Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Defeating Tribalism

Published: March 6, 2009, Author: JayTaber

One of the constants in national security circles is discussion on how to defeat tribalism, the assumption being that it is morally inferior to capitalism.

But tribalism cannot be defeated morally. As political entities of governance, tribal nations are founded on conservation, cooperation, and reciprocity. Modern states, on the other hand, were created by capitalists to steal the wealth of these nations.

Another progressive assumption is that tribalism is more conducive to violent crime. This has a lot to do with viewing state violence as exempt from moral criteria.

Criminal networks arising out of tribal societies, much like criminal networks arising from modern states and markets, can be defeated. Positing tribalism itself — a system that provides a place for everything and everyone — as something to be defeated, however, is by definition an immoral endeavor.

In order to ground this discussion in reality, imagine someone speaking to the National Congress of American Indians or the Assembly of First Nations (Canada) when they say tribalism must be defeated. The tribes would understandably take that proposition to be a fascist initiative.

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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