The Modern Tecumseh and the Future of the U.S. Left
Posted Jun 17, 2021 by Bill Fletcher, Jr.
On Monthly Review.
This essay is inspired by Gramsci’s thinking on matters of history, strategy, and organization. This essay does not, however, attempt to mirror Gramsci’s works but rather borrows from the spirit of his thinking to grapple with the challenges facing the socialist left in the twenty-first-century United States. Though I believe that some of what I write here has broader applicability, my target audience are leftists within the United States. In part for this reason, I will be using a different historical allegory in order to make a series of points concerning those challenges.
The Contemporary U.S. Left and the Tecumseh Challenge
To a great extent, strategy—or perhaps better said, the absence of strategy—haunts the U.S. left. What generally passes for strategy are usually a set of slogans, such as “United Front Against Imperialism” and “Unite the 99%,” rather than anything that approaches a plan. The reasons for this are numerous, but they seem to come down to two principal features: (1) an absence of appreciation of the actual history of the United States and (2) a failure to grapple with the nature of the “moment” or conjuncture in which we live. As a result, the left finds itself responding to events, much like a ship without either radar or a rudder, caught in a storm.
As with Tecumseh, one needs to aim to develop a set of strategic objectives that will guide the actual strategy or plan necessary to succeed. The objectives cannot pop out of the air but must be grounded, as noted above, historically and conjuncturally.
The starting point is to clarify what one means by strategy, when discussed in a left context.
Strategy is, in its fundamentals, a plan for the disposition of forces to achieve an objective or set of objectives within a given period. A strategy, in political or military contexts, assumes an understanding, to borrow from Sun Tzu, of oneself and one’s opponent. But it also necessitates an identification of one’s real and potential allies, as well as real and potential opponents. A strategy must identify, to borrow from V. I. Lenin, the key link in order to undermine an opponent and achieve victory.
It is not possible to speak about a general left strategy, but it is possible to speak of a strategy to which one wishes to win a critical mass of the left to adopt. There is no general left strategy because the left is not monolithic and is far from unified. Given the multiple tendencies, from anarchists to social democrats to democratic socialists to variants of communists, there are not necessarily common assumptions about strategy. Thus, the battle for strategy is the battle to win agreement or a consensus within a critical mass of the left and through which to influence the broader mass movements.
Who Are “We”? Part OneEvery progressive movement of resistance (to oppression) or progressive—if not revolutionary—movement for social transformation must establish who, meaning what sectors, are at the core of the movement, and what social movements and social sectors are at varying distances from the core. In this sense, the “we” must be constantly clarified and, in fact, changes in different periods of struggle depending on the nature of the opponent, a point reiterated by Mao Zedong throughout the Chinese Revolution.
Tecumseh understood this and set as his mission the clarification of the “we” in the context of the first decade of the nineteenth century. The “we” were the Indigenous peoples. This was based on a recognition that despite contradictions that had historically existed between various Indigenous nations, the situation facing them represented the principal contradiction between themselves and the invading white settlers from the newly formed United States.
A Marxist understanding of intersectionality places an emphasis on overdetermination and the intersection of different systems of oppressions and social movements (that oppose them), which, at various moments, result in multilayered social struggles. Whether an individual perceives one’s self to be principally gay or lesbian, Black or mixed, Latinx or Afro-Latinx, is secondary to the manner in which oppressions come together and affect the consciousness and social practice of different groups of people. This is also critically important in understanding that, in every social movement, the multiple contradictions are acting out and cannot be put on “hold” pending the resolution of the principal contradiction. They must be both acknowledged and addressed in the way the principal contradiction is tackled. The failure to do so, as has been seen in myriad social movements, such as anticolonial struggles, ultimately results in major setbacks, indeed retrogression.
Who Are “We”? Part Two
I say: Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.
When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal.
If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.17
As a left, and particularly as the socialist left, who is our constituency? Or, to put it in terms analogous to those of both Tecumseh and Mao, who are “the people”?
The socialist left (and the subset of the communist left) in the United States have largely seen the working class as “the people.” The working class is our base and other sectors are extraneous, a summary of an approach frequently taken. During the Third Period (1928–35) of the Communist International, this approach was framed as a “class-against-class” analysis, that is, the working class against the capitalists.
Over time, a broader sense of “the people” has been tossed around, but one of the difficulties is that it sometimes is done in a way that deemphasizes particular struggles or social movements. This is especially the case with regard to racist and national oppression. Thus, struggles seem to be a laundry list.
There have been some interesting exceptions or attempts at an alternative framing. The 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement ingeniously articulated the “99 percent” against the “1 percent” as a means of giving “the people” a designation with which so many could identify. Though the percentages do not accurately capture the social base within which the so-called 1 percent or the plutocrats operate, it did emphasize the majoritarian nature of the movement that Occupy was attempting to build.18Certainly, there were limitations, including the tendency to avoid the subdivisions—for lack of a better term—that exist among the so-called 99 percent, such as race, nationality, and gender. That said, it succeeded in becoming a mass identification and one can convincingly argue that it ultimately had an impact on the 2012 presidential elections.
From the standpoint of the socialist left, one must ask: Which segments of society have a revolutionary interest in opposing capitalism? This question is not as easily answered as it may first appear. We are not asking which segments have an interest in profound structural reforms.
What does one mean by a “revolutionary interest”? Simply put, it means that the major challenges this sector faces cannot be successfully resolved within the framework of capitalism. It does not mean, however, that reforms and improvements under capitalism are impossible.
Looking at it in these terms, the workers’ movement, women’s movement, social movements of color, movements under the rubric of gender justice and the environmental movement each represent constituencies whose interests cannot be resolved by capitalism.
As you will notice, this referred to movements as opposed to straight demographics.19The reason is that within each demographic group there are segments whose interests can be “resolved” within the framework of capitalism. Marx, Engels, and Lenin each recognized that there were segments of the working class that had a material interest in supporting capitalism and imperialism, resulting ultimately in the notion of a labor aristocracy. This term must be understood politically rather than sociologically. Even some workers in the so-called labor aristocracy are exploited and produce surplus value, in the manner that Marx and Engels described theoretically. Yet, that exploitation did not necessarily result in promoting internationalism or a revolutionary spirit on the part of workers in this sector. There were other factors that intervened.
National Left Political OrganizationIn A World to Build: New Paths Toward Twenty-First-Century Socialism, the late theorist Marta Harnecker makes a strong and convincing argument for the need for leftist political organization.25 She speaks of a “political instrument,” by which she is speaking of a leftist organization or party. I will not repeat her arguments.
Tecumseh and his work are relevant here. What we can learn from Tecumseh, paralleling Harnecker’s arguments, is the need for a core to move the political project. The political project is much larger than the core and more diffuse. Our political project is ultimately the construction of a bloc (to be discussed later) that advances socialism as an alternative to a patriarchal, racist settler state at the heart of a global capitalist empire.
Prophetstown can be misunderstood as something akin to a utopian commune. It was more of a base area or liberated zone where new practices were introduced in the construction of an Indigenous identity, while at the same time laying the foundation for a major confrontation with the encroaching settler state—the United States. Prophetstown, then, despite the spirituality that surrounded “the Prophet,” was not a home to a closed-off millenarianism awaiting the end of the world. In some respects, one can argue that it existed to prove that it could exist; that another world, in the here and now, was possible.
A national leftist organization cannot be all things to all left wingers. Fundamentally, it must be revolutionary, Marxist, and democratic in its goals as well as practice. Its revolutionary politics need to be not only the politics of social transformation, but the politics of individual transformation. The creation of a new identity that can infuse the popular democratic bloc that needs to be created on the scale of millions of people. It does this in the material (ideological, political, economic) context of imperialism, so it cannot create “socialist relations” through force of will. And it must be a fighting organization—which is part of what a base area does: nurtures the will, ability, and security to fight.
The identity that the national leftist organization seeks for its members is that of comrade, and it seeks to build a counter-state—a “popular democracy”—to the patriarchal, settler capitalist state.
To build and operate as a core, one must review the historical experience of various left projects from the mid–nineteenth century forward. To a great extent, in both the Global North and South, left projects have tended to oscillate between, on the one hand, stage-driven reformism, and, on the other, voluntarism. In both cases, organized left projects have made assumptions about themselves and their own role in the greater process of social transformation. Rather than as a catalyst and educator, even reformist projects have tended to see themselves through a quasi-military lens, for example, as the “general staff.” While such a self-conception makes perfect sense in a military situation (like a civil war), in a non-war situation or in a moment after having won governing power or state power, such a view is laden with landmines.26
The national left organization or party is not the source of all wisdom. A source of education, training, coordination, organizing, and reflection—yes. The national left organization is not infallible. Its leadership of struggles and movements must be won and rewon, as the Communist Party of China demonstrated during their period of renovation in Yenan, and is actualized through self-criticism and rectification.
A national left organization must be rooted within the oppressed and dispossessed, particularly but not exclusively the working class. In the absence of such rooting, a national left organization exists as an advocacy group or support group for the struggles of the oppressed and dispossessed, rather than functioning as an integral component of such struggles. When people have historically utilized the term sectarian, it has meant not simply a factional attitude toward others, but equally an organizational existence lacking a mass base (regardless of intentions).
The project of the national left organization must be something far greater than building itself. This is where the U.S. left frequently stumbles. It tends to think too small about a task that necessitates a level of organization that cannot be counted in the dozens or even hundreds. But it, equally, cannot be a project that is undertaken by a loose assortment of activists.
The Popular Democratic BlocIn one sense, Tecumseh, Gramsci, and Mao similarly perceived the need for a broader configuration of forces capable of bringing about revolutionary change. They each had terminology to describe this configuration, and it related, ultimately, to the matter of collective identity.27
For Tecumseh, the Indigenous confederacy may have been a step toward a nation-state. What is clear, however, is that Prophetstown served as a model for what Tecumseh believed to be the necessary configuration and identity of a new Indigenous alignment.
Gramsci emphasized the need for a “national-popular bloc” as the necessary element in the transformation of Italy, with the Modern Prince playing a key role in materializing this bloc. The national-popular bloc refers to a strategic configuration of the key essential forces for whom there is an interest in revolutionary transformation. Noteworthy here is that Gramsci did not restrict the process of social transformation to the working class alone. Though the working class would be essential, Gramsci recognized the need for the Italian peasantry and, quite explicitly, the bridging of the north/south divide in Italy.
….The historical challenge for the left in the United States is the conducting of a revolutionary struggle in the context of a racial settler state, one which became a subcontinental geographic empire and, eventually, the hub of a global empire. The construction of the United States as a settler state involved the near extermination of the Indigenous nations; enslavement of Africans; the seizure of northern Mexico; the seizure of territories formerly controlled by Spain, such as Puerto Rico, Philippines, Guam; the racialization of certain immigrant populations from what we now know as the Global South; and the imposition of racist and national oppression successfully implemented through a system of white privilege.28
The social transformation of the United States, while certainly necessitating the vigorous prosecution of reform struggle, will demand both a reconfiguration of the United States itself, as well as the construction of a strategic bloc invested in social transformation.30 For the purposes of this essay, I refer to this as the popular democratic bloc, not a term I originated but one that accurately describes the alignment.
Tecumseh appreciated that the multiple tribes willing to sign onto his proposed confederacy had various—and often times contradictory—demands and objectives. They also had histories of lengthy hostility with other tribes/nations. The confederacy was a means and instrument toward addressing those contradictions as well as focusing the collective fury of the Indigenous nations on the encroaching settler state.
The popular democratic bloc to be constructed needs an identity, and it is the role of the national left organization to help construct that identity as a way of making the bloc self-aware. Ironically, by the estimates of noted right-wing commentator Bill O’Reilly several years ago, approximately three in ten people in the United States were open to an alternative to capitalism. Factoring out people under the age of 18, one may be discussing more than seventy million people. The problem is that most forces on the U.S. left do not think in those terms, but the reality is that seventy million is the initial pool for the building of a historic bloc.
Though the popular democratic bloc must think in majoritarian terms, it cannot assume that it is the majority. Put another way, the popular democratic bloc is a critical mass of the population that ultimately moves in favor of social transformation. It must win over or significantly influence more center and middle forces to defeat the right. But waiting for any majority to materialize in opinion polls will be an eternal challenge.
In the U.S. War of Independence, for instance, the colonial population—contrary to myth—broke down roughly one-third in favor of independence, one-third opposed, and one-third in the middle. Thus, the key task ended up being the influencing of the middle through the construction of a strong and energized pro-independence constituency.
Contemporary leftist politics necessitates a similar outlook. The securing of a popular democratic bloc, however, is not a numerical or even demographic task—in the main—but rather a coalescing of social movements that see in the materialization of the popular democratic bloc the means to achieve success for their respective social movements. Additionally, the bloc must have the “face” and “spirit” of these social movements at its core, rather than treating these social movements as guests on a high-speed train over which they have no control.
The popular democratic bloc begins to materialize in the context of actual struggles and a growing awareness of the mutual necessity of various social movements. This is not something that one can expect will happen on its own. This cannot be overemphasized. The sense that many people on the U.S. left have of the 1930s as a relatively progressive decade was not, mainly, about the reforms introduced, but rather about the social movements that converged and saw a level of commonality in their struggles, thus forcing elements of the ruling class to undertake reforms.
It is the task of the national left organization to help unite the struggles and social movements through a combination of education, coordination, and joint action. Expecting that the popular democratic bloc will emerge on its own, become self-aware, and achieve strategic direction is delusional. There is no historic basis for believing such a thing can or will happen. One can see examples of this challenge in the Black Lives Matter movement, which reemerged in the aftermath of the murder of Minnesota resident George Floyd by the police. The protests and rebellions proved to be multiracial and global, but they also inspired other racialized populations in the United States to articulate their own struggles against racism, national oppression, and repression. The Black Lives Matter struggle became not only a struggle of U.S. African Americans, but also a catalyst for a broader movement.31 What has been missing are organizational forms that materialize this broader unity, and organizational forms that practice a type of revolutionary, emancipatory politics that helps bring such a unity into existence.
It then becomes the task of the “Modern Tecumseh”—the national left organization—to lead in the building of this popular democratic bloc. To borrow from Gramsci’s commentary on Machiavelli, the Modern Tecumseh is not and cannot be a person. It must be an organization that is driven by the recognition that winning—defeating capitalism and all forms of oppression—necessitates the building of the popular democratic bloc. Thus, diplomacy, education, coordination, joint action, and so on, initiated or joined by the national left organization with the purpose of creating a self-aware and massive force that advances the process of social transformation, are key.
…Returning to Matters of StrategyThe principal contradiction we face in the United States is between the forces of the “New Confederacy” and the forces of democracy. To be clear, the forces of the oppressed have two main enemies: neoliberal authoritarianism and the New Confederacy. The New Confederacy or Neo-Confederacy refers to an alliance between ultraconservative corporate capitalists and a right-wing populist mass movement (a core of neofascists can be found within the latter). Their efforts include rolling back the victories of the twentieth century and establishing a twenty-first century version of the Confederate States of America or a neo-apartheid scenario. Neoliberal authoritarians seek a preemptive strike against the popular movements that they anticipate will grow in strength in response to the crisis of converging economic and environmental catastrophe.
The neo-Confederate wing of capital represents the most immediate threat.37
Framing the principal contradiction in this way indicates that, regardless of the powerful rhetoric about “socialism versus barbarism,” in the United States we are not at the point of an immediate fight for socialism. This is largely due to a combination of a fragmented working class (and popular movements), a weak and divided left (operating within the context of the continuing crisis of socialism), and the horrific threat of right-wing authoritarianism that, though a global phenomenon, in the case of the United States is the result of the defeat of key social movements in the early-to-mid 1970s, and a counterrevolutionary thrust of racist and patriarchal forces aligned with key segments of capital.
It is important to remember that the principal contradiction does not mean the only contradiction. It reflects the strategic contradiction that will most influence all other contradictions at a specific conjuncture. As noted earlier, it acts on and is always acted on by other contradictions. There is, therefore, no linear resolution to a principal contradiction.
A second feature of our situation is that the left generally, and the socialist left in particular, is on the strategic defensive. Drawing from Mao, this means that our opponents—capital and their political forces—have been on the move against the popular movements and the reform victories of the twentieth century since the 1970s. The political right has been eating away at the various gains that popular movements have won. In response, the victories that the “people” have won in the last forty years have been largely tactical and sometimes primarily symbolic. They have not yet seriously interrupted the offensive of the right.
Being on the strategic defensive, however, is not the equivalent of being routed, even though our movements were largely defeated in the 1970s. It means that the momentum has mainly been in the hands of the right. And, with the growth of neoliberalism, a rogue’s gallery assumed form, bringing together elements of the political right in an objective united front against the progressive movements.
Tactical victories have been won while we have been on the strategic defensive, including around LGBTQIA rights, and some immigrant rights, but none of this has seized the initiative away from the right. At least not yet.
In a situation of strategic defense, priority must be given to understanding and undermining the strategy of our opponents. Undermine the strategy of one’s opponent and one has undermined one’s opponent.
This is where matters become especially complicated since the political right is not one monolithic monster. The forces that formed the core of what became the New Right were ultraconservative (and in some cases crypto-fascists), with either secular or religious ambitions, that have sought to overturn the major progressive victories of the twentieth century. There has been a specific focus on overturning the victories of oppressed nationalities, racialized populations, and women, in addition to undermining the public sector and labor.
These reactionary movements arose prior to the full materialization of neoliberalism, but coalesced with the pro-neoliberal forces in the Republican Party. This coalescing came to be personified by the presidency of Ronald Reagan. The Democratic Party establishment increasingly embraced neoliberal economics, but demographically diversified because of the impact of the progressive social movements of the 1960s and ’70s on the Democratic Party itself.38
…Beginning during the period of the Barack Obama administration, ultraconservative capitalists have been quite successful in mobilizing a mass right-wing populist movement to advance neoliberalism. The presidency of Donald Trump demonstrated this. Despite his rhetoric, which frequently tried to center (white) “working people,” his initiatives advanced both the neoliberal agenda as well as his own objectives. Tying all of this to a racist, xenophobic program, he solidified a mass base, the core of which is approximately 25 percent of the electorate; a program which one might describe as the reaffirmation of the “white republic” or, as earlier stated, a campaign for a neo-apartheid state in the United States.
The destruction of the right-wing populist movement, and the New Confederacy, necessitates a combination of driving a wedge between that movement’s base and the ultraconservative capitalists, building a left populist current that is antiracist and antisexist rooted among working people with a particular focus on the achievement of a so-called Green New Deal.
An assessment of the right-wing populist base must distinguish between those who are confused and vacillating versus those who fully embrace the right-wing populist framework. To win over a segment of this base, genuine organizing must take place among this portion of the population, including but not limited to rural areas, as well as within segments of the working class. This, for instance, makes union organizing in the South and the Southwest of immense importance as a means of building “base areas” for progressive politics. That said, the approach toward union organizing must itself be transformed such that not only are the strategies novel, but so too must be the vision. This is what Fernando Gapasin and I were addressing in our book, Solidarity Divided.40
The great and immediate priority, however, is for the socialist left to cohere organizationally (building a national left organization) and to focus our attention on a counter-project. Specifically, we need to build a popular democratic bloc that is majoritarian in orientation, antiracist and antisexist in program and practice, and most immediately fights in favor of a progressive, democratic foreign policy, breaking with imperial privilege, and focuses on advancing the fight for the Third Reconstruction with a particular emphasis on winning a Green New Deal. Such a movement can reject both the neo-Confederacy as well as the neoliberal approach taken by the leaderships of both major parties.
Disrupting the strategy of our opponents necessitates tactical innovation and creativity. This includes, in the immediate, anti-voter suppression work, particularly in the South and Southwest; battles for Indigenous sovereignty; union organizing and labor struggles that challenge income, wealth inequality, and authoritarian workplaces; land occupation and anti-eviction struggles; challenges to police abuse and other forms of repression; and electoral campaigns in low turnout conservative districts. These constitute a variety of means to disrupt the other side. In essence, the progressive forces serve to become the unpredictable irritant.
To begin to shift the balance of forces, the progressive—left populist—movement must focus on an achievable objective: “governing power” in municipalities, counties, and eventually states. “Governing power” references winning progressive power within the context of so-called democratic capitalism rather than “state power,” the latter referencing the period of being the dominant force in moving postcapitalist, fundamental social transformation. To put it more directly, the fight for governing power is what we do now, as part of our effort to build the Third Reconstruction and defeat the New Confederacy. This does not assume the immediate end to capitalism. The fight for “state power,” however, is the longer-term fight to advance full social transformation away from capitalism under the leadership of the oppressed, including but not limited to the working class.
New Majority, a term that began to appear in the early 2000s and came to be associated with projects in Virginia and Florida, or Twenty-First-Century Majority, are good frames and identities for the left populist—structural reform—movement that needs to be constructed. The New Majority must be the mass base of the Third Reconstruction. This term expresses the reality of something different coming into being—particularly the rise of various social forces and movements—and the refusal to be seen as a minority or adjunct social force. The New Majority must push the limits of democratic capitalism under the banner of the fight for consistent democracy. New Majority, a term primarily used in different forms in the context of electoral efforts, can be applied to other social movements and be the identity or standard under which progressive social movements converge.
The New Majority (or left/progressive bloc) needs to win power in cities and counties but cannot afford to be limited to an urban movement. Therefore, eyeing political power at the state level becomes critical. A successful Republican ploy to undermine liberals and progressives in major urban centers has been “state preemption,” that is, limiting the ability of localities to undertake statutory reforms in the absence of the approval of state legislatures. Thus, a strategy to win must engage urban, suburban, and rural populations in the constitution of the New Majority.
Potential ImplicationsThe national left organization must be seen as the instrument that seeks to bring together the popular democratic bloc, to build a collective leadership of this bloc, and an organization that seeks to be among the leaders of this bloc. This last phrasing is critically important. The national left organization should not see itself as the sole instrument for the achievement of social transformation. The national left organization may take the form of a party for socialism or a revolutionary front, but it must assume that any leadership that it gains is earned through the struggle and the respect that the organization gains and not through self-aggrandizement or administrative methods.
The national left organization is the “Modern Tecumseh” precisely because of its strategic vision, diplomatic skill, antisectarianism, ability to forge a broad front or bloc, programmatic wisdom, and scope of work.
Finally, the national left organization must be multitendencied, in that there are many questions that simply cannot be resolved at present. Those questions that are necessary to forge a strategy covering this period must be bottom lines. Put in a different way, what are the questions or issues around which there must be unity in order for a national left organization or party to be effective? There are many issues that can certainly divide us. There are issues that may not be resolvable in the near future. The unity of the socialist left necessitates clarification as to what must unite us. There are myriad historical questions that may be of interest but cannot be resolved at this point and, truth be told, are simply not essential to unite around in order to advance the work—in the shorter term—of the socialist left.
By Way of ConclusionTecumseh was killed at the Battle of the Thames in 1813. His dream of an Indigenous confederacy largely died with him. Yet his appreciation of the moment and the possibilities for transformation lived on and should give us all pause. The skillful crafting of organization and the building of the Indigenous confederacy held unbelievable potential that could have fundamentally shifted the subsequent history of the United States.
The question of timing is the matter that I have always found to be the most haunting. At what point is it too late to shift the balance of forces? Is there ever a point where one concludes that victory has eluded us? And, if so, then what? Or is it that there are opportunities during specific “strategic moments” that are largely unpredictable and unprecedented, not replicable in other periods?
As far as Tecumseh was concerned, the situation was all or nothing. Given the convergence of the economic and environmental crises, such a formulation nearly sums up our situation as we proceed further into the twenty-first century. Either the socialist left can reverse a strategic defensive into a strategic counteroffensive, ultimately laying the foundations for the advancement toward socialism, or the masses of the laboring classes are condemned to be crushed by the juggernaut of capital and the barbarism inherent in right-wing populism and neofascism.
There does not appear to be any middle ground.
I wish to thank Tom Goodkind and Joel Haycock for their feedback and editing; and Howard Waitzkin for his editing assistance. I take sole responsibility for the content of this essay.
Notes ( Additional notes in the original.)1.↩A story within a story; using a story to make a separate point.
2.↩Antonio Gramsci,Selections from the Prison Notebooks, ed. and trans. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971).
3.↩Gramsci,Selections from the Prison Notebooks, 123–205.
4.↩Constitutionally democratic capitalismrefers to a form the state can take under capitalism when there are democratic rules in place, but the system operates to enforce capitalism. In speaking aboutdemocratic capitalism, I am distinguishing a system from that of autarchy, dictatorship, fascism, and so on.
5.↩Throughout this essay, I use the termIndigenousconsistently, rather thanNative American,American Indian, and so forth. Although most Indigenous peoples, like many other groups, refer more readily to their own social groupings such as clans and tribes,Indigenoushas emerged as a useful general term that contains less adverse symbolism than other terms. Other terms are used (and I have as well in other places), respectfully, in referencing the Indigenous in the Americas. No criticism of other terms is implicit in my usage ofIndigenous.
About Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Bill Fletcher Jr. is a longtime socialist, trade unionist, and internationalist. He is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, an editorial board member of the Black Commentator, and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum. He is the author of several books including Solidarity Divided (coauthored with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) and “They’re Bankrupting Us!”—And Twenty Other Myths About Unions.
Posted with the permission of the author.
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