[Marxism] Jim Craven final response to Bonnie W.

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 2 07:40:57 MDT 2005

We were talking about socialist selling their papers or magazines at antiwar
demonstrations and antiwar coalition meetings or at Military Families Speak
Out meetings, etc.

No socialist worth her or his salt would intrude on Native American or any
other oppressed group's meetings or organizations without establishing some
sort of mutually agreed upon relationship first. At least, not this
socialist. I don't see the ISO doing it either. This argument is about
people being annoyed at being offered the ideas of socialism when they have
already dismissed the ideas themselves.

Breaking into a Pow Wow is ridiculous and intolerable behavior. But
socialists are obligated to tell the story of the Blackfeet Reservation at
Browning, Montana and about all the horrific conditions that exist on
Reservations throughout the country. The business of how best to organize
against these conditions is the business of those who live on the
reservations. But if they call to us for solidarity with their cause, we
socialists will be there also.

Bonnie Weinstein, Socialist Viewpoint

Response: I agree with your comments. The same would apply to those like
Stan who have been working with military families for some time and who are
also aware of some of the special sensitivities and/or restrictions and
forms of surveillance and potential harrassment to which military families
are specially subject.

Actually we recognize that there are some very experienced and
"salt-of-the-earth" non-Indigenous socialists who might have some excellent
ideas about how to organize against the conditions and reactionary forces on
the Rez but they also need some concrete information and investigations to
be effective which means they cannot drop in and out and should listen to
those who live under those conditions before making any grand pronouncements
about what out tactics and strategy "should be".. On the other hand, we have
some living on the Rez, "registered" as Indians, who are either oppressors
themselves and/or wish to remain ignorant of the conditions they face--and
their root causes--right under their own noses.

But imagine how it feels to be living under genocidal conditions right under
the noses of some of the U.S. and Canadian leftists who have nothing to say
about genocide going on right under their noses, and that they are even
indirectly part of as occupiers of stolen lands, but who can wax so
eloquently about East Timor, Palestine, Ireland or wherever---everywhere but
where they live and exist.  Imagine how it feels to be used by some "Native"
or non-Native "Indianist" or "scholar" for whom Native pain and suffering is
simply raw material for the next notch on the ol Curriculum Vitae, a
prominent share of an  academic market niche, gaining tenure, getting a
promotion, structuring a course on their own narrow personal interests or
presenting at some conference at some exotic locale and who do not bother to
even send a copy of what has been written about those Native "subjects"--and
if they did, the tortured syntax and "academese" would be incomprehensible
to those being written about.

I can say categorically that Blackfoot do not practice "identity politics"
or "buffet socialism" (take a little here and a little there--whatever you
"feel" personally interests you) which we regard as but one of the many
forms and expressions of narcissism, selfishness and ultra-individualism of
capitalism infecting/reflected by  some elements on the "left". We have
relationships with Palestinians, Irish and with activists from other
oppressed nations and in our exchanges, we try to be sensitive to the fact
that they are aware of conditions and constraints that they face about which
we are ignorant and that could be exacerbated by those trying to summarily
and insensitively insert themselves into "solidarity" with them without
regard to their own ignorance and lack of experience with the particular
struggles in question.

Jim Craven



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