Settlers is a uniquely important book in the canon of the North American revolutionary left and anticolonial movements. First published in the 1980s by activists with decades of experience organizing in grassroots anticapitalist struggles against white supremacy, the book soon established itself as an essential reference point for revolutionary nationalists and dissident currents within the predominantly colonialist Marxist-Leninist and anarchist movements at that time.
Always controversial within the establishment Left, Settlers uncovers centuries of collaboration between capitalism and white workers and their organizations, as well as their neocolonial allies, showing how the United States was designed from the ground up as a parasitic and genocidal entity. Settlers exposes the fact that America’s white citizenry have never supported themselves but have always resorted to exploitation and theft, culminating in acts of genocide to maintain their culture and way of life. As recounted in painful detail by Sakai, the United States has been built on the theft of Indigenous lands and of Afrikan labor, on the robbery of the northern third of Mexico, the colonization of Puerto Rico, and the expropriation of the Asian working class, with each of these crimes being accompanied by violence.
The fourth edition of J. Sakai’s Settlers is now out and available, copies shipping to wherever you may be.
i felt a lot of apprehension working on this book — Settlers is literally the book (or the first in the trilogy of books) that changed my life, and pretty much defined for me what revolutionary writing should look like. Plus, the previous edition was so incredibly beautiful, pictures on every page, really graphically stunning. So if i could have avoided having to work on a new edition, and could have just stuck to selling the old one, i would have. However, the thing with selling copies of a really important and attractive book is that eventually the copies run out — and in early 2014 the 3rd edition of Settlers went out of print, completely sold out, as it had been threatening to do for years.
So given that high bar, i can say i am relieved that the new edition actually looks … really good! The printer did a great job, the pages are all in order, and there’s still lots of illustrations.
This new edition includes “Cash & Genocide: The True Story of Japanese-American Reparations” and an interview with author J. Sakai by Ernesto Aguilar.
What People Are Saying
“Settlers is a critical analysis of the colonization of the Americas that overturns the ‘official’ narrative of poor and dispossessed European settlers to reveal the true nature of genocidal invasion and land theft that has occurred for over five hundred years. If you want to understand the present, you must know the past, and this book is a vital contribution to that effort.”
—Gord Hill, author of 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance
“Great works measure up, inspire higher standards of intellectual and moral honesty, and, when appreciated for what they are, serve as a guide for those among us who intend a transformation of reality. Settlers should serve as a reminder (to anyone who needs one) of the genocidal tendencies of the empire, the traitorous interplay between settler-capitalist, settler-nondescript, and colonial flunkies.”
—Kuwasi Balagoon, Black Liberation Army
“When Settlers hit the tiers of San Quentin, back in 1986, it totally exploded our ideas about what we as a new class of revolutionaries thought we knew about a so-called ‘united working class’ in amerika. And what’s more, it brought the actual contradictions of national oppression and imperialism into sharp focus. It was my first, and as such my truest, study of the actual mechanics behind the expertly fabricated illusion of an amerikan proletariat.”
—Sanyika Shakur, author of Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member
In 1999, J. Sakai agreed to be interviewed by Solidarity Publishing and Distribution, a prisoner-support project based here in Montreal. The text of this interview is available alongside Kuwasi Balagoon’s The Continuing Appeal of Anti-Imperialism in the pamphlet When Race Burns Class, published and distributed by Kersplebedeb. The text of the interview, along with Balagoon’s review, are both provided here, so you can read them online.
In 2004, J. Sakai was interviewed by Ernesto Aguilar for KPFT Pacifica Radio. It is available in audio here, and the transcript became the pamphlet, “Stolen At Gunpoint: Interview with J. Sakai On the Chicano-Mexicano National Question,” and is currently hosted at anti-imperialism.com. (A lightly edited version also appears in the newest edition of Settlers as an appendix.)
Here is a list of links to other texts, discussing and debating Settlers: