Decolonizing Dialectics

By George Ciccariello-Maher, Duke University Press

Anticolonial theorists and revolutionaries have long turned to dialectical thought as a central weapon in their fight against oppressive structures and conditions. This relationship was never easy, however, as anticolonial thinkers have resisted the historical determinism, teleology, Eurocentrism, and singular emphasis that some Marxisms place on class identity at the expense of race, nation, and popular identity. In recent decades, the conflict between dialectics and postcolonial theory has only deepened. In Decolonizing Dialectics George Ciccariello-Maher breaks this impasse by bringing the work of Georges Sorel, Frantz Fanon, and Enrique Dussel together with contemporary Venezuelan politics to formulate a dialectics suited to the struggle against the legacies of colonialism and slavery. This is a decolonized dialectics premised on constant struggle in which progress must be fought for and where the struggles of the wretched of the earth themselves provide the only guarantee of historical motion.

Read the introduction or order it here.

About The Author

George Ciccariello-Maher is Associate Professor of Politics and Global Studies at Drexel University and the author of We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution, also published by Duke University Press.

Christmas Day Freedom Fighters: Hidden History of the Seminole Anticolonial Struggle

Attack of the Seminoles on the blockhouse. Image: Wiki Commons.

Attack of the Seminoles on the blockhouse. Image: Wiki Commons.

By William Katz, Zinn Education Project

On Christmas day in 1837, the Africans and Native Americans who formed Florida’s Seminole Nation defeated a vastly superior U.S. invading army bent on cracking this early rainbow coalition and returning the Africans to slavery. The Seminole victory stands as a milestone in the march of American liberty. Though it reads like a Hollywood thriller, this amazing story has yet to capture public attention. It is absent from most school textbooks, social studies courses, Hollywood movies, and TV.

This daring Seminole story begins around the time of the American Revolution when 55 “Founding Fathers” broke free of British colonialism and wrote the immortal Declaration of Independence. About the same time, Seminoles—suffering ethnic persecution under Creek rule in Alabama and Georgia—fled south to seek independence. Africans who had earlier escaped bondage and became among its first explorers welcomed them to Florida.

The Africans did more than offer Seminole families a haven. They taught them methods of rice cultivation they had learned in Senegambia and Sierra Leone, Africa. Then the two peoples of color forged a prosperous multicultural nation and a military alliance ready to withstand the European invaders and slave catchers. The Seminoles were led by such skilled military figures and diplomats as Osceola, Wild Cat, and John Horse.

This alliance drove U.S. slaveholders to sputtering fury. They saw Seminole unity, prosperity, and guns as a lethal threat to their plantation system. Here was a beacon that enticed escapees and offered them a military base of operations. Further, these peaceful communities destroyed the slaveholder myth that Africans required white control.

And these armed black and Indian communities lived a stone’s throw from the southern U.S. border. The U.S. Constitution of 1789 embraced slavery and protected slaveholder interests. From George Washington to the Civil War, slave owners sat in the White House two-thirds of the time, were two-thirds of speakers of the House of Representatives, two-thirds of presidents of the U.S. Senate, and 20 of 35 U.S. Supreme Court justices. With the support of their Northern trading partners—merchants and businessmen, and the politicians who served them—slaveholders were able to direct U.S. foreign policy.

Click here to read the full article…

How the Seminole Stole Christmas: Battle of Lake Okeechobee

Warrior Publications

seminole-billy_bowlegs Chief Billy Bowlegs or Billy Bolek (Holata Micco, meaning Alligator Chief) was a leader in the Second and Third Seminole Wars.

The Battle of Lake Okeechobee was one of the major battles of the Second Seminole War. It was fought between 800 troops of the 1st, 4th, and 6th Infantry Regiments and 132 Missouri Volunteers (under the command of Colonel Zachary Taylor), and between 380 and 480 Seminoles led by Billy Bowlegs, Abiaca, and Alligator on 25 December 1837. The Seminole warriors were resisting forced relocation to a reservation out west. Though both the Seminoles and Taylor’s troops emerged from the battle claiming victory, Taylor was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General as a result, and his nickname of “Old Rough and Ready” came mostly due to this battle.

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On the Question of Allies

Warrior Publications

warriors-out-fort Conspiracy At Fort Michilimackinac, by Robert Griffing.

by Zig Zag, Warrior Publications, December 22, 2016

Ally: to unite or form a connection or relation between… to form or enter into an alliance (two factions allying with each other).  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

There’s been some discussion over the last couple of years about the concept of allies and I thought I would throw my opinion into the mix…

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Dear White People: An Open Letter to White People on Becoming Indigenous

By Adebayo Akomolafe / bayoakomolafe.net

Dear white people,

For as long as I can remember, I have always been white. Like you. I just didn’t know it.

Born in the bipolar Nigerian city of soaring skyscrapers and sprawling slums, Lagos, where the sun sometimes forgot to dim its fierce heat, I grew up thinking I was black like everyone else. All the signs were there – including my black skin, my shy head-hugging hair, and my Yoruba name with its lyrical tonality and vaunted meanings.

There wasn’t much more to that identity, however. Nothing special. When I walked down Jemtok Street to buy my dad a small cold bottle of Guinness Extra Stout, it wasn’t ‘black’ music that people were dancing to in street parties or ‘black’ movie heroes that people were speaking animatedly about. We were all bedazzled by Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo, by the manner of speaking of those of us who were fortunate enough to visit your countries, and by your technological wizardry – evidenced in every gadget we owned or wanted to.

At school, we watched recorded clips of BBC news videos to learn how to pronounce English words properly. “Don’t open your mouth so wide”, our teachers would warn – not quite living up to their own imposed standards. During Christmas, my sisters and I didn’t understand why we were not allowed to hang our stockings on the front door[1], and cursed our misfortune when snow didn’t fall – like it did on TV.

Even though we preferred our own food (yours never seemed to have enough seasoning or fried chunks of meat), our own traditions (our elders felt kissing publicly meant you all had no proper ‘home training’), and our music, the soundtrack of our lives was the promise of traveling ‘Abroad’ and knowing the magic of meeting ‘oyinbo[2]’ people and living in ‘oyinbo’ lands. And living ‘oyinbo’ lives. The good life.

It was every thinking and non-thinking man’s dream. And for good reason: the West, your home, was heaven, and God lived there.

Needless to say, a steady undercurrent of self-loathing flowed through our lives – urging us to civilizational heights of whiteness. Urging us to wear three piece suits under a quizzical sun. Urging us to demonize our own traditions so that we could catch up with you.

We didn’t say it this way, but it was nonetheless inescapably true to us: if it was white, it was right.

But one day, at least for me, it ‘suddenly’ wasn’t.

Continue reading

The Myth of the Pagan Passcard

GODS & RADICALS

By Pegi Eyers

(As a “manifesto” addressed to white folks in Pagan Community, my sincere apologies to people of colour or mixed heritage who may feel excluded.)


T he diversity in Pagan Community in the Americas is astounding, and as a much-needed alternative to outdated religions in decline, an ongoing source of wonder for our collective re-enchantment and inspiration. Every conceivable genre of paganism is thriving, and this healthy diversity has meant the suspension of “togetherness” or “unity” narratives in recent times (which is probably a good thing). As with all human societies, the idea that we need to be homogenous or come to any kind of agreement as a movement or a subculture is not a realistic expectation. Yet there are some social dynamics that transcend mere “opinion” or “belief” such as the consequences we live with from historical actions, and the overarching truth of our own positionality. “Who…

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Fuck Thanksgiving.

Fuck civility.

On this day, as many of us gather with friends and family to eat and drink ourselves sick—before trampling over each other tomorrow in a mad race for Black Friday deals—police in North Dakota are firing grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters.

Settler colonies like the United States, as Patrick Wolfe famously wrote, are “premised on the elimination of native societies. . . . The colonizers come to stay—invasion is a structure not an event.” What that means is: the elimination of Native Americans did not just happen; it is always happening. Liberals like to look back on the genocide of Native Americans and cry. It is no longer just acceptable—it’s downright sexy—to acknowledge that this country was founded on violence and murder and that our national myths like Thanksgiving Day are myths, which…

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Red Bird at Standing Rock: A Thanksgiving Message

“We decolonize our minds and hearts and re-enchant the world by reversing the process by which we were colonized and disenchanted in the first place: by reconnecting to the land and to each other. By challenging narratives that “other” people of color. By opposing policies that alienate us from our mother earth. By standing in solidarity with American Indians whose lands have been invaded by an oil company. By fighting all encroachments of Big Oil on our lands and our souls.”

GODS & RADICALS

Standing Rock

On the day of the 2016 presidential election, Energy Transfer Partners announced that it would begin the final phase of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which involves drilling under the Missouri River.  The pipeline is intended to carry a half million barrels a day of fracked oil over 1,000 miles from the Bakken oil field in North Dakata to Illinois.

The intended path of the pipeline runs through the Great Sioux Reservation.  In addition to violating sacred burial lands of the Sioux people, it threatens the drinking water of 18 million people, including residents of the Standing Rock Reservation, located just a half mile to the south.  The pipeline was previously planned to run north of Bismarck, but was relocated, in part, due to concerns about the safety of the drinking water of the (white) Bismarck residents.

standing_rock_youth_protest3

Thousands of indigenous and non-indigenous people have now…

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Leonard Peltier: Day of Mourning

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Day of Mourning Statement by
Leonard Peltier
November 24, 2016

Greetings my relatives,

Here we are again. This time the year is 2016. It has been more than 41 years since I last walked free and was able to see the sun rise and sit and feel the earth beneath my feet. I know there have been more changes then I can even imagine out there.

But I do know that there is a struggle taking place as to whether this country will move on to a more sustainable way of life. This is something we wanted to have happen back in the seventies.

I watch the events at Standing Rock with both pride and sorrow. Pride that our people and their allies are standing up and putting their lives on the line for the coming generations, not because they want to but because they have to. They are right…

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The Uncomfortable, Unavoidable, Troublesome & Totally Inconvenient Understanding About Indigenous Language, Culture & Identity

From Awakening The Horse People:

Our language is like a pearl inside a shell. The shell is like the people that carry the language. If our language is taken away, then that would be like a pearl that is gone. We would be like an empty oyster shell.
Yurranydjil Dhurrkay, Galiwin’ku, North East Arnhem Land

The understanding shared in the quote above spells trouble for spiritual seeking settlers, neo-pagans, and those pursuing ancestral recovery work.

Indigenous knowledge about the living power and presence of Indigenous languages creates visible boundaries that give us insight into what we have lost as individuals from a people, from a place – and how modern equivocating of spiritual practices or cultural re-imagining based in english are missing an integral component to their wholeness, connection, and honesty.

This is a provocative understanding to take in.  If deeply considered, it will raise unsettling questions about what we think and say we may be doing within a cultural or spiritual pathway like neopaganism or ancestral recovery if recovering Indigenous language and its ways of thinking and being is not a part.

To prevent likely evasions away from this understanding, a whole series of related quotes are shared below from Indigenous elders, activists, and teachers from different nations around the world.  Please read and consider all of them.

Click here to read more…