A lot of my leftist activists friends identify with either “anarchism” or “communism”. This is a follow up to an earlier article that I have written, called “Anarchists and Marxist line up to the left, the path of the Anishinabek has always been right”
The other day I had a conversation with someone, and the words came out of my mouth, “I used to think I was an anarchist, but then I realized I was just an asshole.” I laughed at those words, because it was a reflection on what I actually thought about the government, laws, obedience etc, and how I used to actually identify my self as an anarchist. (Mind you a very unguided and unprincipled one at that)
My aim in writing my thoughts is not to isolate and derogate any of the aforementioned forms of ideology, but to contrast the two with the Anishinabek concepts of Mno Bimaadziwin, the 7 Grandfather Teachings, and the Medicine Wheel.
When I think of the terms Anarchism, and especially some of the terms or concepts of anarchism such as “No Nations, No borders” I get perplexed as to how this practice is actually played out in the Anishinabek world. Did us Anishinabek not actually believe in any borders? Did we not actually define ourselves as a nation? Of course the answer is yes to the both of them.
Another concept of anarchism that I don’t fully understand, is the concept of autonomy, and the notion that there are no rules, and everything is done on a volunteer basis.
I couple of months ago I was involved in a very engaging conversation with several anarchist (whom were really amazing people) and I started asking some questions on their principles, and how they infact are able to organize amongst themselves (for they seemed to be doing a very good job at it). They told me, that everything was done on a volunteer basis, and that if there is a job or duty that needs to be fulfilled and no one volunteers, then they have a discussion on why no one volunteered, what makes undesirable, is it actually needed etc.
Then I asked a very direct and difficult question. I asked, “Who are people accountable to? And what measures are taken to ensure that people are in fact held to account?” The answer that I was given was, “That is something that all anarchists have trouble with.”
The way that I understand things in anarchy, is that because everyone is their own free autonomous person, they aren’t truly accountable to anyone or anything if they don’t have to be. They don’t have to belong to a collective, they don’t have to do anything that they don’t want to, or live by any rules. And in fact imposing your will on someone to abide by rules, is in fact going against the basic principles of anarchism.
There are a lot of very unclear concepts of anarchism that I don’t understand, or flat out disagree with. I got into an online debate about some of these rules, or theories about anarchism. And one of these theories, is that if you simply got rid of private property that capitalism would die. I was reading this one article on anarchy and it basically stated, that the way to end capitalism is to simply just not participate in it any more. The solution is to not go to work, not pay your bills, leave the city, form a commune on some farm land, and grow food, and somehow magically this “utopia” will be transformed.
This notion of course overlooks the question of land or territory. It also over looks the fact that capitalism, or imperialism will simply not just go away if you decide to abandon civilization. (There will always be an imperialist ready willing and able to pick up arms, and steal/protect what they deem is their inherent rights). What this notion also overlooks, is that not everyone is “decolonized” or even has a idea or concept what decolonization is. Some might argue that “anarchism” is in fact a European concept, and is even “colonial” in terms of how patriarchy, misogyny and racism go unchallenged in even the so called “safe places”.
Anarchism is a wonderful theory, but without guidelines/principles/ethics on how one conducts themselves on their own, in a community or otherwise…or what happens should one break these guidelines, then I don’t see anything meaningful coming out of anarchy.
To dream that several million, colonial institutionalized individuals who have been indoctrinated and corrupted by capitalism, racism, hierarchy, patriarchy, white privilege, entitlement etc, are somehow magically going to organize themselves without rules, or holding anyone accountable to those rules, sounds a lot like the times before the Peace Maker came to the Haudenosaunee. (I can’t count how many times I’ve heard about some white male anarchist who sexually assaults someone, and then is not held accountable, because calling the cops, or banishing the fucker goes against the tenants of anarchism).
Communism is concept that I appreciate, but I still hold my critisms of. Chiefly because it lacks the Spiritual concepts of Anishinabek Mno Bimaadziwin.
I had a conversation with a comrade, and we talked about what I noticed was the lack of spirituality. His response was that most comrades come from an understanding that the Church was an imperialist imposed concept of spirituality that was entitled to only a few. Furthermore, the church was an institution that controls the hearts and minds of the people to further perpetuate capitalism. Hence why most comrades have no belief in the institution of the Church.
As our discussion got deeper, I heard the saying that in the revolution, there is the “the spirit of resistance”. If the revolution happened tomorrow, and we were living under a communism, would we enter a sweat loge and pray to the “spirits of resistance”? Although I can appreciate the conversation, and how this comrade was trying to illustrate that just because most comrades don’t believe in the church, that people aren’t automatically “un-spiritual”. I can appreciate that notion, but please don’t try and tell me, that the “spirit of resistance” is the same as Gitchi Manitou.
I read in the communist manifesto that it says the revolution is lead by the vanguard of the proletariat. Which is a complicated way of saying that the revolution is supposed to be lead by the most oppressed peoples. In this case, many people including myself would argue that in most cases an Anishinbek woman could fit the bill of being the most oppressed. But how many communists living in the 1st World could conceive of living under the dictatorship of an Anishinabek Woman? What if her belief systems were to restore everything that was lost, and that her leadership would lead back to the ceremonies?
In this case how are the protocols of the Sundance, the Sweat Lodge, the Fast conceived by communism? (I will illustrate my own life, and perhaps some of the things that have been said to me.)
In my own personal life, everything has been guided by vision. I have had dreams that were interpreted by Elders who were infact given the gifts of dream interpretation. Their interpretations then shaped my direction, and how infact that I was going to get there. Many of the things that I have had to do, were live my life by the 7 Grandfather Teachings. I have had to do many ceremonies, like “sweat lodge”, Prayer Pipe Ceremonies, and I have even gone Fasting three times. Every single aspect of Anshinabek life is guided by Spirit.
When we seek direction, we go Fasting, and “cry for a vision”. When we are sick and need healing we go into a “sweat lodge” and ask pitifully for the Spirits to bring us healing.
I heard Wolverine from Neskonlith tell me, “Nothing we do can be done without first getting the permission from the ancestors first. Ceremony has to be conducted before we do anything.”
I was reading a few books once about Crazy Horse, and some of them said that before he went into Battle he would either Fast, Sweat, or be apart of some sort of ceremony.
What is the communist interpretation of that? If an Anishinabek person can be conceived as the “proletariat” of what is territory that we live on, and that perhaps that Anishinabek women is going to perhaps lead the revolution, and the way life is lived on Turtle Island, how is then the practice of “spirituality” concieved in the Communist Manifesto? Is Anishinabek Mno Bimaadziwin indeed communism (as Marx once alluded to the Haudenousaunee being primative communists)? if it is, then the communist manifesto would have to be rewritten to incorporate the values, concepts and ideology of the 7 Grandfather Teachings, the Medicine Wheel, and everything else. But having to rewrite the Communist Manifesto might be labelled as “revision” and “revision” to a communist is a bad thing.
The 7 Grandfather Teachings are Anishinabek concepts that are essentially the foundation of what guides our morals and ethics. Living and abiding by these concepts is a struggle, and is a very hard way of life, especially in the capitalist world we live in. It take much sacrifice, and dedication. We indeed are required to suffer from time to time, for it is believed that we don’t truly understand how important things are, if there isn’t some sort of sacrifice.
I have sacrificed and I have suffered. I have lived the life without the 7 Grandfathers, and I have lived my life with them. From my own experience it is better to live with them.
No one holds me accountable to the Seven Grandfather Teachings other than myself. I don’t have Elders calling me up and saying, “Did you pray this morning? Did you offer your tobacco to the Ancestors?” But I know that these things are required of me because of our Spiritual belief system. This belief system is what has once sustained our people for several thousand years, and is what has rescued me from the colonial pits of hell.
When one lives by the 7 Grandfather Teachings, the teachings unfold in your everyday life, and you’ll intuitively know what is fits or doesn’t fit into the Mno Bimaadziwin. By living this way, you learn to live with Respect and Accountability. You learn to live with the concept, that everything in this world, living, breathing, animate or inanimate serves a purpose. You learn that you aren’t distinctly apart from creation, but you are A PART of creation, and that everything in the web of life serves a greater purpose of life that keeps the Medicine Wheel and Web of Life in Balance. There is a Natural Law and order to the Anishiabek, and those Natural Laws were explained to us from the beginning of time. If one has forgotten those laws, all one merely has to do is go sit in the bush without food and water for 4 days, and some of that will be quickly explained to you.
We don’t make the rules, the spirits of our Ancestors do. But we can choose to live by them, or not to live by them. Living by them, is called the Mno Bimaadziwin. Anishinbek people don’t need to be more Anarchist or more Communist. Both of those theories of practice need to be more Anishinabek.
Like in the first article that I wrote, Anarchists and Marxists line up the the left, the path of the Anishinabek has always been right.