February 14, 2019

"The intellectuals and the workers" by Karl Kautsky, Eng transl. from Die Neue Zeit (Vol.XXII, no.4, 1903)

The intellectuals and the workers by Karl Kautsky

Karl Kautsky (1854-1938) wrote the following article when he was the major theoretician of the German Social Democracy. It first appeared in Die Neue Zeit (Vol.XXII, no.4, 1903), the journal which Kautsky edited from 1883 to 1917.

Part of the very problem which once again so keenly preoccupies our attention is the antagonism between the intellectuals and the proletariat.
My colleagues will for the most part wax indignant at my admission of this antagonism. But it actually exists, and as in other cases, it would be a most inexpedient tactic to try to cope with this fact by ignoring it.
This antagonism is a social one, it relates to classes and not individuals. An individual intellectual, like an individual capitalist, may join the proletariat in its class struggle. When he does, he changes his character too. It is not of this type of intellectual, who is still an exception among his fellows, that we shall deal with in the following lines. Unless otherwise indicated I shall use the word intellectual to mean only the common run of intellectual, who take the standpoint of bourgeois society and who are characteristic of intellectuals as a whole, who stand in a certain antagonism to the proletariat.
This antagonism differs, however, from the antagonism between labour and capital. An intellectual is not a capitalist. True, his standard of life is bourgeois and he must maintain it if he is not to become a pauper; but at the same time he has to sell the product of his labour, and frequently his labour power; and he is himself often enough exploited and humiliated by the capitalists. Hence the intellectual does not stand in any economic antagonism to the proletariat. But his status of life and his conditions of labour are not proletarian, and this gives rise to a certain antagonism in sentiments and ideas.
As an isolated individual, the proletarian is a nonentity. His strength, his progress, his hopes and expectations are entirely derived from organisation, from systematic action in conjunction with his fellows. He feels himself big and strong when he is part of a big and strong organism. The organism is the main thing for him; the individual by comparison means very little. The proletarian fights with the utmost devotion as part of the anonymous mass, without prospect of personal advantage or personal glory, performing his duty in any post assigned to him, with a voluntary discipline which pervades all his feelings and thoughts.
Quite different is the case of the intellectual. He fights not by means of power, but by argument. His weapons are his personal knowledge, his personal ability and his personal convictions. He can attain a position only through his personal abilities. Hence the freest play for these seems to him the prime condition for success. It is only with difficulty that he submits to serving as a part which is subordinate to the whole, and then only from necessity, not from inclination. He recognises the need of discipline only for the masses, not for the select few. And naturally he counts himself among the latter,
In addition to this antagonism between the intellectual and the proletarian in sentiment, there is yet another antagonism. The intellectual, armed with the general education of our time, conceives himself as very superior to the proletarian. Even Engels writes of the scholarly mystification with which he approached workers in his youth. The intellectual finds it very easy to overlook in the proletarian his equal as a fellow fighter, at whose side in the combat he must take his place. Instead he sees in the proletarian the latter's low level of intellectual development, which it is the intellectual's task to raise. He sees in the worker not a comrade but a pupil. The intellectual clings to Lassalle’s aphorism on the bond between science and the proletariat, a bond which will raise society to a higher plane. As advocate of science, the intellectuals come to the workers not in order to co-operate with them as comrades, but as an especially friendly external force in society, offering them aid.
For Lassalle, who coined the aphorism on science and the proletariat, science, like the state, stands above the class struggle. Today we know this to be false. For the state is the instrument of the ruling class. Moreover, science itself rises above the classes only insofar as it does not deal with classes, that is, only insofar as it is a natural and not a social science. A scientific examination of society produces an entirely different conclusion when society is observed from a class standpoint, especially from the standpoint of a class which is antagonistic to that society. When brought to the proletariat from the capitalist class, science is invariably adapted to suit capitalist interests. What the proletariat needs is a scientific understanding of its own position in society. That kind of science a worker cannot obtain in the officially and socially approved manner. The proletarian himself must develop his own theory. For this reason he must be completely self-taught, no matter whether his origin is academic or proletarian. The object of study is the activity of the proletariat itself, its role in the process of production, its role in the class struggle. Only from this activity can the theory, the self-consciousness of the proletariat, arise.
The alliance of science with labour and its goal of saving humanity, must therefore be understood not in the sense which the academicians transmit to the people the knowledge which they gain in the bourgeois classroom, but rather in this sense that every one of our co-fighters, academicians and proletarians alike, who are capable of participating in proletarian activity, utilise the common struggle or at least investigate it, in order to draw new scientific knowledge which can in turn be fruitful for further proletarian activity. Since that is how the matter stands, it is impossible to conceive of science being handed down to the proletariat or of an alliance between them as two independent powers. That science, which can contribute to the emancipation of the proletariat, can be developed only by the proletariat and through it. What the liberals bring over from the bourgeois scientific circles cannot serve to expedite the struggle for emancipation, but often only to retard it.
The remarks which follow are by way of digression from our main theme. But today when the question of the intellectuals is of such extreme importance, the digression is not perhaps without value.
Nietzsche’s philosophy with its cult of superman for whom the fulfilment of his own individuality is everything and the subordination of the individual to a great social aim is as vulgar as it is despicable, this philosophy is the real philosophy of the intellectual; and it renders him totally unfit to participate in the class struggle of the proletariat.
Next to Nietzsche, the most outstanding spokesman of a philosophy based on the sentiments of the intellectual is Ibsen. His Doctor Stockmann (An Enemy of the People) is not a socialist, as so many believe, but rather the type of intellectual who is bound to come into conflict with the proletarian movement, and with any popular movement generally, as soon as he attempts to work within it. For the basis of the proletarian movement, as of every democratic movement, is respect for the majority of one’s fellows. A typical intellectual a la Stockmann regards a “compact majority” as a monster which must be overthrown.
From the difference in sentiment between the proletarian and the intellectual, which we have noted above, a conflict can easily arise between the intellectual and the party when the intellectual joins it. That holds equally even if his joining the party does not give rise to any economic difficulties for the intellectual, and even though his theoretical understanding of the movement may be adequate. Not only the very worst elements, but often men of splendid character and devoted to their convictions have on this account suffered shipwreck in the party.
That is why every intellectual must examine himself conscientiously, before joining the party. And that is why the party must examine him to see whether he can integrate himself in the class struggle of the proletariat, and become immersed in it as a simple soldier, without feeling coerced or oppressed. Whoever is capable of this can contribute valuable services to the proletariat according to his talents, and gain great satisfaction from his party activity. Whoever is incapable can expect great friction, disappointment, conflicts, which are of advantage neither to him nor to the party.
An ideal example of an intellectual who thoroughly assimilated the sentiments of a proletarian, and who, although a brilliant writer, quite lost the specific manner of an intellectual, who marched cheerfully with the rank-and-file, who worked in any post assigned to him, who devoted himself wholeheartedly to our great cause, and despised the feeble whinings about the suppression of one's individuality, as individuals trained in the philosophy of Nietzsche and Ibsen are prone to do whenever they happen to be in a minority - that ideal example of the intellectual whom the socialist movement needs, was Wilhelm Liebknecht. We might also mention Marx, who never forced himself to the forefront, and whose hearty discipline in the International, where he often found himself in the minority, was exemplary.

Regime Change “Made in the U.S.A.” February 8, 2019 Steve Ellner

Regime Change “Made in the U.S.A.”

Trump’s unwavering backing of Juan Guaidó’s shadow government in Venezuela attaches a “made in the U.S.A.” label to all those positioned to govern should Maduro fall. This could scuttle the opposition's chances of maintaining longstanding support among the majority of Venezuelans. 

Feb 08 2019
Steve Ellner
A Hands Off Venezuela protest in London on January 28, 2018. (Socialist Appeal/Flickr).
A Hands Off Venezuela protest in London on January 28, 2018. (Socialist Appeal/Flickr).

Since its outset, the Trump administration has ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela and radicalized its positions. In the process, the Venezuelan opposition has become more and more associated with—and dependent on—Washington and its allies. An example is the opposition protests that occurred this past Monday. The actions were timed to coincide with the European Union’s “ultimatum,” which stated they would recognize the shadow government of Juan Guaidó if President Nicolás Maduro had not called elections within a week’s time.
The opposition’s most radical sectors, which include Guaidó's Voluntad Popular party (VP) along with former presidential candidate María Corina Machado, have always had close ties with the United States. Guaidó, as well as VP head Leopoldo López and the VP’s Carlos Vecchio, who is the shadow government’s Chargé d’Affaires in Washington, were educated in prestigious U.S. universities—not uncommon among Latin American economic and political elites.The ties between the opposition and international actors are strong: last weekend, Vecchio called the campaign to unseat Maduro “an international effort.” At the same time, Guaidó, referring to opposition-called protests, stated “today, February 2, we are going to meet again in the streets to show our gratitude to the support that the European Parliament has given us.” In doing so, Guaidó explicitly connected the authority of outside countries to his own assumption of leadership.
The outcome of Washington’s actions is bound to be unfavorable in a number of ways, regardless of whether or not they achieve regime change.The outcome of Washington’s actions is bound to be unfavorable in a number of ways, regardless of whether or not they achieve regime change. Most importantly, a government headed by Guaidó will be perceived both by Venezuelans and international observers as “made in U.S.A.” Further, the opposition’s association with foreign powers has enabled the Maduro leadership to keep discontented members of the Chavista movement in their ranks.
Furthermore, Venezuelans will perceive any sign of economic recovery under a Guaidó government as made possible by aid, if not handouts, from Washington, designed to discredit Maduro’s socialist government, though such assistance will undoubtedly be used to further U.S. economic and political interests. In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has indicated that he is already calling on oil companies to opt for investments in Venezuela once Maduro is overthrown. As he told Fox News, “we’re in conversation with major American companies now… It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”
Either explicitly or implicitly, Washington is dictating strategy, or at least providing input into its formulation. One of the challenges the opposition faces is the need to demonstrate to rank-and-file Venezuelans that the current offensive against Maduro will be different from the disastrous attempts of 2014 and 2017, when anti-government leaders assured protesters that the president would be toppled in a matter of days. The opposition leadership claims that this time is different for two reasons. First, the regional Right turn has deepened, and the opposition is more able than ever to rely on decisive support from Washington and other governments, regardless of how democratic they are—see the neofascist credentials of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.
Second, the opposition is counting on the backing of military officers, particularly lower-ranking ones who have allegedly lost patience with Maduro. In addition to some defections, junior officers attempted to stage a military coup just two days before mass opposition protests on January 23 when Guaidó declared himself president. Previously, the Venezuelan opposition expressed a degree of contempt for military officers for their unwillingness to defy the Chavista government. The opposition’s new perspective dates back to Trump’s three meetings with military rebels and his statement, made alongside President Iván Duque of Colombia in September of last year, that the Maduro government “could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that.” The U.S. effort to encourage the military to step in was again made evident on Wednesday when John Bolton tweeted that U.S. sanctions against senior officers for alleged illegal actions could be lifted “for any Venezuelan senior military officer that stands for democracy and recognizes the constitutional government of President Juan Guaidó.” Recently, Guaidó made a similar offer to military officers, implying continuity and closeness between Washington and the shadow government.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Guaidó consulted Mike Pence the night before his self-proclamation as president on January 23.Also noteworthy is that Guaidó and other VP leaders are closer to Washington than the rest of the opposition. The Wall Street Journal reported that Guaidó consulted Mike Pence the night before his self-proclamation as president on January 23. According to ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski the majority of the opposition parties were not aware of Guaidó’s intentions and in fact did not support the idea.
To make matters worse, the VP-led opposition is openly working hand-in-glove with Washington. Last week Guaidó announced that he would attempt to transporthumanitarian aid the United States has deposited on the Colombian and Brazilian borders into Venezuela. He called on the Venezuelan military to disobey orders from the Maduro government by facilitating the passage of goods, while Maduro ordered it blocked. While playing political benefactor, Washington was clearly manipulating the optics of the situation to discredit Maduro and rally more international support for Guaído. In an apparent rebuke to Washington and Guaidó, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Wednesday insisted that the humanitarian aid be “depoliticized.
Opposition leaders and the Trump government are also working together to isolate Venezuela economically throughout the world. Julio Borges, a leading member of the opposition, has campaigned to convince international financial institutions to shun Venezuelan transactions and has urged Great Britain to refuse to repatriate Venezuelan gold stored in London. President Maduro has responded by calling on the Attorney General to open judicial proceedings against Borges on grounds of treason. Along similar lines, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are currently attempting to convince international business interests to deny the Venezuelan government access to national assets in their possession.
The Trump administration’s blatant and undisguised interventionism may in fact backfire and help Maduro counter his sagging poll numbers, which last October the polling firm Datanálisis reported was 23%. Maduro recently lashed out on Twitter at the close nexus between Washington and the opposition, saying “Aren't you embarrassed at yourselves, ashamed at the way every day by Twitter Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo tell you what you should do.”
Anti-imperialism is, of course, a major cornerstone of the Chavista movement, born from resentment of U.S. interventionism and heavy-handedness that had for decades controlled many of Venezuela’s resources and dictated its economic policies. The maneuvers of the Trump administration and its allies only double down on this narrative, and are counterproductive at best when it comes to solving the crisis. Their actions also risk fanning the flames of anti-Americanism throughout the continent. It wouldn’t be the first time: In 1958, then-vice president Nixon was attacked by a riotous crowd in Caracas, and a decade later Nelson Rockefeller’s fact-finding tour arranged by then-President Nixon faced off with angry disruptive protests. Both incidents were responses to Washington's self-serving support for regimes that came to power through undemocratic means, in some cases with U.S. involvement.
In its strategy towards Venezuela, Washington is invoking not only its Cold War policy but the Monroe Doctrine and its view of Latin America as the U.S.’ “backyard,”—a claim that is especially anathema throughout the region. Indeed, Vice President Pence said to Fox News, answering a question about why Trump is withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan while intervening in Venezuela. “President Trump has always had a very different view of our hemisphere,” he said. “He’s long understood that the United States has a special responsibility to support and nurture democracy and freedom in this hemisphere and that’s a longstanding tradition.”
Meanwhile, President Trump appointed neocon Elliott Abrams as special envoy to Venezuela. As a longtime U.S. diplomat, Abrams has in many ways personified the application of the Monroe Doctrine with his blatant disregard for human rights violations and the principle of non-intervention in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador in the 1980s and his alleged involvement in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez.
Finally, Trump’s decision regarding CITGO, a U.S.-based company owned by Venezuela’s state oil company, speaks to a dangerous precedent. On Wednesday he declared that jurisdiction over CITGO would be turned over to the shadow government, and appealed to other countries to follow similar steps. While condemning anti-democratic actions and fraudulent elections in Venezuela, these sanctions ignore the rule of law. The Maduro government was never given the opportunity to defend itself and legal procedures were not followed.
Trump evidently sees the downfall of the Maduro government as the ultimate proof that socialism doesn’t work.It is always a dubious exercise to guess at President Trump’s intentions. His actions in Venezuela could be designed to divert attention from the multiple probes into his own unethical behavior, or they may be a way to draw attention away from the utter fiasco of U.S. interventions in the Middle East, from Libya to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Trump may also view his Venezuela policy as a quick fix to Make America Great Again. Along similar lines, Trump evidently sees the downfall of the Maduro government as the ultimate proof that socialism doesn’t work. He indicated as much in his State of the Union address on Tuesday when he used the topic of Venezuela as a springboard for declaring: “We are born free, and we will stay free… America will never be a socialist country.”
Yet regardless of short-term results of U.S. support for Guaidó, the final outcome will be negative. There are a number of reasons why: first, it bolsters the position of the most radical elements of the opposition led by the VP party, thus contributing to the fragmentation of the anti-Chavista movement. Second, it attaches a “made in U.S.A.” label to those positioned to govern should Maduro fall. The stigma would undoubtedly scuttle their chances of maintaining longstanding majority support and in doing so would undermine their authority and ability to govern. Third, the appeal to the military to save Venezuela has terrifying implications for a continent with a long history of military rule. And finally, the seizure of Venezuelan assets, which have then been turned over to a political ally, violates sacred norms of property rights, and in the process erodes confidence in the system of private property. These four considerations are an indication of the multiple adverse impacts that the Trump administration’s rash approach to the Maduro government will have on the United States, Venezuela, and the rest of the region.

Steve Ellner is a retired professor from Venezuela’s University of the East, a long-time contributor to NACLA: Report on the Americas, and currently associate managing editor of “Latin American Perspectives.” Among his over a dozen books on Latin America is his edited The Pink Tide Experiences: Breakthroughs and Shortcomings in Twenty-First Century Latin America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).

February 12, 2019

A memo to Canada: Indigenous people are not your incompetent children: ALICIA ELLIOTT January 5, 2018

The election of Justin Trudeau's Liberal government was supposed to signal a new 'nation-to-nation relationship.' But until the country recognizes the right to self-determination and acknowledges the sovereignty of Indigenous nations, argues Alicia Elliott, the future will be the same as the past

Alicia Elliott is a Tuscarora writer from Six Nations, currently living in Brantford, Ontario, and author of the forthcoming book A Mind Spread Out on the Ground.
When my sister and I were in high school, we thought it was funny to tell our non-Native boyfriends ridiculous things about the rez and see what they believed. We lived on the Six Nations reserve about 25 kilometres southwest of Hamilton, but since the only high school on the rez was Mohawk immersion, and we didn't speak the language, that meant we had to catch the bus into nearby Brantford, Ont. Even though our rez was just a 20-minute drive away, very few of the non-Native kids we went to high school with had ever been there – the exception, of course, being those whose parents considered cheap cigarettes and gas worth the trek. In other words, most of these kids knew nothing about the rez, or us.
One day, my sister, Missy, was talking to her white boyfriend online. When he asked if she could come over, Missy fired back with, "Sorry, can't. The gates to the rez close at night. :(" When he responded, "That sucks. Maybe tomorrow?", we were incredulous. How could he be so gullible? We laughed and laughed.
I've been thinking a lot about our laughter lately.
I remember thinking that her white boyfriend was so ignorant, but we didn't know about the Pass System, which was in effect for 60 years in Canada, and required Native people living on the reserve to get permission from a Canadian Indian Agent to leave. Who needs literal gates when you have racist bureaucracy and the Indian Act?
What my sister and I didn't consider back then – what we perhaps couldn't consider – was how readily her boyfriend accepted this lie when it was applied to Native people. If she had said the same thing about a non-Native town, he probably wouldn't have believed it. But something about the way this young man was socialized – even though he grew up right next to a rez, even though he interacted with Native people – made him accept that injustice against our people was normal: that there would be gates to get into the rez, that those gates would close and that, like zoo animals, we would be trapped there until daylight when our keepers let us out. That we would be subjected to whatever form of control or governance Canada chose to impose on us, and that our opinions and consent were not required to do so.
Perhaps, on that last point, he wasn't so ignorant after all.
Canada has never accepted Indigenous peoples' right to self-determination. In fact, they – the individuals who, throughout history, have represented and made decisions on behalf of Canada – have actively suppressed it. By intentionally cutting essential funding at critical moments, wielding court injunctions to stop our land defenders and legislating the minutiae of our lives through the Indian Act, to name just a few examples, the Canadian government continually prevents us from creating meaningful change in our communities. It stops us from determining our own present and forging our own future. And like every decision Canada makes about us, without us, we're supposed to smile and accept these arrangements, or laugh defensively, or, better yet, do nothing – regardless of how it affects our families and our lives.
This is a story of how one decision illustrates the centuries-long relationship between a country's government and the Indigenous people of that land. It is a story of a name change and the breaking-up of a government department, but it represents the breaking of a promise, too. It is a story that illustrates how a government that only acknowledges colonial ways of governing cannot ever hope to create anything else. It is a story whose narrative affects every Indigenous community, including my own, the Six Nations of the Grand River. It is a story of denial, and of consent, two topics that are in the news these days for reasons that are, in some ways, not that different. It is a story whose ending has not yet been written, but one whose ending I fear will not be any more satisfactory than any story Canada has told about us.
This is our democracy. This is our reconciliation. What a way to start a new "nation-to-nation" relationship.

Anishinabe visual artist Rolande Souliere, who is a member of the Michipicoten First Nation, was born in Toronto and currently lives in Australia with her family. Her work has been exhibited in Canada and internationally.
Featured here are elements from her Frequent Stopping, Part II, installation. The sign-like patterns derived from First Nations motifs are hand-cut from reflective material then adhered to metal. For Souliere the reflective material “maintains the look of road signs yet, through superimposition, subverts the notion of such signs and signifies Indigenous self-representation, the reclamation of land, and sovereignty.”
The work was inspired, she said, by a road trip Souliere once took between Vancouver and Seattle: “I was impressed that there were road signs acknowledging the reservations along the way,” she said in an interview with Anishinabek News. “I thought, ’Wouldn’t it be nice to replace the words with an abstract design of First Nation patterns as a visual means for reclamation of Indigenous land.” 


In August, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau surprised almost everyone by announcing that the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was not only being dismantled, but was to be replaced with two new departments: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and Indigenous Services. As the days passed, it became clear that among those surprised by the news were national Indigenous organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations and the National Women's Association of Canada, elected band councils (who need INAC to approve everything they do before they can actually do it), traditional councils (who have yet to be acknowledged by Canada), even members of Health Canada and other departments whose funding and organizational makeup will be directly affected.
Basically, everyone who should have known that this was coming was completely caught off guard.
Even more ridiculous, they announced this decision while condemning the "colonial, paternalistic" nature of INAC and the Indian Act – as if deciding what was best for us without asking our input wasn't reenacting the same colonial, paternalistic attitude displayed by the decades of government that preceded them.
Many of the Liberal government's supposedly momentous announcements seem to be little more than repackaged versions of old policies. On Dec. 6, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott announced that First Nations with solid financial track records are now eligible for guaranteed 10-year funding – a move this newspaper celebrated in a recent editorial. This announcement essentially admits the status quo for First Nations communities under the Indian Act has been hundreds of years of insecure and unstable funding. How can a community plan for the future when it never knows if it's getting the meagre resources Canada has promised? Is it any surprise, then, that one-quarter of First Nations have become so indebted they've been put under third-party management? Or that many communities cannot get off third-party management once they're there? After all, these organizations – which Canada forces First Nations to hire without offering any additional funding to pay for their services – do not have to report to Canada on their progress. This gives them no incentive to get communities out of debt and makes them unaccountable to the very communities Canada forces to pay their salaries. By ignoring these realities, Ms. Philpott implies that only good, financially responsible communities deserve even the possibility of stable and guaranteed funding, furthering the "corrupt Indian chief" stereotype Stephen Harper trotted out before her. This is not real change. This is stasis, rebranded as revolution.

Aug. 28, 2017: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates Jane Philpott at a swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. In a cabinet shuffle, Ms. Philpott was given the newly created Indigenous Services portfolio. ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS 
In the cabinet shuffle, Carolyn Bennett was appointed Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Minister. FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS 
When the INAC split was announced, Mik'maq lawyer, activist and politician Pam Palmater wondered in a CBC interview if the move "isn't more superficiality and less substance," noting "there seems to be a lot of name changes and terminology changes and announcements out of this government." I would be remiss if I didn't mention that name changes and department restructuring have a long history with INAC, probably because it's such an easy, superficial way to signal change where none actually exists. Before Canadian Confederation, the department was originally known as the British Indian Department. Then, when Indians officially became Canada's problem, it was called "Indian Affairs." Between 1860-1966, Indian Affairs was made the responsibility of the snappily named "Crown Lands Department Commissions Responsible for Indian Affairs," followed by the equally snappy "Secretary of State for the Provinces Responsible for Indian Affairs." Various other ministers had Indian Affairs stuffed into their portfolio during that time, including the Minister of the Interior and – if one can believe it – the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development wasn't even its own department until 1966. In 2011, the department began referring to itself as "Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada," and, four years later, thanks to Mr. Trudeau's symbol-loving Liberals, the name changed again to "Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development." Although Indian Affairs has had to report to numerous people and departments throughout its history, it certainly has never had to report to Indigenous people. That lack of accountability and responsibility has continued for more than 150 years, unchecked.

That's the problem, though: Canada's attitude towards Indigenous people has never changed. In the eighties – the same time Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was enshrining "multiculturalism" in the Constitution – Indigenous activists had to fight tooth-and-nail for their voices to be heard. Their hard work eventually prevailed, though, and Canada agreed to include Section 35 in the Constitution, legally enshrining recognition and affirmation of Indigenous rights. Although this has been part of the national Constitution for 35 years, it has not been seriously acted upon by Canada. There have been no moves to change the Indian Act in a way that reflects the Indigenous right to both self-government and self-determination entrenched in Section 35. No moves to right the disproportionate way that Canada has grossly underfunded Indigenous nations while making billions of dollars exploiting their land and resources, ignoring treaties or, in the case of the entire province of British Columbia, ignoring the astounding lack of treaties. There has only recently been acknowledgment of how, despite public apologies and Gord Downie-branded "Reconciliation Rooms" at steakhouses, Canada continues the policies of residential schools today, with Child and Family Services taking more Indigenous children from their families than attended residential schools when they were at their height.
All of these things are done without consulting us, without asking for our consent. Despite Mr. Trudeau's claims to want to stop the paternalism, Canada's approach to Indigenous people has always been akin to that of a paternal head of house in a fifties sitcom: Father knows best.
The recent penchant for symbolic change can only be viewed as superficial. This is the undiscussed problem with "political correctness": complying with the rather small request to change terminology has been used to shield racist institutions from harsh, necessary criticisms. By making shallow "politically correct" changes – for example, going from "Indian Affairs" to "Aboriginal Affairs," or "Aboriginal Affairs" to "Indigenous Affairs" – these institutions appear as though they are making real change.
But if their structure, attitudes and policies don't reflect that desire, then what good is their political correctness?
If you're refusing to let my community enact our inherent right to self-determination and self-government, while intentionally underfunding the services we rely on to survive, it hardly matters if you call us "Indians" or "Indigenous peoples." We know what you mean.
Here's what's even more galling: While Mr. Trudeau made sure to mention that splitting INAC was one of the 440 recommendations in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), a comprehensive report that was originally released more than 20 years ago, he ignored some key information. For instance, there was no word on the numerous RCAP recommendations that were supposed to be implemented alongside the splitting of INAC. A Royal Proclamation outlining the new relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples was recommended. New legislation that would clearly lay out Canada's intention to create new treaties with Indigenous nations, which would form the basis for all true nation-to-nation relationships going forward. Perhaps most importantly, there was supposed to be financial and structural support for Indigenous nations to transition from dependent band councils to independent self-government. All of these recommendations were supposed to be enacted concurrently. If they didn't, there would be no real structural change, and meaningful gestures would become nothing more than inadequate, misleading symbols.
And, of course, Mr. Trudeau neglected to mention that, in the same section RCAP suggests splitting INAC, it admits one of INAC's biggest problems has been its "tendency to move relatively quickly on policy initiatives without adequate consultation with those affected." It would seem this version of INAC has decided they can make changes without consulting those affected at all. For a government that claims that they want to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), this type of negligence makes one wonder if they've even read it. Articles 3 and 4 assert Indigenous peoples' right to self-determination, particularly in regards to self-government. Article 18 specifically states, "Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures." If the splitting of INAC is not merely a cosmetic change, as new Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett insists it is not, then the fact that no Indigenous people were consulted is even more puzzling. How can they claim they want to implement UNDRIP one day, then completely disregard at least three of its articles the next?
How can this government make bold statements about "nation-to-nation" relationships when the only nation whose opinion they will consider is their own?
It's obvious the Liberal government sees splitting INAC as the next bureaucratic step on the path to truth and reconciliation. Indeed, Ms. Bennett once referred to herself as the "Minister of Reconciliation." But what kind of reconciliation is possible when Canada chooses all the terms, refusing to give Indigenous people the chance to propose any terms ourselves? What kind of "nation-to-nation" relationship can be built when Canada refuses to acknowledge the traditional governments of our nations – governing bodies that we chose? When they underfund, undermine and ignore the same band councils they forcefully imposed through the Indian Act? When they require every decision band councils make to be approved by INAC before they can be enacted?
Considering how many disastrous decisions this government has made on Indigenous peoples' behalf, why should we trust them now? They've put in place a faltering Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry; refused to meet three compliance orders from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to stop discriminating against Indigenous children; approved the Site C dam, the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion and Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline despite Indigenous nations' protests; refused to correct gender discrimination in the Indian Act until faced with massive pressure from the Senate; and have yet to significantly address Indigenous people being found dead in Thunder Bay's waterways on an increasingly regular basis. To suggest they've come even close to delivering on their campaign promise to build new "nation-to-nation" relationships with Indigenous peoples thus far would be, frankly, delusional.
To complicate things further, many Canadians seem to place unfair expectations on Indigenous people. There is an alarming tendency to consider 634 distinct Indigenous nations as one homogeneous group with some sort of hive mind. When Indigenous people have different opinions or needs or preferences, this illusion is shattered, leaving those non-Indigenous Canadians strangely confused. This makes discussion of self-government difficult. For example, one Indigenous nation might want to keep their elected band council, while another might look to transition to a more traditional governance structure. Both are valid exercises of self-determination. Supporting self-government for Indigenous peoples requires there to be space for these types of differences – a nuance that is discussed at length within the very pages of RCAP. There is no need for all of us to agree in order for all of us to be respected.
I'm unsure, though, that Canada can make this sort of distinction. It has always relied upon colonial repression of Indigenous peoples for its land, wealth and power. It has always treated us as one indistinguishable group. How, then, can Canada ever be okay with Indigenous self-governance and self-determination?

1838: Joseph Brant, or Thayendanegea. By the early 19th century, Brant was already facing Canadian denial of the promises made to the Haudenosaunee as allies of the Crown. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 

1898: Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s central government meet at Grand River. In the 1920s, the Canadian government installed its own Indian Act band council at Six Nations by force. The INAC-approved, elected band council has been in tension for decades with the traditional Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council over land and governance. 

1948: Six Nations representatives hold up a copy of the Haldimand Treaty of 1784, which they used to press Ottawa for compensation for lands taken or flooded in the building of the Welland and Grand River canals in the 1830s. The treaty promised land on the Grand River to the Haudenosaunee for helping the British during the American Revolution. HANDOUT 

1984: Queen Elizabeth II greets children at Her Majesty’s Chapel of the Mohawks near Brantford, Ont. The chapel was built in 1785, a year after the Haldimand Treaty was signed. In 2010, the Queen would reaffirm the Silver Covenant Chain treaty made with the Haudenosaunee in the 17th century. Canada has so far failed in its obligations to uphold that treaty. ERIK CHRISTENSEN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL 

2008: A sign on the road to Six Nations. The reserve has the lowest voter turnout of any in the country, 5 per cent, as friction continues between elected band leaders and the traditional council. JULIE GORDON/REUTERS 


While we're arbitrarily changing terminology, let's shift our focus from truth and reconciliation to denial and consent.
In her newest book, My Conversations with Canadians, Lee Maracle writes, "To be a white Canadian is to be sunk in deep denial." I personally wouldn't let Canadians of colour off the colonial hook so easily, as I've witnessed some rather fantastical takes on Indigeneity by people of colour, too, but I agree that there is something about Canadian identity that seems to require a sort of colonial amnesia. Quite simply, Canadians know very little about their own history. As far as I can tell, that denial of history has always characterized Canada's engagement with Indigenous peoples. And when Canada can no longer deny its history, a slightly different denial takes effect: 1) denial that horrific actions Canada has enforced over the course of its history have had any measurable effect on the present, and 2) denial that those horrific actions are still happening today, albeit in different forms.
The following is a brief summary of some of the distinctly Canadian denial I'm aware of. To be clear, there are 634 Indigenous nations in Canada, each of which have their own specific histories with the Crown. As I mentioned, I am a Tuscarora woman of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and I come from the Six Nations of the Grand River community specifically – so I can only speak about my own community's tumultuous relationship with the Crown.
First and foremost, there's the denial of the treaties that form the foundation of Canada. For my people, that includes the Two Row Wampum, which was originally made with the Dutch, but the British Crown accepted and passed down to Canada to uphold. It was a friendship treaty, which affirmed that while the Haudenosaunee went down the river of life in a canoe, and Canada went down the river of life in its boat, they would remain on peaceful parallel paths, neither nation interfering with the culture, religion, government or affairs of the other. Obviously, Canada failed in its obligations to uphold that treaty, or any other treaty, including the Silver Covenant Chain Wampum, which was accepted in the 17th century and is one of the oldest legal agreements in this country.
Almost the entire Haudenosaunee Confederacy supported the British during the American Revolution (the Oneidas sided with the Americans). Although Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant led many successful battles against the Americans, when the British Crown was negotiating their surrender with the Americans, they did not consult with their Haudenosaunee allies. Instead, they gave away Mohawk territory that was not theirs to give. On top of that, many other Haudenosaunee nations had their towns burned down by the Americans during the war. As restitution, the 1784 Haldimand Proclamation granted six miles of land on either side of the Grand River to the Haudenosaunee for their service as allies to the Crown. By 1819, however, Chief Joseph Brant was already facing Canadian denial, having to tell a council, "We are surprised to find that [the] Government says that we own the Lands to the Falls [modern day Elora, Ont.] only as we have the Writings to prove otherwise." Another problem was the number of settlers who squatted on Haudenosaunee lands. Canada continued to assure the Confederacy it would put a stop to this – as long as they signed over more of their land. While Canada got the land it wanted, it delivered nothing that was promised.
In the early 1920s, Cayuga Chief Deskaheh (Levi General) went to the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations, on a Haudenosaunee passport to argue for our confederacy's sovereignty from Canada. The Canadian government, embarrassed, used international pressure to sway the growing support for his cause. In addition, the RCMP put pressure on our people by building a barracks on Six Nations, searching homes and prohibiting any Indians from cutting wood on their own lands. Less than a year later, while Deskaheh stayed in Geneva to try to gain an audience with the League, the Canadian government planned a coup of the traditional Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC). The RCMP forced our chiefs out by gunpoint, stole our wampum belts, organized an election and installed the Indian Act band council with only 56 votes. They couldn't even find 12 people willing to run for office without relying on those already employed by the Canadian government.
Meanwhile, 800 Six Nations residents signed a resolution opposing Canada's clear violation of the Two Row Wampum. Canada denied their voices. This was the "democracy" that Canada imposed on my community.
Today on Six Nations, the tension between the elected band council and the traditional Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) is stronger than ever. Six Nations continues to have the lowest voter turnout of any reserve in Canada at 5 per cent. Despite this lack of public support, the elected council has recently been fighting the HCCC for jurisdiction over the Burtch Tract. During the 2006 land reclamation of Kanonhstaton (Douglas Creek Estates), a team of HCCC chiefs led by Mohawk Chief Allen McNaughton negotiated the Burtch Tract back to Six Nations. After more than 10 years of waiting, the province of Ontario did not get in contact with the Confederacy to make arrangements for the land; it instead instructed the elected band council to set up a numbered company to hold the land in trust.
While the Confederacy had been leasing land to local farmer Kris Hill and others for years, the elected band council said nothing about their apparent moves to claim ownership of the land. Not until this past summer, when they issued an injunction against her, which the Ontario Provincial Court upheld. Now, the Six Nations elected band council is seeking $5-million from Ms. Hill, a community member who has donated more than $45,000 to local schools and organizations that have been hung out to dry by INAC.
This move by Ontario – to deliver land to the band council instead of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council that it originally negotiated with – has divided the community further, culminating in a month-long blockade that remained peaceful until it was removed by OPP in early September. Both Ontario and Canada deny any responsibility for creating or fuelling this division. In August, Carey Marsden, spokeswoman for the Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, said Ontario had "honoured their commitment" to Six Nations, adding, "We remain hopeful that all parties will be able to work together in a spirit of mutual respect to ensure the land benefits all the people of Six Nations." The federal government has remained quiet on the issue, with Mr. Trudeau, for all his talk of "nation-to-nation" relationships, choosing to bypass the area entirely instead of engaging with protesters when he was in nearby Hamilton this summer.
Considering the long-standing history my people have had as allies of the Crown, and the fact that what was once INAC is now called "Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs," I reached out to the department to ask when they will be re-establishing their historic relationship with our traditional government. In 2010, the Queen herself reaffirmed the Silver Covenant Chain Treaty with my people, so I was curious how this would manifest in future nation-to-nation relationships. What role would band council play? After all, RCAP admits that "Indian Act band governments… are perceived as a form of self-government; but in fact they are a form of self-administration, not self-government." Or, as Ms. Maracle more bluntly puts it in her latest book: "We do not get to elect our own government. You [Canadians] elect our government. We elect a band council that is beholden to your government, the Canadian government."
While spokesman James Fitz-Morris said, "It is up to communities to decide for themselves who represents them. Our government is committed to hearing from all partners," he also ignored Canada's role in dividing my community specifically, and made no statement about how Canada could repair the damaged relationship. "As you know," he wrote, "there is a dispute with in the [Six Nations] community over representation – our government doesn't want to interfere in this internal discussion." And there it was again, more evident and embarrassing than ever: denial. How can you claim to be fostering Crown-Indigenous relations if you refuse to do the hard work of repairing those relations? If you don't even acknowledge the problems that arose when INAC overthrew my traditional government in 1924? Where is the reconciliation for that?

Opinion: Indigenous nationhood can save the world 
For centuries, the Westphalian nation-state has fuelled a cycle of greed, protectionism and violence – and Indigenous people are still resisting that legacy today, Niigaan Sinclair writes.


This is where consent comes in. This is a particularly interesting time to be discussing consent, considering the many allegations of sexual assault and harassment that have recently come to light. I don't think these conversations – between consent for sex and consent for land – are unrelated. There is a reason the land gets compared to a woman, mother nature. There is a reason the colonial treatment of land is often referred to as rape. Indigenous peoples are responsible for the care and maintenance of the land. We have always been conscious of concepts the West has only recently taken on, such conservation and environmentalism. Yet Indigenous peoples' consent has never been a prerequisite for any of Canada's actions in regards to the lands we have historically cared for, lands we consider part of us. There is a duty to "consult and accommodate" Indigenous peoples in decisions that affect us or our Treaty rights, but there is no legal obligation for our nations to consent. Are we allowed, then, to say no? Or are we trapped in situations in which our "no" will be ignored regardless, leaving us with the difficult task of finding a way to make our pain as bearable as possible?
Actor, writer and producer Brit Marling recently wrote about the economies of consent, claiming that women who are preyed upon by men such as Harvey Weinstein exist in "a grey zone where words like 'consent' cannot fully capture the complexity of the encounter." Consent, Ms. Marling argues, "is a function of power. You have to have a modicum of power to give it." When your very livelihood depends on saying yes to something you don't want, how much of a choice do you really have?
Canada has often relied upon tactics such as this to get Indigenous people to fall in line – everything from taking our children, to starving us, to killing us, to outlawing our ways of life. Even Canada's modern day treaties, such as those being signed in B.C., act to disempower the nations they are negotiating with. As Arthur Manuel details in his book Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, by signing any deal with Canada, an Indigenous nation is relinquishing title of their lands to Canada, a certain amount of which Canada then agrees to graciously give back to them. Canada also requires Indigenous nations to pay for their own lawyers during negotiations, which means that much of the financial settlement that is ultimately agreed upon goes straight into lawyers' pockets, never reaching the Indigenous community it is supposed to benefit.
How can Indigenous people fight this? In the courts? That hasn't worked out well for the Ktunaxa. The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that a Jumbo Valley, B.C. ski resort had more right to the Qat'muk area than the Ktunaxa, who were concerned that the Grizzly Bear Spirit, an essential part of their religion, would leave if the development went through.
Can Indigenous people fight by protesting? Considering the way land defender and Inuk grandmother Beatrice Hunter was jailed in a men's prison last year, and told to stay away from her peoples' land as part of her initial bail conditions, that doesn't seem likely. When Canada takes away all avenues with which we can say no, it disempowers us and makes our consent both unnecessary and unimportant, the same way all predators make the consent of their victims unnecessary and unimportant.
How can you know someone considers you a person if you can't say no? How can you know a nation considers your traditional governance a nation if you can't say no? If you aren't even acknowledged?


There are some hopeful signs, such as the Liberal government's decision to set up a law and policy review to ensure that all laws and policies in Canada align with Section 35, UNDRIP and what Mr. Fitz-Morris calls "our commitment to a new relationship." This was a point AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde was particularly optimistic about, saying he hopes it will be an important move "towards recognition of rights and title, not termination of rights and title." Considering Kahnawake Mohawk policy analyst, writer and activist Russ Diabo has famously referred to modern-day treaty negotiation tables as "termination tables," it is obvious Canada still has a very long way to go.
I, however, remain less optimistic. The Hill Times recently reported that Minister Bennett will lead six months of consultations with "Indigenous stakeholders on how to restructure the government's approach to Indigenous affairs ahead of the tabling of legislation to dissolve INAC and create two new departments." When I asked Mr. Fitz-Morris what Indigenous nations, groups, organizations and people would be consulted, he replied vaguely: "Minister Bennett is discussing this issue with literally every community, elder, chief, Indigenous person, and expert she meets. These will be broad consultations."
Since the office of Crown-Indigenous relations apparently doesn't want to interfere with "internal issues" in my community, I wonder whether Ms. Bennett will be discussing anything with members of my community – or any community that has so-called "internal issues." It's funny, though, that my community is considered too fractured and divided to discuss, while Canada itself has four different major political parties with vastly different ideologies. Canadian MPs have been known to heckle and swear at one another in Parliament, nearly erupt in fist fights and even, last year, block other MPs from moving (try as we might to forget "elbowgate"). These certainly don't indicate a unified government, moving in perfect harmony. One might even refer to them as internal issues, but I suppose, since this isn't Indigenous government we're talking about, we're supposed to deny that as well.
The most frustrating part of this conversation is that Canada has known what a respectful nation-to-nation relationship should look like for hundreds of years. It was laid out clearly in the Two Row Wampum, the first treaty that Canada ever accepted. Unfortunately, Canada has continually failed its treaty obligation to respect Indigenous nations' right to steer our own canoes, instead choosing to high-jack them and pilot us towards destruction. Where Canada has steered us has made it difficult for our nations to get back on the right path – to regain control of our own canoes, our own destinies. But we will get there. The fact that I'm even here to write this is evidence of that.
But before we can regain control of our destinies, before can engage in nation-to-nation relationships, or give empowered and informed consent, Canada needs to get out of our canoe already and focus on its own boat – which, to be honest, has more than its share of issues. The Canadian government will need to say in no uncertain terms that band councils are not required for our people to have discussions with their leaders. They will need to say that they support Indigenous communities' right to determine our own governance, and will respect our decisions. And, most importantly, they will need to acknowledge the Indigenous nations of this land are sovereign nations, respect us as sovereign nations and consult and negotiate with us as sovereign nations. Anything less is politically correct posturing.
The way I see it, the Canadian government needs to earn its right to discuss reconciliation – and that won't happen until attitudes change. Canada has to stop its habit of national denial and acknowledge our peoples' right to consent, our right to say no – even if that "no" interferes with Canadian politicians' and powerful companies' plans. We need assurance that Canada won't pull our communities' funding if we do say no; that it won't punish us with third-party management as it continues to underfund essential services; that it will give us the opportunity to develop our economies and communities so we don't need to rely on the Canadian government for anything again. Instead of viewing us as incompetent children, Canada needs to view us as equal partners – and from there, we can work together towards common, mutually beneficial goals. That is a nation-to-nation relationship. That is something I can be proud to pass on to my child, and her children, and their children after that. It's something Canada can be proud to pass on, too.