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January 3, 2023
Capitalism and colonialism are the undeniable foundations of modern Canada. As reciprocal systems of appropriation and accumulation, they combined to produce the hegemonic hold of an ethos of possessive, acquisitive individualism, structuring economic development, state formation, and the social relations of everyday life.
In focusing on capitalist development and colonization as it relates to indigenous peoples, dispossession, and coercive assimilation, the central political question is when and how did struggles that linked class-based, potentially anti-capitalist, mobilizations mesh with anti-colonial indigenous movements? Such combined challenges to capitalism and colonialism have been rare, but are very much on the political agenda of our current conjuncture.
The capitalism/colonialism coupling struck blow after blow at indigenous sensibilities associated with what has been called the dish with one spoon, a generalized set of beliefs that, however differentiated across the diversity of indigenous political economies and the ecologies that so influenced them, underscored a communal as opposed to privatized societal organization.