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THE MEANING OF THE SLOGAN • THE MEANING OF THE MOVEMENT

Land & Housing Action Group Working Paper #3

The Take Back the Land slogan is a cry for social justice drawn from the historic anti-colonial and popular struggles of the Third World, or Global South, and the Peoples’ Movements within the US, particularly Indigenous, Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican, and Hawaiian struggles for land, treaty rights, self-determination and sovereignty.

The Land and Housing Action Group (LHAG) issued the campaign call initiating the present-day Take Back the Land Movement to honor and build on the critical historic and structural demands of these peoples’ movements. We stand on an anti-settler position, which acknowledges that first and foremost all the lands currently held and/or claimed by the US government rightfully belong their indigenous inhabitants, not to European settlers and their descendents who acquired them through genocidal conquest and thievery. Further we stand opposed to the system of land commodification and private possession initiated by European colonization and institutionalized and enshrined within the US constitution and legal custom.

The ultimate, long-term objective of the Take Back the Land Movement is to end this system of land commodification. We call this the decommodification imperative. This imperative is rooted in the belief that in order for the human right to adequate housing to be realized there must be a radical transformation in how land is related to and used. If the present system and orientation is maintained it undoubtedly will lead to further wealth polarization, displacement, social unrest, food insecurity, water conflicts, deforestation, and species loss. To avoid these calamities a new orientation and system must be created that rebuilds the “commons”, is based in communal ownership and economic democracy, and rooted in a relational inter-species approach to land that respects the inherent rights of “all our relations” to enjoy the earth’s bounty.

We recognize that we have many a river to cross in what will undoubtedly be a protracted struggle before realizing substantive change on this issue. Notions of individual home ownership are central to the narrative of the “American Dream”. Challenging the ideological and amoral underpinning of this narrative won’t be easy, even in historically oppressed communities.

But, it must be done as a critical step in the struggle to help save ourselves from ourselves and avert the potential catastrophe of ecocide from the over consumption of the earth’s resources. The initiative to build a mass direct action movement through the action initiatives of May 2010 and beyond is just a first critical step on this journey.

The Land and Housing Action Group invite’s everyone to join us in advancing this vision and realizing its potential. We aim to not just correct historical wrongs, but to build a more just and equitable society for all.