The Tragedy of Progress

SKU: 1552660508

David Bedford, Danielle Irving
Grade Levels:
College, University
Multiple Nations
Book Type:
Fernwood Publishing
Copyright Data:

Sale price$21.00


The Tragedy of Progress - Marxism, Modernity and the Aboriginal Question is a 2001 scholarly analysis of the left in Canada and its refusal to embrace and champion Aboriginal issues. The authors are political scientists interested in this neglected field of study. They begin the book by exploring the history of Aboriginal People and their struggle for survival. While this is an ambitious objective, the authors have wisely selected specific examples from the literature on pre-contact and post-contact history. The Iroquois Confederacy and the Great Law of Peace are the examples chosen to demonstrate a viable pre-contact traditional culture. The post-contact period is described as various strategies of assimilation that includes the Canadian government's White Paper of 1969. The main problem remains, how can Marxism offer any a viable alternative to Aboriginal people and their issues? The authors spend the next three chapters outlining their response. In the second chapter, the authors explore the left's response to Aboriginal issues. The political platforms of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Communist Party of Canada, the International Socialists, the Trotskyist League of Canada, the Communist League/Young Socialists, and Stanley Ryerson and George Woodcock are briefly explained. The reasons and philosophical basis for the left's failure to support Aboriginal People and their national aspirations can be found in the left's understanding of Marxist and Socialist thinking. The third chapter is an interesting review of Ward Churchill's book, Marxism and Native Americans. Russell Means, Vine Deloria, and Frank Black Elk were commissioned by Churchill to provide a Native American response to the relevance of Marxism for the Native struggle in America. The Native authors soundly refute this perceived relevance. Chapter four is devoted to critiquing the Aboriginal analysis of Marxism. Despite the historical reluctance of the Canadian left to support Aboriginal causes, the authors maintain that a correct reading of Marxism can provide a basis for successful cooperation. This slim volume makes a contribution to this rarely studied history of the Canadian Left and First Nations politics.

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