Indigenous vs Capitalist Values

We, in the progressive/radical movements in the U.S. are facing an historic moment, in which all of us must make some clear choices if we want to prevail. We must realize and accept that to make an intersectional movement that can survive this rising world wide fascist trend, we will have to reach out and organise all of the ethnic, LGBT, poor and marginalized groups — even the middle and upper classes. In other words, the Multitude — everybody — the whole spectrum of the rainbow. Not just workers or the ‘proletariat’, who are seen as the vanguard of top down Marxist revolutionary struggles.

With the internet, this is possible. It is also necessary and possible to create an international movement against Capitalism, whether State Capitalism, as in China or Social Democratic Capitalism, as in Western Europe. Capitalism is globalised into a world wide system and we, the 99%, must become part of a world wide resistance/revolutionary movement. The Climate Crisis is signaling the end of Western Industrial Civilization and we must be prepared to move on to a Buen Vivir (Living Well instead of Living More) way of life that is based on Indigenous/Communalist values.

This also means we must use all the tools and tactics available to us — ranging from voting, popular education, general strikes, marches, rallies, mutual aid, food sovereignty.etc. Not all of us have to do the same thing, as we can decentralize our methods and tasks, But we must develop a common moral vision and emergent strategy, raising our sights to envision a new democratic, just, sustainable, equitable and human scale society that we can all fight for, as this worldwide capitalist system collapses.

The first step in this revolutionary process is to decolonize our thinking from Capitalist Values to Indigenous/Communalist values. Dr. King, issued a call in his 1968 speech, Beyond Vietnam: “We as a nation, must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-orientated society to a person orientated society When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important that people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” He was not able to develop this in more depth, as he was assassinated a year later. Yet his call is still relevant today.

Because they are unconscious, we continue to act on these values, in our personal, familial, and movement lives. We cannot decolonize ourselves if we are not aware what these values are. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”― C.G. Jung

We need to find new values that are more just, equitable and sustainable. People of every race around the world have developed these Earth centered Indigenous values, including Europe before Christianity and the Roman Empire. Starhawk understood that the European witch burnings destroyed the connection, thru the women healers, to the Earth centered values of indigenous pagans and Wiccans.

Murray Bookchin, shares these values. [1] “… he said the confederation of citizens’ assemblies would form a counterpower or a dual power against the nation state. He called this program libertarian municipalism, later using the word communalism… communalism, returns politics to its original definition, as a moral calling based on rationality, community, creativity, free association and freedom.

Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdish struggle, also shares these values, [2]“he was rejecting Marxism-Leninism in favor of democracy. He had concluded that Marxism was authoritarian and dogmatic and unable to creatively approach current problems.

(Bookchin and Öcalan), harnessed their Civilization Narratives to serve current political problematics. The Ecology of Freedom is, among other things, an argument against mainstream, reformist environmentalists, in favor of radical social ecology. Bookchin wanted to show these cautious liberals that they could aim for more than mere state reforms — that they should and could think in terms of achieving an ecological society. People lived communally in the past, and they could do so again.

So he highlighted the early preliterate societies in human history that he called “organic society,” tribal, communal and nonhierarchical, living in cooperation with each other. He identified the specific features that made them cooperative: the means of life were distributed according to customs of usufruct (use of resources as needed), complementarity (ethical mutuality), and the irreducible minimum (the right of all to food, shelter, and clothing).[8] “From this feeling of unity between the individual and the community emerges a feeling of unity between the community and its environment,” he wrote; these organic societies lived in harmony with the natural world.[9]”

The Iroquois confederation, in their Longhouse councils, practiced direct democracy and did not have prisons or a state structure.

So do the Zapatistas, in Chiapas, Mexico, who chose to not take over the Mexican State. They practice autonomy from the Mexican state. They have their own schools, health clinics, libraries and communal gardens/farms. They also have their own defensive militia, the EZLN.

The autonomous confederations in Rojava, northern Syria, also don’t depend on the Syrian State. They emphasise women’s liberation and ecology. The also have their defensive militia, the YPG, including women’s only militia, the YPJ.

INDIGENOUS VALUES

Generosity, sharing, no hoarding.

Cooperation — working together.

Community. We are all related, including plants and animals.

Reciprocity: If you take, you must give back in some form. Not just things, but also energy.

Gender equality, Women respected and honored. Lineage goes thru the mother. Women can be leaders. Two Spirits respected.

Commons belong to everyone — the land, water, soil. None of this can be bought or sold.

Earth Centered Spirituality. All living beings are sacred and need to be nurtured and protected. Ex. Water is Life/Mni Wiconi.

Horizontal, direct democracy through Councils/People’s Assemblies. Government by consensus. A balance between male and female leaders.

Restorative Justice. No prison/jails. Community brings wrongdoers and victims together to work out responsibility, restitution and social harmony.

Food sovereignty. Locally grown organic gardens/small farms.

Autonomous neighborhoods, towns and cities. No hierarchical state.

CAPITALIST VALUES

Greed, hoarding, profit.

Competition, ‘dog eat dog’.

Individualism, me first, pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

Exploitation — of people, the Earth and all living beings. Taking more than you need.

Patriarchy, women subordinate to men, religions have male priests, men can control and use women and girls.

Private Property — Owners can mark off, then exploit for private gain.

Materialism. The Earth seen as real estate, humans as commodities (slavery). Everything can bought and sold on the Market.

Hierarchy, top down, authoritarian governance. ‘Representative’ democracy. The state has a monopoly on force. With mostly men as leaders.

Retributive Justice. Revenge, punishment, isolation of ‘criminals’. Mass incarceration, private prisons; War on Drugs and militarized police.

Industrial sized factory farming, using pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics.

Centralized hierarchical states and empires. Plutocracies and dictatorships

So many of the social justice movements in the U.S. have split or fallen apart because members were unconsciously still practicing capitalist values, like competition, patriarchy and authoritarianism. Values are like the foundation of a house. If they are not strong and part of an ethical, moral whole, the house will weaken and eventually fall.

These values answer MLK’s call and are the foundation of the new society that we must build to replace the rotting, cancerous death wish of Capitalism. These new/old values, if made clear to activists in the U.S. and around the world, clarify the path we must follow, in this period in our history. As Gopal Dayaneni put it, “What we are missing is a shared moral compass.”

Notes:

  1. http://new-compass.net/articles/bookchin-öcalan-and-dialectics-democracy
  2. ibid

Native American/Chicano artist, screenwriter, filmmaker, writer, revolutionary. Living in Tulsa, OK. Founded the group Green Corn Symbiosis: https://www.faceboo

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