This is a rewrite of the post I wrote when I first changed this blog's title to "A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land." Its basic message remains the same but some of the language has been changed to better reflect my current preferences. I may continue to fine tune it in the future.
When I moved back to Canada, after fifteen months living in Los Angeles, I changed the name of this site to reflect that I was 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 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 place 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 indigenous 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 a settler and not an indigenous person, 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 relations of production and state relations in so-called advanced capitalist countries amount to relations of occupation over any territory they encompass and over 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 these social relations; only social transformation that liberates us all can liberate any one of us. Though my particular identity is, in most ways, one which the social relations of northern North America and its dominant culture 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, a complex of oppressive relations, 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 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.