The following article is the first in what i intend to be an irregular series (as i overall re-energize and re-activate this blog project) in which i will lay out my now several years deep personal political project. This is an attempted synthesis of two often distant, and times thought to be opposing, radical streams of thought: Nican Tlaca Nationalism (Indigenism) and communism, specifically Historical Materialism (“Marxism”), though i do take some influence from non-Marxian communisms as well.
This post, and indeed the series that will follow, should never be taken as the final word however. I am constantly reading, constantly studying (not least of which is due to my primary work as a Doctoral student) and such i am always synthesizing new information, new theory, as i attempt to come to a fuller understanding of the situation facing Nican Tlaca (Native) People and the path forward to our liberation.
Ena͞emaehkiw Thupaq Kesīqnaeh
By Way of Introduction
It’s generally no secret to folks within the indigenous, anti-colonial and socialist/communist/anarchist (“left-wing”) movements on occupied Anówarakowa Kawennote (1) that Nican Tlaca Nationalism (Indigenism) and Historical Materialism (“Marxism”) are often considered to be schools of thought at deep and significant odds with one another. This is despite the fact that they both claim to stand opposed to capitalism, imperialism and oppression. This is far from new, and there have been polemics produced from both sides of the issue.
Perhaps the most well known collection of back-n-forths to be produced in this relationship was the Ward Churchill edited volume Marxism & Native Americans. Within its pages such prominent movers and thinkers of the Nican Tlaca (2) movement as Russell Means, Vine Deloria Jr., Winona LaDuke, Frank Black Elk and, of course, Churchill himself, leveled significant critiques towards the Historical Materialist worldview. Another of Churchill’s essays, False Promises: An Indigenist Critique of Marxist Theory and Practice, also lays out what seems to be a serious critique of Historical Materialism, in particular its Marxist-Leninist variant, and has seen continuous circulation in the years since its publication.
While some of the critiques miss the mark, or are simply factually incorrect (one thinks here for example of Churchill’s very poor understanding of the form and function of the so-called “Labour Theory of Value” in his aforementioned False Promises article), when one cuts to the core of it all of these critiques of Historical Materialist/communist theory and practice from a Nican Tlaca rooted worldview, one finds that they all contain the same radical truth: Historical Materialism (“Marxism,” communism), as it has been historically constituted, is profoundly Eurocentric. This truth is a serious issue that the Marxist movement has failed to address over the last 150 years, but which is readily visible to Nican Tlaca.
Indeed, the deep Eurocentrism of some Marxist thinkers is on full display with their very own contributions to the above mentioned Churchill edited volume, for example the Maoist-identified Revolutionary Communist Party, USA’s blitheringly racist polemic against late Lakotah activist Russell Means (see their infamous Searching for a Second Harvest article). Additionally, it is worth pointing out this is also not something that afflicts only the myriad of “Leninist” incarnations of Historical Materialism (Trotskyism, Marxism-Leninism, Maoism etc). Indeed, one could make a strong argument that the Eurocentrism of Historical Materialism is even more pronounced within the so-called “left-communist” or “libertarian communist” stream: Luxemburgism, council communism and the like. Witness for example the general left-communist disdain for anti-colonial & anti-imperial movements. For a particular example we can look no further than the racist, colonialist and Eurocentric “anti-imperialism” on display in A Commune In Chiapas?, produced by Aufheben, a self-identified “liberation communist” journal.
The fact is that Eurocentrism has been an infected the development of not only Historical Materialism, but indeed all nominally revolutionary streams of thought to have emerged from the European context (it applies just as strongly to anarchism, especially “class-struggle anarchism”: anarchist communism & anarcho-syndicalism). If there is going to be any kind of moving forward in the creation of a Nican Tlaca Communist project, which is my aim here, and which salvages what, if any, usefulness there can be found within Historical Materialism, than this Eurocentric kernel must be confronted head on.
Nican Tlaca Communism
If communism is so Eurocentric, why even bother to then talk then about formulating a “Nican Tlaca Communism”? The question is not without merit, and as a leaping off point i can think of no better place to turn than to the late comrade Owusu Yaki Yakubu (James Yaki Sayles), who dug into similar issues in explaining his description of the he and his comrads worked to give shape to as “New Afrikan Communism,” rather than “Marxism,” or “Marxism-Leninism,” “Maoism” etc.