In recent years, the slogan “LandBack” has gained traction with a specific audience of online radicals and nonprofit organizers. One particularly ambitious 22-year-old careerist has emerged as the self-proclaimed expert on the topic of LandBack and indigenous struggles. He goes by the handle New Amauta, and has been landing guest appearances with BreadTube, popular social justice organizations, and even people who consider themselves Communists. The problem is that Landback, and this spokesperson in particular, is a patently anti-communist initiative. Amauta and the LandBack coalition are positioning themselves to erode working class solidarity.
The goal of LandBack activists and advocates is to position themselves as the managers and consultants of the US native population.
The top concern for Amauta and LandBackers is “centering the voices” of indigenous people in the struggle against oppression. Central to this is the belief that regular working class white people (settlers) do not understand, do not care, and do not have sympathy for the historical injustices of native people. This is bullshit. This is the ruling class perspective reflected in the minds of their valiant defenders: that the rabble, the masses, are the settlers, and the only way to move forward is for the settlers (the non-native working class) to shut up and listen to people like Amauta, members of the NGO complex, the HR department that speaks on behalf of all native people. The absurdity becomes obvious when we state it this way. These are not managers working on behalf of the Native population, they are working on behalf of the ruling class! The class that requires managers to negotiate and ease tensions on their behalf!
Landback is a slogan meant to instigate racial tension.
Much like the “Black Lives Matter” slogan incites the response of “all lives matter,” LandBack invokes the same rhetorical maneuver: land back from who? The prefigured answer is “the settlers.” The entire LandBack movement relies on the idea of settler-colonialism being the perpetual battle, and the main contradiction that is holding back society (but only for a specific group of racialized people). There is no implied universality in this slogan because it’s specifically not about class struggle. And the antidote is “decolonization” a term beloved by the highest echelons of the Malthusian ruling class.
Land reform isn’t exclusionary, so they reject it.
Marxist-Leninists, Communists and anti-imperialists of all flavors want land reform that both considers injustices of the past while primarily taking concern with the needs of the people living today. This is the precious, challenging, yet extremely important job of historical materialists. But this term doesn’t appeal to ultra-leftist NGO activists because it does not imply the exclusion of any group. It cuts them out of the equation as the racialized middle-men, representatives.
It is ultimately a degrowth ideology
LandBack revolves around the idea that correct stewardship of the earth is performed by indigenous people who live in “right relation” with nature. That’s why the slogan, along with all kinds white savior sloganeering to protect indigenous people, is leveraged in total bad faith by environmental activists, Monkey Wrenchers and Greens of all flavors. Pro-growth, pro-industry indigenous people are ignored in favor of indigenous voices that echo the degrowth, Malthusian agenda.
Riverkeeper (the lead ngo that shut down Indian Point Nuclear) is using the narrative of “harming indigenous” to shut down another energy project while actual indigenous people are telling them to stfu
Pretending to “be on your side” is the sign of a snake, a disingenuous liar.
Amauta, and the milieu he has sprung forth from, are afraid of so-called “patriotic socialism” because it’s a direct threat to their LandBack ideology. An ideology which seeks to keep the proletariat divided and ineffective, so they can maintain their position as managers among the chaos of decaying capitalism.
Amauta innocently claims he is just “elevating the discourse” yet he is happy to retweet people calling me a Nazi. Because he is skilled at talking out both sides of his mouth–appearing to be calm, reasonable, rational, well-intentioned and well-read–while egging on racially charged allegations–Amauta is seeing his star rise with the absolute worst people among the synthetic left, a force which has been effectively hollowing out the US Communist movement since the Cold War.
Every piece of media promoting LandBack can be traced back to the same NGO empire funded by Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, George Soros and the Ford Foundation. The Malthusian Alliance. They use slick marketing and shallow, class-collaborationist influencers to give the appearance of a mass movement. The same tactics they’ve been using for a hundred years.
The goal of LandBack is not a genuine understanding and working class solidarity, but rather, people like Amauta see indigenous organizing as an opportunity to disseminate expertise to an audience of guilty white people.
The interactions with Amauta and reaction from LandBackers kicked-off in the fall of 2021. Together with Alex, Peter Coffin, Ms. ACD and Caleb Maupin, we published video discussing and critiquing LandBack. Our friend Andrew of Socialism Train also had a very long, patient, good-faith debate with Amauta that is worth watching for context.