Moving Beyond Marx: Some introductory resources and actions on decolonization

Intention

This document was created to serve as an introduction to the ideas of colonization and provide a glimpse into what decolonization means.  In particular, it is useful in broadening our thinking about classism beyond Marxism to also include indigenous people and their struggles.  It’s not exhaustive.  Please (please!) share your thoughts, questions and suggestions!

A little by way of background

Generally, in social justice circles, I hear Marx’s ideas as one of the primary and fundamental ways of understanding class-based oppression.  To put it simply: classism exists because certain people take advantage of others by exploiting their labor.  That profit is only possible when labor is under- or not paid.

However, this perspective continues to invisiblize native struggles: it ignores how nature and land get turned into natural resources and commodities to be traded.  These are huge parts of how profit gets generated within capitalism!  Furthermore, the violent transition from nature to natural resource isn’t a quick and easy shift, but rather often requires dispossessing native people, severing connections with land that have (in many cases) existed for several thousand years, and constructing histories that do not include these struggles.  For example, in thinking about any natural resource, is it part of our consciousness to include just where it comes from?  Where did the tree live that became a piece of paper?

For work around undoing classism to be successful – to move to a more just, equitable society – we must not only think about how people are turned into workers to be exploited, but also how trees must be turned into natural resources to be exploited and how natives must be erased to control land.  What follows are a few entry points into further understanding about these dynamics.


First steps

1) Learn about which people lived where you do before you did.  What are they called now?  What name(s) do/did they have for themselves?  What were their crafts, social structure, homes, types of food?  Are there any descendants still around your area?

2) Check out: Decolonize Myself & Shit people say to natives for some young people thinking about liberation

3) What thoughts, feelings, sensations do you have about living on land your people aren’t from (i.e. being a settler)?


Sensitizing readings & media

sen·si·tize: to make (someone) more aware of something


Indigenous media/information projects


Indigenous groups to get involved with or “follow”


UPDATE: A Google doc with more resources

Here is the link.

Collaboration, Coalition, Networks: What’s the difference?

I’m sure you’ve heard of these three words, but what do they mean if they’re used interchangeably? Read on to learn the key differences between collaborations, coalitions, and networks.

At its most basic, collaboration just means working together. In non-profit lingo, collaborations generally include things like information sharing, program coordination, and joint planning (source 1). Two or more organizations get together and have a limited interaction, achieve a mutually beneficial goal like jointly planning an event or learning from each other. Key characteristics of collaborations:

  • a few organizations
  • limited in time
  • not necessarily formalized in any way
  • may be around a shared, specified goal

Can you think of any collaborations you’ve recently been part of or heard of?

Usually formed for a specific, common goal, a coalition involves a group of organizations that get together, share responsibilities, and may disband after achieving their goal. Coalitions exist to bring broader attention and action to a large goal that affects many stakeholders. For example, if a coalition formed to pass or prevent legislation, it would have more leverage than an individual organization, because it can reach more people, access greater resources, and bring different perspectives to the strategy. Often, coalitions are short-lived and end after successfully accomplishing its goal. Key characteristics of coalitions and alliances:

  • multiple organizations
  • usually limited in time
  • usually have a specific goal
  • varying levels of formalization
  • may have a specified convener or facilitator

What goal, larger than your organization’s mission statement, would be best achieved by a coalition?

A network is a set of organizations with diverse relationships, strengths of relationships and trust between them. One way to think about it is like an ecosystem – there are different types of actors, but they work together – some more closely than others. Collaborations and coalitions happen within larger networks. As June Holley writes, in her Network Weaver Handbook: “networks are different than organizations: there is no boss who can fire members if they don’t do their job, there are no weekly staff meetings to ensure that communication and learning are taking place, and there are no teams or departments to organize the work and distribute funds.” Key network characteristics:

  • multiple organizations,
  • no necessary convener,
  • evolve over time and persist beyond goal,
  • not necessarily formal or intentional, but can be,
  • may exist for specific goal, or for broader support function

Armed with the knowledge of the differences between collaborations, coalitions, and networks, what is a good next step for your organization to strengthen its relationships? Will you choose a time-bound partnership, facilitate a group toward a common goal, or get to meeting and greeting new peers?

List of sources used: 1. La Piana Consulting, The Partnership Matrix 2. June Holley, Network Weaver Handbook