Ideology is the myth that justifies the creation and reproduction of a particular social order. It becomes a way of believing and behaving that shapes how we know reality. Having been born into the social order of an empire I therefore have the option offered by this order; to be a function or surplus. By contrast my childhood was a rollercoaster of messianic madness led by three parents on the road exploring and attempting to escape that order and across what, coincidentally, was the region once called the Roman Empire.
The Empire that long ago colonised my family’s different ancestors, colonised the assemblage of animals and plants they lived with, and colonised the culture areas in this region that have offered me hospitality as waypoints on this journey. Most likely also did the colonising. Today their descendants adrift. I am therefore bereft of context. I am not living in a real land or water. But neither am I enthralled enough by imperial labels and identities to remain a ‘happy’ function. But I am also not yet brave enough to leave the now global empire of exploitation, of selling myself for a few bucks. I have no context. I have no community. Maybe some fragments.
The closest I have come to depth of context in life has been through all the amazing relations with women I have connected with in my life, from my sisters to my lovers – which says something more about my psychological development than about the other beautiful people I am or have been connected to in my life. I also intermittently connected with best friends or affinity groups. In addition I once thought I could make a home in the academic discipline of social anthropology, but that was deeply naïve. But that is not quite what I mean. I am also talking of context beyond the repetitive exchange between work hard party hard. And I am not talking about the (Darwinian) idea of belonging that is rooted in the ideology of function or surplus. Finally, embracing the idea of precarity, third culture or diaspora, can be important but its more than that. Instead it the question of how can I, and so many like me – adrift, racing and chasing around- find more options than being function or surplus? And what are those options?
Right now the palimpsest of history suggests the end of the capitalist social order is letting holy roman feudalism shine through, only now its proponents are equipped with more powerful technologies. That is not an option I can stomach, the technologies okay, the rest no, but the longer I sit idle the longer I become more use to it. As the new roman calendar year is marked, I write this to remind myself to continue finding ways to find and practice these other options…
The following help shaped this meditation:
Have We Passed Peak Capitalism? by Blair Fix / Whiteness is a War Measure: Race and racism in the transition from Obama to Trump to Biden, in historical perspective by Peter Gelderloos / This conversation with Emory Douglas leading to exploring his artwork / These paintings by Timofey Stepanov / Chapter 9 of As we have always done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson