The government policies that exist today started with a set of beliefs of one kind or another, which over time transformed themselves into many stories, which in turn married each other and created new bastardised versions. Now we have the story that someone can own a piece of the Earth, and then charge everyone else for having to be somewhere on it; there’s the peculiar story of money; the anthropocentric story that some Big Man in the Sky made everything for Mankind which The Latter then has dominion over and can do with as He likes; Cartesian stories, Newtonian stories, Darwinian stories; stories by Smith and Marx and Friedman. There’s the story of fractional reserve banking where our masters – the banks – magically produce money out of thin air and then lend it to us in a way that means that we have to give them not just the capital they invented, but some interest also, using money that was produced by our sweat. Let us also not forget the story that it is now only the birds, badgers and other wild animals that are allowed to make their own little nest out of local materials to live in – the same story that insists that humans must, at all times, be charged, surveilled and regulated in all that they do. This is also part of the story that Freedom is for Nature, and that we are outside it.
But there’s a reckoning in the works—an indigenous-led reckoning that has been building since the days of Dennis Banks, the American Indian Movement leader who died on Sunday, and well before. A reckoning that seeks to challenge this country’s long-cherished myths as well as its current role in the world. From Standing Rock and the nationwide fossil-fuel-divestment drive to the bold organizers challenging racist landmarks and dishonest holidays, movements have emerged that are teaching the United States about its true past and agitating for a much better future. And much of the action is taking place in cities—in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Minneapolis, and more.
We can see it not just in the data, but we’ve seen it play out this season in the form of unprecedented storms.
I trekked with nomads. Their attitude about possessions presages a new age of traveling light.