Reparations=a conservative embrace of capitalism

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Mon Apr 1 09:22:04 MST 2002


Mark Lause wrote:

How many of the official spokesmen for reparations are making an argument
against the market economy?

Best,
Mark

Response (Jim C): I think this is correct and points out the possible
misuses of the reparations movement. For us, Blackfoot, and most of the
Blackfoot activists and Elders that I know are decidedly anti-capitalist
even without having read a word of Marx, the reparations movement has many
purposes: a) a demand to "de-sanitize" history and history books; b) pushing
bourgeois law and sacreds (damages demand compensation an essential
foundation of Tort Law) to show the limits, arbitrariness and class focus of
bourgeois law; c) a vehicle for linking up with other oppressed groups
demanding reparations for the their own particular sufferings; d) a vehicle
for showing the real foundations, logic and consequences of capitalism and
colonialism; e) a vehicle for showing parallels between historical and
present-day forms of "primitive accumulation", exploitation, alienation and
surplus extraction/expropriation; f) a vehicle for raising
desperately-needed funds to save lives in the present; g)a vehicle for
organizing diverse elements around a common agenda as a starting point for
consciousness raising and collective action on myriad issues; g) a vehicle
for linking and exposing past and present forms of hypocrisy, "acceptable"
victimhood and victims; h) not a form of exclusivism (only our victimhood
matters or only our victims were the most victimized) but rather a vehicle
for linking-up and exposing the parallels with other groups of victims;

That some bourgeois types like Jesse Jackson may be using/misusing the
reparations issue, is not an argument against reparations per se but rather
against the narrow and opportunistic misuses of the issue. There is abysmal
ignorance--much of it self-imposed--about Indigenous Peoples, histories,
sufferings and cultures for example--on the left and non-left--and the
demand for reparations can be used as a powerful consciousness-raising and
organizing vehicle if properly used.

Jim Craven


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