Saturday, December 31, 2005

Globalization Quote

Sorry that this is the third quote from the same author I've posted in the last month or so, but that is just what I've been reading. The word "Onkwehonwe" in the following excerpt is a Mohawk term meaning "original people."

Working white people used to benefit along with the rich from the exploitation of indigenous lands and resources. There was never a complaint from the mainstream public against globalization when the only people to suffer from the exploitation were black and brown! Now that white middle- and working-class people are feeling the effects of exploitation, job loss, and cultural dissolution, we find that globalization has been labelled as evil. Every day unprivileged whites wring their hands and whine on the airwaves and in public displays about how they've seen their communities destroyed and how they've felt the loss of control over their future to sell-out politicians and foreign elites with other concerns, priorities, and ways of life that threaten the very existence of their identity.

I have to say, when I see a white fisherman or logger or factory worker complaining about the pain his family is feeling because of the disruptions globalization has caused in their lives, I try to muster sympathy and to stifle my recollection (short-term memory at that) of that same white man blaming Onkwehonwe misfortune and poverty on the 'lazy Indians' themselves. I try, but I always find myself thinking something like, 'Looks like we're all Indians now, heh?'


Domestic opponents of globalization in colonial countries like Canada and the United States are in fact adversaries of Onkwehonwe because they are nothing but staunch defenders of the first wave of globalization against the second wave. They are Euroamerican nationalists intent on preserving colonial institutions and relations of power.

-- Taiaiake Alfred

I might argue that the last statement applies more to the more moderate wing of the movement whose focus is left nationalism, while the more radical wing has goals that are at least potentially consistent or even allied with Onkwehonwe struggles...but then I might also be looking at the side of things that I identify with through glasses that are somewhat rose-coloured, because large-scale, material solidarity action with anti-colonial struggles in North America has not happened that I am aware of, and I have not been involved in such a thing. Though I think such solidarity has emerged in some corners of configurations that came out of anti-globalization activity, certainly the initial impulses towards solidarity by radical youth were more visibly directed towards members of non-Western nations outside of Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.


Anonymous said...

SOunds very interesting - where's the quote from?

Scott said...

It's from pages 234 and 235 of a book called Wasase: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom by Taiaiake Alfred, published in 2005 by Broadview Press. Hopefully I'll get around to writing a review of it in the next week or so.