EDITORIAL: Asymmetrical Warfare

By Jay Taber

Jan 13, 2013

Intercontinental Cry

There was no illusion of collaboration between Ottawa and the Assembly of First Nations on Friday. AFN is wholly dependent on Ottawa for its existence. They are collaborators by colonial design. They may see themselves as making the best of a bad situation, but they are not challenging the system of dominion.

As I noted in my editorial yesterday, there are ample lessons from other liberation movements that illustrate the spectrum of tactics available in asymmetrical warfare. Only the researchers, analysts and activists within the movement can discern which to use, how and when.

What is clear, though, is that institutionally controlled negotiation has failed. Not surprising given the market’s coup of modern states worldwide.

If indigenous nations and civil society are to free themselves from state and market domination, they will first need to free their minds from orthodoxies of radicalism that limit their imagination. They will also need to challenge their habitual assumptions about the prospects of reform within the capitalist system.

The global war on democracy, the environment and First Nations — what is often termed the Fourth World war — cannot be defeated if useful tactics of resistance are ruled out in advance. There are many roles involved in a liberation movement, and individuals must choose for themselves which roles and tactics they are comfortable with.

As I noted in my essay Power of Moral Sanction, the challenge of leadership is determining the mix, the timing and the emphasis of various tactics as a movement matures. When done effectively, they reinforce each other, and propel the movement forward.

Part of any victorious movement, I should note, is a well-organized research, analysis and intelligence gathering network that constantly informs the movement’s organizers and educators. Without a built-in respect for this network, no movement can succeed.


[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, an author, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]

Comments are closed.