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Re: <nettime> The Messy, Dirty, Silly Interplay of Art and Activis Artiv
tobias c. van Veen on Thu, 15 Nov 2007 22:02:50 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The Messy, Dirty, Silly Interplay of Art and Activis Artivistic 2007

! *cough splutter* coffee. !

Oh, it continues... sigh. How did we get here. Examples of the
failing/nonexistent US Health Care System, Palestine & Israel have,
well, little to do with Canada. This myth I live in. Yes, let's talk
about Canada. Not Israel/Palestine, not the US, but Canada, you
know, the world's second largest territorial myth.


> So what makes you think people need to belong to "nations" in
> order to have land? They had land for millions of years before the
> thoroughly modern idea of "nation" was invented (in the 18th and
> 19th centuries).

OK, I have been, I think, accepting this idea here; point out where
this idea, now attributed to me -- that people need to belong to
nations to have land -- came from in this recent exchange; I do
not believe this has been the point. Let's recap. The point has
been to question the critique you presented to the unfolding of the
question 'what is indigenous?' in the context of Quebec Separatism,
the Canadian history of colonization, and the First Nations claims
to 'indigenous rights' -- yr general critique via reference to some
other texts that 'indigenous' promotes racism, etc, the 'return of
the native' and specializes (from what I can gather in yr current
response) one group of humans over another. Your thrust was to dismiss
the term(s) entirely and to advance its destruktion - critique. On
this continuum 'indigenous' traffics with 'nation(state)' as 'mythic'
constructions that need to be negated wholesale so we can get down to
the real deal of 'land for humans that need it'. Alright.

Of course we are going to provisionally ignore here those troublesome
concepts we also dealt with at Artivistic, like 'what is natural
space?', as not only humans 'need' land but a lot of animals and
things do too, and of course, whether just b/c humanity has the
technico-power to overtake land -- 'needing it' -- does not mean
that it should.

( Might not 'First Nations' consider land to also mean these animals
and things in light of a diverse set of historical practices that
have integrated ecological networks? Somewhat idealistic this
question; but these 'mythic' symbolic-pantheistic systems that had
a measure of balance -- at least with smaller population levels --
cannot be merely negated with some form of ultramodernist rationalism
/ deconstructivism that has now apparently seen the light in
pronouncing: all human be thy sameness... thus the significance of
'land for the people', which also means -- spacetimes for différance
-- which we seem to agree on ).

Now, in regards to the confusion of yr attribution above, if what
you are referring to is the term 'First Nations', this term has a
historical designation w/in Canada which is not of my construction,
nor an aim, but exactly that -- a designation in legal structures
that serves to frame the question and peoples that we debate o so
dangerously. And although you now seem to have sidestepped various
deconstructive implications (why? you are very picky and choosy about
what you quote... what of hospitality?), the maneuvre, I suggest,
most valuable and effective here is not to deny or negate the term
'First Nations' but rather to reinscribe it by first (a) maximize the
potential for granting autonomous territory to 'aboriginal title'
w/in Canada to de/construct the nation state -- that is, reversing
existing power relations (which you seemed to at least grudgingly
liked) -- and (b) thus this reinscribes the notions of 'nation-state'
AND 'reserve' (the point you seem to have missed, but which you
called for) once this begins to happen at the level of territory/land
(yes, I use the two interchangeably: 'the map is not the territory')
*and* within the legal herringbones of the Canadian system of law,
insofar as it opens a new legal space w/in Canadian legal space, like
some metaphor for the parasite or whatever -- now, isn't this the
deconstructive gesture? I mean it's quite complex, really, but it
IS what is happening, or at least, what I understand is happening
in part, based upon what I have been following, and based upon some
observations from seminars years back with Lorraine Weir, who has
served as expert witness in Canadian courts on various matters but
notably introducing the 'concept' of deconstruction a la the slippage
of the sign into actual legal practice here in the myth of the 'Great
White North'.

You see, what I'm getting at here is not some 'theoretical' discussion
we can whiplash around Nettime but trying to engage, you know, with
stuff actually going on here in CANADA -- not Israel/Palestine or our
heavy southern US neighbours (whom we love, just don't shoot us, as
our health care system is failing too).

Yes, I think I wasn't incorrect or flippant when I called the approach
which I find problematic here 'critique'; it is 'critical', and
traffics in negation. Harg, you won't like that, it is critical of me
too to say it, but esti!, I'd rather work from the inside out with
a concept like First Nations in the Canadian context, for it moves
much farther, legally and conceptually and 'really', to gaining that
'land for the people' we both, one would think, tend to see as The

Now if you say PSSHWA! DOWN WITH THE NATION-STATE! then we really have
no meeting point here as you want to see destruktion first before
reversing & reinscribing, which for me spells the kind of violence you
are trying to a/void ('ethnic cleansing').

Ok, moving on. B, in Canada various First Nations Assemblies -- the
electoral council composed of representatives from all FN councils
-- have pointed out themselves the inadequacy of the term 'nations'
-- for the very reasons you state, that 'nation' is a colonial
construction -- which is why the term 'indigenous' or 'aboriginal' has
often been adopted; now for you this isn't good enough, you've already
deconstructed it all down to land, people, and necessity, but at the
stage here in Canada, with law systems, legal theory, courts, militant
occupations, and continuing tramples of righ-- well, The Peoples Who
Now Cannot Be Named But Are Generally Unfortunately Really Poor For
Historical Reasons Including An Aporetic Reserve Ghettoization That
Has Nonetheless Reopened A Few Reterritorialized Quasi-Autonomous
Zones, well -- what was my point -- tabernac -- yes: the First Nations
peoples whose lands are being trampled can at least use the leverage
power of rights IN CANADA to do things like gain footholds in the
de-constitution of the nation-state, AS HAPPENED in 1982 with the
Canadian Constitution, and as COULD HAPPEN AGAIN if Quebec ever gets
real busy on the Separatist front -- and thus reopening that absent
centre mythic vanishing point that is the kernel of the nation-state,
which I know we both understand quite well -- which is what I was
trying to relay from the get-go to illustrate something of the
complexity of these issues in Canada. It's maybe different here than
what you're used to.

I think the point of friction here, B, is that Canada is a foreign
object here and applying universal-style deconstructions of it from
afar just doesn't cut it; to get anywhere here, well, then, let's say
it again: the map is not the territory. It's all in the details to
constitute the best strategies, yes?

> What matters is how the people living in that part of the world can
> create a political system that will give the poor and powerless
> enough political power to ensure their own well-being, whether
> they're "indigenous" or just homeless in the streets of Toronto.

(( Point of fact, most of the homeless in Canada are The Nameless
Ones a.k.a. 'indigenuous' -- same with the prison population. Also
interesting question is why hang onto the term 'political? 'Polis' as
post-Greek nation-state concept, isn't it on the same continuum with
'nation' and 'indigenuous'? What does 'politics' / 'polis' have to
do with -- as you put it -- people who lived here for thousands upon
thousands of years without it? Derrida stuck with it, but he stuck
with the Enlightenment too. Does it work here? I don't know. Aporia
moment. But I digress. ))

> Calling one group of people "indigenous" and thinking that this
> makes their suffering somehow special, to be treated differently, is
> actually to participate in the divide-and-conquer strategies of the
> rich and powerful.

Am I missing something here or does not difference play somewhat a
significant role? No, B, nein -- I stamp my foot -- the reduction of
all humanz to universal landoccupiers is not the point in handling the
First Nations différance in Canada. It's not about 'calling', it's
about justice -- that term you keep avoiding. 'Special' -- nope, that
just ain't it, we're missing it again. Hospitality, B, hospitality.
Justice as redress. No divide-and-conquer here, but rather reversal &
reinscription, so that a timespace can reopen for something otherwise
to the 'myth of the nation-state'. Take a deep breath, accept the
'Canadian' différance.

Will we ever meet one day, and if so, will we ever kiss?




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