At this point in the Christian calendar one is supposed to make sage observations about what is likely to occur in the twelve months ahead. This is, of course, the usual practice. I thought about this practice and then began to consider what ought to happen in the next twelve months…as a result of actions by Fourth World nations.
I have for years believed that nations must reclaim their place among other human beings as mature and instructive contributors to the global dialog on matters concerning the health and future of humanity. For too long at least one third of the world’s 6 billion plus people have been sitting on the sidelines licking wounds caused by more than five hundred years of increasingly accelerated globalization… sometimes called the “era of colonization.” Some observers claim the so called “dominant” society should open itself to active participation of the “poorest of the poor.” Other’s argue that those who sit on the sidelines should simply take the lead of the “dominant” society and resolve to become thus improved. Neither of these views rises above bigotry as a way of thinking. The problem is, many Fourth World peoples accept the bigoted comments as the necessary condition of life when they should be acting on their own to influence changes.
I have in the last several years written about the consequences of Fourth World nations accepting their second or third class status. I have noted that such a self-defeating point of view harms both the nation accepting the low status and the peoples claim the senior status. The fact remains that no nation is greater or lesser than any other. All are equally human and have the capacity to live and function as fully mature beings. Despite this fact…many nations ask for respect rather than taking independent action that commands respect.
The Tamil in southern India and northern Sri Lanka have reclaimed their status as mature human beings. Their methods are extremely violent and from my point of view unacceptable. Yet, given the circumstances of competing claims over the land by Tamil and their neighbors, becoming or acting civily does not seem to be in the cards for another year.
On December 15, 2008 at five o’clock in the morning more than 200 Israeli police and green patrol descended upon the Bedouin encampment of Abdallah al-Atrash, in the area of Rahat. Over the following 6 hours, they proceeded to demolish the entire village and forcibly expel all 20 families living there. Not a single structure was left standing, and all men, women, and children were pushed off their land. The Bedouin peoples in Israel have been under tremendous duress for years. In 2009, conditions will not improve substantially. The struggle between the state of Israel and the Bedouins will continue.
The Kurds of Northern Iraq have since the early 1990’s when the US government imposed “no fly zones” over Sadam Husein’s country remained a nearly independent nation. Despite their achievement politically, the Kurds remain threatened by the fact that their cousins in Turkey, Syria and Iran remain under tremendous political and military threat. Like the peoples’ of Somaliland north of Somalia (the defunct state in eastern Africa) who live as an essentially independent nation, the Kurds are aware of their tenous political hold on independence. Yet, in 2009, both Kurdistan and Somaliland will remain independent nations though not recognized by the international state system.
The peoples of Palestine (West Bank, Lebanon and Gaza) will remain the focus of intense struggle for another 12 months largely due to internal conflicts and the constant paranoia of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. All of these four states will fear the Palestinians as the Iranian’s continue to insinuate their policies through military and political aid to Hamas and Hezbula.
The war in eastern Congo will rage even more than it has with Tutsi, Hutu and Ugandan warriors continuing proxy battles benefiting mineral, gold and other resource interests. The battles in the Niger Delta will continue with Ijaw leading the battle against the Nigerian government’s strangle hold over oil production and the oil companies that pollute and destroy all that is alive and healthy among the Igaw, Igbo, Ogone and Igbibo.
In Mexico more indigenous nations will be caught up in the drug wars of that slowly disintegrating state. The Mexican government has little actual control over most of the state while drug gangs continue to carve up the territory and drag Fourth World nations into their spheres of influence. The transformation of Mexico into a narco state remains one of the sadest chapters in the drug wars largely caused by undeminished demand for drugs in the United States–mostly the suburbs and wealthy neighborhoods that can afford the increasingly expensive powders, crystals and leafy greens.
In the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Namibia, and China Fourth World nations will ramain mezmerized by the claims of superior government and money offered by the state. In only a few very limited circumstances will it become possible for Fourth World nations to break out and begin to set their own agenda. While opportunities will exist to increase political power, most nations will bow to the seductions of democracy or the appearance of democracy.
It is possible that Fourth World nations will open new channels of communications with states’ governments changing the dynamics in the negotiation of a new treaty on climate change. This hopeful possibility depends on five willing states’ governments and five will nations’ governments forming a working framework for dialog that can help shape the final negotiations of a treaty under the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change in Cophenagen.
All of this seems to suggest that not much will change. Indeed, I think despite all the talk about change, one must be very cautious while conceiving of one’s own future. Fourth World nations have a long way to go before they can sit at the table of humanity. As it is often said, “If you aren’t seated at the table, you are probably on the menu.” For too long Fourth World nations have been on the menu. In 2009 it appears that only small steps will be made to the table–perhaps in Copehangen.
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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.access here