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South Dakota Legislature as Corporate Colonizer; Empire Turns Against Us?

Funny the ideas that pop up when one blogs and teachers. In our blog discussion Tuesday of House Bill 1089, the proposed ban on female genital mutilation, I mentioned my college-days battle against multiculturalism. I walked into class today and found students reading a text on multiculturalism in literary theory. I mentioned my concerns about value relativism to the students (how can we critique Western culture of multiculturalism encourages us to value and celebrate all cultures?). But then I read this passage that casts multiculturalism as a healthy democratic response to oppression:

As opposed to the hierarchies set up by European colonists, [Frantz] Fanon imagined the independent Algerian republic working on the principles of extreme decentralization, with contact and interchange between the leaders and the rank and file, and a clear understanding that the government would be at the service of the masses. In addition, he said, "Women will have exactly the same place as men, not only in the clauses of the constitution but in the life of every day: in the factory, at school, and in the parliament." The living expression of the nation would be found not in the leaders, the palaces, or rituals of politics, but in "the moving consciousness of the whole of the people: it is the coherent, enlightened action of men and women" [Stephen Bonnycastle, In Search of Authority, 2007, p. 231].

Decentralization, encouraging the rank and file to make their own decisions, expecting leaders to communicate with and respond to the people, supporting women's equality, legislating with a focus on helping more people express their will... almost the perfect opposite of what Republicans are doing to South Dakota.

And then it hits me: we are being colonized by our own legislators. Co-opted by corporate imperialists, our legislators are putting us in chains, disrespecting the popular will, and dehumanizing us to make easier their seizure of our wealth and pollution of our land and water.

We children of empire now fight the new corporate empire. We colonizers become the colonized. I may have to revisit my SDSU textbook on multiculturalism.


  1. larry kurtz 2015.01.30

    @RickWeilandSD · 2 minutes ago
    This is nothing more than a group of legislators grabbing power away from S.Dakotans & trying to prevent ballot initiatives from happening.

  2. mike from iowa 2015.01.30

    Serfs up!

  3. Lanny V Stricherz 2015.01.30

    As I read this morning that the US Senate had joined the US House in approving the Keystone XL pipeline, it finally dawned on me that in spite of all the other reasons that the pipeline is wrong, the one that is the most constitutionally wrong and is so anti Republican theory, (You know the folks who run election after election on gun rights no matter how many school kids or innocent people are killed by guns) is that folks in our government would allow a foreign company to confiscate private property from its landowners in this country, to do their pipeline. How can any Republican let alone any American be in favor of this? Same deal as at the State level, Cory, as Mike says, Serfdom is here and it is us.

  4. Jenny 2015.01.30

    Obama better keep to his promise and veto it.

  5. Paul Seamans 2015.01.30

    South Dakota's eminent domain laws do little to protect property owners. TransCanada was able to obtain the power of condemnation simply by calling themselves a common carrier. I'm guessing this provision is a carryover from the early days of statehood when the railroads were the ones writing the laws. Dakota Rural Action in alliance with the SD Stockgrowers put a lot of effort into changing South Dakota's eminent domain laws about three years ago with no success. Part of the reason that we made the attempt is that just prior the legislature gave more power to the Governor to further condemnation along because DME (Kevin Schiefer) was attempting to gain access to ranchers land in southwestern SD to build his coal train (that would have been a real loser). "The Republican party, the party of property rights", ya...right!

  6. larry kurtz 2015.01.30

    Don't make me move back to South Dakota and run for something.

  7. mike from iowa 2015.01.30

    On a lighter note-Fat and Furious Guv Christies political pac is called eadership Matters For America.Org. LMFAO

  8. Paul Seamans 2015.01.30

    Thanks Mike and Larry for the links.
    Larry, it just appears that Kevin Schieffer was simply paying Mike Rounds back for his work on the DME project.

  9. larry kurtz 2015.01.30

    The web is tangled up in Bendagate, Paul: my gut has yet to yield the whole turd of truth.

  10. larry kurtz 2015.01.30

    The pardon for Pete Larson is a clue to where the dinosaur bones are buried.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.30

    "Serfs up!" Mike, brilliant. (Plus, the freshman I had in another class today were looking for examples of puns. If I let them read blogs in class, I'd forward them that example. ;-) )

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.30

    Paul, I thought of you and our spirit camp allies when that colonization thought struck me. We are all Indians now.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.30

    From which office, Larry, do you think you could best fight the colonizers?

  14. larry kurtz 2015.01.30

    i dunno: mayor of lead, lawco commission, bob ewing's seat.

  15. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.30

    It is interesting that you would post this thread, I just read Charlie Abourezk's Facebook where he talks about settler colonialism vs colonialism. Charlie was referring to the unrest between Israel and Palestine, of course, but the settler and corporate are relatively the same.
    Setter colonialism as describe by Charlie is the taking of land owned by indigenous people by genocide and to completely eradicate them from their ancestral lands.

    Sound familiar, it should.

    Corporate colonialism has replaced settler colonialism in South Dakota by using laws of eminent domain to steal land from rightful owners. Or has it?

    When the Keystone pipeline starts leaking, and we know it will, how many people will be driven off their ancestral lands because of the environmental damage those leaks will do to water and land.

  16. Paul Seamans 2015.01.30

    Cory, our Indian allies/friends have talked often about colonization and I'm not sure that I have always understood what they were talking about. I think it is finally starting to sink in. Maybe it's not just the white ranchers that should be called the New Indians (now we know what it feels like to have our land taken away). It seems a lot of people are having something taken from them these days.

  17. mike from iowa 2015.01.31

    Must be nice to be able to completely ignore all empirical evidence and repeat the same tired cliches over and over. To be today's wingnut is to free one's mind from relevant facts and knowledge of any type. Repeat after me-Obama is a Muslim from Kenya.

  18. John 2015.01.31

    Let's take it a step further, Paul. The US should set up reservations on which ranchers and cowboys can "practice their way of life" while we re-wild and convert most of the western prairie to a Bison Commons.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.31

    Oh, John! You turn the colonization in an entirely different direction, a decolonization. My mind spins....

    Remember that the colonization that Fanon talked about in Algeria was not just physical, not just the occupation of land and the violation of ownership. He was talking about the entire moral and legislative dynamic between occupiers and occupied, between the leaders and the people. Keystone XL is an interesting manifestation of the colonial dynamic: the powerful invaders dictate from the center how the land will be used (in this case, for their pipeline). The multicultural response to colonialism is to decentralize decision-making... which in the case of Keystone XL would mean allowing the locals, the landowners, to decide how the land will be used. Paul, you could say, "No pipeline on my land." Your neighbor could say, "Sure, I'll take your money. Build here." And the colonizers would have to respect both decisions equally. If they couldn't find enough contiguous willing individuals to agree to their terms, they'd be stuck.

    Keystone XL depends on centralized power. Keystone XL depends on TransCanada being able to stop talking to landowners individually and instead haul them to court, where the "natives" can only speak by the rules of the powered, moneyed "colonizing" class. Keystone XL depends on the idea that the masses do what the government wants. I apologize if I'm getting too eggheaded about this, but each one of those points fits into the multicultural critique. Corporations are acting just like colonizers, dehumanizing the people who stand in its way. We can stand against them through fierce democracy... which I'm intrigued to find is what multiculturalism as explained by Fanon (and by Bonnycastle, who was just talking about how to pick books for kids to read in English class, not economic or political revolution!) appears to call for.

  20. Lanny V Stricherz 2015.01.31

    But that is exactly the point that I was making, Cory. Not only is the situation you describe, unAmerican, it goes against everything that Republicans stand for, the rights of the individual over those of the state, visa vie, gun ownership under the 2nd Amendment.

  21. mike from iowa 2015.01.31

    In Colorado,fracking companies and big awl are suing towns that have banned fracking and getting their way because the small towns can't afford court costs. Ain't democracy,practiced by the koch bros,great?

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.31

    Ineed, Lanny—you put it well. And you're right: when I saw the word "decentralization," I thought, "That's Republican territory!" But the South Dakota Republican Party isn't adhering to that principle. Neither are the corporations, as Mike points out, in their quest to overturn local rules. Kochocracy is kakistocracy, rule by the least qualified and least principled.

  23. barry freed 2015.01.31

    We can have all the power we want with Initiated Measures. All we need is a central clearinghouse website where signature seekers can fill in the blanks on a worksheet, then post their Measure. Anyone can print out the Measure(s) they agree with on the site and solicit signatures to help put issues to a vote of everyone.
    Our lawmakers are obviously voting their own self-interests and those of the corporations who give them money or high paying jobs to their relatives. With IM's, they can't bribe us all, or fund that many dis-information campaigns. Almost all South Dakotans are reasonable and intelligent enough to govern themselves. It is only with misinformation the Colonizers feed the willing Media that the People get off track.
    Who will step up and create the South Dakota IM Clearinghouse Website?

  24. Lanny V Stricherz 2015.01.31

    Great idea Mr Freed. I can't because I have neither the technology, nor the knowhow.

  25. Les 2015.01.31

    A similar, Thune, Rounds and Noem go to bat for Sioux Falls over FEMA. A wolf in sheeps clothing. FEMA has been grabbing bits and pieces of property at the speed of light to drag millions into flood insurance since the great floods and hurricanes have tapped them. No different than that similar push was in Pennington, the push by our big three will not bring welcome change to Minnehaha.
    Stripping our citizens from their property any way we can. Go team, go.

  26. Lanny V Stricherz 2015.01.31

    You are so right on that Les. Besides, which after spending millions upgrading the flood control dikes on the Skunk Creek tributary and the Sioux River past their confluence, including raising the 41st St Bridge (all 7 lanes) all of the property that was added to the flood map to force new owners to buy flood insurance, is still there with no removal in sight.

  27. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.31

    I don't live in a Kochistan - yet.

    Kochistan is the center of what used to be the USA. Now it's the USK. The USA occupies the edges of the former "Beacon of Liberty." May she rest in peace.

  28. larry kurtz 2015.01.31

    Rapid City, Silver City and other jurisdictions have been clearing pine because FEMA funds don't cover idiots who build where insurers won't cover. Dan Lederman and Mike Rounds should be denied flood insurance for being stupid enough to believe the gubmint will bail them out: oh wait.

  29. Lanny V Stricherz 2015.01.31

    The April 1969 flood of the Big Sioux in Sioux Falls, which is far and away the all time record flood in Sioux Falls, did not breach the dike in areas of the City that were put in the flood plain to force homeowners and business owners to buy flood insurance. The business owners still cannot expand their businesses until that flood plain declaration is lifted after the raising of the dikes. Those premiums are to help the government to pay for the damages received by Rounds and Lederman and their ilk when they built in the flood plain at Pierre and The Bluffs.

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