF and the military alliance of NATO have each played a key role in the reinvention of colonialism – as has Israel.

Elimination strategies

Israel inherited Britain’s colonial tradition, and permanently adopted many of its emergency orders for use against the Palestinians. Like traditional colonialism, settler colonialism is determined to appropriate the resources of the natives. But it does so in an even more conspicuous, uncompromising way. It does not just exploit the natives. It seeks to replace or eliminate them. That way, they can never be in a position to liberate themselves and their homeland.

There is nothing new about this approach. It was adopted by European colonists across much of the globe: in North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as belatedly in the Middle East.

There are advantages and disadvantages to the settler colonial strategy, as Israel illustrates only too clearly. In their struggle to replace the natives, Israel’s settlers had to craft a narrative – a rationalisation – that they were the victims rather than the victimisers. They were, of course, fleeing persecution in Europe, but only to become persecutors themselves outside Europe. They were supposedly in a battle for survival against those they came to replace, the Palestinians. The natives were cast as irredeemably, and irrationally, hostile. God was invoked, more or less explicitly.

In the Zionist story, the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians – the Nakba – becomes a War of Independence, celebrated to this day. The Zionist colonisers thereby transformed themselves into another national liberation movement, like the ones in Africa that were fighting after the Second World War for independence. Israel claimed to be fighting oppressive British rule, as Africans were, rather than inheriting the colonisers’ mantle.

But there is a disadvantage for settler colonial projects too, especially in an era of better communications. In a time of more democratic media, as we are currently enjoying – even if briefly – the colonisers’ elimination strategies are much harder to veil or airbrush. The ugliness is on show. The reality of the oppression is more visceral, more obviously offensive.

Apartheid named

The settlers’ elimination strategies are limited in number, and difficult to conceal whichever is adopted. In the United States, elimination took the form of genocide – the simplest and neatest of settler-colonialism’s solutions.

In the post-war era of human rights, however, Israel was denied that route. It adopted settler colonialism’s fall-back position: mass expulsion, or ethnic cleansing. Some 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and outside the new borders of Israel in 1948.

But genocide and ethnic cleansing are invariably projects that cannot be completed. Some 90 per cent of Native Americans died from the violence and diseases brought by European incomers, but a small proportion survived. In South Africa, the white immigrants lacked the numbers and capacity either to eradicate the native population or to exploit such a vast territory.

Israel managed to expel only 80 per cent of the Palestinians living inside its new borders before the international community called time. And then Israel sabotaged its initial success in 1948 by seizing yet more Palestinian territory – and more Palestinians – in 1967.

When settler populations cannot eradicate the native population completely, they must impose harsh, visible segregation policies against those that remain.

Resources and rights are differentiated on the basis of race or ethnicity. Such regimes institute apartheid – or as Israel calls its version “hafrada” – to maintain the privileges of their own, superior or chosen population.

Colonial mentality

Many decades on, human rights groups have finally named Israel’s apartheid. Amnesty International got round to it only this month – 74 years after the Nakba and 55 years after the occupation began.

It has taken so long because even our understanding of human rights continues to be shaped by a European colonial mentality. Human rights groups have documented Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians – the “what” of their oppression – but refused to understand the “why” of that oppression. These watchdogs did not truly listen to Palestinians. They listened to, they excused, Israel even as they were criticising it. They indulged its endless security rationales for its crimes against Palestinians.

The reluctance to name Israeli apartheid derives in large part from a reluctance to face our part in its creation. To identify Israel’s apartheid is to recognise both our role in sustaining it, and Israel’s crucial place in the west’s reinvented neocolonialism.

Being ‘offensive’

The difficulty of facing up to what Israel is and what it represents is, of course, particularly stark for many Jews – not only in Israel but in countries like Britain. Through no choice of their own, Jews are more deeply implicated in Israel’s crimes because those crimes are carried out in the name of all Jews. As a result, for Zionist Jews, protecting the settler colonial project of Israel is identical to protecting their own sense of virtue.

In the zero-sum imaginings of the Zionist movement, the stakes are too high to doubt or to equivocate. As Zionists, their duty is to support, dissemble and propagandise on Israel’s behalf at all costs.

Nowadays Zionism has become such a normalised part of our western culture that those who call themselves Zionists are appalled at the idea anyone could dare to point out that their ideology is rooted in an ugly ethnic nationalism and in apartheid. Those who make them feel uncomfortable by highlighting the reality of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians – and their blindness to it – are accused of being “offensive”.

That supposed offensiveness is now conflated with antisemitism, as the treatment of Ken Loach, the respected film-maker of this parish, attests. Disgust at Israel’s racism towards Palestinians is malevolently confused with racism towards Jews. The truth is inverted.

This confusion has also become the basis for a new definition of antisemitism – one aggressively advanced by Israel and its apologists – designed to mislead casual onlookers. The more we, as anti-racists and opponents of colonialism, try to focus attention and opprobrium on Israel’s crimes, the more we are accused of covertly attacking Jews.

Into the fire

Arriving in the UK from Nazareth at this very moment is like stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Here the battle over Zionism – defining it, understanding it, confronting it, refusing to be silenced by it – is in full flood. The Labour party, under Jeremy Corbyn, was politically eviscerated by a redefined antisemitism. Now the party’s ranks are being purged by his successor, Sir Keir Starmer, on the same phony grounds.

Professors are being threatened and losing their jobs, as happened to David Miller at Bristol university, with the goal of intensifying pressure on the academy to keep silent about Israel and its lobbyists. Exhibitions are taken down, speakers cancelled.

And all the while, the current western obsession with redefining antisemitism – the latest cover story for apartheid Israel – moves us ever further from sensitivity to real racism, whether it be genuine prejudice against Jews or rampant Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism.

The fight for justice for Palestinians resonates with so many of us precisely because it is not simply a struggle to help Palestinians. It is a fight to end colonialism in all its forms, to end our inhumanity towards those we live alongside, to remember that we are all equally human and all equally entitled to respect and dignity.

The story of Palestine is a loud echo from our past. Maybe the loudest. If we cannot hear it, then we cannot learn – and we cannot take the first steps on the path towards real change.

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The Global Fashion Brands: More than the Little Black Dress

Following the announcement of Leena Nair’s (no relation) appointment as CEO of Chanel last month, media and fans were quick to laud the announcement as a step forward in diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts by global brands given she would be one of the industry’s only women of colour in the exclusive ranks of leadership.

However, Ms Nair’s appointment as the first Indian woman to lead a Western luxury brand is a long overdue opportunity to reflect on the fact that D&I developments – even ones as seemingly significant as this – are still a means to camouflage the main issue at hand: that the global fashion industry still largely adheres to White Western prescriptions about beauty, aesthetic, and lifestyle, thereby reinforcing Western cultural superiority, which in turn furthers its economic dominance.

D&I has become a buzzword in the fashion industry in recent years and more so after the surge of wokeness triggered by the events of the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020. Western firms are eager to showcase diversity to capitalise on the movement, and they are successful since many fashion consumers (both Western and non-Western) are oblivious to these motives and perceive D&I as a cause for celebration.

For example, Chanel is a brand most known for popularizing the ‘little black dress’, a garment that is seen as a fashion staple today. Yet its origins are nothing to celebrate: a uniform meant to hold women of colour in place to replace traditional and ethnic clothes, both in the West and across colonies. The appointment of a non-White CEO will not change that nor the more important issue, which is Chanel’s abiding philosophical primacy of promoting Western design and fashion sensibilities across the non-Western world.

As a global company, Chanel clearly has the right to influence markets across the world as it sees fit, but we should not be swayed by D&I developments that have been meticulously selected to fit into a politically acceptable framework that cannot be challenged. At the same time we should also confront the inconvenient truth that the promotion of D&I in the fashion industry enables Western-owned firms to blend fashion and culture in ways that many non-Whites do not notice, helping sustain a business strategy of flooding non-Western markets with cheaply produced Western fashion while also extending White and Western culture to every corner of the world, thereby maintaining and perpetuating the aura of superiority around White people and their culture – this has been termed the ‘colonization of the mind’ and creates cultural subservience.

Western fashion culture as modernising

Historically, fashion was utilised as a status symbol in countries across the world to separate the hierarchy between classes, including between the colonised and the coloniser. However, after the industrial revolution, when the West had colonised much of the world, fashion houses maintained this power dynamic for profit growth by encouraging the rising middle class in the West and its colonies to buy a little taste of luxury and supposed modernity in the globalised world: they introduced entry-level status symbols.

A Gucci belt, Chanel earrings, or a Louis Vuitton wallet—all with prominent labels and accessible costs (if still expensive)—allowed once-colonized peoples to dress like the “wealthy and powerful” of the West. Wearing Western fashion is therefore connected with progress, causing disdain for traditional clothing. Traditional dress conventions were traded for Western styles, and this is happening more vigorously now. Stilettoes and bikinis are modern and a sign of liberty, but hijabs and traditional outfits are seen as restrictive and oppressive.

Telling someone what they should look like frequently necessitates telling them what they should not look like: people must first feel inferior when wearing non-Western clothing to spend money on Western styles. Luxury fashion is built on the emotional scaffolding of human aspiration. Looking fair and not dark is part of the reflection of self.

Neo-Colonial Economics

Western fashion houses’ business strategy, like that of colonial enterprises of the past, has always been to capitalise on the world’s least expensive and weakest regions. In the past, the best fabrics and accessories for high fashion was obtained from the colonies. Not much has changed. Why have luxury brands relocated their production to Cambodia, Myanmar, and now Ethiopia, when China’s expenses increased? It isn’t due to improved industry or infrastructure.

Simply put, these are the least expensive frontiers for the exploitation of cheap labour and resources that are still available.

According to McKinsey & Company’s Global Fashion Index 2020, the worldwide fashion industry is dominated by 20 corporations that account for 97 per cent of global economic profit in the retail sector. No surprise. They are all Western brands.

When we examine the fashion sector as a whole, we can see that the supply networks of the top Western apparel businesses follow the same trade routes as they did 150 years ago, during the height of European colonial exploitation. To put it another way, the fashion industry continues to abuse institutions and leverage cheap resources in nations still recovering from colonialism’s effects. And they have ingeniously made some of them their customers and biggest markets. 

Many people are aware of supply chain abuses, but how do these brands escape controversy? By focusing on and promoting D&I activities in the West, away from the harsh and exploitative tactics that keep the business alive in African and Asian nations. And not to mention the almost irreversible impacts of local culture and fashion being discarded as part of the wider trend of the acculturation and Westernisation of the world.

Token gestures 

This leads to tokenism. “The practise of making simply a perfunctory or symbolic attempt to perform a certain item, notably by hiring a small number of persons from under-represented groups to provide the illusion of equality,” according to the Cambridge dictionary.

This is found everywhere in the fashion industry, from the catwalks to the seasonal adoption of “ethnic chic” by designers. Tokenism also encourages non-Westerners and non-Whites to abandon their traditions to seek employment in Western fashion houses.

These non-Western designers, models, hairdressers, make-up artists and so on had to intentionally or unconsciously pursue Whiteness to obtain favour from Westerners and advance their careers. It is so accepted that most people do not even react to the awkward and condescending advertisements of leading fashion houses such as Gucci and D&G, which routinely depict non-Whites in outrageous settings and poses that seek to play on their non-Whiteness as if they are captive performers in a circus.

Consider the late Virgil Abloh. He was the first black artistic director at Louis Vuitton. His appointment at LV, like Leena’s, is still seen as a watershed event in fashion and a sign that the industry was making a determined effort to adapt. His hiring, however, was not a sign of structural change, but rather highlighted difficulties that have long plagued fashion and other creative sectors.

Even his own “Black-owned brand” was made up of overwhelmingly White people. As a result, “streetwear” appeared “cool” because white creatives utilised a Black designer as its calling card (despite years of criticising Black culture). It did not change the fact that the brand was still controlled behind the scenes by White and Western commercial interests.

What the world needs is for consumers to be more aware of the rise of a new fashion consciousness in the non-Western world, one which is not so intrinsically linked with global economic domination of established Western brands, but rather the reclamation of fashion as a reflection of their diverse cultures – dictated by them and not the West.

But this change will not happen overnight. A country’s fresh fashion statement can only be defined through an appreciation of its long history of traditional culture, pride in its traditions, developing novel consumer ideals and resisting the onslaught of Western cultural domination – but not going so far as to reject it.

A long way to go 

While Abloh and Ms Nair’s appointments were no doubt due to their hard work, undisputed talents and abilities, they were also effectively spun to be seen as a cause for celebration – and this is not a sign of systemic change. Stamping this as a landmark moment for global racial equality in the industry, without acknowledging the pointed economic interests behind it and its negative cultural impacts, is plain dishonest.

It is in many ways impossible – and even perhaps unfair – to ask Western fashion brands that have clung to fashion’s entrenched elitism and White soft power, to change their business model, one which preys on non-Western consumers indoctrinated by the superiority of all things Western. Non-Westerners can however cease imitating the West and begin expressing their own fashion sensibilities and culture. Why can’t traditional attire become the standard business dress in international business centres or be exhibited on European fashion runways and not be seen as a touch of “ethnic” colour or flair? China’s redefining of “Made in China” as a sign of pride rather than shame can be emulated in the rest of the non-Western world.

The actual breakthrough will occur when non-Western people all over the globe comprehend the nature of the Western fashion trends they follow, ask why they follow them at the risk of rejecting their own culture, and see that doing so perpetuates global White economic power.

Image credit: stylishlyme.com

The post The Global Fashion Brands: More than the Little Black Dress first appeared on Dissident Voice.

In South Africa as in Palestine: Why We Must Protect the Legacy of Desmond Tutu

Long before intersectionality became a prevailing concept which helped delineate the relationship between various marginalized and oppressed groups, late South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu said it all in a few words and in a most inimitable style. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together,” he said.

Like other freedom and justice icons, Tutu did not merely coin the kind of language that helped many around the world rise in solidarity with the oppressed people of South Africa, who fought a most inspiring and costly war against colonialism, racism and apartheid. He was a leader, a fighter and a true engaged intellectual.

It is quite convenient for many in corporate media to forget all of this about Tutu, the same way they deliberately rewrote the story of Nelson Mandela, as if the leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement was a pacifist, not a true warrior, in word and deed. Tutu is also depicted by some in the media as if he was merely a quotable man who helped in the ‘healing’ of the nation after the formal end of apartheid.

There is no use to preach to South Africans, and those who knew Tutu well, to understand the great man’s centrality in the anti-apartheid struggle and in the shaping of a powerful narrative, which exposed and, eventually, demolished apartheid.

As a Palestinian, however, I think it is very important to emphasize the crucial role played by Tutu in linking the apartheid experience in his country with Israeli apartheid and military occupation in Palestine, and in influencing a generation of Palestinian intellectuals who have sagaciously tapped into the collective South African anti-apartheid experience and applied many of its valuable lessons to the Palestinian experience as well.

“When you go to the Holy Land and see what’s being done to the Palestinians at checkpoints, for us, it’s the kind of thing we experienced in South Africa,” Tutu told The Washington Post in an interview in 2013.

To be accepted into mainstream circles, activists of high caliber are often careful in the language they use and in the references they make. With weak and indecisive intellectual courage, they falter at the first challenge or in the face of abuse and attacks by their detractors. Not Tutu. When the man began making references to an Israeli apartheid in Palestine, Zionists and their friends were merciless in their accusations that the beloved spiritual leader, in the words of infamous American Zionist lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, was “evil”.

Dershowitz, hardly known for his moral fortitude and well known for his undying love for Israel, was one of those who used the opportunity to cowardly pounce on the great South African spiritual leader almost immediately after the news of his death.

“The world is mourning Bishop Tutu, who just died the other day,” Dershowitz said during an interview on Fox News on December 28, adding, “Can I remind the world that although he did some good things, a lot of good things on apartheid, the man was a rampant anti-Semite and bigot?”

Dershowitz also described Tutu as “evil”. Indeed, Tutu was also ‘evil’ in the eyes of the racist apartheid government of South Africa, as he was ‘evil’ in the eyes of Israel. Mandela, Che Guevara, Yasser Arafat, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were also ‘evil’ in the eyes of the racists, the colonialists, the Zionists and the imperialists.

Expectedly, Tutu did not back down despite years of pressure and abuse. “I know, first-hand, that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark, indeed,” Tutu wrote in 2014, calling on US Presbyterians to impose sanctions on Israel.

In that same year, an interview with the South African news outlet News 24, Tutu said:

I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.

It is such support by such great men and women like Tutu that gave the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement the needed impetus to build the foundation of its current success around the world.

Tutu went further. Instead of appealing to people’s consciousness, he also reminded them that making the wrong moral choice is a moral indictment of them as well. “Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” he said.

In South Africa, in Palestine and all around the world, we mourn the death of Archbishop Tutu but we also celebrate his life. Particularly, we celebrate the legacy that this formidable intellectual and spiritual leader left behind.

Palestinians all over the world paid tribute to Tutu. Palestinian Archbishop Atallah Hanna, himself a great warrior for justice, said that Tutu “will always be remembered for his rejection of racism and apartheid, including in Palestine.”

Because of Tutu and his comrades, we have a roadmap on how to fight against and end apartheid, how to confront the racists and how to defeat racism; how to embrace our moral responsibility and how to strive for a better, more equitable world. And, because of Tutu, we are constantly reminded that Israeli apartheid in Palestine must be fought with the same ferocity, will and moral fortitude as that of South Africa.

Tutu will never die, because his words continue to lead the way, in Palestine as in South Africa. Equally important, we must never allow the honorable legacy of Desmond Tutu to be exploited, demonized or rewritten by his detractors or by those whose sensibilities cannot accommodate the courage of this black fighter, who will continue to lead the way, long after his passing.

The post In South Africa as in Palestine: Why We Must Protect the Legacy of Desmond Tutu first appeared on Dissident Voice.

In South Africa as in Palestine: Why We Must Protect the Legacy of Desmond Tutu

Long before intersectionality became a prevailing concept which helped delineate the relationship between various marginalized and oppressed groups, late South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu said it all in a few words and in a most inimitable style. “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together,” he said.

Like other freedom and justice icons, Tutu did not merely coin the kind of language that helped many around the world rise in solidarity with the oppressed people of South Africa, who fought a most inspiring and costly war against colonialism, racism and apartheid. He was a leader, a fighter and a true engaged intellectual.

It is quite convenient for many in corporate media to forget all of this about Tutu, the same way they deliberately rewrote the story of Nelson Mandela, as if the leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement was a pacifist, not a true warrior, in word and deed. Tutu is also depicted by some in the media as if he was merely a quotable man who helped in the ‘healing’ of the nation after the formal end of apartheid.

There is no use to preach to South Africans, and those who knew Tutu well, to understand the great man’s centrality in the anti-apartheid struggle and in the shaping of a powerful narrative, which exposed and, eventually, demolished apartheid.

As a Palestinian, however, I think it is very important to emphasize the crucial role played by Tutu in linking the apartheid experience in his country with Israeli apartheid and military occupation in Palestine, and in influencing a generation of Palestinian intellectuals who have sagaciously tapped into the collective South African anti-apartheid experience and applied many of its valuable lessons to the Palestinian experience as well.

“When you go to the Holy Land and see what’s being done to the Palestinians at checkpoints, for us, it’s the kind of thing we experienced in South Africa,” Tutu told The Washington Post in an interview in 2013.

To be accepted into mainstream circles, activists of high caliber are often careful in the language they use and in the references they make. With weak and indecisive intellectual courage, they falter at the first challenge or in the face of abuse and attacks by their detractors. Not Tutu. When the man began making references to an Israeli apartheid in Palestine, Zionists and their friends were merciless in their accusations that the beloved spiritual leader, in the words of infamous American Zionist lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, was “evil”.

Dershowitz, hardly known for his moral fortitude and well known for his undying love for Israel, was one of those who used the opportunity to cowardly pounce on the great South African spiritual leader almost immediately after the news of his death.

“The world is mourning Bishop Tutu, who just died the other day,” Dershowitz said during an interview on Fox News on December 28, adding, “Can I remind the world that although he did some good things, a lot of good things on apartheid, the man was a rampant anti-Semite and bigot?”

Dershowitz also described Tutu as “evil”. Indeed, Tutu was also ‘evil’ in the eyes of the racist apartheid government of South Africa, as he was ‘evil’ in the eyes of Israel. Mandela, Che Guevara, Yasser Arafat, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were also ‘evil’ in the eyes of the racists, the colonialists, the Zionists and the imperialists.

Expectedly, Tutu did not back down despite years of pressure and abuse. “I know, first-hand, that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark, indeed,” Tutu wrote in 2014, calling on US Presbyterians to impose sanctions on Israel.

In that same year, an interview with the South African news outlet News 24, Tutu said:

I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.

It is such support by such great men and women like Tutu that gave the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement the needed impetus to build the foundation of its current success around the world.

Tutu went further. Instead of appealing to people’s consciousness, he also reminded them that making the wrong moral choice is a moral indictment of them as well. “Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” he said.

In South Africa, in Palestine and all around the world, we mourn the death of Archbishop Tutu but we also celebrate his life. Particularly, we celebrate the legacy that this formidable intellectual and spiritual leader left behind.

Palestinians all over the world paid tribute to Tutu. Palestinian Archbishop Atallah Hanna, himself a great warrior for justice, said that Tutu “will always be remembered for his rejection of racism and apartheid, including in Palestine.”

Because of Tutu and his comrades, we have a roadmap on how to fight against and end apartheid, how to confront the racists and how to defeat racism; how to embrace our moral responsibility and how to strive for a better, more equitable world. And, because of Tutu, we are constantly reminded that Israeli apartheid in Palestine must be fought with the same ferocity, will and moral fortitude as that of South Africa.

Tutu will never die, because his words continue to lead the way, in Palestine as in South Africa. Equally important, we must never allow the honorable legacy of Desmond Tutu to be exploited, demonized or rewritten by his detractors or by those whose sensibilities cannot accommodate the courage of this black fighter, who will continue to lead the way, long after his passing.

The post In South Africa as in Palestine: Why We Must Protect the Legacy of Desmond Tutu first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Palestine Between a Rising Tide and Apartheid

*****

Systems of colonialism and militarism are destroying both human rights and the environment. Palestinians live in a part of the world that is warming faster than the global average, under a system of Israeli settler colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid. Their experiences offer a clear example of how climate change multiplies existing injustices and inequalities.

Today, we introduce “Between a Rising Tide and Apartheid,” a new series of visuals that illustrates the intersection between the Palestinian rights movement and the environmental/climate justice movements. Learn from Palestinian experiences with climate vulnerability, green colonialism, environmental racism, and colonial extraction. Be sure to also register for our upcoming event to expand on the topics covered in these visuals.

JOIN US FOR AN ONLINE DISCUSSION BASED ON THESE VISUALS

Thursday, January 20, 2022

12:00–1:30 New York / 7:00-8:30 Jerusalem

Join the VP team in conversation with Zena Agha, Asmaa Abu Mezied, and Daleen Saah. Zena and Asmaa are researchers with expertise in climate change in Palestine, and Daleen partnered with VP in the conceptualization and design of these visuals.

*****

The post Palestine Between a Rising Tide and Apartheid first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Canada’s Head-of-State Honors a War Criminal

The only place I want to hear him speak is in the dock at the Hague at the International Criminal Court facing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

George Galloway, former British MP and the director of The Killing$ of Tony Blair

Canada’s head of state, also the queen of Canada, has made the war criminal Tony Blair a “Sir.”

Many will ask, “Isn’t prime minister Justin Trudeau Canada’s head-of-state?” No, he isn’t. Queen Elizabeth is Canada’s head-of-state. No, she isn’t a Canadian. So a Brit is Canada’s head-of-state. That elitist, colonial vestige remains intact in the year 2022.

Having a foreign head-of-state has ramifications for Canada. First, under this constitutional arrangement, Canada has no say as to who its head-of-state will be. Second, the monarchy is thoroughly undemocratic. It is determined by birth order in one family. Third, atheists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Roman Catholics, etc need not apply. The monarch is the supreme governor of the Anglican church. That is the same church that ran so many Indian Residential Schools in Canada that sought to disappear Indigenous kids. As the Canadian civil servant in charge, Duncan Campbell Scott, stated: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem…. Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question…”

Elizabeth has never apologized for the monarchy’s role in the Anglican church-run residential schools in Canada.

Usually a sovereign country would like its head-of-state to align with the foreign policy of the country. However, despite sharing a titular head with another country, it is unsurprising that those countries would occasionally differ on foreign policy objectives. Canada’s foreign policy does at times deviate from that of the United Kingdom. For instance, Elizabeth blessed the dispatch of British troops to wage war against Iraq, a war that Canada refused to send its troops to join, especially since Canadian citizens were much opposed to the war.

UN secretary general Kofi Annan called the invasion illegal. Former UN secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali concurred on the illegality of the war. Nonetheless, Elizabeth decided to grant knighthood to the war criminal Tony Blair.

On 1 January, Blair became a member of the Order of the Garter, England’s oldest and most senior order of chivalry. The BBC explains, “The appointments are the personal choice of the Queen, who has up to 24 ‘knight and lady companions’.”

George Galloway was flummoxed by the queen’s decision. He pleaded with his queen: “Tonight I find myself in the unusual position of beseeching her majesty the queen to turn back from a disastrous error of judgement which she has made.”

Canada does not even permit knighthood for Canadian citizens. Yet Canada finds itself in the position of having its head-of-state honoring a war criminal. Just how much blood is on Blair’s hands? One “catastrophic estimate” cited a figure of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths subsequent to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Whether it is 2.4 million deaths, half of that, or a quarter of that, whatever the actual number is, the queen’s actions indicate that it is ostensibly a price worth bringing one of the war’s scoundrels into the queen’s inner circle.

Is it not perversely ironic that the war criminal Blair who helped launch the invasion of Iraq that killed so many people is knighted while the man whose organization, WikiLeaks, that revealed the war crimes committed in Iraq and Britain’s role in the commission of those crimes, languishes as a political prisoner in a maximum security facility in England? Assange has been undergoing psychological torture, incarceration, defamation, and recently he suffered a stroke. He has had to endure all this punishment for the crime of publishing the commission of war crimes for which the kangaroo court in Britain agreed to extradite him to the United States, a country that had planned to murder him; instead he is being subjected to a a slow motion assassination in Elizabeth’s realm.

The Canadian political establishment has been obsequious to empire when it comes to denying justice for Julian Assange, and the state/corporate media in Canada has been equally servile to empire.

The time is long past to abolish Canada’s link to the British monarchy. More importantly, it is time for Canada to speak and act in the defense of publishers, journalists, and whistleblowers who expose the horrendous crimes of which any guilty country should forever be ashamed.

The post Canada’s Head-of-State Honors a War Criminal first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What Does It Mean for the Dispossessor to “Compensate” the Dispossessed?

Settlers enjoyed a seeming free permission: to dispossess natives at will of all the best land, turn them out of traditional fishing locations, disrespect elders, women, children and religion, leave whole communities without political representation and punish men for breaking laws which they could have no means of knowing existed. It was inconceivable that all this change could happen overnight without violence. Instead, there was the greatest imaginable violence: genocide.

— Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening, 2012

Somehow, even “genocide” seems an inadequate description for what happened, yet rather than viewing it with horror, most Americans have conceived of it as their country’s manifest destiny.

— Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, 2015

Imagine, if you can, that someone would take almost everything from you — your home, your culture, your language, your spirituality, your connection to the past, your children, your elders — and render you spiritually, emotionally, and economically destitute. In subsequent years, the thief uses the purloined land and resources to amass enormous material wealth. While others around you have suffered injury and death, you are among those still breathing — a survivor? Sometimes the word survivor seems so inappropriate. Isn’t it possible to breathe the air and still feel as if you have not survived?

Canada exists because it conducted a genocide. Canada prefers that the genocide have an adjective attached: cultural. A cultural genocide sounds like there were no bodies, that only some traditions were ripped away. But that is a lie. Many Indigenous children taken from their families did not return. Indigenous children with contagious tuberculosis were intentionally kept in dorms with otherwise healthy children. Smallpox is also known to have been deliberately passed on to First Nations. The purposeful propagation of lethal diseases is, first and foremost, biological not cultural. Land is a lot easier for the taking when there are no people on it.

But history sometimes has a seemingly morality-attuned quirk for re-emerging and biting the backs of those, or their progeny, who reaped unjust fruits.

Canadian society and its government have been dominated by European settler-colonialists. Many of the settlers denigrated Indigenous peoples, viewing them as savages, lazy, uncouth, and inferior. So the Indigenes were removed to postage-stamp sized reserves far from White society’s sensibilities. In the meantime, the plan to disappear Indigenous peoples, by way of assimilation, was being carried out by the church and state.

The long-buried crimes would eventually resurface and set off a paroxysm of consternation in sensible society.

One powder keg, was the launching of a national class-action lawsuit by Indigenous peoples concerning a long-standing human rights complaint over the underfunding of First Nations child welfare. The Canadian government fought it, but sometimes a form of justice prevails. Canada was found culpable for racially discriminating against First Nations kids living on reserves. Canada was ordered to pay the statutory maximum of C$40,000 to victims of discrimination and some family members.

Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) reported: “The federal government is pledging up to $40 billion [approximately US$30 billion] to compensate First Nations kids and reform the child-welfare system.”

What is a pledge from the Canadian government worth? After all, prime minister Justin Trudeau promised to lift all long-term drinking-water advisories by March 2021. Progress was made, but as of 9 December 2021 there are still 42 long-term drinking-water advisories in 33 communities.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission — whose raison d’être was to come to grips with the tattered legacy of forced assimilation and abuse in the residential school system — issued a report in July 2015 with 94 Calls to Action. As of 8 October 2021, 13 calls were completed, 29 had projects under way, 32 had projects proposed, and 20 calls had no action started. More than 6 years later, Canada has completed almost 14% of the actions. What does that indicate about fidelity to reconciliation?

Then there is the question unexplored: from where did the Canadian government derive the money to “compensate” First Nations kids? Is the Canadian state not filling its coffers with resources extracted from First Nations, Michif, and Inuit land? Land, much of which is unceded or obtained through fraudulent treaty negotiations.

Consider what reconciliation and compensation looks like to the Wet’suwet’en people who are facing militarized Canadian gendarmes helping force a pipeline route through unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.

What should be done?

If someone (especially someone of means) steals something precious from you, don’t you want it returned? If someone unlawfully tosses you out of your home and off your property, don’t you want it back? There is an Indigenous-led movement calling for Land Back. If land was stolen should it not be returned to the original users? Users because many First Nations do not believe in ownership of the land, meaning that it cannot be bought or sold.

The post What Does It Mean for the Dispossessor to “Compensate” the Dispossessed? first appeared on Dissident Voice.