[Trelane] “You must excuse my whimsical way of fetching you here, but when I saw you passing by I simply could not resist!” [Rabbit] As we’re all aware Working within the algorithm can require a bit of misdirection, but my title isn’t strictly a lie either. Ideas don’t come from singular geniuses. They come from groups of people deciding that something has merit. Which means ideas as big as Marxism, or Communism, or Anarchy didn’t just miraculously appear. They were inspired by and perpetuated by groups. The thing is… All too often Credit is being given for that work, which was far from original, and in it happening very specific groups are being left out of the story entirely. I aim, in my own small way, to attempt to correct that. Please join me on my journey. Lewis Henry Morgan was a fanboi. Really, he was *the* fanboi. He was such a fanboi, he created his own Members Only Club so that other people who fanboyed as hard as he did, could dress up as their favorite characters and periodically march down the street chanting in a made-up language. Morgan *loved* cosplay. He wrote books about the characters he liked the most, he and his friends would get together regularly in meet-space… It was the whole cliche. These days none of it sounds particularly remarkable, but it stands out a little more when I say: Lewis was a fanboi, in 1841. And the club that he was a part of was ‘The Order of the Iroquois’. A backstory… The first one. Brace yourself, this parts completely silly in the way only a true fandom club can be.
[rockabilly music starts] Morgan’s grandfather, Thomas, had originally purchased land from the Cayuga Tribe, one of the members of the Iroquois Confederacy (which is where Lewis got the name for his club). Granddad then built a school, he rather uncreatively named Cayuga Academy, which Lewis and his father Jedediah both attended for free. Jedediah invented a plough that worked better in the local soil, and grandpa helped finance a foundry to make parts. The plough business was so successful they eventually built a factory, and dad moved to the city to become a businessman, and joined the local Masonic Lodge in Aurora New York. Louis then used dad’s money to attend University, and the lodge gave Lewis’s dad the business connections to hook Lewis up with a local law firm. When he graduated, Lewis tried to find work as a lawyer, but the economy was in a slump so he used his allowance to do things like create “the Knickerbocker”. Which was basically a newspaper where he and his University friends could publish their short stories. [snickers] They eventually formed a secret society called “The Gordian knot”, which met on the second floor of his dad’s Masonic Lodge. The club was boys only, and it was mostly about reading poetry in Latin and Greek. So, they didn’t get a lot of new members. After a year that gave up, “cut-the-knot”, and reformed as the “Order of the Iroquois”. Natives were becoming fashionable for the literary set because of frontier fiction authors like James Fenimore Cooper. Their membership went up, so they renamed accordingly as “The Grand Order of the Iroquois”. With enough people, They settled on a series of initiation rites, (because they were meeting in a Masonic Lodge, and they were a secret society so *of course* they needed initiation rites) and renamed a final time as “The New Confederacy of the Iroquois”. [music ends] Morgan so enjoyed the initiation part, He even called it “indianation”, which he pretentiously described as, “the process where a new member transformed themselves into the very spirit of the Iroquois!” I told you it was a fandom trope. It’s kind of exactly like a bunch of bored white guys dressing up like samurai, Calling themselves “The New Shogunate”, and holding meetings once a month at the Waffle House down the street. Back to our story: Now, picture this, a fanboy… browsing through some fanfic at a comic-con, and while he’s standing there an actual real-life Klingon walks up and asks him where the bathroom is. Or an otaku, about to buy the latest issue of his absolute favorite manga, and Goku asks him where the “Yuri on Ice” coloring books are. It should come as no surprise then, that the heart of the *founder* of the Order of the Iroquois, would sing with delight if he ever got the chance to share his meet-space with the object of his obsession. Exactly this happened to Morgan when, while shopping in a bookstore in the 1840s, he accidentally ran into Eli Parker. See Eli Parker was an actual Iroquois, and he was a member of the Seneca Tribe. By the time he met Morgan, Parker’s dad was already a famous Seneca orator and diplomat, and Eli had begun studying US law at a New York law firm. Back story number two: [light hip-hop music starts] Unlike Morgan, Parker did not come from rich parents or go into law because he was bored. He put himself through school, after starting his working life as a stable cleaner. Although he studied law for the standard three years, he was doing it to help his tribe negotiate treaties in US courts. He would never actually be officially admitted to the Bar, because Natives wouldn’t be legal citizens for another 75 years. Despite that fact, Parker demonstrated his abilities so well, he was eventually appointed as primary secretary to General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War, ultimately rose to the rank of brevet Brigadier General, and was the author of the surrender of Appomattox. After Grant was elected president Parker was appointed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. You’ll note though photos from the period place Parker front and center, images which were in the popular press, Do their best to make him look like a waiter who accidentally walked into the shot. To continue: Now remember, Morgan had done all of that “Grand Fiddle Fart of the Most Majestic Made-up Tribe” stuff *before* he and Parker ever met. What this meant was Parker was fluent in English and Seneca, and was therefore a perfect access point for Morgan to fanboi full-time. To fanboi professionally, as it were. Which he absolutely did. By the time Morgan died, in 1881, he’d published half a dozen texts on… The kinship system of the Iroquois… The architecture of the Iroquois… The ceremonies of the Iroquois… For all that Morgan has been given such illustrious titles as: “The Father of Kinship Studies”, and “The Father of American Anthropology”. His work was so often quoted They started using US native tribes to name various kinship systems. A method which only died out in the last few decades. His work was so pervasive, *I* can remember seeing his book: “Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family” on an undergrad recommended reading list, even though it was published in 1871. Worst of all, he did what Edward Burnett Tylor had done back in England, and decided Darwin’s writings on species *evolution* was a synonym for species *improvement*. If species improve over time, so the argument goes, societies must improve over time, too. They both combined that with the Industrial Revolution and created the Comprehensive Social Evolution Model. It’s also called Unilineal Evolution Theory, outlined by Morgan in his seminal text: “Ancient Society: or, Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization” Published in 1877. Pay special attention to that sequence: savagery to barbarism to civilization, it’ll come up again. Their argument goes like this: Humans go from trying to stab each other randomly with sticks, to organizing a specific group of people who stab each other with sticks. to inventing guns and taking over the people who still fight with sticks. Find a society anywhere in the world and you can figure out which part of the Universal Timeline of Progress they’re on by how they’re organized, and whether they’d make a good setting for your steampunk short story. At one stroke Tyler and Morgan had created two racist tropes that would influence countless European writers from Jung to Byron, and Kipling to Tolkien: First, the myth of the Noble Savage who doesn’t understand property. [wood flute music begins] Whose freedom from the constraints of civilized society make him both childlike, but also more in touch with his natural surroundings. And second: The myth of the bucolic and peaceful prehistory, which you can study if you find the right primitive group of people. This was perpetuated by groups like the Romantics back in Europe who were writing fiction that… pretended to be critical of the aristocracy and technology. While lounging in expensive houses. Authors like: Voltaire, or Diderot, or John Keats, loved the idea of what became known as, “Before the Fall” narratives. So much so there’s a word for it in literary studies: “prelapsarian”. They actually had to invent a word for the trope it’s so popular. In fact Diderot was so in love with the idea that brown Natives worked as a stand-in for the Garden of Eden, he wrote an entire book questioning the French Enlightenment by comparing it to Tahiti, based on some notes from an explorer named Bougainville who’d published in 1771. Since Bougainville had called his book “Voyages of Bougainville”, Diderot called his “Supplement to the Voyages of Bougainville”. Very clever… But Bougainville, like Diderot, was French. Unsurprisingly British poets like Coleridge preferred referencing British explorers. So men like George Shelvocke or Philibert Commerson. Um, can I just mention, I didn’t add that earring? It’s in the original portrait. I just made it a little more colorful. This guy was a pirate, he he just happened to be getting paid by the British government. I just want to mention that. And, of course, a huge inspiration for these narratives was the inimitable Captain James Backstory number three: In itself using Cook as a source is at least a little funny. He may have cut a commanding figure setting off, but Cook was ultimately killed by the supposed “primitive Hawaiians” who had previously aided him. This is probably because he and his men shot at them, and caused a riot after the Hawaiians decided resupplying Cook for a third time was too many times. To this day the only actual town celebrating Captain Cook is on Big Island, which isn’t where he first landed. That’s at the other end of the island chain. No, the town Captain Cook is where he was killed. I say it’s funny because frankly it’s a really useful visual even now for understanding both the disconnect between the two massively different narratives, but specifically the reaction that most Indigenous populations had for the appropriation of their cultures as nothing more than fashion accessories to advance some Europeans career. A whole town, named for the day they killed an explorer, for trying to use them to his own ends by a group of people then remembered by other Europeans as naive innocence who didn’t understand that they were being taken advantage of. [flute music ends] Okie-dokie before moving away from the so called explorer stories completely, there are also the writings of William Penn to consider. He was not an explorer necessarily, he somewhat accidentally became the governor of one of the original British colonies on the northern continent of the Americas. Handily, it’s not hard to figure out which one because it was named, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania was founded on lands in part claimed by the Lenni Lenape tribe (also known as the Delaware). But, unlike a lot of other governors, Penn was a member of the Society of Friends, more commonly called Quakers. And his religion was founded on ideas of human equality, and shared grace through the Holy Spirit. So unlike the Puritans to the north, or the plantation owners to the South, he wanted a committed relationship with the tribe. As such he negotiated a treaty with several local chiefs. Which was recorded by the tribe in the form of wampum belts A little explanation: wampum belts are beaded belts which serve as legal documents to tribes throughout the region and were often created to commemorate specific agreements or regulations. If you notice here: There’s a portrait of the historic meeting of Penn and the Chiefs at the Shackamaxon Elm. That tree appears in dozens of representations of the event, including Benjamin West on the left and N. Courrier on the right. It’s considered so historic that when the tree died in the 1800s a monument was erected where it had been, and now there’s even a city park. Specific details to notice here on the wampum belt are the two blue diagonal lines at the edge indicate the borders of the treaty document. which means that third oddly spaced and broken line in the middle that’s the tree. It’s also worth noticing that in both portraits the Quakers are wearing the traditional black “Big Frigging Hat”. This feature did not go unnoticed by the makers of the wampum belt either. Anyway, the Quakers had as an article of faith a practice of refusing to swear oaths to God in court, they felt it was a form of taking the Lord’s name in vain. They also didn’t technically recognize titles. They would recognize that someone was respected within their community, but they did not personally bow before kings. So Penn very intentionally negotiated with several chiefs rather than just one. An act that the Natives took as a sign of respect of their diversity. So, for all involved, the handshake, and the record of the handshake, *was* the binding document. but a wampum belt isn’t a contract in *British* courts. This is where poet and satirist Voltaire comes in. Backstory number five: [classical music begins] Voltaire *hated* the Roman Catholic Church and most members of the aristocracy who didn’t buy his books or pay his bar bills. So he celebrated the Society of Friends, not out of respect necessarily but as a towering monument to how the aristocracy and the church were useless. Specifically, in “The Religion of the Quakers” he described the Shackamaxon Treaty as: [bad French accent] “…This is the only treaty between those people and the Christians that was not ratified by an oath, and that was never infringed”. [normal accent returns] At other places, he applauds the Quakers for looking non-threatening, So the natives stay and talk, [worse French accent] ” instead of flying off into the woods”. He emphasizes how wonderful it was that they “flocked in crowds to see Penn to offer themselves as his vassals”. [normal accent, finally] This is noteworthy for several reasons. The first: Voltaire conveniently leaves out the part where, in nearly every other colony, they’d experienced several violent battles with local Natives and come off the worse for it. The Wopping War, The Peach Tree War, and The Pequot War… They had all ended less than twenty years before. And the Anglo-Powatan Wars ended with Charles II having to concede to the Natives. The French & Iroquois Wars were still going and wouldn’t even be over for another 30 years. Where he got, “Flying off into zee woods”, is anyone’s guess. But more to the point, secondly, Voltaire also forgot to mention that he couldn’t possibly have seen “Vast crowds of Natives offerings themselves” because he hadn’t been born yet. But nevermind, he said it was “never sworn”, So that’s how it’s been remembered right through to now, with his romantic notion of ‘Taming the Savages’ dragged right along behind. Returning to Penn though, knowing the wars, the violence, the sometimes outright hatred, that existed between the Europeans and the Natives, Penn chose instead to live with the Lenape and learn their language to demonstrate trust. Far from Voltaire’s absurd ideas about appearing benevolent, Penn respectfully engaged with the tribe and their government. He even wrote several documents about the organization of their society and how complicated and regimented the process of engaging with their elders counsel could be. One letter is important here. It’s dated the 28th of July 1683. It’s a letter to his friend Robert Spencer who was in France from 1640 to 1702 who also happened to be the Earl of Sunderland in England [letter read in an absolutely terrible vaguely British accent] [Normal accent returns, thankfully] By the way, I don’t mean to suggest that Penn was flawless, he was a terrible Anthropologist by today’s standards, and he thought the reason that Natives existed was they were a Lost Tribe of Israel mentioned in the Old Testament. He was, however, a fair humanitarian who took the Lenape and other indigenous populations on their own terms, rather than manipulating them into a handy shorthand for ignorant and childlike proto-humans. Tellingly, he doesn’t say they have *no* government, he specifically says it’s “obscure”, the very opposite of the fantasy easily interpreted and primitive that other Europeans would claim in order to flatter themselves. Which means, by the time he was writing, (only barely a century after Europeans figured out there was a continent full of people nearby) the “Noble Savage” image of Natives was already floating around in Europe for Penn to be pushing up against. Pacific Islanders, and the northern North American tribes, were pretty famous, but as I say, famous as much as a proxy for quasi-nostalgic poetic license back in Europe, as famous for who they really were. Why should anyone care about William Penn… Voltaire… Coleridge… Diderot… or Morgan? Well besides their possibly helping out a pub quiz, seemingly, not much. Except when it comes to the *friends* of all those people. Even though Lewis Henry Morgan put Eli Parker in the credit for his first text “League of the HoDeNoSauNee or Iroquois”, in 1851, it didn’t really help, because there was no co-author credit and he never really credited Parker again. However, Morgan got a co-author credit when someone else wrote a book about him. Specifically, Frederick Engels gave him part of the title in his magnum opus: “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” was subtitled “in the light of the researches of Lewis Henry Morgan”. In fact Engels gave over whole sections to praise how important and/or brilliant Morgan was in Chapter one In Chapter One, “Prehistoric Stages of Culture”, He says: Reading in a disturbingly bad attempt at a German accent] In this passage “gens” was the original word for kinship. Meaning Engles is arguing groups who trace their kinship relative to women are *less* civilized than groups who trace their kinship from men. Considering Engels is arguing as “more advanced”, a Europe which had instituted Divine Rule and intercontinental chattel slave trade, I’ll take my matriarchy if it’s all the same Fred. Bue he wasn’t done there. Because, of course, that isn’t Engels’ most famous work. Arguably that title goes to his team up with Karl Marx for the “Communist Manifesto” from 1848. Remember when I said Morgan had already founded a fanboy fraternity and met a real-life native by then? He’d also started putting out notes and summaries of his research. So much so, a collection of note books written by Engels in the 1840s, were already mentioning this new information coming out of the Americas. In fact, Engels also happen to mention, in the foreword to the fourth edition of “Origin of the Family”, that Marx had planned to write his own thoughts on Morgan’s work using a materialism model, but had died before he could get to it. Which isn’t surprising because the trope Morgan helped to invent was precisely what Marx eventually called “Primitive Communism” Marx said previously he’d proven “Primitive Communism” existed by working backward from the more recent history of slavery, feudalism, and capitalism, proving by induction that Primitive Communism must have existed somewhere in prehistory. With Morgan’s work, they supposedly had scientific backing to confirm their theory. Of course the fact Penn had proven them all wrong 50 years before, and the fact Morgan’s definition of progress hinged on the very resource hoarding, and complex class hierarchies that Marx and Engels were attacking, Marx and Engels handily ignored. Much as Voltaire and Diderot had ignored the complexity of the societies they used as a backdrop for throwing spitballs at the Pope 20 years before. I’d also like to note those familiar with more Nationalistic rhetoric, should start noticing some themes and terminology, because Morgan’s and Marx’s work was also used to justify forcing primitive cultures to catch up or even just remove them. Lest we bring everyone else down. now some like Marx and Engels stuck with social revolution, but others like US general and later 7th President Andrew Jackson started talking about boarding schools, and removal policies, and biologists like Herbert Spencer and Francis Galton (who happened to be Charles Darwin’s cousin) Started talking about breeding programs and what would eventually be called Eugenics. This is the beginning of concepts like Reservation Systems, concentration camps and “Scientific Racism”. That’s on the political and science side. On the social side poets like Diderot and Coolridge, Remember them using natives as a proxy for pure but also for primitive? It meant more politically active but literary leaning writers like Mary Wollstonecraft and her husband William Godwin had a literary device, they could deploy to discuss ideas like: challenging traditional marriage or celebrating egalitarianism. In fact Godwin had grown up hearing about Non-European social structures because he was friends with the second Earl of Sunderland, Lord Robert Spencer. A previous Robert Spencer being the person William Penn was writing his letters to back in 1683. Professionally, Godwin was close enough to Lord Spencer, He wrote Lord Spencer a letter in 1790 to ask for a recommendation to a position in the British Museum. Personally, while his wife was writing “Vindication of the Rights of Woman”, Godwin’s “An Inquiry Concerning Political Justice, An Attack on Political Institutions, and Things As They Are” is reminiscent of Diderot’s arguments. Godwin posits that a true, as he called it, “Anarchism” would be “for a person to stand in perfect, rational harmony, with the world around them”. It’s a very romantic argument, like an “enlightened” savage, one might say, returning to “the Garden”. For those who will understand, Godwin’s analogy is precisely why he and Malthus are placed in opposition to one another in political science classes. Am I saying that in certain contexts, Marx, Engels, and Godwin should be included in lists of more overt white supremacists like Galton? YES. And I’m not the only one saying it either. When they republished Engels’ original essay for “Origin of the Family”, one century later, the editors of “Population & Development Review”, prefaced their December 1988 issue by saying, [Reading in a refreshingly straightforward Midwestern US accent] Diderot, Marx, Engels, Godwin, Wollstonecraft… Anyone who knows the key foundational texts of philosophical and political anarchy or communism can start ticking off names. right now But wait, there’s more, and what the editors of “Population & Development” called a tinge of Social Darwinism, would become less “occasional”. First a bit of spot the name: [peppy calliope music plays] Marx, got a big boost to his political and social career when he started with The International workmen’s Association. He was there at the IWA, the same time as Mikhail Bakunin, and between the two they honed their fundamental divide which was between a centralized Communist revolution, favored by Marx, and a more communal revolution favored by Bakunin. Bakunin borrowed a word from Pierre Joseph Prudhon, who became famous for coining the phrase “property is theft” in 1840, and formed what many would now call Anarcho-communism. Marx was close enough with these guys he Recorded the arguments with Bakunin and said they were sometimes the highlight of his day and would last well into the early hours of the morning. Peter Kropotkin enters the picture on the Bakunin side, opposing the Marx side, and things eventually got so hot Bakunin left the IWA, and hooked up with groups like the Jura Foundation. If none of those names sound familiar, that’s fine. It suffices to say *all* of the big names in early European Marxism, Communism, and Anarchism, knew each other. They all were working from the same basic script. By the way, guess who wrote the script guys like Bakunin and Kropotkin we’re using. Hint: It was from the US, and it was based on a Native… But it wasn’t any actual Natives or anything any Native had actually said. Anarcho-communism starts producing feminist critiques of Marxism through authors like Rosa Luxemburg. Those critiques eventually make her famous enough in Anarchist and Communist circles, to earn her a biography, and thanks to Dunayevskaya Raya, Luxembourg and her famous answer to Marxism eventually gets brought to the US and Marxist-humanism becomes a thing. Now, some of you may notice, wasn’t that the US where the Quakers were writing about humanist natives 400 years before? That’s an irrelevant detail. Anyway, sticking with Dunayevskaya for a moment, remember when I said Engels kept a notebook, of when he first hooked up with Marx, and it mentioned Morgan’s work? Dunayevskaya didn’t stop at mentioning the notes, she decided to actually read them. This was a fairly bold step considering most casual readers don’t even know they existed. You can still see this to this day on the “Influences on Karl Marx” page on Wikipedia. Notice, it barely mentions Morgan, and it summarizes the notebooks simply as “obscure”. According to Dunayevskaya, far from being obscure and academic, they’re integral to understanding Engels’ and Marx’s conceptual foundations. In her biography of Luxembourg she cites those notes as, [rapid and enthusiastic accent] “Epoch-making notebooks which rounded out Marx’s life’s work profound writings which therefore have created a new vantage point from which to view Marx’s ouvre as a totality!” Scholar EB Thompson in, “The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays” goes on and points out that, [somewhat southern US accent] “Marx and his increasing preoccupation in his last years with anthropology was resuming the projects of his Paris youth” [peppy music ends] Paris, where Lord of Sunderland was when Penn was writing to him, [classical music begins] where Voltaire was celebrating Quakers and mocking Natives for being forest dwellers, where Diderot was writing obnoxious racist satires of Tahitian villagers not wearing underwear, *that* Paris. Plus, in those notes, we find Engels writing sympathetically of American Shaker communities. Which he argued proved, [the terrible German accent returns] “Communism is not only possible but has actually been already realized”. [normal again] The Shakers, who are an offshoot of the Quakers, who set up shop in the supposed wilderness of New York, where the Iroquois live. those Shakers. And just in case there’s any question of who’s influencing who, from what Engles scholars would eventually title “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts”, page 142: [The frighteningly bad German accent returns] Engels wrote those words in 1844. *Before* he wrote the “Communist Manifesto”. Yeah… So, this *happened*. And it kept happening, for roughly a century’s worth of European, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Theory, Philosophy, and Literature. This isn’t just interesting speculation. Voltaire, Diderot, Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mikhail Bakunin, all of these “original voices” can be traced directly back to Tahiti and the eastern coastal tribes of North America. Oh, and when I said the social Darwinism would stop being subtext it eventually just became text. Here’s the thing, Eli Parker and the Lenape didn’t get credit from any of these authors. Not in the foundational work, not a “thank you” for allowing researchers access to their tribes and histories and ceremonies. Nada. Morgan was eventually dopted by the Seneca because they thought his interest in connecting with them was genuine. Yet, not only was there no co-author credit by anyone, they were eventually used to represent throwbacks to prehistory. Something Marx and Engels and Godwin and Wollstonecraft and Kropotkin and Prudhon and Diderot had “evolved” past. The Quakers were so completely ignored Engels gave credit to their offshoot. Which arrived afterward, and into an environment already negotiated peacefully, with the very people Engels and Marx claimed were incapable of comprehending property ownership. If that weren’t insulting enough, Feminist critiques such as those advanced by Luxembourg ended up being nonsensical. Allow me to clarify that last bit. the origin of the Great Law of Peace was a man named Deganawida. He was known as the Great Peacemaker, but he didn’t work alone. He didn’t speak all of the necessary languages to the unite the tribes. So he also had a spokesman named Hiawatha. [light jazz music begins] They are both known to be the bringers of the law. Anyone who’s ever had to read Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha” in an English Lit class, It’s *that* Hiawatha. These guys are well known. The Law of Peace, along with the elder council traditions of the Lenape, the Cherokee, the Powatans, the Creek… Really, most of the East Coast tribes, were well known throughout the original 13 British colonies It was so well known it was part of the inspiration for what would become the US Constitution. historian Charles L Mee jr. cites South Carolina’s John Rutledge as an example. Rutledge opened one committee meeting during the Second Continental Congress by reading from a 1520 treaty, itself quoting the great law. [ oddly southern US accent] “It began, ‘We the people, to form a union, to establish peace, equality, and order…’ Rutledge commended the phrasing to his colleagues. And so, in some small part, the preamble of the new constitution, was based on the law of the land as it had been on the East Coast before the first white settlers arrived”. [back to normal] Unlike what Voltaire or Engels would have one believe, it wasn’t just a random assortment of traditions, it was a series of codified laws and policies that governed how people could behave toward one another. The wampum belt commemorating that Union is now the flag of the League. The five positions represent the five founding tribes. This is precisely like the Stars and Stripes of the US flag, representing the members and the original colonies. Similarly, that’s why Penn cites the Council as “negotiating” for land and property. The Lenape knew full well how Europeans understood property rights, they just didn’t agree with it. Which is why the negotiations took so long. You were haggling with the entire town Which is why I say the idea the feminist critiques of Marxism that came later, bordered on insulting. I was being intentional, it’s because of the Great law of Peace. Its various rules, called “articles”, are numbered. I cite two key articles to make my point. the first is: [read in a fairly direct, clipped accent] The second is: [read in the same clipped accent] So, representatives directly answerable to the people who cannot act without the people’s direct permission. Leadership who is beholden to the people collectively but more importantly to the women of their Council specifically. Notice, it doesn’t say the *advice* of the women, It says the *warnings* of the women. Penn didn’t say the old and middle-aged *men* sit in a half-moon. He said *the* old and *the* middle-aged. Article 44 does not say “unless her husband objects”. It says women *shall* own the land. Period. Now as an aside, the Seneca Falls Convention happened the same year the communist manifesto was published in 1848. It occurred in, Seneca Falls, New York. It was organized by suffragette luminaries like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, where they spoke passionately with abolitionists like Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass in favor of a woman’s right to vote. Perhaps you see what I mean. As one scholar I read put it: an Iroquois woman, attending that Convention, could be forgiven for finding it mildly insulting to suggest that she should demote her to mere equality with a man. So with feminist and anarchist critiques of Marx the internal narrative went full circle. It’s a response to Morgan and Diderot’s intentional misreading of real tribes, to create their pet theories. It’s a debate over fanfic. Satisfying to the purists, maybe, but bordering on impenetrable for the casual audience. It becomes a redundant criticism. A bad third-hand copy, of a secondhand story, cribbed from another guy’s notes, without acknowledgement. Now, imagine being that Iroquoian woman. Who isn’t merely correcting the notes, but has to prove she existed at all. Because a handful of European authors decided her character was too hard to write. The annoying point here isn’t the amount of evidence necessary to suggest that Communism and Socialism and Anarchism aren’t an original idea, it’s the amount of evidence necessary simply to demonstrate Europe isn’t the font of all wisdom and insight. To put it bluntly, within Leftist discourse, informed by European Anarchism and Communism, overall left-leaning progressiveism doesn’t have a race and gender problem that needs to be addressed before it gets out of hand, European anarchism and communism *is* the problem. Take two handfuls of sugar, mix them into a dough, bake it. now take the first handful of sugar back out. The bigotry isn’t the icing, It’s the cake. When I see left-leaning theorists and commenters, lamenting how there are so few minority voices, I suspect it’s because they don’t realize the very language being used is already alienating too many of us. It’s not a matter of phrasing, or throwing around the word “privilege”, It’s comprehensive, the very way the questions and answers are framed and stated. I want to say at this point my intention here isn’t to invalidate European socialism or communism or Anarchism or the discussions which have grown up around them. [light blues music begins] Those who are embedded within systems those arguments were responding to, still have merit within those systems. Which is why I have no interest in somehow “correcting” those arguments, by injecting the original tribal practices back in at this late date. They simply can’t function as a valid political response within existing government structures, which are themselves mostly European derived. such an argument would be a bit like, trying to fix a tire while the car is still moving. Plus there were plenty of tribes who followed other modes. There’s no ‘winner’ here. Instead, I wanted to demonstrate an aspect of cultural erasure that is rarely if ever discussed in more left-leaning circles. I’m not going to speculate why, though I have my own theories, I only mean to show that it occurred and it needs to be considered before moving forward. More importantly, this isn’t simply giving credit where it’s due. I’m not interested in claiming Natives should get the copyright to Karl Marx or the US flag, US Constitution . Any astute modern radical could easily argue the current issues are so distant from their founders, that authorial intent is largely irrelevant.
That might even be true. But it presumes the Native side has not also progressed, and that we are not also confronting those same issues in our own way. We’re not museum exhibits, we’ve moved on from who we were when Penn was writing his letters four centuries ago. We didn’t simply write those concepts off as lost goods. Which means this isn’t merely about the past, it contributes directly to modern debate and discourse, erasure and decolonization. Just as an example, the Iroquois League and Lenape Council House have centuries behind them.
They withstood Wars, genocidal settlers, expansionist empires, International slavers… Communist and Socialist countries today are considered well-worn if they manage a few decades. It’s time the European school needs to give up its tradition of overt erasure and get back to the real roots, to see how Native successes maintain themselves for so long. One need look no further than to how the Water Protectors, and Mauna Kea are discussed in the US; Versus how Occupy Wall Street was discussed. It even works as a better critique of Capitalism. The first thing any Capitalist throws out is how successful they are. They fault Communism and Anarchism strictly on life expectancy. And yet the Lenape and the Iroquois prove they need a better argument. This is about raising the level of debate, not just a gotcha for 4chan edgelords. But that also means you can’t just pull a Morgan. Indigenous populations are not a database to mine for inspiration. We’re peoples, with histories, cultures, and languages, that are integral to our worldviews. Histories we’ve maintained and perpetuated despite overt efforts to the contrary. Talk with us,
not *at* us,
definitely not *over* us. This isn’t about retooling our perspectives to more properly shoehorn them into existing European notions. It’s about genuine curiosity and honesty and self-reflection. Now, if you’re looking for text recommendations I’ll suggest a few here and put them in the summary. Start with the “Great Law of Peace”. Get your Communism and Socialism Theory where it should be gotten, from the source. It’s not a short read, it’s not an overly long one either. Following that I suggest a more accurate historic account of Native and settler relations and realities. A good one would be “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus” by Charles Mann. Don’t fall into the trap of allowing those works to justify some newfound sense of righteousness, or worse white guilt. For those of us who’ve been on this side for a while, we would consider these starter texts. Coming at us with ‘newfound information’, it’s going to look like a try-hard. Plus, guilt can far too easily turn to anger and zealotry. Absorb what they have to say. Then when you’re ready two more texts: “Columbus and Other Cannibals” by Jack Forbes for some deep history and some worldview, and then “Anarchism in Latin America” edited by Carlos Rama & Ángel Cappelletti for more recent history. I’m keeping the list short because I don’t want to overwhelm anyone, it’s hard to truly shift one’s perspective. Even harder when someone’s already had to shift themselves once before, away from the more common messages of American Exceptionalism or, in fact, Western Exceptionalism, and the constant drone of subliminal Manifest Destiny that even classical Marxism and Anarchism perpetuated. Give yourself time, and be good to each other. If you’ve enjoyed my little paw print on the youtubes, please like my video and maybe even subscribe to my channel. So you’re more likely to see my next update. Also, if you really like this, check out my patreon listed below, and toss a few dollars my way to request something you’d like to see discussed. Most of all, I hope you have fun.