In this paper I consider the links between extractive economies, autocratic regimes, the conception of freedom as a right to property, and the extraction of care as a resource. And I contrast this constellation with a system of radical democratic governance organized around a conception of freedom as a practice of care for land, rooted in gift economies: caretaking economies.
Hannah Arendt argued that the privatization of freedom based in ownership of property ultimately upholds the right to destroy what one owns: freedom as autocracy. We can see this understanding of freedom as freedom not to care. The privatization of freedom is dependent on the privatization of feminized and racialized care: on the extraction of care as a resource.
In contrast, Anishinaabe theorists Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and John Borrows advocate the resurgence of freedom as a practice of active care for land, where land is understood as a system of relations among interdependent beings. I understand this as a distinctive political conception of freedom as a radically democratic practice: a mode of engagement and participation in social and political relations with an infinite range of strange and diverse beings perceived as free agents in a field of uncertain, unpredictable, changing relations, to create and recreate the world in which we live together.
These practices of radical care and freedom can be taken as models for coalitional movements—what Simpson calls constellations of co-resistance—to support the risk of connection with a diversity of strange others, meeting conflict and potential danger with fierce care for the world.
Allison Weir is a visiting scholar of social and political philosophy in the Centre for Ethics at the University of Toronto, and a Fellow of the Centre for Humanities and Social Change at the Humboldt University in Berlin. She co-founded the Institute for Social Justice in Sydney, Australia, where she was Research Professor and Director of the Doctoral Program in Social Political Thought. Her book, Decolonizing Freedom, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. She is the author of Identities and Freedom and Sacrificial Logics: Feminist Theory and the Critique of Identity.
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