Bioregional Post-nationalism Vs. The World
Sometimes I need to put down the books and just talk to people.
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to interview Alexander Baretich — who designed the blue, white, and green tri-color “Doug” flag commonly associated with the Cascadia independence movement. It was good timing for me, as I’d been struggling to figure out an element regarding a documentary I mean to start this year. My initial idea was to contrast the Cascadia and Jefferson movements. While on the Jefferson side of things, there is tangible action — The Greater Idaho Movement’s campaign to move the border of Idaho eastward, for example — I’ve been having trouble finding a narrative on the Cascadia side. There’s been a ton of talk since the overturning of Roe v. Wade about some liberal Left Coast Secession, but little to no tangible action in that direction.
An insight I picked up during my interview with Baretich, though, was tension within the Cascadia Movement between the bioregionalists and quasi-nationalist territorialists. This tension may quickly become exacerbated by liberal anger at the rightward movement in the U.S. Federal government and momentum gained by right-leaning movements like Greater Idaho or the American Redoubt within the region.
While more sophisticated than the idea I started with, this is intriguing.
What’s the conflict?
When most people think of separatist movements, they think in terms established by the existing state system based on governance over people and territory. But that’s not what bioregionalism is about at all.
Bioregionalists assert that all human relations — political, economic, and cultural — should follow regional ecology. They reject human supremacy over land and territory. In the view of bioregionalists, the aim is to create a society that works in harmony with wild ecology and not out of a framework of possessing territory or controlling land or raw materials. So, in this sense, for Cascadian bioregionalists, the struggle for independence is far deeper than a simple secession from the United States and Canada. They seek a far-reaching social transformation beyond the context of the state system.
This is at odds with national territorialist secessionism. It is incompatible with both liberals who want to break away from a country they see drifting precipitously to the right and right-wingers who want to shift governmental boundaries to skirt taxes and environmental laws. Thus, it presents the Cascadian movement with a dual conflict: one internal and one external.
Cascadian bioregionalists are in a struggle against both left and right territorialist impulses in the U.S. Pacific Northwest & Canadian West.
This dual conflict is way more intriguing than the binary conflict of right vs. left separatism I was initially looking at. I wouldn’t have figured this out if I had just stuck to the books. I want to get more content on Secessio Populi based on this interview and an interview I did a few months back with Louis Marrienelli (previously of the Yes California!). Right now, I’m excited to be cutting the Gordian knot on this Cascadia doc I’m writing. Hopefully, I can get some more interviews lined up later this month and start filming before August. It should be fun.
Originally published at https://davidnwaeze.substack.com on July 9, 2022.