Following the Great Recession of 2008, many of my friends started talking about “living off the land.” At the time, I didn’t give their words much thought. After all, Obama was in the White House; Neoliberalism was on the rise; imperial wars raged abroad, and the antiwar movement was falling apart. During those dark and tumultuous years, my primary focus was building the sort of left institutions that could prevent the situation in which we now find ourselves: a nation on the brink of collapse, civil war, or some combination of the two. Sometime around 2010, I started reading about the connections between climate change and the U.S. empire and militarism, which led me to research and learn more about ecological devastation and biodiversity loss. The global picture was much grimmer than I had imagined. Not only was capitalism and empire destroying human life, but it was also destroying the planet. At that point, I began to better understand my friends’ urge to “move to the countryside,” but I didn’t agree with their vision. To me, it seemed like a uniquely white and middle to upper-middle-class thing to do. It also seemed like the easy way out. I remember thinking, “I don’t know too many black or Hispanic people who are starting small farms.” And I still don’t. That’s not because they’re not interested in doing so. Black and Hispanic Americans simply don’t have the material resources to start small farms, which require land (money), equipment (money), time (money), specialized skills (access), and various other resources (money and access).
Plus, I don’t know too many black or Hispanic people who are champing at the bit to live in Southern Indiana, northern Wisconsin, or rural Montana, whereas many of my white friends wouldn’t blink an eye moving to those regions. [full article]