By now you’ve likely heard about the Dervaes
regime family trademarking the terms urban homestead and urban homesteading. The internet has been in an uproar. A Facebook group to Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) quickly swelled to nearly 4,000 fans. Twitterers are tweeting it up under hashtag #dumpthedervaeses.
You might have read how I feel about the term homestead in general at Homestead Act 2.0. Or followed my initial take on the Dervaes Debacle with (Urban) Homestead Act 2.1. Hang with me because I have a bit more to say on the matter. Well, I actually have a lot more to say because the world is full of interconnected injustices. But for today I’ll keep it to the current Dervaes Self-Destruct as it relates to global-agribusiness complex.
The Crime is in the Rugged Individualism
Rugged Individualism is a myth that everyone has equal access and opportunity as well as the bunk notion that everyone just needs to ‘pull themselves up by their bootstraps.’ It is a myth based in capitalism, ownership and (unearned) privilege.
Emma Goldman stated clearly:
“Rugged individualism’ is simply one of the many pretenses the ruling class makes to mask unbridled business and political extortion.”
In the case of the Dervaes, I argue that people are angry that a piece of their identity is being stolen. The outrage is about something being taken from us. That a way of resisting has been co-opted. We get mad and turn our anger on a family that has made themselves an all too easy target. The anger is justified. The Dervaes family is essentially reproducing a land grab (the aggressive taking of something to broaden power).
The irony is that the United States was built upon land grabs. By white, monied, land-owning men taking things that weren’t rightfully theirs. Homesteading, you know. The United States used manifest destiny as justification for colonization and genocide. The Dervaes family cites intellectual property as their rationale for trademarking a way of being and living (that they didn’t invent).
Howard Zinn stated:
“(We are) a nation of individuals saying, “I am an individual. Don’t blame me for the collective crimes of this country.”
The community is responding to the Dervaes family in the same way that Americans respond to things. By getting angry that something is being done to us. Us personally. Us as a small community. Rather than getting amped at a system that is unjust and operates out of upholding oppression. A system that is unjustly harmful to both the national and global communities.
Here is the bigger picture: the Dervaes family is emblematic of the global capitalist agribusiness complex. When they brand a term in common usage, a term they didn’t invent and is in no way unique to them, they are showcasing themselves as a micro-model of how this system works. A system that takes things that aren’t theirs to take. A system that tells people they can’t use words. It brings to mind a host of other agribusiness ills such as seed ownership. Biopiracy. Genetically modified seeds. Monsanto. Land degradation.
Hope is in the Outrage
I am genuinely in awe of the collective outrage. I feel hopeful. What if this newly bonded community/ies could stay connected? Stay connected once our differences in politics, religions, genders, abilities, sexualities, classes and races become clear? Stay connected and actually gain strength and power because of our differences? Could it happen? What if it did? Who could we take on? What systems could we dismantle?
What if our communities could find our way to see that the trademarking is not just a personal attack. That it isn’t about me. Or you. Or your neighbor. Or the blogger you know out there in bloggy land. What if we could instead focus on the trademarking as part of a larger social justice issue? What if we could sustain this level of engagement to take on the very systems that purposefully create social injustices?
I don’t care about the Dervaes family personally. Their leader is just another person to sell out. To give up their purported ideals to make a buck. To make that buck under the guise of protecting the little guy. So perfectly and completely ordinary. I imagine that he is a smart business person that recognizes that, in the end, bad publicity is still publicity. And that people have short memories. The outraged urban homesteaders will likely move on to other issues. And he’ll be sitting on a pile of (extorted) cash.
I want us to get collectively angry enough that we produce a revolutionary and systemic change. A change to the systems that create injustices. As long as we are rooted in our participation of capitalism and rugged individualism we remain stuck. Stuck in a system that oppresses us all.
The big question is: Can we move? I’m hopeful. Are you?