Now that the grand relocation from SoCal to NorOnt -- the slick lingo just doesn't work so well with the latter, does it? Just call it Sudbury, Ontario -- is complete, I have changed the name of this site to reflect that I am no longer living in the United States of America. I solicited name suggestions on a few occasions, both online and in person. I received some responses, though fewer than I had hoped. After much pondering I have decided to go with a suggestion forwarded by rabfish: "A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land."
I like it because there is some continuity with the name that this blog held for the first 15 months of its existence. I also like it because it has multilayered and complex political implications. If I had not started this blog while living abroad, I would not be emphasizing my own Canadianness in the title, so I feel a little funny about leaving it in there now, but I suppose juxtaposing "Canadian" with "Occupied Land" in that way does demonstrate a rootedness in a particular political economy but an internationalist orientation via the understanding of "occupation" described below.
Anyway, though most of the time and for most of its inhabitants it is not in the same league as sites of active military occupation like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, there are still important ways in which "occupation" is a useful conceptual tool to understand the situation of northern North America. Certainly from an Aboriginal perspective, this land is occupied by a settler state that is historically derived from and is still actively engaged in colonization and cultural genocide. I am not Aboriginal, of course, but I think any radical politics based in this part of the world has to be rooted in an awareness of that reality -- I'm not saying my political ideas or practice deal with it adequately, but I try, and the title of this blog tries to acknowledge that and keep it at the foreground of my own attention.
As well, there are very real ways that any advanced capitalist political economy -- both economic institutions and the state -- amounts to forces of occupation in any territory under its control and to all people in that territory. In this sense, most of the world is occupied by hostile forces. Particularly in the capitalist heartland, either you are oppressed or you are unavoidably implicated in the oppression of others or both. There is no way to escape this in modern industrial states, no room for an escapist self-determination that lets you wiggle out of the confines of this social system; only social transformation that liberates us all can liberate any one of us. Though my particular identity is, in most ways, one which the political economy of northern North America and the culture to which it is linked tend to privilege, I am no less embedded in these structures of occupation. Indeed, this makes me both occupier and occupied. And this leads to the idea that occupation is not just a series of structures, but it is also the ways in which those structures distort the perception and consciousness of everyone they touch -- they make us believe oppressive lies so deeply that sometimes our gut reactions are still captive even when we think our minds are free. Not only are our geography and our society settings for struggle against this occupation, therefore, but so is our consciousness. And this blog will continue to be, as it has been for the last 15 months, a series of notes and thoughts and ramblings from my own journey of struggle against those multiple occupations, as occupied and occupier, both within and without.