So Israel is an Illegitimate Settler Occupation, But the Americas are Not?

That is the position of the White “left”, even the most vocal supporters of a One-State Solution to the Palestinian national movement struggle. However, as all genuine anti-imperialists and revolutionaries around the world know, settler colonialism is settler colonialism; White Power is White Power; imperialism is imperialism. It makes no differences where it occurs, whether Turtle Island to Palestine.

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Posted on November 16, 2012, in Imperialism & Colonialism, Indigenous Struggles, Mid-East Struggles, White Power and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m not sure if it is the case that the mainstream left as a whole in the Americas (specifically in the US and Canada) would disagree that this also isn’t occupied and colonized land. After all, the pro-Palestinian movement has incorporated a certain level of global indigenous solidarity into its ideology and people (at least in Toronto) are wont to chant things like “Turtle Island, Palestine, occupation is a crime” (or some similar variant). Where I think you are correct, though, is that this recognition is often little more than a slogan or a general recognition of solidarity that does not imagine what it would mean to apply an anti-colonial strategy that fits the concrete circumstances of the much longer and larger and horrific colonization of the Americas. And a lot of the anti-statist activists who are into the one-state solution “over there” (Palestine) will participate in indigenous solidarity here insofar as it doesn’t stray into the realm of national self-determination since they have problems with the concept of a nation and borders and etc.

    So maybe here it is solidarity in form but not in essence. Although the same could be said about Palestinian solidarity: it is easy to proclaim radical solutions for Palestine when some of us are part of a settler population some place else and aren’t actually active in colonized Palestine.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head JMP

    I was being largely rhetorical saying it is not their position to recognize that the Americas are an illegitimate settler occupation. What I really wanted to bring attention to was the level of actual practice amongst the left in North America.

    As you know I lived in Canada in SW Ontario for nearly 8 years when I was there I was quite deeply involved in the Palestine Solidarity Movement at the University of Waterloo and the rest of the region. I was also involved in this or that Canadian “left” organization for some time as well.

    So I am keenly aware of the widespread “recognition” of the land as stolen, as well as how practice rarely flows from thought on this question. Let me tell you a story that I think is quite reflective of how the Canadian “left” handles the indigenous question (anti-statists, NSG and SP types etc):

    During our final term in Canada my fiancée, who had much time on her hands following the completion of her MA, decided to take part in an ostensibly “radical” community course on reproductive rights/justice lead by a White lesbian radical feminist. Overwhelmingly the course was also of settler extraction and of similar political persuasion as well. At the beginning of every single class they all had to go through this ritual of recognizing the land as stolen. I say ritual because that is what it really was. They did this every week, seemingly as if they could by way of chanting that the land was stolen (several of the members were neopagan) actually reverse colonialism. I critiqued them quite heavily at the time for how recognition wasn’t enough, it had to inform your practice, and not just your everyday individual practice, but your collective practice. Of course they just kept on keeping on without doing anything.

    This though leads me to an additional point. Regarding the stolen land question in KW and the rest of SW Ontario my experience has led me to the conclusion that the focus on the Haldimand Tract as THE piece of stolen land obscures the relationship that White people have to all of the land of North America. In my experience all these soft-Marxist and anarchist types who run around preaching how Canada stole the Haldimand Tract from the Six Nations are loathe, perhaps even unable, to see how all of Canada is in fact stolen indigenous land. It seems that by focusing on this one particular piece they can absolve themselves of the generally parasitic relationship that they have with the colonized and the land.

    So again we come back to practice. As I said, the key defining feature for me is practice. Okay, so you or your group chants the slogan “Occupation is a crime from Turtle Island to Palestine” (as the group I was with often did), show me the line and the practice that actually struggles for an anti-colonial goal in Canada.

    In fact, I believe the pat-yourself-on-the-back practice of “recognizing” the land as stolen when completely separated from a radical anti-colonial practice is a kind of insidious settlerism. This is because it allows for Whites (and others, but mostly settlers) to feel good about themselves (Hey look, I’m decolonizing myan!) without having to actually act towards genuine decolonization.

    What it is is anti-colonialism in form, but settlerism in essence.

  3. I should also point out that I explicitly refered to it as the position of the White “left” in North America. The White “left” as I defined it a number of times is:

    “Those segments of the left, both individuals and groups, White and non-White, whose politics claim to challenge imperialism, White Power, colonialism and capitalism, but who in fact are little more than settlers draped in red and black flags. The politics of these “leftists” are marked by chauvinism, implicit or explicit, and adulation of the working class of the imperialist nations, in particular the White nation. This practice obscures the class nature of the imperialist countries by minimizing the role of imperialist exploitation for the development and maintenance of material and social conditions therein. Consequently they also have a tendency to to try and group struggles of colonized peoples into the White nation, subsuming national liberation struggles for colonized peoples (Natives, Africans etc) under the (mis)leadership of the White working class. When they do “recognize” the importance of national liberation struggle they treat it in a paternalistic manner while also dismissing often its most revolutionary articulations as divisive re: the “international working clasd”.”

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