Attempting to practice food sovereignty without giving up all privilege is an oxymoron I struggle with. I love the idea of revoking my citizenship; sending back my social insurance number. I just filled out a form that demanded *it is a serious offence to make a false statement* I include all home addresses since 2013. I just willingly, without blinking once, filled out the form. I get child benefits. And I feel dependent on them because I have no other income. Having no other income is a political choice I’m making. But where do I draw the line. If I count on the $700 the government gives me every month I’m still in that system. And it’s a violent, exploitative system that counts on us all mindlessly filling out the form. They even pay us to do it. What are they so scared we’ll do if they stop paying us to mindlessly fill out forms? Stop? And what if we did? What do you suppose we could do if a whole wackload of us just took back a provincial park; made it a true commons. If there were so many of us they couldn’t possibly arrest us all. We’d fill a jail. They might, of course, but it would spark a conversation at least. About the waste of ‘conserving’ nature while mismanaging it or refusing to manage it at all (despite the fact that we’ve done our best to destroy it and the very least we should do now is learn it, beginning with careful observation, and help heal it). This is probably already a thing I just don’t know about. But let’s make it a bigger thing!
I’m writing all this knowing that I may just continue to live comfortably in my house (bought via a ‘radical’ private mortgage) rather than subvert the system (that much…either you are or you aren’t…aren’t you?). I’m afraid to do it alone and get swallowed by the PIC. And I worry for my children. I realize I am still too reliant on the master’s tools, the patriarchy, to fully commit. Until this moment, this form-filling out robot moment I had, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of subverting the system and refusing, as I often put it, industrial agriculture and transnational financial capitalism (by, among other things, growing my own food, living off grid and unjobbing). But I’m really still totally dependent on the “master’s house” as Audre Lorde put it. And at the same time knowing the utter and absolute truth, that I am “conforming to the needs of a structure that is not based on human need”. I’m holding back. Despite also knowing the truth of this, “The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need…is that it robs our work of its…value…and life appeal and fulfillment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love.”
Lorde and bell hooks, among many others, have been pointing out for decades that white/Western feminist movements are unwilling to face the reality that capitalism is a system that “depends on the exploitation of underclass groups for its survival”. This is particularly true “when they, as individuals, gain economic self-sufficiency within the existing structure. Both have pointed out that it is only women with material privilege who have anything to lose – only women who are still dependent on the system for their daily bread.
I’m now questioning my commitment to the process of decolonization if I won’t give up my ‘status’. The status as a “first class legal Canadian Citizen” is part of what gets me my colonial privilege, my patriarchal privilege, and my material privilege. More on these topics to come.
I’ve thought long and hard about what it means to talk about the kind of subversion I like to talk about and live as a “legal citizen”, to get benefits, to pay taxes, live in a “legitimate” land co-op that also pays its taxes… I know I have so much further to go, but I’m scared to leap. I even took a break from writing this to lick the envelope that my benefits address form is in and close it. I don’t know whether I’m going to send it or not. I honestly don’t.
My time is up. I shall question this topic further another day.