I believe we need to stop our fragmented and ineffective responses to the chaos we are living in within the context of our current economic, social and political systems. These systems are broken. Capitalism is broken. Our political system is broken.
When White settlers arrived in this land, they made the conscious choice to colonize. The roots of our current situation go back to that decision. Rather than learn how to live in this new land from the Indigenous peoples, who had thrived here for thousands of years, the White settlers infected the land with the culture they brought from Europe.
Colonize: to come to settle among and establish political control over the indigenous people of an area.
These are now turbulent times, which are rapidly worsening on multiple fronts. The COVID-19 pandemic is wrecking havoc globally and to a far greater extent in the U.S.
Why has this country’s response to the pandemic been so disastrous? Because the U.S. is a failing state.
Two of the characteristics of a failed state are:
—functional failures: inability to respond adequately to challenges threatening the security of the society and its population against threats posed by internal and external hostile political actors, as well as by ecological instabilities, by widespread extreme poverty and hunger, and by a deficient health and disaster response system;
—normative failures: refusal to abide by systemic rules internationally as embedded in international law and the UN Charter, claiming impunity and acting on the basis of double standards to carry out its geopolitical encroachments on the wellbeing of others and its disregard of ecological dangers; patterns of normative failuresIs the United States a Failing State? A Failed State? by Richard Falk, Global Justice in the 21st Century blog, July 22, 2020
The settlers established capitalism as the economic system. They used the Doctrine of Discovery to justify claiming land ownership. And setup political systems that ensured that White property owners would retain their power, thereby building racism into these structures from the beginning.
These White dominant systems worked fairly well for White people for decades. But decidedly not for Indigenous peoples, African Americans and other people of color.
But for White people there was/is an undercurrent of unease. Although White people tried to not think about it, avoided talking about it, we knew the treatment of Indigenous peoples and African Americans was not just wrong, but immoral. Regardless, White people continue to this day to refuse to rectify the situation, continue to take advantage of their privileges. But now the systems that provide those privileges are failing. The privileges are disappearing.
COVID-19 has spread across the world, changing everyone’s lives. In the U.S. the capitalist economy essentially shut down and all the weaknesses of capitalism were exposed. Capitalism depends upon a cycle of money. People are paid wages, often subsistence wages, for their work, which they then use of buy food, pay for housing, utilities, medical care and other material things. The vast majority of people have little monetary savings and thus no source of money to use when jobs are lost. Meaning most people have nothing to draw from when wages are no longer coming in. The cycle of money is broken. These are examples of the functional failures of a failing state as described above.
There have been signs of the failure of capitalism for decades. The Great Depression of the 1930’s broke the cycle of money. Fortunately the country elected a capable and visionary leader, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to pull the nation out of the depression.
In his speech accepting the Democratic Party nomination in 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt pledged “a New Deal for the American people” if elected. Following his inauguration as President of the United States on March 4, 1933, FDR put his New Deal into action: an active, diverse, and innovative program of economic recovery. In the First Hundred Days of his new administration, FDR pushed through Congress a package of legislation designed to lift the nation out of the Depression. FDR declared a “banking holiday” to end the runs on the banks and created new federal programs administered by so-called “alphabet agencies” For example, the AAA (Agricultural Adjustment Administration) stabilized farm prices and thus saved farms. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) provided jobs to unemployed youths while improving the environment. The TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) provided jobs and brought electricity to rural areas for the first time. The FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Administration) and the WPA (Works Progress Administration) provided jobs to thousands of unemployed Americans in construction and arts projects across the country. The NRA (National Recovery Administration) sought to stabilize consumer goods prices through a series of codes. Through employment and price stabilization and by making the government an active partner with the American people, the New Deal jump-started the economy towards recovery.The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
It is painfully obvious that the current administration and the Republican party have shown no such leadership to our current crises.
I have been working on this diagram to help me understand the interrelationships among Indigenous peoples, African Americans, and White colonists.
The pandemic has broken the capitalist system. As my friends at Seeding Sovereignty say, capitalism is the pandemic.
On May 3, a 50’ sky banner visible to millions stating #CAPITALISMISTHEPANDEMIC circled Manhattan–the US bedrock of capitalism and banking–to deliver a powerful message of protest against colonization and worker injustice in solidarity with essential workers who aren’t properly protected or supported.https://seedingsovereignty.org/capitalism-is-the-pandemic
The intersecting crises of income and wealth inequality and climate change, driven by systemic white supremacy and gender inequality, has exposed the frailty of the U.S. economy and democracy. This document was prepared during the COVID-19 pandemic which exacerbated these existing crises and underlying conditions. Democratic processes have been undermined at the expense of people’s jobs, health, safety, and dignity. Moreover, government support has disproportionately expanded and boosted the private sector through policies, including bailouts, that serve an extractive economy and not the public’s interest. Our elected leaders have chosen not to invest in deep, anti-racist democratic processes. They have chosen not to uphold public values, such as fairness and equity, not to protect human rights and the vital life cycles of nature and ecosystems. Rather, our elected leaders have chosen extraction and corporate control at the expense of the majority of the people and the well-being and rights of Mother Earth. Transforming our economy is not just about swapping out elected leaders. We also need a shift in popular consciousness.A Peoples Guide to a Regenerative Economy
Decolonization begins with turning away from capitalism. And instead do what White settlers should have done when they arrived. Learn from Indigenous people the way to live in this land.
“I believe that we have the capacity to create a world that is compassionately intent on preserving the integrity of all life in a harmonious balance. And that the Sacred Instructions for creating that world exist within every one of us right now and are waiting to be called forth…”Sherri Mitchell, Penobscot Nation, excerpts from introduction to Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change