On Living Occupation

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This struggle is global! This occupation is alive!

The nature of this struggle is inevitably, unavoidably, indivisibly global. No longer do we have the luxury of thinking that there is such a thing as domestic politics. No longer do we have the luxury of thinking that there is such a thing as the middle class. No longer do we have the luxury of thinking that what happens on the other side of the world isn’t happening to us at the same time. This struggle has no country, no borders, no name, and no limits. It has one and only one theme: people have rights, bank accounts do not. This struggle is what it means to be a person living now.

The method of this struggle is living occupation. This struggle takes the concept of occupation from the playbook of colonialism but adds an extra ingredient, one which makes all the difference in the world: daily life. There is one thing which the colonizer will never give up: his private life. As a consequence, the colonizer’s only means of occupying space is by turning it into private property, i.e., a place of collective and individual death.

The deadly occupation of colonialism works by circumscribing daily life. First and foremost, the lives of the occupiers are circumscribed from the lives of the occupied. The circumscription of persons from one another in turn engenders the circumscription of life from itself. Whenever the haves are circumscribed from the have-nots: work life is circumscribed from social life, labor is circumscribed from pleasure, family is circumscribed from community, politics are circumscribed from justice, education is circumscribed from truth, and each of us cannot help but be circumscribed from ourselves.

This process of circumscribing life, which is the strategy of deadly occupation, is suicide for the occupier every bit as much as it is homicide for the occupied. Because life’s desires know no division. Because bosses need their workers more than workers need their bosses. Because even the threat of death can only delay the settling of waters to an equal level for so long.

Living occupation is the antithesis to colonialism’s deadly occupation. Living occupation works by bringing daily life back to circumscribed spaces. More than simply putting our bodies where they don’t belong, as living occupiers we live our lives where they don’t belong. We take private space and we use it for doing everything that we do in the course of our lives: talking, reading, thinking, writing, teaching, learning, debating, singing, laughing, dreaming, dancing, urinating, defecating, loving, cooking, eating, building, playing, sleeping. By giving up our private lives and living in public, we return space to the public and we make room for the possibility of a life worth living. In living occupation, not only do we do everything in public; more than that, what we do, we do together as a public.

Living occupation returns us to the basic struggles that occupied persons all over the globe face as everyday facts of life. Living occupation takes the space used in the servicing of money and death and returns that space to the service of human life. Living occupation returns the community back to the center of daily life.

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One Response to On Living Occupation

  1. Seth Andrews says:

    A living occupation. Thank you for this Marc. I am eager to hear or read people’s thoughts on this. For me you explained what I’ve been trying to explain to those who question the meaning of the word occupation and this occupation in particular. Including myself. – Seth A.

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