Overview: Home Rule: National Sovereignty and the Separation of Natives and Migrants

Submitted by Comrade Motopu on July 24, 2020

Nandita Sharma, Home Rule: National Sovereignty and the Separation of Natives and Migrants, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2020.

National sovereignty promises us that once we achieve it, we will become a, “community of equals.” We will have self-determination. We will be decolonized. We will have equality. My book demonstrates that none of this actually materializes once national sovereignty is gained. And instead I argue that nationalisms, both from above as well as from below, have actually worked to contain and curtail our dreams of decolonization, and our demands for social justice that animated, and continue to animate anti-colonial struggles.

--From: “Nandita Sharma discusses ‘Home Rule’ With Joseph Nevins. April 2nd, 2020.

Activist and scholar Nandita Sharma is a member of “The Diggers,” an anarchist project influenced both by the original seventeenth century radicals who reclaimed enclosed lands for commoners, and the Bay Area 1960s movement that provided people with free food, healthcare, and more. The Hawaii Diggers set up free stores, distribute free seeds, plant crops for public consumption, and generally work to create spaces that act as “commons” to share free resources outside the logic of capitalist markets.

Sharma’s new book is also an argument for the creation of a world of commons in which people move freely, and where nationalism and capitalism are both dismantled. To do that, it’s first necessary to examine attempts to “decolonize” as a part of a project based on “national self-determination.” She looks at why, although decolonization pushed out colonial masters, and in some cases did improve the lives of former imperial subjects, it never succeeded in eliminating poverty, returning social control to the people, or ushering in parity with “First World” nations. The book examines the problems inherent in specifically “national” projects for human liberation. It provides a critical overview of what Sharma calls the “Postcolonial New World Order.” This is the global capitalist system as it emerged out of the age of imperial states into one of post-imperial nation-states.

From Imperial States to Modern Nation-States

As the post World War II order emerged, the United States secured its status as the undisputed industrial global hegemon. Its home territory was unscathed by the war, while much of Europe and other hotspots were reduced to rubble. The Marshall Plan was a massive infusion of aid by the US into the devastated areas of Western Europe to rebuild industrial capacity and infrastructure. Of course it came with strings, opening up economies to investment by US or US dominated corporations. Rebuilding Europe resulted in massive profits for US corporations, despite US taxpayers being the ones who provided the capital.

As part of the construction of the Postcolonial New World Order, the U.S. promoted the old Wilsonian idea, elaborated after World War I in his “Fourteen Points,” of the right of all nations to “self-determination.” U.S. leaders wanted this because they understood they “would gain from the opening of closed imperial markets for land, labor and commodities. Such an opening would be achieved by the transformation of both imperial metropoles and colonies into ‘independent,’ sovereign nation-states, each enmeshed in an international regime of financial, political, and military ties” (16).

The Postcolonial New World Order and its Institutions

The US oversaw the creation of the Bretton Woods institutions to facilitate their post-war dominance. The US dollar was made the central global currency, which “ensured the clear transference of global dominance from the British Empire to the United States.” Bretton Woods institutions were dominated by the world’s largest economies because voting rights in the institutions were proportional to the size of a country’s economy. These institutions include the World Bank, which provided long term loans for reconstruction and “development,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF), designed to prevent economies from going into extreme deficit so as to stabilize currencies and provide stability for global investors, and the General Agreement on Tariffs (GATT), a global “free trade” agreement designed to break down regulatory barriers against investors (126). These institutions “together controlled a large part of the international flow of finances.” The US benefitted greatly from the fact that it was the source of the most capital and investment, meaning it could “extract agreements from various European states to liberalize trade between them, including their extant colonies” (17). U.S. based capital could now penetrate markets previously monopolized by European empires.

The United Nations formed in 1945 in the aftermath of World War II. One of its main goals was to uphold the right of peoples to self-determination. Sharma describes this as “the right to national sovereignty for those people who could successfully claim to being the ‘people of a place” and notes that this became “the bedrock of international law” (16).

As Empires ended, new nation-states were forming not only in the ex-colonies, but in the former metropoles of empire like Britain and France. The process of “nationalizing” the imperial states had begun in the mid nineteenth century, but was solidifying as the Postcolonial New World Order after World War II. These “former imperial metropoles and the former White Settler colonies reaped most of the benefits” from the newly created social and economic structures based on the United Nations and Bretton Woods’ missions (17). Over time, the IMF and World Bank policies ensnared Third World countries into massive debt, then demanded “structural adjustments” to those economies in order that they prioritize paying the debts back by slashing social infrastructure.

“Development” was the positive spin put on the overarching goal of the Postcolonial New World Order. Just as “self-determination” was a way to create an atomized system of individual nation-states functioning as open capitalist markets, development was a mechanism for creating capitalist “modernization” projects on a grand scale, like electrification, road building, dams, and urbanization.

Together, self-determination, nationalism, development, and modernization were about generating high levels of capitalist growth, maintaining high “GDP” levels, and incorporating ex-colonies into a seamless capitalist global system.

Two Postcolonialisms and the Specter of “Neocolonialism”

Sharma gives two definitions of Postcolonialism. The first refers to scholarship that studies the legacy of imperialism and colonialism and which politicizes the lives of those living in the postcolonial nation-states. In this sense of the word, Sharma identifies herself as someone who uses postcolonial theoretical approaches. The second definition refers to the “Postcolonial New World Order” which Sharma argues “is the contemporary mode and governmentality of ruling nations.” The book is largely an examination of the governing mechanisms that separate Natives and Migrants as a method of labor control, to the advantage of ruling capitalist classes both in the ex-colonies and ex-metropoles of now dismantled empires (13-14).

Sharma’s thesis is that Postcolonialism is the “containment of decolonization.” It is the “ascendency of the national form of state power.” It “substitutes demands for decolonization with demands for national sovereignty” (15). The nation-states that formed through processes of “national self-determination” and “national liberation” ended in a revolutionary cul-de-sac leaving a new ruling system that “rearticulates peoples’ dreams of liberation as national dreams so they never materialize” (14).

“Neocolonialism” as Sharma describes it, is a misnomer. It misidentifies the capitalist exploitation by the new nation-state governments embedded in a capitalist global system, as continuing “colonial” exploitation by foreigners (14). As the Postcolonial New World Order solidified, three international alliances formed: the First, Second, and Third Worlds. The Western Bloc of the more “developed” and industrialized countries wanted to project the image of themselves as protecters of the “free world” and “self-determination.” The USSR, and the Eastern European countries it gained control over after the Yalta Conference, identified its mission as “anti-imperialism” and protecting “national peoples.” The Third World wanted “National Liberation.” Third World governments blamed both “neocolonialism” and “neoimperialism” for the pain caused by neoliberal policies. The nation is portrayed as the only defense against these policies when in reality it is responsible for overseeing their implementation (140).

As the governments of national liberation states were integrated into this system, they could invoke the damage done by “neocolonialism” to call for more nationalism. When foreigners were exploiting the nation, that was imperialism, but if the national bourgeoisie did, it was called “development” (144).

Obviously the point is not to deny the existence of the continuing exploitation of the Third World, largely by the First World, as a continuing legacy of the inequality created by imperialism. The point is that nationalism is not a bulwark against it, and that the national capitalists of states that achieved self-determination are also exploiters.

Autochthons and Allocthons

“Autochthon” and “Allocthon” are the closest this book gets to “jargon” but the reader should adapt quickly as Sharma clearly defines them, and they are useful to understand how the Postcolonial New World Order continues many of the legacies of imperialism.

Autochthon = a person “of a place” or a “native.”
Allochthon = an outsider, someone who does not belong to a place.

One continuity from the imperial to the postcolonial home rule (national sovereignty) period is the tactic of “define and rule” which is another way of saying “divide and conquer.” If a ruling empire could categorize subjects differently and apply different laws to each group, they could make them compete for allegedly limited resources rather than banding together against imperialists. Sharma gives many examples but we can review her outline of India at the time of the Indian Uprising.

In 1857, the Indian Uprising led to the end of “Company Rule” under the British East India Company and the implementation of “Crown Rule” as the British sought more efficient control over their colony.
The British divided their subjects into two categories: “Indigenous Natives” and “Migrant Natives,” with “the former considered more native than the latter.” It was the Indigenous Natives who were “of the place” and therefore autochthonous, while the Migrant Natives were considered the allocthons, not of the place. Each group was governed by different imperial laws. The British granted more rights and access to native land and resources to the autochthonous Indigenous Natives, and allowed them to have “native authorities” (appointed by the British) govern them. Migrant Natives were not given those resources and powers (8). Sharma notes that even though the shift from Company Rule to Crown Rule was a shift to more direct rule by the British, in many ways, the use of local appointed native authorities signified a move to “indirect rule.”

As one might expect, there were negative consequences to the powers granted the Indigenous Natives by imperialists. You might say they were “frozen” into “traditional” roles that were created for them by the British. Nicholas Dirks has written about this phenomenon in his book Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India. Dirks describes the ways in which the British revitalized and made more rigid the ancient caste roles from Vedic scripture, while stripping them of their attendant social underpinnings. This removed the influence of both past feudal and newer village based social forms which had developed over millennia. They did this in order to categorize and thereby separate and rule various Indian subjects, using especially the Brahmin ruling caste through which to project power. Sharma notes that, over time, one of the results was that the “traditional” Indigenous Natives were excluded from engaging in commercial activity in the emerging capitalist social relations as compared to the “allocthonous” Migrant Natives who, lacking resources and rights, were pushed more into the market (41-42).

One result was the separation of Natives and Migrants. In India, the tensions exacerbated by British rule came to a head in 1947. Upon achieving independence, India immediately split into two separate nations, uprooting millions of people. In the process, between ten and fourteen million people were displaced, and one million killed. Each new state defined its “autochthons”: Hindus belonged to India, and Muslims belonged to Pakistan. It didn’t matter if families were intermarried or if a Hindu person had never set foot in the territory now called “India” or a Muslim had ever been to “Pakistan” (111-113).

This scenario played out again and again as new countries “nationalized” and defined their “National Natives,” the autochthons or “people of the place.” One result of the concept of “home rule” was the “the sorting of ‘populations,’ [t]he idea that nation-states ought to be comprised of and for those whose nationality matched that of the state...” (98). In 1947 it was India/Pakistan. In 1948 Israel and Palestine formed. There, the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians from their lands was called “al Nakba.”

Earlier, in the aftermath of World War I as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, ethnic Greeks and Turks exchanged populations to make sure each group was in their place, with 1.5 million Greeks sent to Greece and 500,000 Turks to Turkey (100). This was related to the “Greek Genocide” that took place simultaneous to Armenian and Assyrian genocides in lands previously under Ottoman rule. The rules of the Lausanne Convention, negotiated between Turkey and Greece in 1923, mandated that those transferred would have to take on the religion of their national homeland even if they had to convert. Turks had to be Muslims and Greeks Christians. As the first such treaty of its type regarding population transfers, it was internationally ratified and became a model for later nationalizing campaigns. Sharma explains that previously, under Ottoman rule, groups were categorized by religion, but were “considered part of one political community” (100).

If a group ended up in a place where they were not defined as native, they might be called a “National Minority” leaving them in fear of “expulsion or even extermination” (65). Wars ensued to either expel or incorporate these minorities. The creation of the Postcolonial New World Order, of an “international order of nation-states was leading to the displacement of millions of people” (103).

The post-World War I era had its League of Nations rhetoric dealing with self-determination. The post-World War II United Nations carried on many of the same policies regarding the right to create new nation states and define who belonged and who did not, with similar problems. Many peoples became “stateless” with no legal right to be anywhere. Some were granted precarious “stateless passports” to enter a state and attempt to negotiate a right to stay there, but many more could not even wrangle those passports (104).

In 1938 the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees (ICR) met at the Evian Conference and established that they would not do anything for the victims of fascism. They cited the legitimacy of preserving the racial purity of states as a reason not to accept more Jewish refugees (108-109). This is a stark example of the dangers of autochthonous, racial, nationalist discourses as they apply to international law.

Nation States, Citizenship, and Immigration Control

Whereas the old empires wanted as many subjects as possible, allowing relatively free movement of those subjects within the boundaries of empire, the system of nation states that developed after World War II was different. The Russian, Ottoman, German, and Austrian empires had collapsed at the end of World War 1 and after World War II, other empires such as Britain, France, and Japan gave up their colonies. They then erected boundaries against “undesirables,” putting up barriers to citizenship and against entry into the old imperial metropoles.

Similarly, the newly liberated states enacted immigration controls and citizenship laws designed to limit membership in the nation-state. The main function, from the beginning of this new post-imperial state system, was one of labor control, keeping “National-Natives” as a limited group with access to citizenship. Those defined as “Migrants” were denied most rights and freedom of movement as well as access to most jobs and labor protections.

These processes of controlling mobility and defining nativeness were not entirely new, but they took on new parameters after World War II. The controls now acted as mechanisms of labor control that met the requirements of individual nation states in a newly solidified capitalist world-system.

The “National-Native” was the person who belonged to the nation, and was said to be from and or of the place. They deserved the full rights provided by the national government to its citizens. Sharma notes that in “White-settler colonies” the “Indigenous National-Natives” would justify their claim to belonging to the nation on the basis that they were “first peoples” or “first nations.” They therefore belonged there. White-settlers would make the claim to national belonging based on being “first-improvers,” as in the first to implement capitalist production and social relations.

The irony is that both White National-Natives and Indigenous National-Natives came to fear and oppose Migrants. For Whites it is often a fear of preserving the racial “purity” of their nation. For indigenous it is that Migrants may compete for limited resources they are still struggling to establish national control over, seeing them as “barriers to their own claims to national sovereignty” (10).

In a bizarre twist, Indigenous National-Natives often come to define Migrants as “Settler-Colonists.” Sharma clarifies that Asians, Blacks, and others forced as slaves or coolies to come into a place did not share in the spoils of White-settler projects. Using the nationalist logic of the Postcolonial New World Order, “being a ‘settler/colonist’ is synonymous with being defined as a Migrant to national territory” (10).

“Success Stories” of the Postcolonial New World Order

Sharma discusses “success stories” with differing models of postcolonial development. In Bolivia, indigenous leader Evo Morales increased state control over many of the extractive industries and redistributed the profits in a far more egalitarian way than previous administrations had. Bolivian citizens, particularly indigenous people, experienced very real improvements to their quality of life. Sharma notes that with the Morales administration, we see autochthony politics at its best. Unfortunately, autochthony politics reinforce the social relations of nationalism.

Bolivian autochthony politics under Morales were still capitalist, with redistribution implemented from above. To sustain the national project, Morales needed to build a mixed coalition of support which included not only peasants and working class people, but also the national bourgeoisie and even foreign bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie members of the coalition reinserted the standard capitalist priorities of profits over people, and the gains for the poor began unraveling. Despite some gains made for many Bolivians, Morales was unable to extricate Bolivia from the systems of wealth and resource extraction that Latin American Nations suffered under imperialism.

The environmental cost of capitalist growth was devastating and Morales went back on his word to protect indigenous lands. This brought protests and resentment. It showed up the weakness of “socialism” built on a base of extractive industries in a capitalist global system. Despite trying to sell hydrocarbon extraction as “anti-imperialist” a growing divide between indigenous and non-indigenous people grew. Morales had labelled opponents of his new economy as “obstacles” to economic growth. (260-264).

The Four “Asian Tigers” of Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are also typically cited by capitalists as success stories. The World Bank recommended their economic methods as models for development in Third World and other developing nations globally. This missed the very unique aspects that contributed to the Tiger’s success. They are export economies and all of them were the recipients of large amounts of US aid. Each of them had severe dictatorial states for a time after World War II, and their economies relied to a large degree on hyper-exploited and unprotected Migrant labor. While many critics in Third World countries saw these economic methods as a betrayal of the national liberation project, Sharma sees those neoliberal policies as entirely consistent with it. Even where countries practiced “import substitution” (manufacturing previously imported goods domestically to end dependence on foreign capitalists) the “national capitalists” in those countries had little interest in solidarity with the “national working class” and acted to protect their capital and investments. Ironically, inequality in the Postcolonial New World Order of self-determined and national liberation states has surpassed the levels during the age of imperialism (151-153).

From Slavery, to the Coolie System, to Migrant Laborers

Sharma traces three main phases of labor control involving vulnerable groups of workers that were hyper-exploitable based on their allochthonous status. These groups were denied the rights and protections provided by the state to citizens. The phases were: Slavery, the “Coolie System,”and utilizing Migrant labor.

A Quick Note on Sharma’s View of Capitalism

Sharma is not saying that capitalism emerged solely due to the expropriation of value from hyper-exploitable groups of allocthons. We can look at some of the sources she cites to characterize the theoretical and historical underpinnings of her analysis, which is essentially Marxist. Sharma is influenced by the work of Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh, who are both considered to carry on the tradition of E.P. Thompson’s social historical methods. She cites Ellen Meiksin’s Wood, whose 1999 book The Origins of Capitalism: A Longer View is considered a masterpiece of Marxist history. Meiksins Wood explained the shift from a time in which capitalism was a system of production that occurred in a limited number of sites in Europe, to a time in which no worker or owner could opt out of participating in capitalist production and social relations. She wrote that “the distinctive and dominant characteristic of the capitalist market is not opportunity or choice but, on the contrary, compulsion. Material life and social reproduction in capitalism are universally mediated by the market, so that all individuals must in one way or another enter into market relations in order to gain access to the means of life” (Meiksins Wood, 1999, 6). Given that capitalism was so efficient, and could outperform any other system of production, it went from being optional to being what Meiksins Wood calls “imperative.”


Sharma describes how slavery controlled not only labor, but also the movement of peoples. During the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, 12.4 million Africans were forced to make the “Middle Passage” to the Americas. Roughly five million died at one stage or another of their journey, from capture to the first year of captivity (67). The racialization of slavery in the thirteen British colonies began with legal codes around 1661. (Bacon’s Rebellion, in 1676, was another important point at which Colonial elites in Virginia clearly saw the need to separate white and black workers, necessitating in their minds that “black” must equal slave). The Trans-Atlantic system involved not only mass transfers of people around the globe, but “ushered in long-lasting modes of social organization based on racist and sexist separations” (67).

As blacks were denied rights and protections in every colony and the practice of racial enslavement was legalized, whites had their labor defined as free, “their own property.” The “negative racialization” involved in slavery helped create the concept of a “white race” as separate from and above others, and of “free labor” as separate from and above non-free, indentured, or enslaved labor (68). The free labor corresponded to the workers deemed citizens, and the requirements of citizenship usually corresponded to race. So there is a continuity of purpose in labor systems as they change over time under capitalism. Groups must be separated and pit one against the other to weaken the solidarity of labor. This is done by creating a hierarchy of protections and rights, some getting more, others less or none at all.

The “white settler colonies” provide the best examples of these legal regimes. In the British thirteen colonies of North America slaves were “aliens” not imperial subjects, which meant they were outside the protection of English common laws. They could not make claims on the imperial state. The 1790 United States Naturalization Act restricted U.S. citizenship to free white people who had been in the U.S. for two years. So non-Whites, unfree workers and most women could not be citizens (68-69).

Black slaves were categorized as “”natives of Africa” even though, as time went on, most were not born there nor had they ever been there. The British abolished the slave trade by 1807 but maintained slavery for decades, even for a time after officially abolishing slavery in 1833 (69). They needed a system to replace slavery while maintaining profit margins.


The Coolie system and immigration controls replaced slavery. Like slaves, those categorized as coolies were transported, often against their will. They were denied basic rights and could be worked to death. Their work contracts made them indentured labor, and were often extended for long periods over minor infractions. They were not free to go anywhere or take any job they wanted. Most of them were taken from areas of China and India controlled by the British. Upwards of 37 million coolies were taken over roughly 100 years, from 1815-1914.

Chinese laborers who were brought to the US were denied citizenship. They faced resentment from US workers and most labor unions, who saw them as being used by employers to undermine wages and labor rights. Unions proved themselves happy to go along with ethno-nationalist immigration restrictions to defend their own labor fiefdoms, as they did against blacks, Mexicans, women, and just about everyone else who was not a white, male, citizen of the US. (One important exception to this xenophobic unionism was the Industrial Workers of the World, formed in 1905.)

In 1875 the US passed its first immigration control with The Page Act (77). It restricted the entry of Chinese coolies, but also of women deemed to be “prostitutes.” The restriction on women exemplified the racist logic of immigration control. Fear of “miscegenation,” or race-mixing, was common in the US. The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882 broadening the denial of entry to Chinese workers for ten years and denying citizenship to those already in the US. By 1884, that was changed to disallow the entry of any Chinese people. The 1888 Scott Act disallowed re-entry to Chinese people who had left the US. It was the Chinese who were first labelled “illegals” (78-79). Later the list of “undesirables” would include “racial” groups from Eastern Europe, as well as those with disabilities, inadequate education, or unsavory political beliefs (usually anarchism) (93-94).

Immigration controls had emerged to compensate for the loss of total control over workers that slavery provided. In the mid to late nineteenth century, as states began to nationalize their sovereignty, restrictions on immigration increased (87). This was equally true in the new nations of majority “non-White” populations to emerge later as it was in the old Western European metropoles that nationalized. As the coolie system wound down in the early twentieth century, identifying people as “Migrants” would become an entrenched nationalist method of labor control globally (70).


Coolieism collapsed at the start of World War 1 and as coolies had replaced slaves, now Migrant labor would replace them (115). Capitalists still relied on imported workers to meet labor requirements. Migrants fit a “specific labor market category” of super-exploitable workers who don’t get equal protections under national labor laws or the same wages as “national workers.” While national workers often believed they stopped a “race to the bottom” by allowing Migrant workers to be hyper-exploited, the opposite is true. Creating a vulnerable labor pool without labor rights weakens the position of all workers. Immigration controls and citizenship laws kill the solidarity that would allow for inclusive working class organizing across nationality.

It’s not just the “Western” nations that utilize cheap and vulnerable Migrant labor. One example Sharma discusses is the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states that are dependent on Migrant laborers, who make up 48 percent of their population: “33 percent in Saudi Arabia, 44 percent in Oman, 52 percent in Bahrain, 69 percent in Kuwait, 86 percent in Qatar, and 89 percent in the United Arab Emirates.” Most of these immigrants are from Asia. Similarly in Singapore, 40 percent of the people are classified as foreign born, while in Hong Kong, it’s 39 percent. Migrant workers in these states lack rights and do not have a path to citizenship (172).

In the GCC countries, the “Kafala system” guarantees employment to National Citizens, mostly in the public sector, from which guest workers are barred. Migrant workers earn an average of 600 percent less than national workers and are usually denied benefits and pensions (173-175).

The US “Bracero Program” begun in 1942 was a part of the effort to meet the demands for labor during war time. It lasted until 1964 and filled mainly agricultural jobs but also railroad jobs. These workers could neither change jobs nor refuse work. Deportation was a mechanism for disciplining this workforce and in 1954, “Operation Wetback deported 1,075,168 people to Mexico...” (200).


Sharma states that “recruiting a temporary and unfree Migrant workforce and using deportation as a method of intimidation and expulsion came to embody the dominant form of the postcolonial regulation of human mobility across the First World” (200). For those “socialists” demanding increasingly rigid border regimes in the belief that this will protect “native workers” don’t hold your breath.

As the book shows, immigration controls, citizenship laws, xenophobia, and nationalism have not delivered on their promises of lifting the living standards of national workers. The proliferation of nation-states and immigration controls has increased inequality between First and Third World workers while simultaneously strengthening the position of capitalists inside the developed world of the “rich countries.”

Borders do not stop any alleged “race to the bottom” because the free movement of capital combined with the restrictions on the movement of people ensures that capital can continue to move elsewhere every time workers get organized while workers cannot.

Immigration controls don’t stop people from moving as much as they ensure they will be without rights wherever they arrive if they are “Migrants” and not “Natives.” The only way to remove the “Migrant card” from the bosses’ deck is to organize all workers across borders with no respect for the categories of citizen or native.

The book makes the case that The Postcolonial New World Order was built on a subversion of revolutionary projects for freedom and served instead to create more nation states and provide the entry point into these states for capitalist production and social relations. A large part of the way nation-states do this is by separating “National-Natives” from “Migrants” in a classic divide and conquer maneuver. In the “national liberation states” and postcolonial states, this is overseen by the various national leaderships who use rhetoric opposing “neocolonialism” to whitewash their own role as national bourgeoisies in exploiting workers. Instead they can portray themselves as carrying on the projects of national liberation, self-determination, and anti-colonialism.

The major contribution of this book is to establish the importance of the nationalist autochthonous discourses in formulating capitalist immigration policy, and to explain the racist and xenophobic ways they are used to determine who qualifies as a citizen versus who does not. It’s well understood that nationalism is a form of class collaboration, and cannot be mobilized for working class struggle toward the final goal of abolishing class. Perhaps Sharma’s book can open the eyes of the new generations of Stalinists, “tankies,” left-nationalists, and shallow anti-imperialists who have revived the national self-determination rhetoric as a tool against “imperialism” and racism. One cannot support the project of dividing Natives from Migrants and claim to support working class solidarity. There can be no “national socialism.”

Comrade Motopu, 07/23/2020


darren p

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by darren p on July 24, 2020

A useful summary. I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of the book.


3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Hieronymous on July 24, 2020

What's the connection between the Diggers in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury and the Hawaiian ones?

Comrade Motopu

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Comrade Motopu on July 24, 2020


What's the connection between the Diggers in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury and the Hawaiian ones?

In Hawaii it's mainly two people, Sharma and another UH professor. I don't know all the projects they've done but here are a few things I know of.

They have set up multiple free stores around the island. These are the kind that people in the neighborhood keep up and can drop off stuff and pick up free stuff. They make them aesthetic, so they're popular and seem to stay up. They had a free fridge at UH too, free food for anyone on the same principle. Many people have set up free seeds kiosks across the US and internationally.

They also do direct action protests. I think they were at the airport action regarding Trump's "Muslim ban." They do educational seminars for people on how to forage for edible plants. I think I'm remembering correctly that they took some private land to grow free papayas(?) on a while back and do other sort of guerrilla use of land to grow food.

I sent them a clip from the movie Matt Callahan wrote about in his book, from the part about the Diggers and they loved it: https://ytcropper.com/cropped/W55d96ce2727016

They're both active in supporting migrants and also in promoting rights for sex-workers, debunking "anti-trafficking" rhetoric often used to target migrants. Overall they're anti-nationalist anarchists.

I don't know that they have any direct ties to people who were in the SF Diggers but maybe.


3 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on July 27, 2020

Interesting book with some sound explanations based on this useful summary. As an aside I still call myself a 'communist' but given the toxic associations of this word today the increasing number of radicals choosing the alternative terminology of 'the commons' as a way of linking both historic and surviving associations with a better practice compared to private ownership and the rule of market exchange is certainly an attractive choice... But it seems to me that some amongst the autonomist marxist and social ecology tendencies have perhaps extended the terminology too far to incorporate campaigns in defence of elements of welfare state and other public state institutions as part of a muddled social reformism?


3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by gamatiasz on September 8, 2020

I've ordered the book and am looking forward to reading it.