A Synopsis of Flanagan First Nations Second Thoughts?


Chapter 4: The Fiction of Aboriginal Sovereignty

RCAP: Aboriginal peoples were and are nations in both the cultural and political sense of this term. Their nationhood is concomitant with their sovereignty.

Sovereignty can only exist in civilized society, according to Flanagan. The State or the Nation has been applied to various groups erroneously. Self-government as an entrenched ‘third order’ would have complicated legal ramifications and Flanagan is weary of the rhetoric of sovereignty which must be curtailed. Analyzing how Europe asserted authority over the New World, he demonstrates that Europeans saw the indigenous people lacked sophisticated States and used the argument of Terra nullius “no man’s land” to gain control. Spain usurped the agriculturally based Mexico and Peru as these Christians felt they had the right to govern heathens. Also, King George III was explicit about sovereignty in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 as semantics for British conquest. The US Supreme Court’s John Marshall (1823) asserts, on the principle of sovereignty, that conquest prevails over claims of civility. Therefore US Congress is competent to legislate in any way whatsoever regarding aboriginals. Marshall coined the term ‘domestic dependent nations’ to describe the status of American Natives. Yet the Charter entrenches sovereignty of aboriginals under section 35 (1) of the Constitution. Legislative jurisdiction, in the US Congress can override anything decided by an Indian tribal government; Parliament would not have that same power if the RCAP was fully realized.

DISCLAIMER: Professor Nerdster Does NOT Agree With Tom Flanagan’s views in the slightest. It is better to get those views out in the open and understand them, rather than not address the criticism of this influential academic. 


  1. Thomas Flanagan is a joke and the only reason he gets anywhere with his "scholarly" tripe is because it affirms, and offers a thin veneer of civility to, old school racism in Canada. Pseudo-intellectual fools of all stripes in Canada love Flanagan for this faux scientific validity.There are far too many fallacies and specious errors in his reasoning to cover in a little post like this. Suffice it to say that racism is not a statement, nor is it even an act; it is a deeply embedded cultural ideology and orientation that has its roots in Euro-caucasoid cultures. Affirming that First Nations have a legitimate claim to the land by virtue of having settled it more than 10,000 years prior to Euro-caucasoids cum "Canadians" is far from "racism" any more than claiming Euro-caucasoids have a claim to Britain that precedes any subsequent First Nations claims to it is "racism".Second, "civilization" as Flanagan seems to understand it and define it is by no means an accurate measure of efficacy or viability or legitimate claim to extinguish the cultures of others who do not subscribe to the Euro-caucasoid version of it.

  2. As far as I can see Flanagan's "civilization" is a dead end (capitalism, war, pollution, overpopulation, subjugation of nature leading to mass extinctions, worship of science & technology, knowledge without wisdom) and whose demise is readily apparent to anyone not deluded by their own wondrous, civilized selves. His mistake (one of his many), as is the mistake of so many racists attempting to rationalize the irrational, is that he is short-sighted and takes a very limited view of his own "civilization" willfully failing to expose its (catastrophic) shortcomings even as he is so adept at manufacturing the shortcomings of Aboriginal cultures. This and his ahistorical perspective (he only constructs his linear model of "civilization" to the present without taking its long-documented trajectory by far greater minds than my own including Albert Einstein, of failure into account), make for a less than stellar product. It reeks of faux science and racist demagoguery—the so-called "new racism" that sociologists all across the world are beginning to notice.Try, try as you might, you will never (nor will Flanagan) fully mask the stink of your racism. Truth will always reveal the fallacies of colonial bigotry.

  3. Thank you for your comments! Hahaha, I do not support Tom Flanagan’s views. I'm merely condensing what his book argues so that people know what he believes. Great contributions though. Glad to have your views. – Professor Nerdster

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