Monday, October 13, 2014

Indigenous People's Day


Hal Pepinsky,, “pepinsky” at

October 13, 2014


                Today in Minneapolis and Seattle, it is Indigenous People’s Day.  Let’s be frank: My country is founded on genocide and enslavement by Anglo and Dutch Protestant immigrants, economically grounded in agricultural and military-industrial for-profit enterprises, aka corporate capitalists.  In the wake of the US civil war, the military-industrial enterprises, now for-profit corporations as persons who now control political advertising and sponsorship at local and state levels.  Today my country commonly names itself (so I was taught in elementary schools after the Spanish Explorer, Amerigo Vespucci, who “discovered” that the Western Hemisphere went all the way to the Pacific.  The celebration of Indigenous People’s Day is a substitution for the nationally recognized Columbus Day, not to dishonor Italians, but to recognize as Italians have what it means to be economically and politically exploited as foreigners, as immigrants, by corporate capitalism and the hold it has over who holds office and what s/he does there.  That phenomenon reflects a culture of national pride and identity that we know as individualism—a belief that life depends on demonstrating one’s ability (whether one is a human being or a corporation) to stay ahead of others by whatever standards the market or authorities we happen to accept.  It is a way we judge and place one another as early as the third grade by national standards where failure occurs by statistical assumption, according to private corporate standards.  For many of us, it represents an Anglo-Christian tradition.  Implicitly, the US war on ISIL is religiously rooted in a sense of sense of inherent capacity to represent civility, of righteousness.  Max Weber didn’t live to see it: Today, the US and its military represent the supreme spirit of capitalism.

                Today at, Amy Goodman interviewed Kshama Sawant, a member of the Seattle area city council who introduced both a resolution to raise the Seattle minimum wage to $15.00, and to follow Minneapolis in renaming Columbus Day, Indigenous People’s Day.  She is a socialist.  (The only nationally ranking political socialist I can think of is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who created the country’s first urban land trust in Burlington.)  Describing the significance of honoring Indigenous People’s Day, Sawant pointed out the fact that the US is, as the British were in South Asia, one more nation state born of genocide and enslavement, creating a ground for a corporate power to take hold of cultures of exploitation at home and abroad…by extension, in Chinese terms, one more global dynastic cycle.

                A part of the interview focused on Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani co-winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.  I have scarcely heard it mentioned on US news media, but before the UN, Yousafzai denounced global capitalism for creating inequality, oppression and war worldwide, and proclaimed herself, like Sawant, to be a socialist.  Sawant noted that the last Socialist to win the Nobel Peace Prize was Albert Einstein, and before him, Helen Keller.

                I draw a distinction between those publicly employed and publicly selected to represent constituents and the common good, and the non-profit/NGO’s incorporated to serve alongside on one hand, and contracting out social services to for-profit corporations, to alleviate inequities for the common good, rather than serving the God of profit.  Put in context, as Sawant and Yousafzai do, I guess that makes me a socialist too, just as it reflects the many forms of circle government indigenous to my homeland, which survive and which I honor today.  Love and peace, hal

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