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Settler Colonialism on Display over at IEET July 3, 2012

Posted by Summerspeaker in Decolonization, Environmental justice, Transhumanism.

In response to my description of the colonialist designation of the Four Corners region as a national sacrifice zone, readers felt compelled to denigrate Native culture and society by drawing on stereotypical setter tropes:

Quite true, what America did to natives was genocide from the 17th to 20th centuries.
But please keep in mind what Francis Fukuyama writes on oppressed peoples being culturally conservative, don’t think of natives as being latent-progressives. They want casinos and cigarettes, alcohol and all the rest of what consumer life has to offer.. the proportion of progressive natives is small, the number of technoprogressive natives is smaller, ‘negligible’ is a word coming to mind. Too often we project our own worldviews on others. What little Native American activism there’s been has been native nostalgia tinged with Marxist blarney. – Intomorrow

I feel you. A prime example is the state of the environmental movement. 99% are just back to the woods hippies longing for the mythical “noble savage” times. The Native Americans did a lot of environmental damage all on their own. It’s one of the reasons that the forests in America were so easy to get through. The Native Americans weren’t some highly evolved society living in harmony with raw nature and each other. – Facilitator DaNee

While the narrative that all Native peoples historically lived in perfect equilibrium with nature and never transformed the environment indeed merits criticism, I did not espouse such a notion and the above would remain troubling even if I had. I interpret these reactions as an expression of settler discomfort as they seek to deflect attention away from the ongoing horrors of colonialism by dismissing Native communities as backwards. The now popular strategy of emphasizing that pre-contact Native groups caused ecological damage too breathless tries to eliminate Native participation in formulating alternatives to runaway industrialism. As Dan Waters writes, “It’s not our fucking fault white people brought over factories in the first place.” Bizarrely but tellingly, Intomorrow goes on to profess faith in Obama. Colonial genocide appears in the past, regrettable but politically meaningless. Only the march of progress – in this case tepid liberalism that somehow leads to the Singularity – matters.

I suggest that any movement seeking a better world – especially here in the Americas – must support decolonization and the struggle for indigenous self-determination. This doesn’t mean playing Indian, appropriating Native spirituality, fantasizing about noble savages, killing all white folks, or anything like that. Rather, decolonization entails ending at every level the oppression and exploitation of Native peoples by settlers. As with any group operating on stolen land, transhumanists need to forge connections with Native communities and take their input seriously to avoid reiterating settler colonialism.



1. Natalie Avalos Cisneros - July 3, 2012

nice response to the noted comments Summer. I would add that decolonization means acknowledging that the exploitation of Indigenous lands and peoples is STILL happening. As you say it is not some inevitability on the march to a better future; it is the current means to own self-destruction. If we don’t act as stewards of the earth, how will we survive? Technology is not our savior, particularly if it does not recognize the dynamic and interrelated nature of the world. We cannot transcend our humanity in a vacuum.

2. Summerspeaker - July 4, 2012

Unfortunately, Intomorrow continues to attack Native people by making the tried argument that they practiced genocide too and writing the following:

What it all comes back to IMO is Fukuyama’s truism that the oppressed are too culturally conservative to interest in progressivism- let alone technoprogressivism; perhaps esp. Native Americans, they may be some of the most backward-looking of all the oppressed. Fukuyama also wrote of the “motley crew” of progressives, e.g. the futility of what is tantamount to attempting being all things to all progressives, We can’t please Native Americans, libertopians, communists, anarchists, tree-huggers, and countless others, can we?

If technoprogressivism entails repeating such colonialist nonsense, I’m not interested.

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