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The language of empowerment : symbolic politics and Indian political discourse in Canada Jhappan, Carol R. (Carol Radha) 1990

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T H E L A N G U A G E O F E M P O W E R M E N T : S Y M B O L I C P O L I T I C S A N D I N D I A N P O L I T I C A L D I S C O U R S E I N C A N A D A b y C . R A D H A J H A P P A N B . A . ( H o n . ) , O x f o r d , 1 9 8 1 M . A . , T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , 1 9 8 3 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F D O C T O R O F P H I L O S O P H Y i n T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S ( D e p a r t m e n t o f P o l i t i c a l S c i e n c e ) W e a c c e p t t h i s t h e s i s a s c o n f o r m i n g t o t h e r e q u i r e d s t a n d a r d T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A J u l y , 1 9 9 0 ® C . R A D H A J H A P P A N , 1 9 9 0 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of P o l i t i c a l S c i e n c e The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date J u l y 2 3 r d , 1990  DE-6 (2/88) A B S T R A C T The question of how subordinated groups in democratic states set about shifting their political relationship with their encompassing societies has received little attention among political scientists in Canada. Groups which lack significant political, legal, and economic resources, and which are stigmatized by an inferior status (reinforced by law and policy) do not enjoy the level playing field predicted by pluralist interest group theory. ' Yet they are sometimes able to overcome these obstacles and to renegotiate their political and legal status. The question is how some groups are able to do this, and what strategies are available to or obligatory for groups wishing to initiate political bargaining. According to the theory of symbolic politics developed here, disadvantaged minorities seeking political benefits from the state will typically conduct politics at the symbolic level. That is, they tend to invoke a range of political symbols and myths: first, to build in-group solidarity by presenting an analysis of a common past and present, as well as a vision of the future society, and thereby legitimate their political aspirations. In the first stage of minority politicization, such groups must: (a) build a sense of community of interests and goals which can be said to represent the reference group as a whole; (b) reverse the stigmatic identity ascribed to them by the dominant society; and (c) find ways of competing with the dominant society, not on the latter's terms, but on alternative ideological grounds. In the second stage of politicization, minorities must: (a) create appropriate demands; (b) learn to use the mechanisms, methods and institutions of the mainstream political process; and (c) eventually routinize conflict by negotiating stable norms to guide on-going relations with government. ii Subordinated groups do not normally seek purely material benefits. They usually seek symbolic benefits in the form of rights, and a redefined status within society. Thus, much of their politicking is conducted in public, and is largely devoted to capturing public sympathy which can be used as a resource against government. The political myths and symbols employed are characteristically emotive and imprecise. Political goals are presented in symbolic terms, and are advanced at the level of principle rather than substance. When applied to the case of Native Indian politics in the Canadian context, the evidence confirms the accuracy of these hypotheses. Indians have pursued the symbolic strategies predicted by the model: the essence of their political aspirations has been captured in the symbols of aboriginal title/aboriginal rights, land claims, and ultimately, self-government; at the macro level, they have sought predominantly symbolic benefits, as represented by legislative and constitutional recognition of certain rights and privileges; and they have attempted to win public support to use as a bargaining chip vis-a-vis government. However, they have not been entirely successful in their use of the symbolic strategies outlined, and the evidence suggests that they have reached a public opinion impasse. Despite their efforts, public opinion on native and native issues has remained remarkably stable over the last twenty years, so that further effort in this area is likely to bring diminishing returns. In the end, symbolic politics, while necessary for subordinated groups in their fledgling stages of politicization, must eventually give way to more conventional political methodologies as groups become institutionalized in the mainstream political process. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS A B S T R A C T ii LIST OF T A B L E S vii A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S viii P R E F A C E x 1. INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS 1 1.1. Overview 1 1.1.1. Definitions and Assumptions: the Minority 5 1.1.2. Definitions and Assumptions: the Government 11 1.2. The Study of Symbolism 14 1.2.1. The General Properties of Symbols 16 1.2.2. Political Symbols 23 1.2.3. Political Myths 26 1.2.4. The Functions of Political Myths and Symbols 30 1.3. The Strategic Manipulation of Political Myths and Symbols 39 1.3.1. Community-building 40 1.3.2. Symbolic Reversal 43 1.3.3. Symbolic Competition 45 1.3.4. The Creation of Political Settings- Staging Conflict 46 1.3.5. Using the System 48 1.3.6. Routinization of Conflict 49 1.4. A Typology of Symbolic Strategies 52 1.4.1. A Schematic Representation of Symbols and Strategies ... 55 1.5. Symbolic Politics and Power 59 1.6. Plan of the Thesis 62 2. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T 66 2.1. 'The Context 68 2.1.1. The Symbolic Qualities of "Indian Self-Government" 73 2.2. Socio-Economic and Political Problems 82 2.2.1. Demographic Profile 83 2.2.2. Socio-Economic Conditions 90 2.2.3. Indian Policy and the Indian Act 95 2.3. The Expected Benefits of Self-Government 101 2.4. The Problem of Public Opinion 109 2.5. Conclusion '. 115 3. C H A P T E R 3: C O M M U N I T Y - B U I L D I N G 117 3.1. Cultural Pan-Indianism 118 3.1.1. Powwows and Potlatches 122 3.2. The Quest for Political Unity 127 3.2.1. Obstacles to Unity 127 3.3. Indian Organizations and the Quest for Unity 133 3.3.1. Organized Protest Before 1930 134 iv 3.3.2. Provincial and National Indian Organizations After 1931 139 3.3.3. The Contemporary Era - 1969 to 1989 145 3.3.4. Conclusion 154 C H A P T E R 4: SYMBOLIC R E V E R S A L 158 4.1. Combatting Negative Stereotypes 159 4.1.1. Reclaiming the Stereotypes 164 4.1.2. Resurrecting the Aboriginal Past 167 4.1.3. Reclaiming Education 174 4.1.4. Three Targets of Symbolic Reversal 178 4.1.4.1. The Treaties 178 4.1.4.2. Reserves 184 4.1.4.3. Welfare 185 4.1.5. Conclusion 187 C H A P T E R 5: SYMBOLIC COMPETITION A N D OPPOSITION I D E O L O G Y 190 5.1. Symbolic Competition 191 5.1.1. The Ideology of Withdrawal and the Revival of Tribalism 199 5.1.2. The Development of Opposition Ideology 201 5.1.3. Indian Nationalism 203 5.2. Red Power 205 5.2.1. Red Power Organizations 207 5.2.2. Radical Rhetoric 213 5.2.3. The Impact of Red Power 224 5.3. Contemporary Indian Ideology 227 5.3.1. Sovereignty and Nationhood 227 5.3.2. Aboriginal Rights and Aboriginal Title 234 5.3.3. Self-Determination 240 5.3.4. Conclusion 241 C H A P T E R 6: POLITICAL SETTINGS A N D MEDIA M A N O E U V R E S 244 6.1. Protest Activities 245 6.1.1. Civil Disobedience 246 6.1.2. Policy Protests 280 6.1.3. Assertions of Jurisdiction 286 6.2. International Manouevres 289 6.2.1. The London Lobby 290 6.2.2. The United Nations 293 6.2.3. Cultivating the Media 297 6.2.4. Conclusion 299 C H A P T E R 7: USING T H E S Y S T E M A N D ROUTINIZING C O N F L I C T 302 7.1. Using the System 303 7.1.1. The Courts and Aboriginal Rights 303 7.1.2. Commissions and Task Forces--the Penner and Coolican Reports 314 7.2. Routinization of Conflict 325 7.2.1. Constitutional Reform 326 7.2.2. Community-Based Self-Government Negotiations-the Legislative Approach 335 7.2.3. Conclusion 339 8. C H A P T E R 8: C O N C L U S I O N 343 BIBLIOGRAPHY 359 vi LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Correlation Between Types of Symbols and Symbolic Strategies 56 Table 2: Regional Distribution of the Registered Indian Population and Indian Lands 87 Table 3: A Contrast of Indian and White Values 198 vn ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Upon completion of a major project (such as a dissertation), it is customary to thank all those who have contributed to it, while at the same time absolving them of all responsibility for the contents of the finished product. I hereby thank and absolve all of the following (unless, of course, any law suits are brought against me, in which case there'll be plenty of blame to go around). To my supervisor, Paul Tennant, many gracious thanks are owed. He has at all times been enormously supportive and encouraging, administering stiff critiques and kind words of comfort at the right times, in the right proportions, and always with compassion. I am fortunate to have had such an affable supervisor, and such a good coach in my corner. Thanks are also due to my core committee members, Alan Cairns and Donald Blake. Alan Cairns has been especially inspiring, and his support has extended well beyond the call of duty. His comments and criticisms have been uniformly excellent and always thought-provoking. I am honoured indeed to have had the benefit of his insight and encouragement. I am grateful to my external examiner, Noel Dyck, and to my other committee members, Robin Ridington and Philip Resnick, each of whom raised some important questions and pointed out a number of omissions, errors and careless remarks. Their suggestions have been both useful and appreciated. Shadia Drury of the University of Calgary deserves a special acknowledgment. Always generous with her time and knowledge, Shadia has rekindled my interest in political science, and Chapter 1 has benefitted from her erudite commentaries. Writing a dissertation is rather like being afflicted by a serious disease. It vm is a constant source of anxiety and preoccupation, which unfortunately affects one's friends and relatives to an undeserved degree. Thus, I would like to acknowledge m y friends, part icularly Lise Magee and Donna Hewetson, who have put up wi th m y unbearable angst, and who have politely inquired as to the status of m y affliction over the years. Fortunately, the disease was terminal . It's over now, and I 'm cured. Profound gratitude is also due to m y family. Al though they live many thousands of miles away, they have always believed in me and supported me without reservation. I owe m y Mother , Al ice , an enormous debt, and I hope this thesis makes her as proud of me as I a m of her. F i n a l l y , it would appear that this dissertation, more than anything, is a 100%-proof cure for insomnia. Its soporific effects are apparently considerable, since Nadine Jumelle (who has put up wi th more of m y whin ing and fretting than anyone else) falls asleep the instant I begin raving about it. H e r response has done me the great service of putting the thing into perspective, mak ing me realize that it was not nearly as significant as I was occasionally inclined to believe. O n a more serious note, I a m clear that I could not have completed this work without Nadine 's inestimable loving support. I dedicate this thesis to her. i x PREFACE This dissertation is concerned with sensitive and controversial matters-Indian politics and political discourse in Canada. The subject is sensitive because of the socio-economic and political implications of the claims Canadian Indians are making against the state, and it is controversial to the extent that those claims are disputed by a number of governments, politicians, academics, interest groups and citizens. Both the practical and scholarly arenas bristle with polemics on either side of the issues, and objective discussion without advocacy is rare. In view of this, I wish to make my own position clear. Readers should therefore approach this thesis with the following caveats in mind. First, while my sympathies lie with aboriginal people and their aspirations, this thesis does not attempt to speak with the Indian voice. My methodology has not relied upon interviews with Indian people. Although I have referred to a number of books and articles written by Indians (especially in Chapters 3,4, and 5), such literature is rather scarce. Instead, I have relied more on secondary literature produced by non-Indians writing primarily in the period of the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. I have used: government publications; court decisions; newspaper and magazine articles; and theses and academic publications spanning the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, law, history, and political science. The nature of my theoretical approach has required a search of rather eclectic sources, and I do not claim mastery of any of the disciplines whose literary stores I have raided (except, of course, political science!). Inevitably, readers from each of those disciplines will point out that I have neglected other important sources of which I am ruefully unaware. However, there are spatial and temporal limits to the construction of a dissertation, though I would be happy to x hear of any pertinent sources I have omitted which might enrich future work in this area. Secondly this thesis speaks to a theoretical proposition in political science. It constructs a theory of symbolic politics relating to subordinated groups in democratic societies, and applies that theory to the development of Indian political discourse in Canada. It is not an ethnohistorical study of Indian tribal groups, so readers interested in how specific native systems of government traditionally operated or continue to operate should consult modern ethnographic sources. The theoretical approach of this thesis requires that the level of analysis be general. I am not attempting to trace the political activities of one particular tribal group or Indian organization, though I do discuss the contributions of a number of specific groups and individuals to the overall development of Indian political discourse. However, my focus is on how Canadian Indians in the aggregate have improved their political position within Canadian society and vis-a-vis government in recent decades. This general level of analysis is potentially problematic, since some of my arguments about Indians as a whole will not be accurate when applied to particular sub-groups of the Indian population. However, if political scientists were confined to particularistic studies, we would not be able to observe the broader trends and patterns which are the stuff of political analysis, and which contribute to our understanding of human affairs. Finally, it is inevitable that the arguments presented in this thesis will be interpreted according to the varying purposes of readers with different agendas. It is therefore essential that they be read in context. This means, for example, that my arguments about self-government as a political myth should not be xi applied to evidence about native institutions in specific cases before the courts. My analysis is intended to capture the broad rhythms of Indian political discourse, and evidence about Indian government given by native people or other expert witnesses in particular cases is not to be discounted as fictional political mythology. I have argued that political myths are neither deceitful nor contrived, but are usually based on historical realities. As my level of analysis is general, I do not claim to account for the cultural and political idioms of any specific tribal group. I therefore urge readers not to take my approach to Indian politics out of the spirit of scholarly inquiry in which it is offered. xii 1. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS 1.1. OVERVIEW The theoretical perspective presented here arises from consideration of the following question: how do subordinated groups in democratic states manage to induce profound public policy shifts in their favour? More accurately, given that policy changes are often initiated by politicians and bureaucrats in spite of minorities' actions and desires, I am interested in how minorities shape and contribute to public policy shifts which represent their own political goals. This question has assumed an increasing relevance in the post-World War Two era which has been characterized by an unprecedented explosion of national and subnational militancies founded largely on ethnic and local communities. While on the one hand, the period has witnessed a seemingly irrepressible tendency towards centralization of state power, it has also, on the other hand, revealed a concurrent trend towards decentralization of political authority. The beneficiaries of this latter trend at the international level have been the newly-formed independent nation-states of Africa, Latin America and Asia, lately emancipated from their previous imperial rulers. At the national level, the tendency towards decentralization manifests itself in the rise of regional or local authorities, many of which appear to be engaged in a perpetual struggle against jurisdictional encroachments by central governments. At the same time, most states have experienced in their recent histories demands from various groups for expanded rights or considerations. These demands have been of two major types: they have either been generated by ethnic or local groups seeking increased political autonomy (such as the Spanish 1 INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 2 Basques, the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, the republicans of the Six Counties, the Kurds of Iran/Iraq, the Punjabi Sikhs and the Quebec separatists); or they have been generated by groups seeking specific, non-territorial rights (such as the American Black Civil Rights movement, the Womens Movement and the Gay Rights Movement). In general, it seems that groups seeking increased political autonomy from centralized states have tended to be united by bonds of ethnicity, kinship, community or tribal affiliation - what S.D. Clark calls "communal" structures. 1 In contrast, groups seeking specific, non-territorial rights or benefits are referred to as "associational" structures. They are groups organized for specifically stated purposes. Rather than ethnicity-based, they are occupational, religious, political, civic or economic special interest groups. 2 These groups tend to be concerned with limited ranges of issues (racial or sexual discrimination, environmental issues, abortion and so on). Although communal and associational groups vary considerably in terms of their philosophies, constituencies, concerns, goals, methods, levels and types of organization, and resources, they have several things in common. First, each group considers its interests (however defined) to be, in some way, neglected or abused by the government or by the society at large. Their demands are therefore for remedial action. They call alternately for "equal" treatment or for special consideration to make up for the alleged ill-effects of previous policies or practices. They are "pressure groups" to the extent that they attempt to exert pressure on the government (or on the society) for legislative or social changes 1 S.D. Clark, J.P. Grayson and L . M . Grayson, Eds., Prophecy and Protest, (Gage Educational Publishing Ltd., Toronto, 1975), p. 19. 2Ibid.,p.l9. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 3 they believe will remedy the offensive situation. The second feature common to associational and communal groups in general is their relative powerlessness vis-a-vis the largesse of the modern state. With few exceptions, pressure groups are constrained, not only by limited funds (that is, they lack significant economic power), but also by the fact that they seldom constitute voting blocs in sufficient numbers and ridings to be able to effect change through direct parliamentary representation. 1 Associational groups in particular suffer from the additional handicap that often their members' general political views cross party lines. They may support a particular party's position regarding the specific issue at hand, but may not necessarily align themselves with that party across a wide range of issues. To the extent that these factors hold true, such groups can be said to be lacking in formal political power. Finally, both associational and communal groups often have limited or no recourse to the law as it stands (in fact, more often than not it is the law they want to change), and can be said to be bereft of legal power. Without minimizing the importance of the very great differences between such pressure groups, it can be said that for the most part they tend to channel their energies in three directions: they may apply pressure directly to the government (by lobbying politicians and bureaucrats in various ways); they may take the more circuitous route of wooing public opinion in the hope that demonstrable public support will induce the government to take action; or they may resort to political violence. However, I am interested here only in non-violent methods, and the discussion is limited to the first two types of behaviour. 1 Women would be an exception to this since their numbers give them the potential to form voting blocs. J INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 4 In general, groups which take the first course are (or become) institutionalized lobbiers. They manage to gain access to the political and bureaucratic process and are, to a greater or lesser extent, regarded as legitimate spokesmen for legitimate interests. Incorporated into the political process (in some cases, even funded by government), they are able to develop long-term working relationships with decision-makers, which may further legitimize their organizations and interests. On the other hand, groups which exert pressure on government from outside the political and bureaucratic process generally attempt to win public support for their causes, which can be used as political leverage. Armed with evidence of a given level of societal endorsement of their cause, they try to persuade the government to take appropriate action. Usually, such groups play "the politics of embarrassment", by highlighting (alleged) injustices or absurdities in public policy.1 Pressure groups of this kind may eventually become institutionalized (and thus legitimized) by government, but this rarely happens overnight. They must first legitimize their claims in the public domain. This is no easy task, as the claims of such groups tend to be matters of controversy -they are claims which challenge the prevailing moral, social or political norms of the society. This thesis is concerned with pressure groups of the latter kind - that is, groups whose political, economic and legal power is marginal, whose claims appear to be at variance with the prevalent norms of the encompassing society, and whose major hope for the legitimation and satisfaction of their claims seems •Of course, a group's ultimate objective may not be legislative change, but rather "public education" or a shift in societal attitudes. This point will be addressed presently. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 5 to lie in winning public support for their goals. Essentially, the thesis examines the means by which a disadvantaged minority attempts to induce profound shifts in public policy through the mobilization of public support. The major hypothesis suggests that if such a minority lacks real means (that is, political, economic or legal power) to achieve its ends, then it will garner support for its preferred solutions through symbolic means. However, before a theory of symbolic politics is presented, a number of terminological definitions and schematic assumptions must be made explicit. Thus, Part I of this chapter specifies the assumptions regarding disadvantaged minorities and governments which comprise the theoretical bases of my approach to symbolic politics. Part II is a discussion of the general properties and functions of political myths and symbols, while Part III develops a schema of symbolic strategies available to disadvantaged minorities seeking a shift in their political relationship with government and society. 1.1.1. Definitions and Assumptions: the Minority I am not concerned here with analyzing the conditions required for the emergence of a social movement, but rather with the relationship and interaction between a movement (or group) and other parties. Thus, it is assumed that a self-conscious group is already in existence and that it can be mobilized in pursuit of certain goals. At present, my focus is neither on the level of organization required for this mobilization nor on the presence or absence of leaders equal to the task. Instead, I am concerned with the fact that a minority group is conscious of itself as such. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 6 "Minority" is a qualitative as much as a quantitative term. ' What makes a minority is a definition of self which distinguishes . members of one putative group from members of other putative groups. It is an intersubjective definition, although it may conform to the definition of the group held by the larger society. Louis Wirth supplies the following view: We may define a minority as a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out for differential or unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination. The existence of a minority implies the existence of a corresponding dominant group enjoying higher social status and greater privileges. Minority • status carries with it exclusion from full participation in the life of the society. Though not necessarily an alien group, the minority is treated and regards itself as a people apart. 2 This definition of minority is based on both the minority's and the dominant group's perceptions of inter-group separateness and intra-group sameness. It implies that the minority group is self-conscious and that it defines itself in contradistinction to some supposedly monolithic, homogeneous "dominant group", which has the power to grant or withhold benefits. However, while in the real world the "dominant group" is far from an homogeneous monolith (and indeed, is regarded by political scientists of the pluralist school as a collection of discrete sub-groups which compete with each other), the important point is that the minority group perceives itself as being disadvantaged vis-a-vis the rest of the 11n fact, even though the term "disadvantaged minority" has a qualitative as well as a quantitative meaning, the term "subordinated group" is probably more serviceable, since it allows the analysis to include groups which are disadvantaged but which are not necessarily numerical minorities within their respective societies. The most obvious examples here are women and South African Blacks. These groups are certainly subordinated, although they do not constitute numerical minorities. Thus, I will use the two terms interchangeably throughout this thesis. 2 Louis Wirth, "The Problem of Minority Groups", in Minako Kurokawa, Minority  Responses: Comparative Views of Reactions to Subordination, (Random House, New York, 1970), p.34. INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 7 society. It may or may not be the object of collective discrimination, but it believes itself to be the recipient of differential and undesirable treatment. 1 It is assumed that the minority has existed for some time and has a history of disagreeable treatment - one isolated piece of legislation affecting a given group of people negatively does not make a subordinated group per se . There must be some sense of continuity of historical treatment, if our definition is not to include groups organizing to change one piece of legislation or one practice, and disbanding after accomplishing their objective. For some pressure groups, grievances are addressed towards government, particularly if the government is held responsible for the offensive state of affairs, or if the problem can be cleared up by legislative enactments. For other groups, grievances are directed towards the society in general (or some sectors of it) and the primary goal may be a shift in societal attitudes. Legislative change is only a secondary or eventual objective, if it is an objective at all. Finally, there are cases in which the pressure group's grievances are directed at both government and society, and they require legislative and attitudinal change. But in all three cases, the question of "going public" almost invariably arises. The decision to go public will be affected by the nature of the issue, the target of change (that is, law or attitudes), the group's level of organization, its resources and an assessment of the chances of success. Aggrieved groups which choose to go public do so for a number of 1 Wirth's definition, however, stressing only physical or cultural characteristics, is rather narrow. It cannot include, for example, religious minorities, the poor, the unemployed and so on. Therefore, a broader definition would include groups sharing a range of social, cultural, racial, religious, economic or political characteristics which (a) are regarded as significant differentiators by the collectivity involved, (as well as by others), and (b) are the basis of differential and unequal treatment. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 8 reasons: they may have approached government without success; they may lack the organization, resources and representatives needed to engage in the political/bureaucratic process; they may consider the process too cumbersome to match the immediacy of their needs; they may have little chance of success in the absence of demonstrable public endorsement of their demands; or they may simply not be accepted as legitimate actors in the process. But even if a group is unaffected by the above considerations, going public offers many advantages which are not available through the political/bureaucratic process. First, bringing an issue to the public's attention provides an opportunity to highlight the alleged injustice or absurdity of the situation facing the group. Second, publicity puts the group into the main-stream: the fact that the issue is out in the open suggests that more individuals or groups may have a stake in the eventual outcome, even if only a moral or philosophical one. Third, airing an issue out in public, in a sense, serves to demystify it. ,No longer is it the exclusive preserve of politicians, bureaucrats and experts- it is an issue people can understand, and moreover, it is an issue about which the public apparently has a right to know. Fourth, going public has the effect of augmenting the size and importance of the issue. We tend to assume that if an issue is public, it is somehow worthy of our attention. Moreover, publicity is an invitation to contribute to the debate. An issue which is presented to the public within fairly narrow parameters can quickly increase in importance as other groups and individuals realize its possible implications for them. Going public offers a fifth benefit to pressure groups, and that is the opportunity to enroll powerful allies to fight on the group's behalf, either through financial contributions or by using whatever influence they might have on behalf INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 9 of the cause. Sixth, publicizing an issue increases its immediacy - it ensures that the issue will not become hopelessly bogged down in the bureaucratic system, where it can. be shuffled from department to department and languish unresolved. Publicity increases the pressure on politicians to handle the issue quickly, and more significantly, it increases the chances of the group's preferred solution being adopted. Finally, the most important function of publicity is the generation of controversy. The latter involves the exploration of possibilities and indeed, it can be argued that if a given political goal is controversial, its realization is regarded as a distinct possibility. Controversy, moreover, increases the likelihood of compromise. As Murray Edelman argues, "public controversy over an issue functions to help participants in a debate accept an outcome that deviates from their beliefs about the optimum policy".1 Thus, in general, going public can offer a disadvantaged minority a greater chance of success than conducting protracted lobbying through the political/bureaucratic process. For a subordinated group, to make its presence felt in the public space is to give itself socio-political reality. However, going public is not necessarily a costless strategy. It is, in fact, risky. In generating publicity, a subordinated group takes a number of chances. First, publicity may well have a negative impact on public opinion. There is always a risk that highlighting an issue may provoke hostility from a previously ignorant or indifferent public. It may result in the alienation of significant groups and can possibly reactivate adverse sentiment within the population as a whole, particularly if the group is seen as demanding special treatment or rights. Thus, there is a danger that publicity will aggravate those who, due to ignorance or 1 Murray Edelman, Politics as Symbolic Action, (Markham Publishing Co., Chicago, 1971), p.45. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 10 indifference, might not have objected to quiet changes introduced without public exposure. If publicity does provoke hostility (or even a backlash), a second risk is that that hostility may well be used by government to justify denial of the group's demands. Publicity is a two-edged sword which can just as easily be wielded by governments against the group concerned. Since the group is not likely to win unanimous or even majority public support, whatever level of support it does command can be downplayed by government. Politicians can easily argue that in the absence of a clear mandate from a substantial proportion of the electorate, they cannot concede to the group's demands. The democratic majoritarian principle can be used to trump minority interests if it serves governments to do so. While the group struggles to establish its case for special attention or remedial action, governments can situate its interests within a wider context of other groups and interests competing for attention or making claims on the public purse. Compared to larger issues such as the economy, the environment, taxes, budget deficits, and so on, and compared to the demands of larger established interest groups (such as business and labour), the subordinated group's concerns can easily be diminished. A third and perhaps more significant risk of publicity is that governments may respond with symbolic discourse of their own. They may be able to invoke stronger myths and symbols (stronger in the sense that they appeal to public values), and they can certainly respond to symbolic acts in kind. They may even initiate such acts themselves. Given their obvious superiority in terms of resources and their ability to command media attention, governments are clearly not the defenceless victims of minority-generated publicity. In fact, symbolic INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 11 politics occur within an interactive context and relationship, so that in choosing to go public a subordinated group must gamble on its ability to win the publicity game. The hazards of publicity are thus as numerous as the potential benefits. 1.1.2. Definitions and Assumptions: the Government Given that this thesis is addressed primarily to the interaction between subordinated groups and governments, certain assumptions regarding the latter must be made. First, it is assumed that government has no legal imperative to accede to a given minority's demands. The group hopes to point out or to create moral, social or political imperatives, but it cannot rely upon current law to compel government to take any particular action. 1 The strategy of going public therefore relies on a second assumption regarding government - the assumption that government can be swayed by the force of public opinion. This is not an unrealistic assumption, particularly as, in recent years, observers have come to describe the modern political process as "opinion poll politics". While such a description may exaggerate the impact of opinion polls on politicians' actions, it cannot be denied that public opinion does act as a significant constraint on the governments of modern democratic societies, even if they are only driven by the desire to be re-elected. The third assumption pertaining to government concerns the costs of not resolving controversial issues. It is assumed that governments in democratic states have a real political stake in avoiding protracted conflicts with pressure groups, especially where the latter enjoy the support of other influential groups or 10f course, hi some cases, current law is equal to the group's needs, although it is ambiguous and its interpretation may be a matter of contention. In such cases, the group's aim may be to shift legal interpretation, though the courts and the government are under no obligation to do so. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 1 2 individuals. It is argued that the more publicized an issue becomes, the greater is the government's stake in appearing (at least) to take resolute action in the matter. To avoid action is to risk appearing weak, indecisive, unresponsive or intransigent. In the case of particularly controversial issues, the longer the government avoids resolution, the more opportunities a pressure group has to make its case, playing on its adversary's alleged weaknesses or pertinacity. Thus, it is assumed that government has a real interest in reaching equitable solutions with reasonable speed. This is, of course, a general assumption. Certainly, even within democratic states there are numerous examples of governments which are able and willing to sustain protracted conflicts with various interest groups (the Thatcher and South African governments come to mind). Therefore, a government's interest in avoiding conflicts (particularly those conducted at the symbolic level and in the public eye) will tend to vary with a number of factors. These include: the pressure group's size and power (that is, resources plus influence among other significant groups); the legitimacy of the group's claims (particularly where there is a possibility of legal recourse); the importance of the issue in terms of its potential impact on electoral outcomes; the strength of the government's legislative majority and popularity; and not least, the group's success at embarrassing the government and winning public support for its cause. The manner in which these factors (and others) combine in specific circumstances is of critical significance to the question of whether a government can ignore a subordinated group's demands with impunity. However, in general we can expect that governments wish to avoid messy public conflicts with interest groups, particularly those which can succeed in the politics of embarrassment. INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 13 Finally, it assumed that, far from being impassive receptacles of pressure groups' demands, governments will usually resist change. This is particularly true where a group's demands are not consistent with an incumbent government's political philosophy and policy objectives, or where an issue is so controversial that public opinion is either ambiguous or polarized. 1 The assumptions outlined above presuppose a democratic political milieu. While I would not confine the publicity-seeking strategy to groups operating within such a context, it would seem to stand a greater chance of success in countries where governments are ultimately accountable to the populus through free and regular elections, and where ' the democratic tradition precludes the habitual use of the state's coercive power. Indeed, the symbolic strategies described later in this chapter are likely to be more effective in countries with democratic institutions, and constitutions which enshrine fundamental individual liberties. These are important conditions, since actions which may be tolerated in liberal democratic states may not be tolerated in totalitarian or military regimes, one-party or religious fundamentalist states. There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule- the activities of Solidarity in Poland, for example (though the movement was suppressed by successive regimes for many years). Nevertheless, the present discussion is offered within a contextual framework of liberal 1 Various counter-strategies are available to governments in their attempts to defuse or discredit pressure groups' demands, though they are not the focus of this thesis. Clark et. al. suggest three responses: (i) indifference; (ii) accommodation, (iii) obstruction - see Clark et. al., op. cit., pp.27-29. Also, Anderson and Frideres have outlined four major techniques by which dominant groups/governments maintain control over minority groups - (i) insulation, (ii) sanctions, (iii) persuasion and (iv) co-optation. See A.B. Anderson and J.S. Frideres, Ethnicity in Canada: Theoretical Perspectives, (Butterworth and Co., Vancouver, 1981), p. 199. These techniques are important for my purposes, chiefly because they affect the types of strategies available to minorities. More will be said of this later. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 14 democracy. Now that Part I has outlined the major assumptions regarding minority groups and governments, Part II of this chapter goes on to discuss the qualities and functions of political myths and symbols, as a precursor to the development (in Part III) of a theory of symbolic politics. 1.2. THE STUDY OF SYMBOLISM The study of behaviours induced by the invocation of symbols has resided almost exclusively in the domain of anthropology, specifically in the sub-fields of structural anthropology, phenomenology and symbolic interactionism. However, anthropologists (such as Malinowski and Levi-Strauss) have, for the most part, been interested in the cultural functions of myths and rituals, rather than the political functions of conceptual symbols. 1 Political scientists have not offered much explicit discussion of political symbols, which are usually subsumed under a larger conceptual rubric. We are simply not conscious of political symbols per se, as they are normally discussed within the context of particular ideologies. Often they are dismissed as meaningless rhetoric used by politicians as filler for platitudinous speeches, or, to take the more cynical view, they are simplistic distortions of the truth employed with conscious deliberation to pull the wool over our eyes. For these reasons, the literature on the political uses of symbols and myths is notably sparse. Of course, upon browsing through almost any political text, one is apt to find references to "symbolic victories", "the symbolic order of 1 See, for example, Bronislaw Malinowski, Magic, Science, Religion and Other Essays, (Doubleday and Co., New York, 1954), or Claude Levi-Strauss, Structural  Anthropology, (New York, Basic Books, 1963). INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 15 society", and other similar phrases. However, few writers seem to appreciate the substantial benefits of using symbols in a strategic fashion, for the purpose of facilitating social and political change. Where discussion of this nature exists, it is confined to the exploitation of symbols by governments, which claim perhaps to be advancing "the national interest" through particular policy instruments. 1 In fact, Georges Sorel's Reflections on Violence, represents one of the few attempts to articulate a theory of political mythology. 2 Sorel addressed the question of why men seemed willing to engage in apparently hopeless violent political upheavals. He advanced the thesis that such men are impelled to act by the pouvoir moteur of a great myth, a vision in which they pit themselves and their actions against some great enemy, over whom they are certain to prevail. 3 The myth has power, not only because it offers a particular vision of the future, but because it makes sense of present experience. A political myth does not propose a specific program, prediction, or plan of action, and hence, it cannot be refuted on logical or philosophical grounds. " In Sorel's terms, the myth of the general strike presents a good example of the power of myth. As the authorities have no way of determining the capacity of the working classes to act together to disable the economy, they would prefer not to risk it. Such a 'In fact, Murray Edelman has produced the best-known work in this area, in his books, The Symbolic Uses of Politics, (University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1964), and Politics as Symbolic Action, (Markham Publishing Co., Chicago, 1971). Although Edelman's theory applies chiefly to governments, some of his principles are useful for the purposes of this analysis. In another vein, the historians Cohn and Hobsbawm have examined the role of eschatological myths in peasant rebellions, but they have not offered a general theory of symbolic politics. See Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millenium, (Paladin, London, 1970), and E . J . Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels: Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the  19th and 20th Centuries, (Manchester University Press, 1963). 2 Georges Sorel, Reflections on Violence, (translated by T . E . Hulme and J . Roth, A M S Press, New York, 1975). 3Ibid., pp.31-32. "Ibid., p.33. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 16 myth works because it arouses fear of hidden power. Sorel's work is, in a sense, my point of departure. The theoretical perspective presented here seeks to contribute to the literature on political symbolism (such as it is) from the vantage point of a sub-national group which is "poor in resources, rich in demands", 1 and which is seeking to change the nature of its political relationship with state and society. 1.2.1. The General Properties of Symbols The creation and manipulation of symbols is a fairly ordinary human activity. Every community, group or society marshalls a symbolic ensemble which, in some way, enables people to make sense of the world. Indeed, it can be argued that no sentient being can function in society without creating and responding to symbols. That symbols and symbol-making pervade all aspects of human life is hardly a revolutionary idea. Anthropologists, linguists, mathematicians and philosophers have long been conscious of the importance of symbols. But it is only in recent years that we have come to appreciate the magnitude of their importance as behaviour modifiers. W.H. McNeill makes the point as follows: The principal source of historical complexity lies in the fact that human beings react both to the natural world and to one another chiefly through the mediation of symbols. This means, among other things, that any theory about human life, if widely believed, will alter actual behaviour, usually by inducing people to act as if the theory were true. Ideas and ideals thus become self-validating within remarkably elastic limits. 2 ^This term is used by W.A. Gamson in "Stable Unrepresentation in American Society", American Behavioral Scientist, XII, Nov-Dec. 1968, p.20. 2 W.H. McNeill, Mythistory and Other Essays, (University of Chicago Press, 1986), p.6. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 17 But it is not enough to say that we react to one another through the mediation of symbols. For present purposes, my chief theoretical interest lies in how symbols animate and effect relationships of power. 1 Abner Cohen argues that: In both simple and industrial societies there are extensive patterns of normative, non-rational, non-utilitarian behaviour which play crucial parts in the distribution, maintenance and exercise of power. Descriptively, they are usually referred to as customs, or simply, as culture. On a higher level of abstraction they can be described as symbols. 2 Although Cohen seems to be equating behaviours with symbols, it is more accurate to say that certain behaviours are symbolic in nature, or that behaviours have symbolic functions and purposes. But what exactly is a symbol, and how can symbols be distinguished from behaviour, custom and culture? Rodney Needham, a leading anthropologist in the study of symbolism, offers a simple definition. He says that "a symbol is something that stands for something else...as a crown stands for the monarchy or an eagle for the United States". 3 At a very basic level this is a straightforward and appropriate definition. However, symbols are much more than direct representations of other things. Indeed, if all a symbol did was represent something else, it would be superfluous - after all, if you mean "monarchy", why say "crown"? Abner Cohen offers a much more sophisticated (and useful) definition when he suggests that: Abner Cohen makes a similar point in "Political Anthropology: the Analysis of the Symbolism of Power Relations", Man 4 (NS), 1969, p.218. 2 Abner Cohen, Two-Dimensional Man: An Essay on the Anthropology of Power  and Symbolism in Complex Society, (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1974), p.ix. 3 Rodney Needham, Symbolic Classification, (Goodyear Publishing, Santa Monica, 1979), p.3. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 18 Symbols are objects, acts, concepts or linguistic formations that stand ambiguously for a multiplicity of disparate meanings, evoke sentiments and emotions and impel men to action. 1 This is a much more serviceable definition, as it releases us from considering only objects as symbols, and acknowledges the importance of the emotional impact of symbols. Symbols are usually used as a kind of perceptual short-hand, a simple object, concept or word triggering a mental or emotional association with a given phenomenon. The Crown, to take Needham's example, is an ornate, bejewelled piece of ceremonial head-gear . which simultaneously represents a person (the monarch), an office (head of state), and, according to the receiver, perhaps a plethora of associated concepts (authority, tradition, service, duty, wealth, power and so on). Existentially, it is nothing more than a fancy hat. Perceptually, however, "the Crown" carries a wealth of meanings and associations well beyond the limits of its physical function. It may inspire nationalism, a sense of belonging to a continuous historical and political entity, or identification with a set of beliefs and a code of behaviour. Symbols like "the Crown" are powerful, not just because they stand for something else, but because we have emotional responses to the something else, which itself may stand for an enormous range of other things. Occasionally, an object becomes synonymous with a larger concept, so that it carries, not just its original simple meaning, but a much more complex and emotive meaning. "The Crown in India" is a good example of this. To the associations triggered by "the Crown", we might add a chorus of other meanings associated with colonialism. There is then, a distinction to be drawn between physical and conceptual 1 Cohen, Two-Dimensional Man, op. cit., p.ix. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 19 symbols. A physical object, such as a totem or a national flag, is powerful because it is immediate, it is material. It exists in accordance with the physical laws of time and space and can be known through sense perceptions. It is a direct mnemonic aid. A conceptual symbol, on the other hand, is more complex than a physical symbol, because it is more likely to be coloured by individual perceptions. A conceptual symbol is not a mere mnemonic aid. It offers more opportunity for subjective evaluation. To illustrate the distinction between physical and conceptual symbols, the reader is invited to consider a physical symbol - let us say, a bunch of shamrock. The association is, in most cases, immediate and direct - Ireland and things Irish. Now consider the conceptual symbol "women's liberation". This is a much more complex symbol and prediction of association is trickier. It may conjure up a range of visions, from suffragettes chained to the railings of 10 Downing Street, to Betty Friedan and the struggle for the Equal Rights Amendment. But it is more than likely to produce a value judgment, which will vary according to one's view of the cause. "Women's liberation" then, like many conceptual symbols, encapsulates a multiplicity of meanings and lends itself to many interpretations. It is an aspiration, whose precise nature however, is uncertain. It does not tell us what laws or public policies might be required, any more than it tells us what behaviours or actions can be expected in pursuit of the aspiration, or what accommodations men are required to make. Conceptual symbols are, of course, normally expressed in language. Indeed, language is itself the transaction of symbols, the power of which is immense. Anthony P. Cohen recognizes the power of language as follows: Philosophers have long since drawn our attention to the capacity of INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 20 language to express attitude as well as to denote object.... [Words] such as "freedom" and "democracy" do not merely describe forms of government and legal status. They also tell us how to regard these forms. They are "hurrah" words, as opposed to "boo" words...[Similarly] the use of the word "dirt" does rather more than signify the particles which lie under the finger-nail: it also expresses an attitude, "ugh!", and prescribes a remedy, "scrub!". 1 Of course, there are many physical symbols which provoke value judgments, the swastika being one of the better examples. Nevertheless, we can say that conceptual symbols are more likely to trigger evaluations, and, more significantly, to suggest action. In a sense, all symbols are conceptual, in that they involve a thinking process -through which information from the world is filtered and interpreted. However, the point is that some symbols are not at all linked to physical objects, and we are likely to see a broader range of meanings and associations. These are the kinds of symbols of which Abner Cohen writes: [Symbols and symbolic complexes] are cognitive, in that they direct the attention of men selectively to certain meanings. They are affective, in that they are never emotionally neutral; they always agitate feelings and sentiments. They are conative, in that they impel men to action. These characteristics determine the potency of symbols...from the least potent, a mere "sign", to the most potent, a "dominant symbol". 2 An important characteristic of symbols is that they allow those who employ them (or receive them) to furnish part of their meaning. As Anthony Cohen points out, symbols do not so much express meaning as give us the capacity to make meaning: Such categories as justice, goodness, patriotism, duty, love, peace, are almost impossible to spell out with precision. The attempt to do so T A . i \ Cohen, The Symbolic Construction of Community, (Tavistock Publications Ltd., London, 1985), p. 14. 2 Abner Cohen, "Political Anthropology", op. cit.,p.217. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 21 generates argument, sometimes worse. But their range of meanings can be glossed over in a commonly accepted symbol - precisely because it allows its adherents to attach their own meanings to it. They share the symbol, but do not necessarily share its meaning....Learning words, acquiring the components of language gives you the capacity to communicate with others, but does not tell you what to communicate. Similarly with symbols: they do not tell us what to mean, but give us the capacity to make meaning. 1 Objects, events, behaviours and concepts do not contain meaning intrinsically: they are found to be meaningful by an act of interpretation. "Social interaction", argues Cohen, "is contingent upon such interpretation: it is essentially, the transaction of meanings". 2 Interpretation is, by definition, subjective. When different interpretations of a phenomenon interact, there is always "the possibility of imprecision, of inexactitude of match, of ambiguity, of idiosyncracy". 3 This is because symbols do not just represent other things, "they 'express' other things in ways which allow their common form to be retained and shared amongst the members of a group, whilst not imposing on these people the constraints of uniform meaning". 4 Symbols are highly malleable, but that does not mean that they cannot be understood in similar ways by different people. Anthropologists describe symbols of this kind as possessing a quality of "multivalence" - that is, they have multiple shades of meaning which vary according to the speaker. Mircea Eliade advises us that: A n essential character of....symbolism is its multivalence, its capacity to express simultaneously several meanings, the meaning of which is not evident on the plane of immediate experience... One cannot sufficiently insist on this point: that the examination of symbolic ^ . P . Cohen, op. cit., pp. 15-16. 2Ibid., pp.16-17. 3Ibid., p.17. "Ibid., p. 18. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 22 structures is a work not of reduction but of integration. 1 Therefore, symbols allow us to communicate abstract notions without compelling us to engage in semantic definition. Rather than imposing uniformity, they integrate ranges of meaning. We are normally quite unconscious of the fact that we are creating, using, responding to and communicating through symbols. We tend to respond to symbols on a subliminal level and believe that the interpretations we have as a result of them truly describe the world. 2 Summary The general properties of symbols may be summarized as follows: 1. symbols are a kind of perceptual short-hand; 2. physical symbols are simple and direct mnemonic aids; 3. conceptual symbols are more complex than physical symbols, and they tend to induce emotional responses and to provoke value judgments; 4. symbols do not carry fixed meanings - they give us the capacity to make meaning; 5. symbols require an act of interpretation, which is, by definition, subjective; 6. symbols are multivalent - they allow for multiple layers of meaning, which vary according to the speaker (and indeed, the listener); 7. the indeterminacy of lexical meaning allows many people to use the same symbol without exposing significant differences of interpretation; 8. symbols are powerful because they are malleable and give the appearance of commonality. 1 Mircea Eliade, The Two and the One, (Harville Press, New York, 1965), pp.201-202. 2 The tendency to believe our interpretations of symbols poses an interesting, though not insurmountable, problem for social scientists. As Karl Mannheim pointed out in Ideology and Utopia, the political scientist studying her/his own or a similar society is inevitably caught up in the same system of symbols which s/he is trying to decode. Because symbols are largely processed through the unconscious mind, it is hard for those influenced by them to identify and discuss them. See Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1936), p.9. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 23 1.2.2. Political Symbols While symbols in general are difficult to spot because we are largely unconscious of them, political symbols are a little easier to identify since they are normally used with more deliberation. For the purposes of this discussion, political symbols will be defined as any objects, acts, behaviours, concepts or words which pertain to relationships of power between individuals or groups, or which purport to describe, explain, criticize or alter the nature of those relationships. 1 "Politics" is regarded here as the interaction between two or more parties, the purpose of which is to maintain or to change their status, powers, authorities, rights or duties in relation to one another. Thus, political symbols are designed to exalt, justify or criticize a political relationship (or balance of power) between two or more groups, or to propose changes to a political relationship. Murray Edelman has produced one of the better treatments of political symbols to date, although his focus is on the use of political symbols by governments. In The Symbolic Uses of Politics, Edelman observes that, for most of us, politics is a spectator sport, "a passing parade of abstract symbols which our experience teaches us to be a benevolent or malevolent force that can be close to omnipotent".2 But whereas Edelman holds that this "passing parade of abstract symbols" is produced and manipulated by governments, in fact, it is generated and sustained by the interplay between governments and interest groups, individuals and collectivities. 1 Obviously, many political symbols are held and used by groups to fulfil internal functions only. However, this thesis is concerned with political symbols which are used to communicate values and ideas to other groups, and which are intended to distinguish groups from one another. 2Edelman, op. cit., p.5. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 24 Edelman makes a distinction between "referential" and "condensation" symbols, an approach which is roughly comparable to my earlier distinction between physical and conceptual symbols. Briefly, referential symbols are economical ways of referring to objective elements in objects or situations, elements which are identified in the same way by different people. Condensation symbols, on the other hand, evoke emotions associated with a particular situation.1 They are not designed to distil the objective truth of a situation. Rather, they are designed to feed into emotional, value and belief systems. 2 Condensation symbols encourage people to think in generalities and to skirt over specifics, especially where issues are controversial. Edelman argues that: Practically every political act that is controversial or regarded as really important is bound to serve in part as a condensation symbol. It evokes an aroused or quiescent mass response because it symbolizes a threat or reassurance. 3 This point is essential to an understanding of symbolic politics, particularly as politically active minorities tend to undertake conspicuous political acts in public, for the express purpose of evoking mass responses. 4 Political symbols in particular subvert rational processes, to the extent that they reduce complex situations to simple ideas (or, more accurately, value premises), which can be Ubid., p.6. 2 Condensation symbols obviate the need for constant referral to reality. For example, Edelman points out that it is impossible to test objectively a conviction that, for example, one is surrounded by communists. See Edelman, The Symbolic  Uses of Politics, op. cit., p.6. 3Ibid., p.27. "It is not inaccurate to say that politics is characterized less by rationality than by emotion. C.W. Wahl goes as far as to say that "the collectivity of psychotherapeutic experience suggests that the areas of politics and religion are more deeply immune to the rational processes than are any other portions of our conscious beliefs or value systems." See C.W. Wahl, "The Relation Between Primary and Secondary Identifications", in E . Burdick and A . J . Brodbeck, American Voting Behavior, (Glencoe, Illinois, 1959), p.263. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 25 grasped easily by listeners. Harold Lasswell notes that this simplification function of political symbols is especially powerful in times of rapid political, economic, technological and social change. He argues that profound lifestyle changes which produce adjustment problems can be resolved largely through symbolization. "The rational and dialectic phases of politics", he maintains, "are subsidiary to the process of redefining an emotional consensus".1 Emotional consensus is in fact one of the major goals of political rhetoric, which has been defined as "the organization of "meaning" in the verbal culture of politics".2 The purpose of rhetoric (or the speaking of political attitudes, values or goals) is persuasion, and rhetoric relies heavily upon the use of condensation symbols. It plays upon the tendency of human beings to derive emotional security from the adoption of simple positions, which depict the world in black and white. In fact, Kenneth Burke calls political rhetoric "secular prayer", the purpose of which is "to sharpen up the pointless and to blunt the too sharply pointed".3 While this may be an overly cynical view of the function of political rhetoric, the point is well-taken. By simplifying complex situations and offering easy answers, political symbols allow us to exempt uncomfortable problems from close scrutiny. At the same time, we must be careful not to dismiss political symbols as anaesthetics. They may encourage us to remain oblivious to certain inconvenient problems, but they have manifold other functions and benefits, which account for the persistence of their use. Edelman points out that sometimes symbols "are the 1 Harold Lasswell, Psychopathology and Politics, (New York, 1960), pp. 184-5. 2 See Robert Paine, Politically Speaking: Cross-Cultural Studies of Rhetoric, (Institute of Social and Economic Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1981), p . l . 3Kenneth Burke, A Grammar of Motives, (Prentice-Hall, New York, 1945), p.393. INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 26 only means by which groups not in a position to analyse a complex situation rationally may adjust themselves to it, through stereotypization, oversimplification and reassurance. 1 The fact is, "audiences do not like to be asked to examine arguments in extenso....and they are usually given what they prefer: persuasive capsules", 2 in the form of political symbols. Summary The general qualities of political symbols may be summarized as follows: 1. political symbols are more condensational than referential in nature; 2. condensation symbols evoke emotions and aim at immunity from rational analysis; 3. political symbols tend to reduce complex situations to simple value premisses; 4. political symbols appeal to mass publics, who think in stereotypes and cannot tolerate analytical complexity; 5. political symbols, an essential component of political speaking, simplify the political environment and provide emotional security. 1.2.3. Political Myths As defined above, political symbols are designed to encapsulate in a single object, act, concept or linguistic formation, a multiplicity of meanings and emotions. They stand ambiguously for complex, abstract ideas. However, they lack the dimensions of historical analysis and explanation. Thus, they are supported in the larger context by political myths. But before the distinction between political myths and symbols is drawn, some discussion of the notion of "myth" is warranted. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a myth is "a purely fictitious narrative, usually involving supernatural persons, actions or events, and Edelman, op. cit., p.40. 2Paine, op. cit., p.16. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 27 embodying some popular idea concerning natural or historical phenomena". In other words, "myth" refers to any belief that has no basis in fact. Myth is illusion, a product of fantasy or wishful thinking. As Percy S. Cohen notes: In popular usage the term "myth" is almost always intended pejoratively: here, my beliefs are a strong conviction, yours a dogma, his a myth. Myths, in this view, are erroneous beliefs clung to against all evidence. The term is then synonymous with fallacy and "old wives tale"...1 The term "political myth", however, is used in quite a different sense. Political myths are usually not mere flights of fancy. They are normally based, albeit loosely, on historical fact, though they may be embellished for dramatic effect. Percy Cohen offers an outline which stresses the narrative aspect of myth: The chief characteristics of myth are as follows: a myth is a narrative of events; the narrative has a sacred quality; the sacred communication is made in symbolic form; at least some of the events and objects which occur in the myth neither occur nor exist in the world other than that of the myth itself; and the narrative refers in dramatic form to origins or transformations. 2 So, considering any particular political myth, we can assume that at least some of its elements are based on historical fact. But given that myths are passed on by human beings (and human beings are not renowned for their objectivity), it seems likely that the greater part of a myth will be interpretation. Historical accuracy is not a central concern of adherents to particular political myths, and Henry Tudor makes the point that: [Myth]...is a device men adopt in order to come to grips with reality; 1 Percy S. Cohen, "Theories of Myth", Man, Vol.4 NS 1969; p.333. 2Ibid., p.333. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 28 and we can tell that a given account is a myth, not by the amount of truth it contains, but by the fact that it is believed to be true and above all, by the dramatic form in which it is cast. ' The quest for the truth or falsehood of myths has long been a preoccupation of anthropologists and historians. As Cuthbertson pointedly observes, "the alchemic search for the quinta essentia is repeated in the efforts of mythologists to isolate the nuclear truth of the myth". 2 The point of the exercise seems to be to discover how "true" a given myth is, as if that will somehow tell us whether it should be believed or not. If it is held up against historical fact and found wanting, we can righteously dismiss it as hocus-pocus stuff-and-nonsense. But to demythologize myth is to miss the point. The historical accuracy of a myth has little bearing on its potency in the present. For example, the myth of Aryan superiority may or may not have been accurate (according to genetic and historical information available), but that did not determine its credibility in the eyes . of several million Germans. Moreover, political myths tend to be reshaped by those who pass them on, according to their own needs and circumstances. Myths do not retain their purity over time. They are carried and manipulated by individuals and collectivities at particular points in time for particular purposes.3 What matters is whether myths are believed to be true, and, if they are, what actions they inspire. Political myths do not have to reflect historical or political realities accurately. They are simply a means of extracting important events, actions, conditions and values from a complex 'Henry Tudor, Political Myth, "(Pall Mall Press, London, 1972), p. 17. 2 G .M. Cuthbertson, Political Myth and Epic, (Michigan State University Press, 1975), p.6. 3Tudor, op. cit., p.39. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 29 historical environment to express a coherent world view. To the extent that this is so, political myths are selective constructions of the past, present or future. They are interpretations of how things were, are or could be. A useful way of conceiving of the distinction between political myths and symbols is to regard myth as an historical context, out of which specific content -symbol- is drawn. Virtually all societies or communities construct political mythologies for the purpose of identity-building (among other things). For example, every nation has a founding myth, a story of how the society or nation came to be formed. 1 In Canada, it is represented by the myth of the Founding Fathers of Canadian Confederation, and by the myth of the "Two Founding Nations" (English and French). . Now, it is not suggested that the events surrounding Confederation did not take place, or likewise, that the signing of Magna Carta or the American Civil War never happened. The point is that the events, actions and people involved in these historical periods are embellished, and themselves come to be symbols of independence, parliamentary democracy and so on. Abraham Lincoln, for example, is revered as the champion of freedom, the man who went to war with his fellow whites in the South to abolish slavery. Yet in fact, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that slavery was a fairly minor issue in the Civil War. Similarly, American history has elevated to the status of legend, Washington and his apple trees, Washington 1 Brian Slattery makes this point as follows: "Most countries have a national myth- an account that purports to relate the central events of a country's history in compressed form, that explains how the country has come to be and what it stands for. National myths are useful and perhaps indispensable ways of making the complex past relevant to the perplexing present...All national myths involve a certain amount of distortion, but some at least have the virtue of broad historical accuracy, roughly depicting the major forces at work". See Brian Slattery, "The Hidden Constitution: Aboriginal Rights in Canada", in M . Boldt and J .A. Long, The Quest for Justice, (University of Toronto Press, 1985), p.114. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 30 crossing the Delaware, Washington doing all sorts of things which are supposed to be meaningful to contemporary Americans. But the truth is, few citizens of any country are entirely familiar with the events, places and characters associated with their founding myths. We do tend to respond at some level to certain key words. We know they symbolize something - we may not be quite sure about what they symbolize, but we feel sure it must be something good. So, given the remarkable endurance of political myths and symbols, the question arises, what are the functions of political symbolism and mythology, . and how do we account for their persistence over time? 1.2.4. The Functions of Political Myths and Symbols In Magic, Science and Religion, Malinowski argues that the. function of myth is: ...to strengthen tradition and endow it with greater value and prestige by tracing it back to a higher, more supernatural reality of initial events...[Myth] expresses, enhances and codifies belief.1 This function of political myth is central to the present argument. By emphasizing tradition, the myth-maker links present circumstances to the past, and in so doing encourages a sense of historical continuity. Thus, political myths enable people: ...to see their present condition as an episode in an on-going drama. A political myth may explain how the group came into existence and what its objectives are; it may explain what constitutes membership of the group and why the group finds itself in its current predicament; and, as often as not, it identifies the enemy of the group and 1 Malinowski, op! cit., p.146. INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y O F SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 31 promises eventual victory.1 Insofar as this is true, political mythologies are, in a sense, polemics. They do not merely describe or explain the past, they hold the past as a paradigm for present action: A political myth is one which tells the story of a political society. In many cases, it is the story of a political society that existed...in the past and which must now be restored or preserved. In other cases it concerns a political society destined to be created in the future, and it is told for the purpose of encouraging men to hasten its advent...A political myth does not, of course, have to be addressed to people already in a political society. In fact, political myths often find their audience among people who think of themselves as having lost a political society. 2 Thus, the object of a political myth may be the preservation and protection of that which has existed in the past, or the creation of something new in the future. But whether past- or future-oriented, political myths are almost always concerned with the identity and survival of a group. Political myths, moreover, are idealistic. They usually idealize either the past or the future. That future outcomes are uncertain in no way compromises the integrity of a forward-looking political myth/symbol, because it speaks to an ideal future. This is not to suggest that political myths and symbols cannot represent real objectives. On the contrary, they must represent real objectives if they are to inspire people to a sense of possibility. The point is, while a myth/symbol may speak to an ideal future, it does not necessarily follow that adherents expect actual outcomes to correspond rigorously to the ideal. In fact, it is characteristic of future-oriented, political myths and symbols to argue for more 1 Tudor, op. cit., p. 139. 2Ibid., pp. 138-9. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 32 than may actually be expected. They are large claims for large purposes. For example, Tudor notes that: A political myth may...establish the claim of a certain group to hegemony, sovereign independence or an extension of territory; it may help strengthen the solidarity of the group in the face of a major challenge; it may serve to encourage the resistance of an oppressed minority; or it may supply compelling arguments for the abolition of undesirable institutions. 1 It is important to understand that the grandeur of a myth does not necessarily make it unrealistic. If it is a large claim, it must be spoken in grand terms. Were this not so, many of the fundamental transformations societies have experienced throughout history could never have taken place, because people would not have been inspired to a sense of possibility. Of course, it is always possible that a claim may be too large, or pressed too soon. In addition, there is always the possibility that, in creating a political myth or symbol, the myth-maker "either deceives himself or deliberately sets out to deceive his audience".2 The problem is that few myths/symbols are obviously fraudulent, at least without the benefit of hindsight. It is very difficult to say unequivocally that a particular myth/symbol is false, because it is largely a matter of interpretation. Acceptance of symbols depends upon their consistency with one's own world-view, which ultimately is itself a mythical construction. 3 Undoubtedly, some mythical and symbolic constructions are ultimately revealed as 'Ibid., p.139. 2Ibid., pp.132-133. 3 Kratochwil makes this point as follows: "[Symbols] create meaning by structuring our universe, building up images far removed from the immediacy of sense perceptions. Because symbolic structures cannot be unequivocally tested against reality - reality being itself a creation of the symbolizing activity that endows perceptions with certain meanings - deception but also persuasion are possible". See F . V . Kratochwil, International Order and Foreign Policy, (Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1978), p.20. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 33 counterfeits (the Third Reich being a good example). But it is hard to imagine a myth/symbol consisting only of deceptive rhetoric being sustained over time. If it is to inspire and maintain a following, a myth and its supporting symbols must be rooted in past and present realities. If it suggests specific future outcomes, a political myth/symbol must create a sense of possibility, through which its adherents can envision their goals realized. Furthermore, over time, there must be some evidence of progress towards the desired end if the symbol is to be carried beyond the "lunatic fringe". In creating a possibility for something new in the future, it is not uncommon for myth- and symbol-makers to select elements from a variety of existing myths and fashion new ones. Levi-Strauss calls this process bricolage. The bricoleur "improvises a new artefact from the odds and ends lying about in his workshop". 1 These "odds and ends" almost always hark from a distant past. It is as if, in bringing forth the new, we must somehow stand on the shoulders of the old. The pull of tradition is apparently irresistible, especially as it is seen to legitimate present claims. But conjuring up the spirits of the past, though a potentially misleading exercise, does not necessarily imply that a group is unable to cope with the present. On the contrary, political mythology is geared towards beefing up a sense of identity and community which can help the group to survive as a distinctive entity: It would be a mistake to characterize such responses as merely "traditionalistic", implying that the community in question is mired in its own past and is unable to face up to current imperatives. Rather, the past is being used here as a resource....It is a selective construction of the past which resonates with contemporary influences. Sometimes 1 Tudor, op. cit., p.52. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 34 this kind of folk-history resembles myth or meta-history...a charter for contemporary action whose legitimacy derives from its very association with the cultural past. Myth confers "rightness" on a course of action by extending to it the sanctity which enshrouds tradition and lore. Mythological distance lends enchantment to an otherwise murky contemporary view...Myth is "beyond time". It blocks off the past, making it impervious to the rationalistic scrutiny of historians, lawyers and others who may dispute precedent and historiographical validity. 1 Symbols of the past are invariably condensation symbols, and are particularly effective "during periods of intensive social change when communities have to drop their heaviest cultural anchors in order to resist the currents of transformation. 2 Historians, particularly Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, have recently referred to this "selective construction of the past" as "the invention of tradition". They point out that many of the traditions we assume have genuine historical credentials are, in fact, quite recent creations. "Invented traditions" are actually "responses to novel situations which take the form of reference to old situations, or which establish their own past by quasi-obligatory repetition". 3 The invention of tradition is a form of adjustment to current imperatives, especially where a rapid transformation of society displaces old social patterns. It can take the form of using old traditions for new purposes, but it is more likely to involve inventing new "traditions" which claim to be based on old ones. The point of the exercise is to establish a sense of cultural, social or political continuity, which can dampen fears of abrupt change. The invention of tradition therefore, is not a cynical attempt at deception. Rather, it is a way of adjusting to change through the use of historical or quasi-historical referents. 1 A.P. Cohen, op. cit., p.99. 2Ibid., p.102. 3 E . J . Hobsbawm and T. Ranger, The Invention of Tradition, (Cambridge University Press, 1983), p.2. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 35 Communities facing rapid social change display a remarkable tendency to reassert their boundaries vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Thus, an important function of myths and symbols lies in their affirmation of "identity". Abner Cohen argues that groups establish their distinctiveness through myths and symbols. They must define their membership, identity and exclusiveness through (among other things) mythologies of descent, ritual beliefs and practices, moral exclusiveness and style of life. He makes the point that: We can observe individuals objectively in concrete reality, but the relationships between them are abstractions that can only be observed through symbols. Social relationships develop through and are maintained by symbols. We "see" groups through their symbols.1 Symbols and myths which are shared by a group of people reinforce consciousness of a common past, so that "what a particular group of persons understands, believes and acts upon, even if quite absurd to outsiders, may nonetheless cement social relations and allow members of the group to act together and accomplish feats otherwise impossible". 2 Symbols and myths are incorporated into a group's world-view (or ideology), which itself distinguishes the group from others. The mythological construction must therefore offer the group a positive, even romantic, view of itself, and this is particularly important for socially disadvantaged groups: All human groups like to be flattered...A mingling of truth and falsehood, blending history with ideology, results....The result is mythical: the past as we want it to be, safely simplifies into a contest between good guys and bad guys - "us" and "them"...Groups struggling towards self-consciousness and groups whose accustomed status seems threatened are likely to demand (and get) vivid, simplified portraits of their admirable virtues and undeserved 1 Abner Cohen, Two-Dimensional Man, op. cit., p.30. 2 McNeill , op. cit., p.7. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 36 sufferings. 1 This is a crucial function of political myths and symbols. McNeill maintains that belief in the virtue and righteousness of one's cause is a necessary sort of self-delusion for human beings, because "a corrosive version of history that emphasizes all the recurrent discrepancies between ideal and reality in a given group's behaviour makes it harder for members...to act cohesively and in good conscience". 2 Thus, groups which lack consensus on a set of believable myths will find it difficult to maintain solidarity in times of crisis. Political myths and symbols, moreover, objectify roles and relationships between groups. By depersonalizing relationships, roles, offices and positions, myths and symbols discourage people from thinking of themselves as individual victims in a situation. 3 Instead, they are encouraged to look at the larger picture. It is not that they personally deserve this or that treatment. Rather, it is "the system", a consequence of history,' or a result of other groups' misunderstanding of the reference group as a whole. Furthermore, political myths and symbols are the stimuli of political action and reaction at a much deeper and more powerful level than ideologies. Acting from ideology requires a sophisticated understanding and analysis of the world through a philosophical prism. Political myths and symbols, however, appeal to a non-rational, non-intellectual level of human consciousness. They are unreasonable, and as such are much more effective catalysts to action in the political sphere. Whereas ideologies have rigid parameters, political myths and symbols are more valuable political currency because they have the capacity to transcend ideological 'Ibid., pp. 12-13. 2Ibid., p. 14. 3 Abner Cohen, "Political Anthropology", op. cit., p.220. INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 37 boundaries. Political myths and symbols are not based on factual analyses of situations. They merely posit certain "truths" based on a priori assumptions. Thus they are free of the requirement of congruency with factual reality. Accordingly, they are a critical resource for groups wishing to shift the balance of current power relationships, for they do not describe what is so as much as they establish a claim for what could or should be. As Abner Cohen concludes: Although [political myths and symbols] can be said to be phenomena sat generis, existing in their own right and observed for their own intrinsic values, they are nearly always manipulated, consciously or unconsciously, in the struggle for, and maintenance of, power between individuals and groups. They may be said to be "expressive", but they are at the same time instrumental. 1 Finally, I must re-emphasize the point made earlier that the factual fidelity of a political myth is not of critical importance when it is being used to support contemporary political claims. It is not so much the substantive content of a myth that counts, but rather the message it carries about members of a group, community, or society - the message about who they are, where they came from, how they conduct themselves, how they see themselves and wish to be seen by others, their dearly held values, beliefs, truths, and aspirations. Political myths derive their power from the essential functions they perform in enshrining a set of values, setting boundaries between groups, legitimating political aspirations, and inspiring certain kinds of actions. This is not only perfectly legitimate, it is quite inevitable. Hence, I am not arguing that political myths are necessarily unsupported by facts, though a close examination of the mythologies of any society or community would probably reveal a mixture of truths and fictions. However, I do 1 Abner Cohen, Two-Dimensional Man, op. cit., p.xi. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 38 not see political myths as lies or deceitful fabrications. They are not simply invented to serve cynical purposes (the myth of Aryan superiority being an obvious exception). So, in analysing political myths we should put less emphasis on verification of the dates, characters, conditions and events they purport to narrate, and more on the messages they carry about a group's identity and aspirations. Rather than being deceitful and illegitimate, political myths are intended to be salutary and inspirational. Summary In summarizing their general characteristics and functions, we can say that political myths and symbols: 1. are based loosely on historical fact (although factual accuracy is not a prerequisite of credibility); 2. strengthen tradition by linking the present to the past; 3. use the past as a resource in explaining present situations; 4. are polemics which suggest or justify present or future actions; 5. tend to refer to some ideal past and some ideal future; 6. involve, to some extent, "inventing traditions", which are a collage of old and new; 7. function as cognitive maps which allow us to see where we have been, and to chart possible courses of action available to us in the future; 8. offer a sense of possibility by which adherents may envision their hopes realized; 9. affirm group identity and encourage a belief in the righteousness of one's cause; 10. objectify roles and relationships between groups and individuals; and 11. are the currency of political transactions. Part III of this chapter examines some of the strategies available to subordinated groups seeking a shift in their political relationship with government and society. The focus is on strategies which are based on political myths and symbols. They are strategies which not only employ symbols, but which are used for symbolic INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 39 purposes, and are accordingly referred to as "symbolic strategies". 1.3. T H E S T R A T E G I C M A N I P U L A T I O N O F P O L I T I C A L M Y T H S A N D S Y M B O L S Subordinated groups' political interactions with their encompassing societies can be described as a dynamic process of posturing and counter-posturing, which is carried out nr. the symbolic level through language. Political symbols, especially condensation symbols, are expressed in language at a high level of abstraction and set the tone of political interaction. They create the conceptual and emotional parameters of debate, and train attention upon a limited range of possibilities. But most significantly, political symbols are designed to win, mobilize and maintain support for particular political objectives. Edelman informs us that: The employment of language to sanctify action is exactly what makes politics different from other methods of allocating values. Through language a group can not only achieve an immediate result but also win the acquiescence of those whose lasting support is needed. More than that, it is the talk and the response to it that measures political potency, not the amount of force that is exerted...Talk involves a competitive exchange of symbols, referential and evocative, through which values are shared and assigned and co-existence attained.1 If it is true that actions speak louder than words, it is only true to the extent that words, or in present terms, symbols, inspire action. Political myths and symbols representing different values or goals invariably generate controversy, and mobilize support and opposition. Controversial goals normally evoke strong emotional responses. In Edelman's terms, they name ideals or threats, so that "for specifiable groupings each term names both a source of anxiety (black 1 Edelman, The Symbolic Uses of Politics, op. cit., p. 114. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 40 supremacy, starvation pay, unemployment etc.) and a promise of salvation".1 This is an important observation, because if a goal is controversial, a group wishing to bring about change must win support for its goal. The support of putative members of the group is insufficient. It must be supplemented by a measure of public support. That is, it must win a "critical mass" of support which is sufficient to transform a controversial political goal into a realistic possibility. Although it is not possible to predict the exact number of supporters required, it is still possible to assert that some minimal level of public support is needed, if a politically controversial goal is to be realized. In their attempts to achieve a critical mass of support, a number of non-violent strategies are available to disadvantaged groups through symbolic interaction. They are: 1. community-building 2. symbolic reversal 3. symbolic competition 4. "using the system" 5. creation of appropriate political settings 6. routinization of conflict What follows is a discussion of each of these strategies. 1.3.1. Community-building In their quest to achieve a critical mass of support for politically controversial goals, the leaders of subordinated groups must achieve a core of support for their goals within their own constituencies. The first step in achieving that core lies in the creation of a sense of common identity and purpose among members of the putative group. Political symbols/goals are crucial to the development of a sense of common identity which is distinguishable from that of 'Ibid., pp. 160-161. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 41 other groups: The abstract and remote symbols conventionally cited as defining the issues and goals can be recognised as serving the function of eliciting wider public support for the various groups involved in [a] conflict. Adversary role playing serves to bring valued benefits to the adversaries; and the most valued of them have little to do with the publicized symbolic goals; rather, they take the form of the achievement of an identity which will be cherished and defended. 1 Essentially, political myths and symbols are aimed at the construction of community. However, this does not refer to community in the sense of a particular collectivity of individuals united by bonds of language, culture and race, residing in a specific geographical area. Rather, this is community as a sense of belonging to and identifying with a particular group, which may or may not share language, culture and territory. For example, we speak of "the gay community" as if it were an homogeneous entity, even though its members may have very different life-styles, cultures, languages, ethnic origins, religions and so on, and do not necessarily live en bloc. What defines membership of the "community" is primarily "gayness", and secondarily, whatever experiences associated with gayness members may share (such as discrimination). Thus, the term "community" is not used here in the sense of a structural model of social organization. Instead, attention is trained upon the mythologies and symbolic constructions which encourage a sense of belonging to a wider collectivity of people. So, rather than saying that political symbols create community as a structural entity, we can more accurately describe them as creating communities of interests - that is, a collectivity of people who share a discrete set of interests which distinguishes them in a significant way from other groups. Thus, followings 1 Edelman, Politics as Symbolic Action, op. cit., p. 17. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 42 mobilized around a particular cluster of political symbols can loosely, though not imprecisely, be conceived as "communities of interests", insofar as they have at least one overriding point of commonality which they consider to be important. As argued above, political symbols and myths are concerned with the demarcation of boundaries. They define a relative community (of interests) and posit significant differences between it and other communities. Consciousness„ of community inheres in people's ownership of a common body of symbols and myths. As Cohen points out, the symbolic expression of boundary heightens people's awareness of their community, and "this phenomenon is well known to political activists who often justify their apparently...hopeless demonstrations by pointing to the effect they have of "raising consciousness" among participants". 1 Boundaries, being relational rather than absolute, are notable for their oppositional character. They unite members of a community of interests in their opposition to those outside the boundary - they create an "in group" and an "out group". But it is important to remember that the interests in question are not always material ones. Subordinated groups rarely agitate directly for improved material conditions. More often than not, they explain their material deprivation in terms of inadequate access to certain rights, privileges or opportunities. So, in the case of a minority group singled out for differential and unequal treatment, the rewards sought are usually intangible or symbolic in nature. They are claims to rights, privileges or opportunities, rather than direct appeals for material rewards. 2 1 A.P. Cohen, op. cit., p.50. 2Oberschall makes the point as follows: "Social conflict is seldom a simple mechanical reaction to grievances and frustrations experienced in pursuit of material interests. Interests and dissatisfactions are experienced and interpreted by way of moral ideas about right and wrong, justice and injustice or conceptions of the social order as they are expressed in ideals and highly regarded principles. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 43 Thus, the creation of communities of interests among subordinated groups relies upon an analysis of the common past and on symbols which stress the injustice of present treatment. • Community-building is the first step towards transformation of a minority's political relationship with state and society, and it is achieved by creating a sense of common identity and by instilling acceptance of a common body of explicatory and inspirational myths and symbols. 1.3.2. Symbolic Reversal Most subordinated groups, particularly ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, find themselves victimized by an ignominious identity, which is imposed on them by the society in general. They are stereotyped, labelled and dismissed as a group: parsimonious Jews, inscrutable Orientals, stupid Poles, work-shy Blacks, and so on. Whether there is a factual basis to these attitudes or not is beside the point. Nor is it within the scope of' this thesis to inquire into the reasons why groups may appear to display these "typical" characteristics. What matters here is that the myths about them are by and large believed by outsiders to be true, and in many cases, are likewise absorbed by members of the groups in question themselves. Stigma seems to have a self-fulfilling quality-the more people believe the stigma to be true, the more "true" it seems to become. Stigmatized groups, over time, tend to accept the stigma and thereby reinforce it. Thus, if leaders of a disadvantaged minority wish to shift their 0 (cont'd) The drive tochange existing institutions, whether to reform or revolutionize them, is inspired by unrealized ideals. Measured against the ideals that are enshrined in the sacred books, the constitutions and collective myths, reality falls short. The gap may be wide or narrow; its very existence will justify the effort to close it in the name of legitimate, highly valued and respected principles". See A. Oberschall, Social Conflict and Social Movements, (Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 1973), p. 187. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 44 relationship with the encompassing society, they must find a way of defusing the stigmatic identity. Thus, an important dimension of symbolic interaction is symbolic reversal. The term refers to the tendency of groups in crisis to reverse or invert the norms of society: An increasingly common response to the imposition of stigmatic identity appears to be an assertion by those who are stigmatized of the characteristics which "spoil" their identity...A more recent strategy observed among ethnic and other disadvantaged groups has been to "honour" the stigma, to render it as a positive value and thereby to destigmatize it. Perhaps the most powerful and innovative use of this tactic lay in the assertion by black militants in the United States in the 1960s, that "Black is Beautiful!". The impact of this message was all the greater for its contrast with the more defensive rhetorics which had previously prevailed in the politics of civil rights and race relations. The earlier claim had been for equality; the new one was a statement of superiority, and thus constituted a reversal of the normally perceived scheme of things. 1 This trend can be observed elsewhere, most notably in the women's movement, which shifted from a struggle for "equal opportunity" to "a much more militant and seemingly chauvinistic assertion of the virtues of an exclusive feminism". 2 Symbolic reversal can also be witnessed in the gay movement's assertion that "gay is the way" and in the call to "Black Power" in African independence movements. Indeed, Anthony Smith's popular book, The Ethnic  Revival, is a veritable compendium of ethnic groups around the world which have begun the process of destigmatizing their identities. Smith notes that even the smallest ethnic communities have become dissatisfied with submissive isolation. They have accordingly adopted aggressive postures, employing a range of ' A . P . Cohen, op. cit., pp.59-60. 2Ibid., p.60. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 45 strategies to ensure that their political demands are met by the state.1 One of these strategies, and a crucial one at that, is symbolic reversal, and, according to Anthony Cohen, these kinds of tactical and symbolic reversals have "swept away the orthodoxies of relations between the powerful and the disadvantaged".2 1.3.3. Symbolic Competition In conjunction with symbolic reversal, a disadvantaged minority may employ the strategy of symbolic competition. Schwimmer uses this term to refer to a situation in which the apparently disadvantaged group "rejects the symbolic code in which it is disadvantaged and replaces it with its own, in which it is relatively powerful, or to which it has exclusive access". Symbolic competition yields "opposition ideologies" which assert the superiority of the minority, although "by worldly standards it may be categorized as an oppressed and exploited minority". Schwimmer considers this symbolic competition to be "a kind of surrogate for the worldly competition in which the minority is too handicapped to have any chance of success". 3 Edelman makes a similar point, noting that : When members of a protesting group perceive the established order as entrenched and generally supported and its own resources for superseding it manifestly inadequate, attacks on the symbols of its own degraded status are predictable. 4 Although symbolic competition and symbolic reversal may appear to be identical, there is an important distinction to be made between them. Symbolic ^ee A.D. Smith, The Ethnic Revival, (Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 15. 2 A . P . Cohen, op. cit., p.60. 3 E . Schwimmer, "Symbolic Competition", Anthropologica, XIV (2), p. 120. "Edelman, Politics as Symbolic Action, op. cit., p.26. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 46 reversal is, in a sense, transforming negative images into positive ones. What was once a debilitating stigmatic identity becomes a source of nourishment. Symbolic reversal is more akin to cultural renewal, but stops short of political regeneration. While it disarms the stigma, it does not prescribe specific political solutions, and does not suggest any further action. The latter is the domain of symbolic competition. Symbolic competition implies the development of counter-positions, not just to tackle the problem of stigmatic identity, but to oppose the prevailing norms of the society at the ideological level. Symbolic competition is a more militant strategy than symbolic reversal, and is more likely to be observed in groups embarking upon a political struggle. Such groups will typically point out the shortcomings, inconsistencies and pretensions of the dominant group's values and practices, replacing them with their own, "superior" values and practices. 1 1.3.4. The Creation of Political Settings- Staging Conflict Once the leaders of subordinated groups have managed to forge a collective identity and a community of political interests, they must begin to interact with the dominant society to present their grievances and claims to the public and to politicians. The effective use of political symbolism relies heavily on the creation and manipulation of appropriate political settings. Edelman has advanced the thesis that "mass publics respond to currently conspicuous political symbols: not to "facts", and not to moral codes embedded in the character or 1 Alternatively, the dominant group's values and practices may not be rejected as such, but instead the society's failure to observe its own supposedly treasured principles will be highlighted. Martin Luther King would be a pertinent example here. He did not scorn the symbols and values of the dominant white American society. Rather, he embraced them, but attacked the hypocrisy of the society. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 47 soul, but to the gestures and speeches that make up the drama of the state". 1 He argues that unless an appropriate political setting has been created, which legitimizes both a set of values and a mode of access to the political process, a group interest cannot be translated into policy, no matter how strongly held or widely supported it may be. Political settings are therefore "unabashedly built up to emphasize a departure from men's daily routines, [giving] a special or heroic quality to the proceedings they are to frame". 2 Of course, Edelman is referring to governments interested in promoting acquiescence to their policies. However, the creation of appropriate political settings is equally important for groups seeking policy shifts which are bound to be politically controversial. A suitable setting can enhance the performance of the dramatis personnae, and can even make up for deficiencies in their substantive arguments. Indeed, it is not unusual for the public activities of many minority groups to be characterized as "amateur dramatics", although a flair for the dramatic in no way detracts from the seriousness of a group's intentions. On the contrary, it merely demonstrates an awareness that mass publics respond to conspicuous political symbols which are presented in dramatic form. In a way, everything is grist to the mill of symbolic politics - settings, costumes, make-up, music, language - and it is powerful use of symbolism if it manages to create and maintain followings. The creation and manipulation of political settings in the modern era is, of course, accomplished through the use of the media. In the post-war period, the role of the media has been augmented to an unprecedented, perhaps alarming, degree. As most of our awareness of politics is now filtered through 1 Edelman, The Symbolic Uses of Politics, op. cit., p. 172. 2Ibid., p.96. INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 48 the electronic and print media, subordinated groups must learn how to present their cases through the media. This is particularly important for groups hoping to create a critical mass of support for their causes. If they have traditionally been excluded from participation in the means of mass communication, they must find a point of access and make their cases newsworthy. This usually means using highly emotive condensation symbols, in the hope of provoking public controversy. 1.3.5. Using the System Subordinated groups seeking fundamental policy changes must also learn to use the normal channels of the political process. The willingness to participate in the institutional, legal, parliamentary, and administrative processes is crucial to their accumulation of legitimacy. To demonstrate a willingness and an ability to engage in politics on the dominant society's terms is to demonstrate respect for the latter's highly cherished traditions, and this is likely to win more sympathy from members of the dominant group than more militant direct action. Thus, group leaders must learn to use the mechanisms and institutions of the mainstream political process, including (wherever appropriate) the legal system, the parliamentary process (including advisory bodies and commissions of inquiry), and the bureaucratic/administrative process. However, they will normally use such mechanisms for symbolic purposes- that is, to gain recognition of rights or access to the centres of political decision-making, both of which are symbolic expressions of legitimacy. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 49 1.3.6. Routinization of Conflict Finally, disadvantaged groups engaged in political interaction over a significant period of time invariably reach a stage in which routinization of conflict is necessary. This is partly because of the need (referred to above) to demonstrate that some progress is being made. It is also due to the discomfort caused by uncertainty: ...inability to foresee limits on the conflict and the consequent anxiety on both sides eventually leads to a common interest, supported politically by concerned groups not directly involved, in establishing routines for conflict resolution. 1 The term "routinization" (as used here) refers to the establishment of stable and consistent guidelines for conflict resolution, either in the form of consultative bodies set up by government to receive policy advice from the group in question, or in the stronger form of legislative or even constitutional guarantees of the group's rights. Codification of the minority's relationship to government and to the wider society in statutory or constitutional provisions sets stable parameters within which subsequent conflicts which may arise can be contained. Moreover, because the boundaries of the minority-government relationship are set, neither side can easily renege on its commitment to play out later conflicts within reasonable limits. The development of routine mechanisms for conflict resolution does not mean that the parties then have equal resources. The minority will try to tip the balance of power by maximizing the scope of the legislative and (preferably) constitutional guarantees offered. Thus, minority leaders will attempt to secure very general, loosely-defined guarantees of fundamental rights or privileges, which 1 Edelman, Politics as Symbolic Action, op. cit., p.22. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 50 will allow them maximum latitude in claiming those rights or privileges. For its part, the government will obviously try to limit the obligations it must assume, so that bargaining at this level will normally involve a good deal of symbolic posturing. Since the new minority-government relationship will be codified in legalistic language, the language and symbolism used by each party is of critical significance. Routinization of conflict has a number of important functions for both minority and government. First of all, setting up stable mechanisms for bilateral bargaining facilitates social interaction between the parties, allowing each to become more familiar with and appreciative of the other's perspective. Secondly, it provides assurances to the constituencies of each of the parties that conflict is being managed within reasonable limits, and that compromises will be reached. Third, while it does not preclude the minority's use of other symbolic strategies, it obviates the need for them, since it is a signal that the minority has carved a legitimate place for itself in the political process. In effect, it has become institutionalized. Institutionalization, though not an end point in itself, yields many symbolic benefits, particularly as it is held to symbolize the shift from exclusion to inclusion in the political process of allocating values. Commentary Subordinated groups seeking a shift in their political relationship with state and society employ a number of symbolic strategies, some of which have been identified above. These strategies may be used singly or in concert. They need not be used sequentially, although it is possible to observe a logical progression in the symbolic strategies pursued by many minorities. It is important to note that such strategies are the precursors to real bargaining for practical and/or INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 51 material benefits. They are symbolic means of amassing real power. 1 They are intended to prompt the more powerful adversary to bargaining, and thus, their efficacy can be measured by the extent to which they do produce bargaining. The question inevitably arises as to whether minorities using these symbolic strategies are conscious of them as symbolic strategies per se, or whether they are conscious that they are using strategies at all. The term "strategy" normally refers to an overall design of action to produce a result, which is employed with conscious deliberation.2 Seen in this way, it is not unreasonable to assume that the leaders of disadvantaged minorities are conscious of strategy. Their task is not only to define "the problem", but to see what is wanted and needed to solve it, and to come up with ways of doing so. Leaders of subordinated groups know that in order to accomplish their objectives they must politicize and mobilize their constituencies. They know that they must disarm the power of the stigmatic identity foisted upon them by the dominant society, which insinuates itself into the belief structure of members of the minority. They know they must generate a sense of worthiness to compete against the dominant society, and they know they must learn to use the political, legal, and administrative mechanisms of the dominant society if they are to gain legitimacy. They are conscious also of the need to orchestrate the formality and drama of the stage on which their struggle is acted out, and they are conscious of the fact that, over the long term, they must routinize conflict in order to minimize escalation and uncertainty. 1 Given my earlier assumptions regarding governments' need to be responsive to public opinion, it is argued that the existence of significant public support for a group's demands amounts to real power, as it gives the minority leverage against the government. 2 The Oxford English Dictionary defines "strategy" as "a plan, method or series of manoeuvers or strategems for obtaining a specific goal or result". INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 52 However, it is highly unlikely that leaders of disadvantaged minorities pressing claims against the state would characterize their strategies as symbolic reversal, symbolic competition and so on. These are analytical categories, created for the purpose of observing the ways in which minority leaders use political symbols to produce certain results. Thus, we may conclude that consciousness of symbolic strategies as analytic categories is not a prerequisite of their effective use. Nor is it required that leaders be conscious of the fact that they are using symbols to accomplish their strategic or tactical objectives. The fact is, political symbols pervade all political speaking, and most of us use and respond to them unwittingly. That is probably why they are so effective. 1.4. A TYPOLOGY OF SYMBOLIC STRATEGIES Thus far I have outlined the characteristics, qualities and functions of political myths and symbols, and have suggested a number of strategies available to disadvantaged minorities. These are strategies which either use particular political symbols or yield significant symbolic benefits. The political symbols used by such minorities can now be explicitly correlated with the symbolic strategies outlined. 1 The characteristics of political myths and symbols discussed above generate 1 Now, with the disciplinary shift from the modest study of "the art of politics" to the rather more ambitious "science of politics", the last thirty years has witnessed the enormous growth of the so-called behaviouralist tradition. This approach to the study of political phenomena, and its enchantment with testing hypotheses by reference to statistics, flow-charts, cross-tabulations and diagrams, has made us somewhat allergic to conceptual propositions unsupported by hard and fast "proofs". However, in spite of the behaviouralist approach, the conceptual schema presented below does not purport to be a definitive rule of thumb. In postulating certain hypotheses, it is intended only to describe probable relationships between symbols and strategies, and harbours . no pretensions of being a blue-print for strategic planning. INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 53 a typology, which, at a higher level of abstraction, allows us to observe their functions. To begin with, political symbols and myths which are based on historical fact and which are employed for the purpose of strengthening tradition may be regarded as protective symbols. These are symbols used by minorities in crisis, whose major intention is to preserve their cultural, linguistic, religious, social or political identities as they are. By invoking visions of their ancestors, their histories and their traditional values, they seek to anchor the present in the past. This has been the response of many ethnic groups defending their identities against the homogenizing logic of the forces of industrialization, urbanization, and the centralization of political power. They revive their cultural and/or political traditions in an effort to buffer their communities from further encroachments by the modern world. Thus, they use the symbols of their histories in order to reinforce their present sense of identity. At the same time, there may be a promotional aspect to symbols. Symbols which explain the present and are polemics justifying political action promote "solutions" to a group's predicament. Whereas protective symbols are past-oriented, promotional symbols are forward-looking, or future-oriented. Examples of promotional symbols are the concepts of "Black Power" or "Gay Liberation". A second distinction to be made between symbols refers to their reliance either on emotional or rational-legal responses.1 Emotive symbols are intended to provoke various sentiments and value judgments. "Racial prejudice" and "sexual discrimination" are good examples of emotive symbols. We are supposed to respond at a "gut" level- these are bad things; the symbols of "justice", "fairness", "equality" and "peace among men"- these are good things. They 1 The term "rational-legal" is of course borrowed from Weber, although it does not refer here to the bureaucratic model of organization. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 54 suggest that something ought to be done: the bad things should be eradicated; the good things achieved and protected. On the other hand, rational-legal symbols appeal to us as reasonable human beings, and are intended to encourage measured, logical thinking. In the tradition of utilitarian liberalism, we adhere to the principle of "the greatest good of the greatest number" and respect the reasonableness of the rule of "law and order". Rational-legal symbols are intended to appeal to the norms of equality and fairness which govern the legal and political system. The third distinction to be observed is that between inclusive and exclusive symbols. The latter are symbols which are aimed at the members of a particular minority - the "in" group. These exclusive symbols stress the common history, experience, treatment, status, problems and interests of the "in" group. They foster a sense of identity, and, to a greater or lesser extent, encourage an "us and them" mentality. Exclusive symbols are predicated upon the assumptions, values and ideologies of the in-group. On the other hand, inclusive symbols are designed to have universal appeal. They include the out-group and use its highly cherished values and principles, with a view to enrolling the support of the out-group. Symbols of "the universal right of peoples to self-determination", "equal opportunity", "freedom of expression" and other rights enshrined in liberal-democratic constitutions are examples of inclusive symbols. Minority leaders are apt to stress the commonality between the minority and the rest of society - after all, everyone wants a chance at the good life, free from unreasonable social, legal, economic and other impediments. Leaders will tend to use symbols which stress "working together" towards the common goal of "social harmony", and will imply that the dominant INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 55 group has something to gain by protecting the minority's interests. The use of inclusive symbols demonstrates a willingness on the part of the minority to pai ticipate in the political process, as defined and developed by the dominant group. 1.4.1. A Schematic Representation of Symbols and Strategies The relationship between the types of symbols and symbolic strategies discussed above is represented in schematic form below. Table 1 correlates six types of symbol with six types of symbolic strategy. The symbols are grouped and contrasted along three dimensions: the protective/promotional distinction refers to the purpose of the symbol; the emotional/rational-legal distinction refers to the kind of response solicited by the symbol; and the exclusive/inclusive distinction refers to the target of the symbol. The schema as presented implies a temporal dimension. One of the central hypotheses of this theoretical approach is that disadvantaged minorities in the process of politicization normally pass through two major stages. In the initial stage, minority leaders must create or develop a sense of community (or community of interests). Without this, it is impossible to mobilize minority members for protracted political interaction. In order to create a sense of community, they must transform the stigmatic identity which impedes the minority's progress towards desired goals. Where the minority is unable to compete with the encompassing society directly, leaders must find alternative modes of competing. They compete at the symbolic level and develop "opposition ideologies". Thus, the symbols used by leaders of emergent political groups tend to be protective, emotive and exclusive. Table 1 — Correlation Between Types of Symbols and Symbolic Strategies S i ' a t e g y U s e d c o m m u n i t y bu i ld ing s y m b o l i c r eve r sa l s y m b o l i c c o m p e t i t i o n c r ea t ion o f sett ings us ing the s y s t e m r o u t m i x a t i o n o f c o n f l i c t p u r p o s e p r o t e c t i v e • • • pf o m o l i o n a l • * « iespon je e m o t i o n a l • • * ra t ional — legal • • • target e x c l u s i v e • • • i n c l u s i v e * * • Stage I S l a g e 2 INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 57 However, once the integrity of the community (of interests) has been established, the minority moves to a second stage, in which the major concern is to legitimate and realize its claims and demands. In order to accomplish this, the minority must be willing to interact with the society on the society's terms. Thus, minority leaders create and manipulate political settings in such a way as to magnify the ceremony and importance of their issues. They adapt the structures and political methods of the dominant group to the service of their objectives and, over time, they routinize conflict within acceptable, non-threatening boundaries. Accordingly, the appropriate symbols in Stage 2 are promotional, rational-legal and inclusive. It is important to stress the point that these relationships are posited as tendencies, rather than fundamental laws. It is always possible to observe groups using strategies in a fashion which does not correspond to the sequence suggested here, after all, pressure groups are anxious to respond appropriately to the circumstances in which they find themselves, and are not at all interested in conforming to the models invented by political scientists. Inevitably, there will be some overlapping of strategies. They will perform various functions at various points. For example, it would not be unusual to find minority leaders in the process of solidifying their communities creating dramatic political settings (meetings, cultural events and so on) to enhance the importance of the message. However, the present focus is on the dramas acted out before the "viewing public", which have the explicit purpose of augmenting the group's importance in the eyes of the rest of the encompassing society. Furthermore, the schema does not imply that, in moving to the second stage of development, the minority abandons the symbolic strategies used in its INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 58 fledgling stage. It is not as if, having inspired a sense of commonality, the latter is then self-regenerative. On the contrary, it must be continually re-created, if the movement is to sustain momentum. However, we would expect to see the more extreme elements of an opposition ideology down-played, as symbolic reversal and symbolic competition fulfil their functions, and as the minority prepares for increased interaction with the dominant group. Minority groups which maintain the oppositional character of their ideologies usually find themselves and their demands ignored or suppressed. Extremist right- and left-wing minorities are examples of groups which fail to make the transition between stages, and invariably fall victim to ridicule and perpetual marginality. 1 Finally, it must be emphasized that the strategic manipulation of symbols and myths is essentially an interactive process. Minorities do not present their symbols in some vacuous space. They respond to the symbols of the dominant group. They present symbols and counter-symbols, postures and counter-postures, arguments and counter-arguments. The point is to have their symbols accepted as rightful claims on the society. A group's success at symbolic politics will naturally be affected by the extent to which governments respond with symbols and mythologies which may be more popular than those available to the group. This is an important strategic consideration, since government responses will tend to shape and limit the kinds of symbolic systems a group can employ. Indeed, governments are themselves in the business of symbolic politics, though some 11ndeed, a group may not pass through a stage so completely as to leave it behind once and for all. Stages may be endlessly repeated. Moreover, the political elite of a subordinated group may begin Stage 2 activities before adequately mobilizing its constituency. This can be problematic, especially if the goals articulated by the elite cannot be realized without the active participation of non-elites. In such a case, leaders will probably have to return to the Stage 1 strategies in an attempt to create a community of interests and to mobilize and inspire group members. INTRODUCTION: T O W A R D S A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 59 display more skill than others. Given this reality, subordinated groups must be careful in their choice of symbolic strategies and tactics where their more powerful adversaries (governments) already enjoy significant advantages in the politics of symbolism. Though this thesis is not focussed on the use of symbolic politics by governments, the dynamic interaction between subordinated groups and governments at the symbolic level should not be underestimated. In the end, this thesis is examining the question, posed in various literatures, of why bargains often fail to reflect accurately the relative bargaining strengths of the parties to a dispute. My hypothesis suggests that it is because subordinated groups are able to employ powerful symbols and myths in a strategic fashion, and can achieve outcomes which belie their relative bargaining power. As Kratochwil observes: Politics is more than the skill of maximizing certain values in a game whose rules have been created by fiat. It becomes a creative activity of risk-taking and transforming the game one is playing. 1 Symbolic politics, in the end, is about just that. 1.5. SYMBOLIC POLITICS AND POWER In the theory of symbolic politics I have articulated above, I argued that subordinated groups looking to reshape the contours of their political relationship with the dominant society will tend to conduct politics at the symbolic level. It was also contended that such groups rarely solicit simple material benefits, but tend to seek more abstract benefits in the form of rights or securities. These propositions have important implications for the way in which political scientists 'Kratochwil, op. cit., p.23. INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 60 have customarily viewed the key concept of power. Political scientists have traditionally understood power as something wielded by sovereign authorities (or governments), involving the capacity to coerce or to collect and distribute material benefits. In the post-war period, interest group theory has expanded this view to include major sectional organized interest groups, but these have been chiefly economic- that is, producer/business and labour groups. Thus, we have customarily operated with a materialist conception of power. This conception couples the ability to make or to influence public policy with a group's material resource base, plus its ability to affect the resource bases of other groups through its actions. However, this view of power tends to exclude public interest organizations, issue-based groups and social movements. The latter are not necessarily defined by their material interests, and are often diffuse organizations lacking the financial and organizational resources of sectional interest groups. Examples of such groups include the women's, the U.S. civil rights, the gay rights, linguistic and ethnic, the environmental, and the peace/anti-nuclear movements. While the demands of such groups may have material implications, they are not in the nature of direct transfers of material resources. Instead, they are demands for rights or securities (the "right" to clean air, waters etc., sex equality rights, collective ethnic civil rights, the "right" to security from the threat of nuclear war or accident, and so on). These relatively new movements seem to be after a new kind of power- the power to redefine political and socio-economic values and goals, and the power to change the nature of the political game. Power accrues to those who are able to sculpt what Breton calls INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 61 "the symbolic order of society",1 and rights constitute a new kind of power since they allow groups to refashion the symbolic order. The tactical and strategic implications of the new rights-based discourse include far less emphasis on traditional methods of lobbying and advocacy and much more on direct, publicity-seeking actions (occupations, sit-ins and their variants, demonstrations, appeals to international agencies, petitions, blockades, passive resistance, marches, fund- and consciousness-raising celebrity events, and litigation). Thus the new social movements (including public interest and issue-based groups) differ from the traditional sectional economic interest groups in that: (a) they usually seek non-material goods in the form of rights, which set limits on subsequent public policies and which influence the symbolic order of society; and (b) they tend to use symbolic strategies and tactics to accomplish their goals. In the Canadian context, the passage of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 has' given a number of groups (women, the disabled, aboriginal people, ethnic and linguistic groups) rights which translate into the power to make governments do or refrain from doing certain things, so that rights have become the new political currency. The theory of symbolic politics developed here therefore suggests that, at a minimum, we must rethink our traditional notion of what constitutes power, and how subordinated groups acquire it. 1 Raymond Breton, "The Production and Allocation of Symbolic Resources: An Analysis of the Linguistic and Ethnocultural Fields in Canada", Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 21 (1984): pp. 123-144. Breton argues that "the production of the symbolic order and its transformation entail, almost inevitably, an allocation or re-allocation of social status or recognition among various segments of the society" (p. 124). INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF S Y M B O L I C POLITICS / 62 1.6. PLAN OF THE THESIS Now that a theory of symbolic politics has been developed, the task of the remainder of this thesis is to test its hypotheses by reference to the case of Indian politics in Canada. The Indian peoples of Canada are regarded here as a disadvantaged minority, to the extent that they are largely bereft of economic, legal and political power. However, in the last eighteen years, they have collectively managed to transform the political agenda on native issues from the 1969 White Paper's proposal to terminate "special status", to serious discussions of the feasibility of Indian self-government. It is argued that this transformation has occurred partly as a result of Indian leaders' use of highly emotive political symbols and symbolic strategies. So essentially, the remainder of this thesis examines the development of the discourse of Indian politics over the last couple of decades, with a view to explaining how and why this shift in thinking has come about. Chapter Two therefore sets up the historical context from which the notion of "Indian self-government" has emerged. It describes the symbolism of the current terminology of Indian politics and outlines the symbolic functions and purposes of this terminology. The main focus of the chapter, however, is an examination of some of the major problems Indian leaders hope will be solved by self-government. Thus, after a brief demographic profile, the chapter presents an outline of the socio-economic and cultural conditions facing Indian populations. This is followed by a short analysis of the effects of the Indian Act on Indians' ability to govern themselves. Having established some of the major problems self-government is purported to address, the chapter looks at some of the sociological, economic, political and cultural benefits self-government is likely to INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 63 yield. However, it is argued that one significant barrier to the attainment of self-government is likely to be lack of public support. Therefore, the chapter concludes with a brief outline of the public relations task facing Indian leaders, by concentrating on two .pre-1979 public opinion polls on native issues. Chapter 3 examines Indians' use of the symbolic strategy of "community-building". It focusses on attempts to: (1) create an overarching "Indian" identity which transcends tribal-based identities; (2) develop provincial and national Indian organizations which can speak for all Indians; and (3) create a body of overarching political symbols/goals which can incorporate at least some of the interests of the various Indian sub-groups. Chapter 4 examines Indians' attempts to symbolically reverse the stigmatic identity which has thwarted their social and political development, and which has assigned them to perpetual inferiority and marginality vis-a-vis the encompassing society. Chapter 5 traces the development of Indian ideology (an outgrowth of symbolic competition), examining the radicalism of the 1970s in terms of the Red Power movement and the development of three key concepts in the contemporary discourse of Indian politics - sovereignty and nationhood, aboriginal rights, and self-determination. The remaining chapters are devoted to an examination of the three remaining symbolic strategies. Chapter 6 concentrates on the creation of political settings, especially in the 1980s. It offers an analysis of a number of high-profile Indian political activities, conflicts which have been played out in public for the purpose of provoking controversy and mobilizing public support. The chapter therefore features an analysis of Indian political actions both on the domestic and on the international scene. Chapter 7 discusses the strategies of "using the system" and routinization of conflict. The first part of the chapter INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y O F SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 64 examines Indians' use of the courts and commissions of inquiry to legitimize their political claims in the legal and parliamentary arenas. The second part of the chapter traces Indians' attempts to routinize conflict in the form of setting up stable guidelines for conflict resolution. Specifically, the discussion is centred upon the process of constitutional reform, legislative provisions for self-government, and the federal government's new community-based self-government negotiations policy. The concluding chapter summarizes and evaluates the arguments and data presented, and speculates as to the future direction of Indian politics in light of the legal and political developments of recent years. It also includes an assessment of Indians' success at conducting politics at the symbolic level, and points out some of the problems of continuing to do so. Finally, it must be noted that political scientists have paid very little attention to the manner in which Indians as a disadvantaged sub-national minority have conducted politics at the national and international levels. In fact, most scholarly work on Indians tends to come from lawyers, anthropologists, and sociologists, each bringing their own disciplinary lenses to their endeavours. Lawyers, for example, tend to be interested in the legal ramifications of concepts such as aboriginal title and aboriginal rights; anthropologists tend to focus on cultural systems, community dynamics, and the problems of cultures under pressure; sociologists have tended to concentrate on social problems of native communities, and their interactions with the institutions of the dominant society; while the few political scientists who have studied Indian politics have grappled with the question of how to reconcile Indian political demands for special collective rights with the requirements of liberal democracy and the federal system of government. However, no political scientist has yet offered a theory of INTRODUCTION: TOWARDS A T H E O R Y OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS / 65 Indian politics which enables us to understand how and why Indians have managed to win rights and privileges which are not available to other Canadians. In light of their small numbers, their political marginality, legal uncertainties regarding their status and rights, and the sheer magnitude of their claims upon Canadian society, this is an important question for study. Thus, this thesis seeks to contribute to the literature on the politics of minorities, through a theory of symbolic politics. 1 1 A number ofexplanations for political scientists' apparent lack of interest in native politics is advanced in a paper by R. Gibbins and R. Jhappan, "The State of the Art of Native Studies in Political Science", paper presented to the biennial Canadian Ethnic Studies Association Conference, Calgary, October 20th, 1989. 2. C H A P T E R 2: T H E SYMBOLISM OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T We the Indigenous Peoples of the World, united in this corner of our Mother Earth in a great assembly of men and wisdom declare to all nations: We glory in our proud past: when the earth was our nurturing mother, when the night sky formed our common roof, when Sun and Moon were our parents, when all were brothers and sisters, when our chiefs and elders were great leaders, when justice ruled the law and its execution. Then other peoples arrived: thirsting for blood, for gold, for land and all its wealth, carrying the cross and the sword, one in each hand, without knowing or waiting to learn the ways of our worlds, they considered us to be lower than the animals, they stole our lands from us and took us from our lands, they made slaves of the Sons of the Sun. However, they have never been able to eliminate us, nor to erase our memories of what we were, because we are the culture of the earth and the sky, we are of ancient descent and we are millions, and although our whole universe may be ravaged, our people will live on for longer than even the kingdom of death. Now, we come from the four corners of the earth, we protest before the concert of nations that, "we are the Indigenous Peoples, we who have a consciousness of culture and peoplehood, on the edge of each country's borders and marginal to each country's citizenship". And rising up after centuries of oppression, evoking the greatness of our ancestors, in the memory of our indigenous martyrs, and in homage to the counsel of our wise elders: We vow to control again our destiny and recover our complete humanity and pride in being Indigenous People. 1 1 Declaration of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, meeting at Port Alberni, British Columbia, October, 1975. Quoted in D .E . Sanders, "The Formation of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples", (unpublished paper, University of British Columbia, 1975), pp. 17-18. 66 C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 67 The purpose of this chapter is to apply some of the hypotheses of the theory of symbolic politics developed in Chapter 1 to the case of "Indian self-government" in Canada. Thus, after setting the context, the chapter goes on to describe the qualities of self-government as a symbolic construction, with special emphasis on its supporting mythologies. Although self-government is widely valued in and of itself, it is usually proposed as a solution to a number of problems, two of which are discussed in this chapter. On the one hand, there is the problem of Indians' historical treatment under the Indian Act, which has resulted in a severe curtailment of their ability to run their day to day affairs without impediment from external powers. On the other hand, there is the problem of the systematic pressure applied to native traditions and cultures, which is reflected today in an alarming chronicle of socio-demographic statistics. After outlining these problems, the chapter offers a short discussion of the political, social and cultural benefits which are likely to be reaped from self-government, leaving discussion of some of the problems associated with the concept to other chapters. Finally, it is argued that one of the most important (but least discussed) obstacles to the attainment of self-government is lack of public support. Indians face the formidable problem of enlisting support for their various aspirations in the face of a general population at best indifferent, at worst, openly hostile. Thus, the chapter concludes with an assessment of the challenge posed by an often unsympathetic public, and to this end presents the results of two pre-1979 public opinion polls on natives and native issues. Subsequent chapters will examine the means by which Indian leaders have collectively begun to tackle C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M O F INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 68 these problems, as well as their success in doing so. 1 2.1. THE CONTEXT In the immense and perplexing field of native politics, observers might be forgiven a certain amount of confusion about the meanings and implications of certain native aspirations. "Self-government", the latest buzz-word to join the political vocabulary of Indian politicians, is one of the more poorly understood terms. It is difficult to assess whether the idea of self-government is, in fact, anything more than a Utopian mirage dreamed up by Indian leaders to serve purely symbolic political purposes, or whether it is a practical possibility whose realization awaits only political goodwill and the fullness of time. But whatever our speculations as to future outcomes, the notion of self-government is the zenith of Indian political aspirations, and it represents the clearest expression of the discursive shift which has marked the development of Indian politics in recent years. That the Indians of Canada have survived at all is testimony to their remarkable tenacity. They have suffered cultural, political, economic, legislative, and (in some cases) military assaults, the like of which have crushed the indigenous peoples of other nation-states. They have survived government policies ranging from cultural genocide to assimilation. They have managed to withstand alienation of their lands, the pressures of the wage economy, and systematic discrimination. But survival has been costly. It has meant significant cultural 1 In this thesis, the terms "Indian", "native" and "aboriginal" are used interchangeably. My focus is on status Indians and the ways in which they have conducted politics. However, as the other terms are often used in discourse about Indians (particularly, in recent years, "aboriginal"), I shall use them where appropriate. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 69 change and ultimately, relegation to the peripheries of modern society. Once discrete self-governing nations, Indian groups are now faced with an extremely uneven balance of power between themselves and the non-native state and society. Comprising less than 2% of the population, Indians are hardly a sizeable minority. Scattered across an enormous continent, they are culturally, linguistically, economically, religiously and socially diversified, and may be regarded as politically marginal. They have traditionally had little legal clout, since (until recently) Canadian courts have been reluctant to deal with the politically sensitive issue of aboriginal rights, and as a consequence have issued only ambiguous judgments about aboriginal title and rights to self-government. Yet in the last twenty years, Indian leaders have managed to shift government policy from the 1969 White Paper's proposal to terminate special status, such that in the late 1980s, the federal and some provincial governments are willing to negotiate self-government agreements. Between 1983 and 1987, self-government dominated the agendas of four First Ministers Conferences on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters. It also led to the creation of a Special Parliamentary Committee (the Penner Committee), which recommended constitutional enshrinement of the right to self-government, as well as immediate interim amendments to the Indian Act. These recommendations have been supported by several subsequent committees and reports, most notably the Coolican Report of 1985. ' J . Rick Ponting, describing the native political resurgence as "an Indian 1 See Indian Self-Government TiT Canada: Report of the Parliamentary Special  Committee on Self-Government, (the Penner Report), (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, 1983); and Living Treaties, Lasting Agreements: Report of the Task Force to Review Comprehensive Claims Policy, (the Coolican Report), (Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa, December 1985). These reports are discussed in Chapter 7. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 70 Quiet Revolution", notes that although Indians do not enjoy great amounts of power, prestige and wealth, they will no longer accept marginality. Indians have "moved out of a position of virtual irrelevance to Canadian society...much closer to centre stage, to the point of being involved in renegotiating the very Constitution of Canadian society". They have become a force to be reckoned with, "for they possess the ability to command the attention of the mass media and to embarrass publicly those who would do them injustice". 1 Ponting notes that in less than twenty years, Indians have experienced changes of a magnitude that would have been utterly inconceivable in the late 1960s: The legitimacy of the paternalistic and ethnocentric policies and forms of administration that characterized the 200 years surrounding Confederation has been shattered. Once treated as second-class citizens by arrogant Indian agents and junior bureaucrats in government, Indian leaders at the local level now command audiences with cabinet ministers while their national leaders negotiate with prime ministers and premiers and meet with popes and monarchs. Once shunted to the political, economic and geographic periphery of Canadian society, Indians now have aboriginal rights recognized in the Constitution, undertake multimillion-dollar economic development projects on reserves, and lay claim to immensely valuable real estate scattered throughout the country. 2 Now it would be a mistake to conclude that this remarkable contextual shift was produced solely by Indian desires and actions. On the contrary, many factors have contributed to it. In very general terms, we can say that the increasing liberalization of post-war western democracies has resulted in a net expansion of tolerance for minority (especially ethnic) rights. This tolerance has, of course, ebbed and flowed with changing international and domestic environments, but overall it has increased. In addition, the emphasis of Indian 1 J . Rick Ponting, Arduous Journey: Canadian Indians and Decolonization, (McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1986), p. 13. 2Ibid., p.53. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 71 policy has varied with changes of government, different political parties, oscillating economic climates, shifting social priorities, the presence or absence of politicans sympathetic to native aspirations, changing interpretations of "the problem", and the proposal of new solutions to it. Yet this contextual shift is not merely an accident of circumstance. Whether responding to initiatives originating elsewhere or creating initiatives of their own, Indian peoples have availed themselves of the opportunities afforded by shifting political sands. More often than not, they have furthered those opportunities in accordance with their own objectives. So, when the Trudeau government was forced to retract its termination policy in 1971, it is perhaps not surprising that Indian organizations took the ensuing debate into the realm of increased autonomy from the long arm of the Indian Act. What is surprising is the fact that the recent flurry of debate and negotiation has taken place in the conspicuous absence of a (generally accepted) definition of self-government. Indeed, this is the question which has consistently thwarted Indian efforts to secure constitutional enshrinement of the right to self-government. Non-native politicians and bureaucrats (particularly provincial premiers) have resisted the idea of enshrining the right to self-government, chiefly because they do not know what it means - or, more accurately, they do not like what they suspect it means. Questions have arisen regarding the scope of jurisdiction and the powers of native governments; the source of such governments' authority (that is, whether they are to have powers delegated by Parliament or whether their authority derives from some pre-existing legal right such as "aboriginal sovereignty", which is merely recognised by the Constitution); the level of governments envisaged (local, regional or national); whether C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 72 governments are to be public or ethnic; the sources, levels and types of fiscal support required, and a host of other issues. These questions have not been answered to the satisfaction of non-native politicians. Indian leaders insist that they cannot offer a single coherent model of self-government because conditions vary so widely between different band and tribal groupings. Agreements, they maintain, must be tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of each potential Indian government. 1 However, while this is a compelling argument, this thesis contends that the absence of a rigorous definition is better understood by conceiving of self-government as a political symbol. In fact, it is argued that the key terms in contemporary Indian political discourse (sovereignty, self-determination, aboriginal rights, aboriginal title, and self-government) can best be understood as expressions of Indian aspirations, whose contents, however, are at present indeterminate. They may have precise meanings in English law (as well as in the few settlements and arrangements already negotiated), but as expressions of general political goals, they are intended to serve a range of functions above and beyond their face values. It is important to note here that I have separated the expressive from the instrumental dimensions of Indian self-government for analytical purposes only. 1 Since I am concerned here with the symbolic values and functions of the notion of self-government rather than with how it might look in practice, it is not appropriate to attempt an in-depth analysis of its elements. For good discussions of the main models under consideration, see the series of publications produced by the Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, (Queen's, 1985), especially David C. Hawkes, "Aboriginal Self-Government: What Does It Mean?"; David A. Boisvert, "Forms of Aboriginal Self-Government"; and C.E.S. Franks, "Public Administration Questions Relating to Aboriginal Self-Government". Also, Evelyn J . Peters has produced a fairly extensive bibliography for the I.I.R. entitled "Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada: Bibliography 1986", which includes sections on native, federal and provincial approaches to self-government and existing self-government agreements. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 73 These two dimensions are, of course, not only intrinsically related, but inseparable. In fact, expressive actions are not aimed at merely symbolic benefits, but ultimately at praagmatic, even material, gains. This will be a recurring theme throughout this thesis, and an assessment of the pragmatic gains from expressive, symbolic actions is offered in the concluding chapter. In the meantime, it is to the symbolic qualities of Indian self-government that I now turn. 2.1.1. The Symbolic Qualities of "Indian Self-Government" In accordance with the assumptions made in Chapter 1, Indian grievances have been directed primarily at government, which is held responsible for many of the problems facing native peoples. However, because of their relative powerlessness, Indian groups have frequently taken their grievances into the public arena. They have attempted to create a moral climate in which government will be compelled to address those grievances. Bearing in mind Victor Hugo's maxim that "all the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come", this thesis argues that Canada's native peoples are in the process of creating an idea whose time has come. To this end, they manipulate a number of political symbols in different ways and for different purposes. "Indian Self-Government", along with many of the other key terms of Indian political discourse, is a condensation symbol which appeals to a universal attachment to the idea of self-determination. For the last few years, Indian leaders have been talking about "the inherent sovereignty of the First Nations". They do not seem to be using the term "sovereignty" in the legalistic tradition of modern nation-states, but rather to describe their relationship with "the Great C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 74 Creator", which is ultimately the source of their authority to govern themselves: [Indian leaders'] conception of sovereignty and nationhood, with some variations, usually includes ideas of self-government, autonomous institutions, a territorial land base and a resource base so that they can maintain the integrity of their culture and society. They want exclusive legislative rights in their territories. They hold that their right to self-government is an inherent right derived from the Creator, who gave that authority to all the Indian people. They point out that this is a right that pre-dates the Canadian government; thus, the Canadian government was never in a position to create or grant... self-government but merely to acknowledge it. They assert, furthermore, that their inherent and historic right to self-government was explicitly recognized by the Crown in the treaty agreements... Therefore, any power exercised by the Canadian government over [Indians], unless it has been freely delegated by [them], is illegal. 1 These are not idle claims. Little Bear, Boldt and Long point out that native claims to nationhood and sovereignty have historical and moral (not to mention legal) justification: Indian leaders point out that their forefathers never surrendered their nationhood or right to self-government, nor was it taken from them by conquest. They claim that these rights were usurped surreptitiously by successive British and Canadian governments, in contravention of international law. The refusal by the Canadian government, until recently, to grant Indians full rights of Canadian citizenship is interpreted by Indians as clear evidence that Indians held another kind of citizenship. 2 James Youngblood Henderson makes the point that for native people, sovereignty (and by extension, self-government) is an emotional, rather than an intellectual concept. It is "a matter of the heart". 3 Boldt and Long suggest that: 1 Leroy Little Bear, Menno Boldt and J .A. Long, Pathways to Self-Determination, (University of Toronto Press, 1984), p.xv. 2Ibid., p.xv. 3 Quoted in B. Morse, Ed., Aboriginal Peoples and the Law: Indian, Inuit and  Metis Rights in Canada, (Carlton University Press, 1985), p.334. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 75 This probably helps us understand why their conceptions of how sovereignty would function in a tribal context are still embryonic and inchoate. In fact, much of the emotional appeal that sovereignty holds for Indians stems from its vagueness. It allows them to project onto it promise of most of their political, socio-cultural and economic aspirations without a rigorous analysis of the adequacy of their resources and instrumentalities for achieving it. The ambiguity of the concept "also averts factionalism within Indian society, as each group is free to infer its preferred meanings and objectives. 1 Thus, to pin down the elusive concept of sovereignty (or indeed, self-government) would be to thwart its purposes as an agent of unification, inspiration and mobilization. The symbolic values of concepts such as these are, at this point, marginally more compelling than practical questions. Until they have created a context in which self-government is a possibility, native people cannot be fully engaged in the implementatiohal debate. At present, the term "Indian self-government" is used in a symbolic fashion for the purpose of enhancing Indian peoples' self-image, as well as their political relationship with the Canadian state. In its symbolic (rather than pragmatic) role, it aims at the creation of an emotional consensus. Simplifying a complex political environment, it is "a persuasive capsule". As noted above, the Indian peoples of Canada have undergone a cultural and political renaissance over the last twenty years, a renaissance which finds its symbolic roots in Indian tradition. Confronted with the manifest failure of modern society to provide for the socio-economic, cultural and political needs of their communities, Indian leaders in the 1960s and 1970s began to press for a return to traditional values: 1 M . Boldt and J .A. Long, "Tribal Traditions and European-Western Political Ideologies: the Dilemma of Canada's Native Indians", in B. Morse, op. cit., p.334. C H A P T E R 2: T H E SYMBOLISM OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 76 In their quest for political and cultural self-determination, Indian leaders in Canada...advance claims to inherent sovereignty in order to establish the legal, moral and political authority that will allow them to nurture and develop their traditional customs, values, institutions and social organization. 1 In fact, historically the traditional tribal customs, values, institutions, and modes of social organization to which Boldt and Long refer were as numerous and as varied as the First Nations themselves. Some tribes were matrilineal, others patrilineal; some were based on egalitarianism, others on hierarchy; some tribes were federated, others wholly independent; some shared resources equally, others had some notion of private ownership (or at least of usufructuary rights); some allowed slavery, others did not; some punished unacceptable behaviour by violence and social outlawry, others used shaming and ridicule; some practised representative politics, others preferred direct citizen participation; and some allowed chiefs great wealth, prestige and power, while others expected humility and self-sacrifice from their leaders. 2 Today, the notion of traditional tribal government stresses the features of communalism, common ownership of property, equality, democracy, consensus decision-making, and non-hierarchical organization. Yet these qualities could not by any means describe the political and social organization of each and every tribe. In fact, these notions about "traditional tribal government" have taken on the visage of political myth. "Traditional tribal government" is a political myth to the extent that a number of features characteristic of some, but not all, aboriginal 11bid., p.333. 2 For ethnohistorical studies of Canada's Indian tribes, the reader might begin with William C. Sturtevant, Ed. , Handbook of North American Indians, (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, 1978), especially volumes 5,6,7, and 15 on Canadian aboriginal peoples of the Arctic, Subarctic, Northwest Coast and Northeast regions. Similarly, see Alice B. Kehoe, North American Indians: _A Comprehensive Account, (Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 1981). C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M O F INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 77 tribal groups has been brought together to construct a generic model of aboriginal government, which releases the speaker from outlining the idiosyncratic features of each aboriginal political system. The model uses historical referents gleaned from a variety of sources to support contemporary Indian aspirations for self-determination. The point of the exercise is to demonstrate that current arguments for self-government have not materialized out of thin air. They are not new and radical ideas unsupported by historical (or contemporary) reality. Rather, they have credentials in a long and valued tradition which served aboriginal communities well in the past, and which hold the promise of serving them well in the present and in the future. This composite model of traditional tribal government is, by definition, a general one. When Indian leaders talk about their own specific systems, they talk about traditional Haida government, traditional Micmac government and so on, and they speak to the idiomatic socio-economic and political systems of each. But at the macro level, the notion of traditional tribal government refers to a composite model that is not tribe-specific, and that is intended to speak to the contemporaneous aspirations of Indian communities in the aggregate. As such, the myth of traditional tribal government is not a fabrication, since it is based on real features of real historical communities. Yet it is mythological to the extent that it does not (nor is it intended to) describe the idiosyncratic features of any particular pre-contact aboriginal government. In a sense, the mythology supporting the call for self-government has been constructed by a process of "bricolage". What results is a model of pre-contact government which purports to describe common organizational elements in a general way. Thus, the myth of "traditional tribal government", in Tudor's C H A P T E R 2: T H E SYMBOLISM OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 78 terms, tells the story of a political society that existed in the past, and which must now be restored. It is a myth which finds its audience among people who think of themselves as having lost a political society. 1 Moreover, it is a selective construction of the past which is intended to lend legitimacy to present claims and aspirations. Now it is important to point out that few (if any) Indian leaders today seriously expect to return to the primordial purity of traditional tribal governments of whatever stripe. They are fully aware that Indian peoples no longer enjoy access to abundant lands and resources. Even in the event of land claims settlements, access is likely to remain fairly limited. Indian leaders realize that they must interact with the contemporary realities of the modern world, and it is reasonable to expect that many of their transactions will be dictated by those realities. So, we can say that when Indian politicians refer to traditional tribal government, they are using the past as a resource (or model) at the level of fundamental values and principles. Through this mythology, they link the present to the past and enable people "to see their present condition as an episode in an on-going drama". There is an implicit explanation of the present situation. The myths/symbols of "Indian self-government" and "traditional tribal government" are good examples of this logic. They hark back to a distant past when things "worked". Contemporary problems are results of the destruction of traditional ways; the enemy responsible for this destruction is other-than-self (the government and the non-Indian society in general); and the solution is therefore to restore the values, principles, institutions and practices of self-government. 1 See Tudor quotation in Chapter 1, p.31. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 79 Of course, insofar as restoration of original forms of self-government in the contemporary context is unlikely, to argue for self-government is really to argue for the creation of something new in the future. "Self-government" is, in fact, a future-oriented symbol. It is the kind of symbol which (using Tudor's terms) is intended to establish Indian claims to sovereignty or an extension of territory and powers in the modern era. It strengthens the solidarity of Indian peoples in the face of a major challenge (in this case, the threat of termination of special status and the pressures of assimilation); it encourages the resistance of this oppressed minority; and it supplies compelling arguments for the abolition of undesirable institutions. By selectively constructing the past, "it seeks to confer Tightness on a course of action by extending to it the sanctity which enshrouds tradition and lore [and] lends enchantment to an otherwise murky contemporary view". 1 By stressing a common past, the symbol of Indian self-government and its supporting myth, traditional tribal government, provide cultural anchors in a period of rapid change. They affirm a sense of common identity - Indian groups in the aggregate share not only a common past, but potentially a common future. Thus, it is easier for them to act cohesively. Moreover, these myth/symbols transcend ideology. They extend beyond party political loyalties, as conservatives, liberals and socialists alike are able to lend support (at least in principle) to the goal of self-determination. To use the term "self-government" is to name a goal which is a logical possibility. Because it is politically controversial, it is both a source of anxiety (to those who fear its potential consequences) and a promise of See Cohen quotation, Chapter 1, p.33. C H A P T E R 2: T H E SYMBOLISM OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 80 salvation (to those who support it). 1 Finally, the Indian peoples of Canada are collectively regarded here as a disadvantaged minority. This is not to underplay the cultural, economic and political differences between them, but simply to distinguish them from non-Indian peoples. They are a "minority" both numerically and in terms of the marginality of their political power; and they are "disadvantaged" to the extent that they have been the targets of pernicious differential and unequal treatment. Indeed, status Indians (and to a lesser extent, Inuit) have the dubious distinction of being the only populations in Canada whose lives are directed by a special Act of Parliament (the Indian Act), administered by a special federal department (the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, hereafter referred to as DIAND, or by its current title, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). They are disadvantaged also to the extent that the statistics on virtually every measure of socio-economic well-being do not compare favourably with those of the larger population. Indians are more likely than other Canadians to be unemployed, to be sick, to die young, to be imprisoned, to be the victims of alcoholism and violent crime, to depend on welfare, to drop out of high-school, or to live in sub-standard housing. At this point, it is important to emphasize that the population focus of this study is status or registered Indians. This focus is a result of the fact that to date, the Indian Act has only been applied fully to Indians registered under it- that is, to some 60% of the aboriginal population of Canada. Only registered Indians have protected land bases (reserves), and only they enjoy special rights and benefits under the Act. Moreover, much of the discussion of self-government 1 See Edelman quotation, Chapter 1, p.39. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 81 in recent years has centred upon its feasibility for status Indians with a land base, and it is doubtful whether self-government (as conceived by the federal government) has any real content at present for landless non-status Indians and Metis. This is not to imply that the latter groups do not aspire to self-governance. They certainly do, and it is significant that they have been included in section 35(2) of the Constitution Act (1982) as aboriginal peoples whose "existing aboriginal and treaty rights" (whatever they are) have been "recognized and affirmed". Yet in spite of this, the focus of the landmark Penner Report on Self-Government (1983), as well as the federal government's new community-based self-government negotiations policy, has been limited to status Indians. For the reasons cited above, this study focusses on status Indians, although non-status Indians, Metis and Inuit individuals and organizations have made significant contributions to the discourse about aboriginal rights and self-government, and these will be acknowledged wherever appropriate. 1 Meanwhile, the following section includes data regarding non-status Indians, principally because, with recent amendments to the Indian Act, many non-status 1 Metis and Inuit organizations have also played out symbolic politics, though the symbols and myths they employ differ in content from those used by Indians. For example, the Inuit arguably enjoy some advantages over southern status Indians in that they have been geographically isolated, in a numerical majority in some parts of the Northwest Territories, and virtually exempted from the Indian  Act. The absence of intervening provincial governments has given them a different and more direct relationship with the federal government. Moreover, in part because their cultures and languages have not been subjected to assaults as severe as those endured by southern Indians, and in part because the tribal distinctions affecting Indians are not as prevalent, the Inuit have not had to invest as much time in community-building and the other symbolic strategies discussed in this thesis. They have not had to legitimate their claims before the viewing public, and have been more successful in direct negotiations with the federal government. However, an examination of the symbolic politics of the Inuit and Metis peoples is beyond the scope of this study. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 82 Indians have been reinstated (or are eligible to apply for reinstatement) as Indians registered under the Act. This means that the status Indian population is growing, while the non-status Indian population is shrinking as more of its number now qualify for benefits under the Act. 1 2.2. SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL PROBLEMS The socio-economic and political problems faced by contemporary Indians are the subject of the next three sections. Because these are the main problems which Indian leaders hope will be remedied (at least partially) by self-government, it is important to appreciate their combined effects. The discussion begins with a demographic profile of status (or registered) Indians and non-status Indians. 2 This is followed by a review of the major socio-economic statistics pertaining to these populations in a number of areas. Finally, there is a short discussion of the historical effects of Indian policy, with particular emphasis on the Indian Act. These three sections are intended to illustrate the formidable problems of mobilization and integration facing Indian leaders in their quest for self-government, as well as some of the reasons why self-government is being proposed in the first place. T I n this context, it is not surprising that Metis organizations consider status Indians to be privileged, to the extent that they have a legal status and benefits which flow from it which are not available to the Metis. In any case, while non-status Indians, Metis and Inuit constitute a very important part of the environment in which status Indians operate, their political concerns and interests are quite different from those of status Indians, and thus they are not of primary interest here. 21 have included non-status Indians here, since they complicate the problem of creating a sense of unity among status Indians. This problem is discussed in section 3.2.1. of Chapter 3. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 83 2.2.1. Demographic Profile It is difficult to present an accurate demographic profile of the Indian population, in part because, as mentioned above, recent changes to the Indian  Act will result in an expansion of the status Indian population at the expense of the non-status Indian population. 1 The most significant source of demographic change for the registered Indian population came in 1985 with the passage of Bill C-31, which removed certain discriminatory sections of the Indian Act. The repeal of Section 12 (l)b of the Act means that women (and their children) who lost their status as a result of marriage to non-Indian men can now apply to their bands for reinstatement. In addition, Indians who volunteered or were forced to become enfranchised (thus losing status) may now be registered as Indians under the Act. Re-instatement and first-time registration (which the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development expects will amount to at least 75,000 people) will certainly affect the absolute numbers of registered Indians, as well as age-sex ratios and the on/off-reserve distributions. These potential consequences are important to groups seeking self-government, especially if expanded numbers mean an extra burden on resources which are already stretched. These caveats aside, the purpose of this section is to illustrate the enormous diversity of Indian populations, not only in terms of absolute numbers, but in terms of geographic distribution, cultural/linguistic differences and band/settlement sizes. These factors are important constraints on Indian leaders seeking to unite and mobilize such scattered and differentiated populations for political action. 11t is also in part due to" the objections of most native organizations that they are "defined" by DIAND, rather than by their own traditional methods of determining membership of their various tribal groups. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 84 Statistics Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) 1 show that aboriginal ancestry was reported by almost half a million Canadians in the 1981 Census. At roughly 2.3% of the population of Canada, native peoples can be divided into four main groups - status Indians, non-status Indians, Inuit and Metis. Between 1971 and 1981, the growth rate of these four groups, taken collectively, was higher than that of the reference population, and this trend is expected to continue into the twenty-first century. However, this study focusses on Indians only and so the statistics given pertain only to them. Status Indians "Status Indians" are those Indians who are registered under the Indian  Act and thus qualify for certain special rights. 2 The 1981 Census placed the Status Indian population at 292,705, though the count from DIAND's Indian Register estimated the number to be 335,475. INAC's most recent projections suggest that the registered Indian population will reach over 456,000 persons by 1996 (or 1.7% of the total population of Canada). At present, Status Indians Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is the new title of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. However, as most of the literature refers to the latter, I shall retain it except where the new term is more appropriate. 2 Among other things, the federal government has, by s.91(24) of the B.N.A. Act, responsibility for "Indians and lands reserved for the Indians" and has a so-called "special trust relationship" with them. Status Indians have the right to live on reserves and to benefit from certain government programs and services. Most Indian organizations claim that the Treaties provided for many more benefits and services than the federal government has offered, and further, that the Treaties were to be understood as expressions of peace and friendship, rather than as deeds of sale to Indian lands and rights to self-government (see Chapter 4 for a discussion of these views). However, it must be noted that only about half the Indians of Canada signed treaties with the Crown. The Indians of Quebec, the Maritimes, parts of the Northwest Territories and most of British Columbia are accordingly non-treaty Indians, which creates a further source of division among Indian groups. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 85 account for more than 60% of the aboriginal population of Canada. 1 Some 40% of the Status Indian population live in Ontario and B.C. , another 40% live in the Prairie provinces, and 10% live in Quebec. However, status Indians account for only 4% of the populations of the Atlantic provinces and the Territories. 2 Almost 30% of Status Indians live in major urban areas of 100,000 or more. The on/off-reserve proportions are significant in terms of groups seeking self-government. If there is a net in-migration to reserves following reinstatements and first-time registrations, land and resource bases may be severely strained. On the other hand, there is a potential danger if the rate of out-migration continues as it has (that is, up 17% since 1965). As Siggner points out, the size, composition and growth-rate of on-reserve populations must be a central concern to First Nations seeking self-government. For many bands, programmes and services "could be handicapped by ineconomies of scale and the shallowness of the local pool of resources". 3 Indian bands across the country vary widely in size. According to INAC sources, in 1982 there were 2,252 Indian reserves in Canada, divided among 577 bands. At that time, only 8 bands (3 of them in Ontario) had populations of 1 These figures are taken from a briefing package presented to the participants of the 1987 First Ministers' Conference on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters, entitled "Basic Information on Aboriginal Peoples". This package, available from DIAND, will hereafter be referred to as "FMC Brief". 2 As a proportion of total provincial/territorial populations, however, the distribution is quite different. Status Indians account for some 17% of each of the populations of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. In the Prairies, Status Indians constitute about 5% of the total provincial populations, while in the separate provinces of central and eastern Canada, Indians account for 1% or less of the total provincial populations. See Andrew Siggner, "The Socio-Demographic Conditions of Registered Indians", in J.R. Ponting, Ed. , Arduous  Journey: Canadian Indians and Decolonization, (McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1986), p.58. 3Siggner, op. cit., pp.59-60. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 86 over 3000 people. However, the majority of bands (64%) consist of fewer than 500 persons. Moreover, the average size of bands varies considerably from province to province. Alberta has the largest average size (1000 in 1981, expected to increase to 1400 by 1996). Quebec ranks second, with averages of 860 in 1981 (estimated to reach 1100 in 1996). In British Columbia, 54% of the Indian population lived in bands of under 500 persons in 1981. 1 B.C. has by far the largest number of reserves and settlements at 1610, compared with 185 in Ontario, which has the second largest number. By way of illustration, Table 2 (overleaf) shows the regional distribution of the registered Indian population and Indian lands, as well as the on/off-reserve distribution. Canadian Indians are not only geographically scattered. They are also culturally heterogeneous. There are ten major linguistic groups, comprising some 58 dialects, who live within six recognized cultural regions (although the correlation between these regions and linguistic groups is not exact). The 1981 Census reported that of the ten linguistic families, the Algonkian languages are the most commonly spoken. Yet the use of native languages in the home has declined steadily over the last hundred years. For example, Siggner notes that for every 100 status Indians having Ojibway as their mother tongue, only 71 were using it as a home language. On the other hand, for every Status Indian having English as their mother tongue, 119 were using it at home. Meanwhile, a few Indian languages are virtually extinct. For example, in the 1981 Census, only 5 people claimed Kutenaian as their mother tongue, only 125 claimed MVIuch of the foregoing information is taken from J . Perrault et. al., "Population Projections of Registered Indians, 1982 to 1996", (DIAND, Ottawa, 1985), pp.53-55. Table 2 - R e g i o n a l D i s t r i b u t i o n o l t h e R e g i s t e r e d I n d i a n P o p u l a t i o n a n d I n d i a n L a n d s Atlantic Quebec Ontario Manitoba Sask. Alberta B.C. N WT. Yuk on Canada Total Indian Population (1984) 13,590 34,335 77.313 52,049 54,188 43,436 61,730 8,530 3,638 348,809 % o l Total Indian Population (1984) 3.9 9.8 22 2 14.9 15.5 12.5 1 7.7 2.5 10 100.0 % of Total Provmcial/Territory Population (1984) 0.6 0.5 0.9 4.9 5.4 1.9 2 2 1 7 2 16.5 1 4 % O f f - R e s e . v e (1984) 28 2 14.4 3 1.9 26.7 34.0 24 7 35.9 7.2 24.5 28 7 Number o l Indian Bands (1985) 31 39 126 60 68 4 1 196 14 17 592 % o l Indian Bands (1985) 5 2 6.6 2 13 »0.1 1 1.5 6.9 33.1 2 4 2.9 100.0 Number o l Reserves and Settlements (1985) 67 33 185 103 142 90 1610 29 25 2,284 % o l Reserves and Settlements (1985) 2.9 1.4 8.1 4 5 6.2 3.9 70.5 t.3 1.1 99.9 Approximate Total Area o l Reserves (xlOOO hectares) 30 75 699 2 18 615 657 338 14 3 2.649 Average Area ol Reserve or Settlement (x 1000 hectares) 0.4 2 3 3 8 2 1 4.3 7.3 0.2 0.5 0.1 1.1 S o u r e « a : Reuiatered Indian Population b v S » * and Rtl ' d f " * * . (Ottawa, OIANO, 1986); Schedule o l Indian (Sandt. R*»«rv«i and Settlement*. (On •w«, OIANO, o > M to cn O i—i cn o 1—1 a > •z cn w F 6 O and Silastics Canada, unpublished pojl-c«ns#l estimates of Canada's population, August, 1985. As presented by Andrew J. Siggner, "The Socio-Oemographic Condition! of Registered Indians", in JR. Pointing, Ed.# Arduous Journey, (McClelland and Stewart> Toronto, 1986), p.59. Z H oo -4 C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 88 Tlingit and only 335 claimed Haida. These statistics are cause for alarm, especially for groups attempting to rejuvenate their tribal identities. Non-Status Indians Non-status Indians are generally considered to be persons of aboriginal ancestry, who, for one reason or another, are not registered as Indians under the Indian Act. In the 1981 Census, 75,110 persons identified themselves as non-status Indians (that is approximately 15% of the aboriginal population, 0.3% of the total Canadian population). The largest concentrations of non-status Indians are in Ontario (35%), B.C. (25%), the Prairies (25%) and Quebec (8%). Fully 70% of non-status Indians reported urban residence. A native language was reported as the mother tongue of 9.5% of the non-status Indian population, while 79.5% claimed English and 6.6% claimed French. It must be noted that the non-status Indian organizations (such as the Native Council of Canada) are particularly offended by the Indian Act's definition of "Indian". They argue that self-identification must be the criterion of Indian, and hence, aboriginal status. 2 The importance of this question cannot be overestimated. Non-status Indians, as noted, do not at present come within the purview of the Indian Act, and hence cannot claim any special relationship with the federal government. They have no , reserves and cannot claim the special rights and benefits to which status Indians are entitled. Whether or not this situation is ultimately to their advantage (given the effects on status Indians of ^iggner, op. cit., p.72. 2 See J.R. Ponting and R. Gibbins, "An Assessment of the Probable Impact of Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada", in Alan Cairns and Cynthia Williams (eds.), The Politics of Gender, Ethnicity and Language in Canada, (University of Toronto Press, 1986), p.261. Ponting and Gibbins point out a number of important problems with self-identification, which, however, are not our present focus. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 89 substantial control by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development) is a question beyond the scope of the present endeavour. However, it is not a situation with which non-status Indians are satisfied. Moreover, the non-status population is in a state of constant flux, especially in the light of the recent changes to the Indian Act. The consequences of reinstatement and first-time registration might mean a shrinking of the non-status Indian population, and, as Ponting and Gibbins point out, "if aboriginal status and rights come to be associated with land-based communities, the remainder of this population could become even more marginalized". 1 General Comments The foregoing statistics illustrate the enormous range and diversity of Indian populations, both geographically and culturally. Passing references have been made to the problems of band size, geographic location, land bases and the on/off reserve locations of the different sectors of the Indian population, problems which are of particular importance to communities seeking self-government. The decline in the use of native languages has also been noted. This is but one manifestation of the impact of European cultures and political systems on aboriginal people. This impact is further reflected in the socio-economic conditions of Indian communities. As self-government is proposed as a potential solution to many of these problems, some discussion of them is warranted here. 'Ibid., p.63. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 90 2.2.2. Socio-Economic Conditions Though there have been significant improvements in various areas in recent years, the fact remains that for most socio-economic measures, Indians do not compare favourably with the rest of the Canadian population. In 1980, DIAND published a collection of statistics on the social and economic conditions of registered Indians entitled "Indian Conditions: A Survey". The Penner Committee's report quoted some of the results of the survey as evidence of "the extent of the social disintegration and deprivation arising from the history of relations between Canada and Indian peoples". 1 What follows is a discussion of some of the salient results of recent socio-economic studies. Education Education is an area of unusually radical and positive change for the Indian population, as more bands, tribal councils and communities assume responsibility for its provision. As Siggner notes, Indian control over education undoubtedly increases sensitivity towards the needs of Indian children: the curriculum is more relevant to their daily lives; they are taught by native teachers and elders; and they are more likely to receive instruction in their native languages. Thus, it is not surprising to find that the overall retention rate from Grade 2-12 has risen from 18% in 1975 to 31% in 1985. 2 Yet compared to the general population, we find that only 26% of status Indians over 15 had completed highschool in 1981, whereas 52% of the reference population had done so. At the post-secondary level, in 1971 barely 3% of the Indian out-of-school population had at least some post-secondary education. By 1981, this figure had increased to 19%, though it still compared unfavourably with the general 1 Penner Report, p.14. 2Siggner, op. cit., p.76. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 91 population, of which 36% had at least some post-secondary education. 1 Housing Although some improvements in housing can be observed, conditions (particularly on reserves) are far below the national average. For example, nearly 19% of reserve homes have two or more families living in them, and these conditions affect 40% of all status Indian families. 2 The 1981 Census revealed that native people were far less likely to own homes than other Canadians, while their residences were far more likely to require major repairs. A 1985 study by DIAND found that 47% of reserve housing failed to meet basic standards. Fully 38% of reserve housing lacks some or all basic amenities (running water, indoor toilet, bath/shower, adequate heating). The study concluded that some $840 million was needed to correct the problem. 3 Income The average income of native people is one-half to two-thirds of the national average ($8,600 versus $13,100 in 1980). Non-status Indians had the highest average incomes in 1980 at $9,900, followed by the Metis ($9,500), off-reserve status Indians ($8,800), and finally, on-reserve status Indians brought up the rear with an average income of $7,100. The differences can be accounted for in part by the lower rate of full-time, full-year work among native people, and in part by the fact that in many rural areas, native peoples' incomes are supplemented by hunting, trapping, fishing and other traditional economic pursuits. Nonetheless, in 1981, 78% of status Indians lived in families in which the 11bid., p.76. There appears t o b e a dramatic difference between the educational achievements of the on- and off-reserve populations. For example, off-reserve students have twice the rate of highschool completion as on-reserve students. 2Penner, p. 15. 3 Siggner, p. 71. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 92 average income per person was less than $5000. Only 5% of non-native Canadians lived in comparable situations. Meanwhile, native people are twice as likely to depend on government transfers (such as welfare) as their major source of income than other Canadians. In 1981, 51% of all status Indians over 15 either had no income, or identified government transfers as their major source thereof. This compared to 28% for non-native Canadians. 1 Employment Employment patterns for the aboriginal populations are indicative of their disadvantaged position vis-a-vis other Canadians. For example, in terms of labour force activity, the overall participation rate for status Indians in 1981 was 46%, compared with 65% for the reference population. The unemployment rate for status Indians over 15 was two-and-a-half times that of the general population. Once again, the picture was brighter for off-reserve status Indians, non-status Indians, Inuit and Metis. Native people are twice as likely as other Canadians to be seasonally employed, the great majority of occupations being o f the general labour or service industries varieties. The F M C Brief notes that factors that may have influenced the employment opportunities (and thus the earning capacities) of the native population are educational levels, proximity to places of employment, access to employment information, discrimination, health and availability of transportation. These factors have undoubtedly had a disproportionately large impact on aboriginal populations. 2 ' F M C Brief, p. 11. 2 Indian participation in the wage labour force is a contentious issue. On the one hand, Indians point to their low rates of participation in the wage labour force and their higher than average unemployment rates as evidence of racism and discrimination- that is, as evidence of their active exclusion from non-native society. On the other hand, they do not seem to value wage employment or the work ethic very highly (for various cultural and political reasons), so that to a large extent, their low participation rates are self-imposed. In any case, the fact C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 93 Child Welfare The Penner Report notes that the proportion of Indian children in care has risen steadily to over five times the national rate. A recent study revealed, for example, that while in 1955 approximately 1% of children in the care of child welfare authorities in B.C. were of Indian ancestry, by 1964 this figure had risen to 34.2%. 1 Figures like these probably say less about the pressures of a relatively low standard of living than about the socio-cultural biases of provincial ministries of Human Resources. Nonetheless, they are indicative of a problem of immense importance to the integrity and well-being of aboriginal communities. Prisoners Native people (especially males) are heavily over-represented in federal and provincial penitentiaries. In federal prisons they are 10% of the inmate populations. In Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the North, they are more than 40% of the prison population. Meanwhile, the proportion of Indian juveniles who are considered delinquent is three times the national rate. 2 Death Rates Despite improvements in the last few years, the death rate among Indian people is 2 to 4 times the rate for non-Indians. In 1981, Indian male life expectancy from birth had reached 62 years, compared, however, with 72 years for non-Indian males. Indian women similarly can expect to die ten years earlier than non-Indian women. As for the most common causes of death, accidents, poisoning and violence (often alcohol-related) account for over 33% of Indian 0 (cont'd) that Indians have not been fully integrated into the wage labour force has made it that much easier for them to resist assimilation. 1 The Penner Report, p. 15. 2 Penner Report, p. 15. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 94 deaths (248 per 100,000, or four times the national rate). The overall rate of violent deaths among native people is more than three times the Canadian average. Indian deaths due to suicide (most prevalent among 15 to 24 year-olds) are almost three times the national rate, and the infant mortality rate is 60% higher than the overall rate for Canada. Finally, native people can be expected to use hospitals about two or two-and-a-half times as frequently as other Canadians. 1 Conclusion The statistics cited above lead to the inescapable conclusion that Indians are effectively at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder in Canada. It would appear that status Indians living on reserves are in the worst position. Non-status Indians and status Indians living off their reserves appear to fare better than on-reserve Indians in the areas of education, employment, housing and income. Nonetheless, we might expect reserve Indians to enjoy one important advantage over the other groups, and that is their ability to maintain the cultural integrity of their communities. However, while Indian reserves and settlements to some extent buffer their inhabitants from the powerful forces of the non-native world, they are, paradoxically, the vehicles by which the Department of Indian Affairs maintains control of those populations. The Indian Act's systematic subjugation of Indians is, according to many Indian leaders (not to mention academics), largely responsible for the seriousness of many if not most of the socio-economic problems just discussed. As the Act is the instrument through which the objectives of Indian policy have been implemented, it is important to understand ^ h e Penner Report, pp. 15-16. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M O F INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 95 its contribution to the demise of traditional forms of Indian government. 2.2.3. Indian Policy and the Indian Act As noted above, the Indian peoples of Canada constitute a disadvantaged minority to the extent that they have been singled out for differential and unequal treatment. For Indians (and to a lesser extent, Inuit), this differential and unequal treatment has found its clearest expression in the Indian Act. This unique piece of legislation is the instrument through which the policy objectives of successive governments have been carried out. The Act controls not only Indians' ability to govern themselves, but also their access to lands and resources, services from various levels of government, and economic, social and political opportunities which are available to other Canadians as a matter of course. Historically, the overriding aims of Indian policy have been to "civilize" and "protect" the Indians. Lord Glenelg, British Colonial Secretary in 1838, put it succinctly - the government's goal was "to protect and cherish this helpless Race...[and] raise them in the Scale of Humanity". 1 With minor variations on this theme, the intention has always been to assimilate and acculturate native peoples. Under the guise of offering protection, successive policies and legislative enactments have concentrated the Indian population into (mostly remote) reserves, which had the effect, paradoxically, of impeding assimilation. The cumulative effects of past policies and acts have without question curtailed Indians' ability to conduct their own affairs in their own ways. While limitations of time and space prohibit detailed examination of the history of Indian legislation and policy, some 1 Quoted by L.F .S . Upton, "The Origins of Canadian Indian Policy", Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol. 8, No.4, p.59. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M O F INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T I 96 of the more salient aspects are presented below. 1 A Conspiracy of Legislation Chief Joe Matthias, in an unpublished paper, examines an array of federal and provincial laws which have effectively prevented Indians from protecting their rights. He refers to the body of law and the attitudes responsible for it as "a conspiracy of legislation", the major elements of which are as follows: 1. section 99 of the Indian Act of 1880 allowed for Indians to become "enfranchised" (i.e. to enjoy the full rights of Canadian citizenship) by obtaining university degrees or by becoming lawyers, as long as they relinquished all claims to lands and any rights accruing to them as Indians; 2. in 1884, the Indian Advancement Act transformed tribal regulations into municipal laws and tried to introduce a limited system of band government, controlled by the federal government; 3. section 3 of the British Columbia Land Ordinance Act of 1870 allowed any male person over the age of 18 to simply occupy 320 acres of land, but provided that "such right of pre-emption shall not be held to extend to any of the Aborigines of this Continent"; 4. from 1880 to 1951, section 3 of the Indian Act outlawed (on pain of imprisonment for 2-6 months) participation in Potlatches, Tamawana dances and other Indian festivals (because they were traditionally the main forums for the conduct of politics); 5. section 70 of the Indian Act of 1876 prohibited Indians from acquiring or pre-empting lands in Manitoba or the Northwest Territories; 6. in 1884 (one year before the Riel Rebellion), an amendment made it an offence for anyone to incite Indians, non-treaty Indians and Metis to riot; ^For a thorough discussion of historical policies, see Kahn-Tineta Miller, The  Historical Development of the Indian Act, (DIAND, Ottawa, 1978), and Ponting and Gibbins, Out of Irrelevance, op. cit. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 97 7. in 1889, a series of amendments led to increased government control of education, morality, local government and land - for example, the government could override a band's reluctance ("through spite or pique") to lease reserve land; 8. in 1916, after the McKenna-McBride Commission's attempt to resolve the question of reserves in B.C. , the federal and provincial governments passed legislation depriving certain bands of reserve lands without having acquired a surrender, and in spite of the fact that the Indian Act required such a surrender; 9. in 1920, Arthur Meighen's Conservative government passed a law to empower the government to order enfranchisement of qualified Indians, whether they liked it or not; 10. section 141 of the Indian Act of 1927 made it illegal for any person to receive money from any (registered) Indian for any claims-related activity; 11. every federal Elections Act up to 1952 specifically disqualified Indians from voting in federal elections - they were not actually given the franchise (without forfeiting Indian status) until 1960; 12. every provincial and every municipal Elections Act up to 1949 prohibited Indians from voting in those elections; 13. the government's policy of taking Indian children from their homes and placing them in residential schools was supplemented by a prohibition against Indian participation in the provincial school system; 14. section 70 of the Indian Act (from 1880 to the present day) gives the Governor in Council the power to decide how monies are spent and to determine whether monies are spent in the best interests of Indian people. Joe Matthias concludes that, far from "sleeping on their rights" as charged, Indians have been prevented from protecting their rights: This legislation had the effect of denying our people access to either legal or political forums and therefore prevented us from expressing our views or asserting our rights...More importantly, when all of the legislation is taken together, it speaks of a very clear intention to deprive us of our lands, destroy our cultures and to deny us the C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 98 right to make decisions about our own well-being.1 The Indian Act is a formula for discontent and it is little wonder that it has become the target of scorn and blame for many of the current problems facing Indians. The Act has undoubtedly ensured the fragmentation of Indian communities, and has subjugated them to the role of clients of the bureaucratic state. The present Indian Act condenses a long history of sometimes contradictory policies into one document, which, although amended somewhat since 1876, remains essentially intact. The Act is so broad in scope that sociologists call it "a total institution". Dr. Munro, former Assistant Deputy Minister of the Indian Affairs Branch, offered a succinct (and oft-quoted) overview: The Indian Act is a Lands Act. It is a Municipal Act, an Education Act and a Societies Act. It is primarily social legislation, but it has a very broad scope: there are provisions about liquor, agriculture and mining as well as Indian lands, band membership and so forth. It has elements that are embodied in perhaps two dozen different acts of any of the provinces and overrides some federal legislation in some respects. It has the force of the Criminal Code and the impact of a constitution on those people and communities that come within its purview. 2 One of the most important effects of policy is the Indian Act's definition of who constitutes an Indian. By creating sub-categories of aboriginal people and by assigning particular rights, restrictions and obligations only to registered Indians, the Act encourages fragmentation and in-fighting. Indeed, Ponting argues that "the contemporary conflicts among status Indians, non-status Indians and Indian women married to non-Indian men are today's legacy of this definitional 1 Chief Joe Matthias, unpublished paper, January, 1986, p . l . 2Quoted by A.D. Doerr, "Indian Policy", in G.B. Doern and V.S. Wilson, Issues in Canadian Public Policy, (MacMillan, Toronto, 1974), p.40. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 99 approach".1 Another crucial aspect of Indian policy concerns access to lands and resources. While the Royal Proclamation (1763) to some extent protected Indians from "unscrupulous whites" in the land conveyance process, the B.N.A. Act (1867) and the Indian Act (1876) gave the federal government responsibility for "Indians and lands reserved for the Indians". Protection of Indian land meant that Indians were excluded from taxes, liens, mortgages and debt collections. But the federal government has an unimpressive track record in upholding its trust responsibilities for Indian lands, as evidenced by a long list of so-called "specific claims" against the government. Moreover, in 1911 the Indian Act was amended to allow for the expropriation of reserve lands for public works, so that "in the clash between non-Indian settlement and the protection of Indian interests, public policy clearly came down on the side of the former". 2 Ownership and control of the land is obviously essential to economic prospects, and the question was discussed at some length in the Penner Committee's Report. An important consequence of the federal government's holding the lands "in trust" for Indians is that the lands cannot be mortgaged or used as collateral to raise outside investment capital. An additional (and related) problem concerns band councils. The latter are creatures of the Indian Act, intended to be a form of local government to replace traditional tribal organizations. But in effect, even DIAND acknowledges that "band governments are more like administrative arms of the Department...than they are governments 1 Ponting, Arduous Journey, op. cit., p.21. 2Ibid., p.28. C H A P T E R 2: T H E SYMBOLISM OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 100 accountable to band members".1 The legal capacities of bands and band councils are all but clear, so that questions abound as to whether a band council can sign contracts, bring law suits, sue or be sued. As a consequence of this uncertainty, few businesses or individuals are willing to enter into transactions (financial or otherwise) with bands. 2 Band councils do have some by-law making powers, although these are very limited and can be overridden by federal (and some provincial) laws and regulations. In all cases, by-laws require the consent of the Minister of Indian Affairs. All in all, under the current Act, "the band council can regulate little, except weeds and dogs on the reserves, without the blessing first of the Minister and his administrative arm". 3 It must be pointed out that the Department implemented a policy of devolution in the 1960s, a policy which began to transfer responsibility for managing and delivering programs and services to individual bands. Services such as social assistance, child-care, education and providing and operating community infrastructure were among the first to be transferred. As a consequence, the funds administered by bands has risen from $34.9 million (or 10% of the Department's total budget) in 1971, to $526.6 million (or 50% of the total budget) in 1982-3. Yet the policy of devolution has transferred only service delivery to the band level, while control over programs, policies and budgets remains with the Department. This situation was highlighted by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in a brief to the Penner Committee: 1 Strengthening Indian Band Government, (DIAND, Ottawa, 1982), p.4. 2 See the Penner Report, p. 18. 3 Brief to the Penner Committee by the Quesnel Community Law Centre, Special 20: 168-9 (see Penner, p. 19). C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M O F INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 101 We found that the Department has too much control. The bands are told what to do and what not to do. Program direction stems from the Department instead of the band. The system is outdated and it is costly. The organization does not relate to the aspirations of Indian leaders and band membership. The organization is program- rather than people-oriented. The system promotes .dependency on the Department instead of self-reliance. 1 Conclusion From the foregoing discussion it is clear that the economic, social, cultural and political consequences of the federal government's substantial control over Indians and their lands have severely undermined Indians' ability to direct their own lives. Government policies (as expressed in the Indian Act) have, without a doubt, been a major cause of the unsatisfactory socio-economic and political conditions in which Indians find themselves. Thus, Indian organizations call for self-government partly so that they may have an opportunity to reverse some (or all) of the pernicious effects of a hundred years of government control. We now turn to a discussion of the benefits self-government is likely to yield. 2.3. THE EXPECTED BENEFITS OF SELF-GOVERNMENT Whereas the last two sections explored some of the main problems self-government is intended to address, our task now is to assess the kinds of benefits self-government may be expected to yield. This involves some discussion of the kinds of powers First Nation governments (to use Penner's term) might possess, for these will undoubtedly fashion the means by which they will attempt to tackle the legacy of colonialism. However, the discussion must be general in nature and scope, since self-government is not at present widely practised, and as we can expect a wide variety of models to emerge over the coming decades. 'F.S.I .N. Special 11:36, in the Penner Report, p.21. C H A P T E R 2: T H E SYMBOLISM OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 102 As shown above, Indian communities vary enormously in their economic circumstances, the size of their populations, on/off-reserve distributions, socio-cultural conditions, the availability of a land base and so on. Given these (and other) differences between Indian populations, we can expect that some First Nation governments will be ready and willing to take on a wider range of responsibilities sooner than others. Thus, the following discussion assumes optimal conditions in which First Nation governments are able to entertain a fairly broad range of powers. The Hawthorn Report (1966) had presented a view of self-government based on the municipal model, where local native governments would deliver services like education, health and welfare and would be funded by the same transfer payments which accrue to municipal governments. However, the Penner Report of 1983 (which is discussed more fully in Chapter 7) presented a much broader view of self-government, emphasizing "the importance of Indian control in areas central to the cultures of First Nations... [because] in some cases only Indian control of legislation and policy would ensure the survival and development of Indian communities". ' The Report suggested that "full legislation and policy-making powers on matters affecting Indian people, and full control over the territory and resources within the boundaries of Indian lands should be among the powers of Indian First Nation governments". Thus, the Committee recommended that: ...Indian First Nation governments exercise powers over a wide range of subject matters. The exact scope of jurisdiction should be decided [in] negotiations...A First Nation government should have authority to legislate in such areas as social and cultural development, including education and family relations, land and resource use, revenue-raising, 'The Penner Report, p.27. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B O L I S M OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 103 economic and commercial development, and justice and law enforcement, among others. First Nation governments may also wish to make arrangements with the federal and/or provincial governments to continue existing programs or services. 1 Meanwhile, the Coolican Report of 1985 expanded Penner's view of self-government so that it would include ownership and control of land, hunting, fishing, and trapping rights, participation in wild life management, and rights to participate in and benefit from general economic development. 2 While such a broad range of powers might not be appropriate for all Indian First Nation governments, they do represent many groups' ultimate aspirations. Ponting has summarized Indian aspirations as follows: 1. Greater self-determination and social justice. Protection of and control over their own destiny, rather than subordination to external political and bureaucratic authorities. 2. Economic development to end dependency, poverty and unemployment. Economic justice in the sense of a fair distribution of wealth between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal populations. 3. Protection and retention of aboriginal cultures. 4. Social vitality and development that will overcome such existing social problems as ill-health, the housing crisis, irrelevant and demeaning education and alienation (including its manifest symptoms such as interpersonal violence, suicide and the abuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances). 3 It is not unreasonable to expect that economic development will be a central concern of Indian First Nation governments, and one can assume that control of a land and resource base will yield at least some benefits, even if The Penner Report, p.64. 2 See Living Treaties, Lasting Agreements: Report of the Task Force to Review _a Comprehensive Claims Policy, (DIAND, Ottawa, 1985). 3 J.R. Ponting, "The Impact of Self-Government in Indian Communities", in Arduous Journey, op. cit., p.358. C H A P T E R 2: T H E SYMBOLISM OF INDIAN S E L F - G O V E R N M E N T / 104 only in the form of rents for resource extraction. However, not all First Nation governments will have control of valuable renewable or non-renewable resources, so economic development programs will obviously be shaped by the specific circumstances of each group. In any case, presumably such governments will be able to get mortgages or to attract investment from other sources once they become legal entities. Indian self-government can also be expected to yield political benefits, as the relationships between First Nation and other governments will have a different legal/constitutional basis. Thus, we can expect that First Nation governments will have greater bargaining power vis-a-vis other levels of government, which they obviously do not have as administrative arms of the Department of Indian Affairs. Moreover, we can expect First Nation governments to enjoy much greater control over decision-making and priority-setting. This alone can be considered a significant political benefit. Significant gains can also be expected in the areas of social and cultural regeneration. Indeed, this is the focus of Ponting's paper, "The Impact of Self-Government in Indian Communities". As this paper provides perhaps the most comprehensive discussion of the socio-cultural benefits of self-government to date,1 it is worth recording Ponting's conclusions in his own words: 1. There are sound sociological and psychological reasons to expect that even for those Indian self-governments that are only mildly successful, the net sociological impact of self-government on individuals will be profoundly positive; and that their communities will experience fundamental gains in "Ponting mentions a number of potential pitfalls which may come to be associated with self-government. Though they are not my present focus, they will be discussed later in this thesis. For now, I am interested only in the positive benefits which might be available to First Nations through self-government - after all, the positive benefits are what attract aboriginal peoples to the idea in the first place. C H A P T E R 2: T H E S Y M B