Why the “Space” to Occupy is so Important

Summary: We had our lands.

They were taken from us.

We cannot live without land.

We are taking our land back.

Ever since the invention of the “Domination society” (the one where someone knows better than you what you should do and will force you if necessary), lands have been taken away from those who previously inhabited them. I say ‘inhabited’ because many of the disenfranchised societies didn’t have much concept of ownership, though both the society and the individuals within society did have ‘stewardship’ over specific portions of the land.

But this meant the opposite of what land ownership means today. Today ownership of land often means that that land is used to speculate or to generate passive income.

In contrast, stewardship indicates a relationship where that which comes from the land to feed, clothe, and shelter is gratefully received and honored and in which that land and all the minerals, plants, and animals on it are treated in a way that this gift is neither dishonored nor destroyed. It is instead tended and passed on to the next generation.

With stewardship, no person or group needs to claim possession of more land than the individual or the group actually needs and uses. As the individual, family, or tribe wisely utilizes the resources that this land provides, he, she, or they can benefit from the land for many generations without being driven by an irrational fear to ‘possess’ more and more land which neither feeds, nor clothes any better nor provides the owner with any better shelter than before.

Still, many have been so deceived by the concept of money and the seeming security it provides for the future and have been inculcated into a deep fear of scarcity in the future that they have been driven, even at the point of a sword, to take control of more and more land. Those pursuing this route have generally found that the empire is never big enough. There was always more to conquer, more to control, and the bloodsheds of recent and distant history have demonstrated an amazing distain for the concept of stewardship and needs of the present. Even death was accepted in an attempt to gain security for the future.

Those who were not as warlike as their brethren had their lands taken from them in ever greater amounts until many were unable to feed themselves (one notes the starvations of the centuries and sees how much was due to the nonproductive armies which needed to be fed as well as feudal or government management).

The very system of thought which led men to conquer more and more could be compared to a beast that ultimately endangered both them and their fellows and brought them all to ruin and near extinction…all because of the thought that enough to eat now is not enough and that more must be owned, possessed, and taken.

This very spirit—which cannot be satisfied no matter how many billions are on its bank account—is threatening us today.

It has been this influence which has deprived the ‘peasants’ of virtually all of their arable land. Derrick Jensen points out in a letter from a southerner to an abolitionist before the civil war:

“We wish we could live without slavery, but here land is so plentiful that if we do not have slaves, no one will work our fields. They will simply grow their own food, build their own homes, and make their own clothing. It isn’t as in the northern cities where men must work if they are not to starve.”

In other words, the ‘morality’ of the yankees before the Civil War was to have found a method to continue a very profitable slavery without owning the actual slaves. By taking lands away through force of State, (which land provided food, clothing, and shelter) the poor had no way to provide these things for themselves except through working for the money which the owners of the capital paid them.

However, they became unnecessary competitors with their brethren, each trying to outdo the other for the lowest wage and became engaged in a massive contest to improve the value of their labor for their employers so as to be able to provide in some fashion adequately for themselves and their families. And this in a world where there was more than enough land for everyone to have their own area to subsist upon. But such is the power of the concept of domination, carried out primarily by the State.

Even the Church was used to teach those who were without that their treasures would be great in heaven, in a future life, and that they should simply turn the other cheek and endure inhuman working conditions rather than fight against a system that through arms and the force of finance kept them as slaves in fact if not in name.

Which brings us to today.

We see a stronger tendency than ever, everywhere in the world for land to be claimed, ‘owned’ and managed by the rich and powerful, and especially by faceless governments and multinational corporations.

Though many in the developed world have enjoyed relative prosperity under this system, even the former winners of the system are being edged out of the basic space in which to live as ownership of housing consolidates to the mega-rich and to banks and financial institutions (anyone who pays a mortgage does not own their dwelling. As an aside, mortgage is a French word coming from mort = death and gage = to engage—so an engagement to or until death).

Those without resources to pay—monthly—are consigned to homelessness or to rely on the very system that enfranchised them and stole their property to feed and clothe them.

In this context, Occupy was born.

Occupy is to me the fundamental realization of ‘space’. It answers the question of ‘where’.

This question is very key, but is often ignored.

If we do not have any space in which we can be, the questions of what and how and why are irrelevant. Lacking fundamental spaces in which to meet, discuss, express ourselves, and find solutions to fulfilling our needs, we have chosen to occupy those spaces which have been stolen from us.

And this is declaring war upon the system which has stolen our space from us.