Radical ethnocentrism and tribal nations

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at SPAMmindspring.com
Fri Mar 9 09:29:50 MST 2001

I am afraid I am being misunderstood.  I do not defend the violation of
indigenous rights.  I merely expose the hypocrisy of those who exploit
indigenous rights for hidden political purposes.  Unlike Europeans, Chinese
history towards indigenous people has been one of assimilation and cohabitation,
rather than racial discrimination, segregation and oppression. There are those
who would argue for Taiwan independence on behave of indigenous rights, except
that there are nor indigenous people in the Taiwan independence movement.  The
indigenous population is Taiwan is less than 2% of the current population.   Jim
Craven and I have discussed this issue off line when he was contacted by
representative of the Taiwan independence movement in the name of indigenous
solidarity.  He immediately recognized it as a fraud.  China handles the
minority population issue with autonomous regions of local self government.  I
would support any proposal in the US and Canada to return land to Native
Americans for self government.  But indigenous rights should not be exploited to
balkanize China.

Henry C.K. Liu

Hunter Gray wrote:

> Henry C.K. Liu's rather cavalier statements implying [lack of] indigenous
> rights and title by First Nations in Taiwan has ruffled a couple of feathers
> in this corner.  It leads directly into a much broader arena, and for that
> I'm grateful to Mr Liu. To be frank, I don't know a single urban/industrial
> system that, in the last analysis, has been anything except, at best,
> patronizing -- and generally fleetingly so -- in its relationships with
> tribal nations.  Generally, they've  all been callous;  and often --
> cunningly or brutally -- downright exploitative. I continue to believe that
> a socialist system will offer infinitely more of all of "the good things of
> life" to all of Humanity than capitalism -- but to be meaningful to tribal
> nations anywhere, socialism is going to have to respect -- and tangibly
> so -- the inherently sovereign nature of the tribal nations and their right
> to self-determination and, very fundamentally, their socio-cultural
> validity.  [And, by the way, that means dropping such ethnocentricities as
> "primitive" and "civilized."]  In the United States, the radical movements
> which had some substantial appeal to Native people  -- and to a broad mass
> of others -- were, for example, the Industrial Workers of the World, with
> minimal ideological rigidity and an extremely democratic structure;  and a
> couple of its  very close relatives, the old Socialist Party and the
> Mine-Mill union.  If Marxism is going to get anywhere with tribal people,
> it's going to have proceed from the standpoint of shoulder-to-shoulder
> respect.  Years ago, in the first issue [1983] of the regrettably
> short-lived Third World Socialists [edited by the excellent Manning
> Marable],  I had a long essay [under my original name of John R Salter, Jr],
> "The Native American Struggle for Freedom," which, in its conclusion,
> addressed some of these questions.  [The piece was widely reprinted
> internationally.]  I quote from my conclusion:
> "Indians need  dependable and supportive non-Indian allies. In fairness, it
> has to be conceded that Indian people are sometimes too reluctant to listen
> to worthwhile ideas if they come from non-Indians and are frequently too
> wary of entering into association with them.  Many fear that alien ideas and
> associations could somehow threaten one's aboriginal identity.  Growing
> numbers of Native people, however, are becoming aware that that essential of
> tribalism -- "an injury to one is an injury to all" -- has to be extended to
> the dispossessed of all humanity and that loss of social/cultural identity
> will not occur in the framework of healthy political association and
> coalition.  Multi-ethnic anti-nuclear direct action groupings,  involving
> many Indians especially in the West, represent a significant step.  And
> whatever its shortcomings, the growth of the New Democratic Party in Canada,
> with strong Native involvement and support, offers a general indication of
> what can and will happen
> politically in the United States.
> Non-Indians certainly need Indian allies. Whether radicals or reformers, the
> non-Indian ought to be aware by now that it takes much more than mechanical
> arrangements and presumably altruistic politicians to build and maintain
> bona fide humanistic socio-economic democracy -- especially in a
> predominately urban/industrial context.  They can learn much from the First
> People about faithful commitment to economic communalism, to equalitarian
> democracy and classless societies, and to a practical recognition of the
> spiritual foundation and interdependence of every component of the Creation.
> All of this should be of considerable help in steering through the
> political, social, and technological storms now sweeping across our country
> and the world."
> Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
> Hunter Gray
> www.hunterbear.org

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