Genocidal Profiteering and Big-Extraction Refugees: Riverdale is Only the Beginning of the End of “Home”
Of any word in any language, one of the most important is “home.” This isn’t just because that’s “where the heart is,” but because “home” is so much more than “house.” Perhaps houses are, in some cases, where homes are—but contrary to the perverse “it’s just business” logic of the Big extraction corporations in whose way your house may be, “home” is not reducible to “house.” And in the case of the mobile homes of Riverdale Mobile Home Community—the site of Aqua America/PVR’s plan for a water withdrawal station for hydraulic fracturing, “home” is not necessarily moveable even if “house” is. Consider the meaning of “home”: no matter the humility or splendor, location, condition, shape or size, home is never merely domicile. And the proof of this isn’t hard to find: over this past year, I have watched people return to homes in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania ravaged by Hurricane Lee to salvage anything they could to remind them of that place. Witnessing people scrape poisonous sludge from the Susquehanna River off wedding pictures taken at backyard barbeque receptions is one of the most heart-breaking things I have ever seen. I have photographed apartment buildings listing and tattered in Hanoi, vibrant with the sounds of playing children, the smell of Vietnamese French bread baking on the street out front, soft yellow of straw hats hanging from open windows. I marvel at the marketing brilliance of Ikea who sells you-build-em furniture by simulating homey-looking rooms replete with all the comfy stuff that converts a domicile into the “crib,” the “pad,” the “shack,” the “digs” that’s mine. What else but “home” rightly describes Occupy Wall Street’s defense of places like Zuchotti Park—however makeshift and without walls? This past weekend I helped build a home-for-right-now called “camping” at Rock Run, Loyalsock State park—a home that after just a couple of days I found very hard to leave. I had already moved earth, bucketed in water, stoked a fire, staked down memories. I had already gone to sleep and awakened in that place. “Home” is no mere place; it is that place to which we return. It is the idea that we belong somewhere in the world, that we have a “here, safe, mine.” To be evicted from that refuge without very good reason is, I think, among the most grievous of injustices. Without just cause, such expulsion constitutes a violation of a basic human right to be in a place unmolested and unharassed. And it’s precisely this injustice for which Aqua America and its parent company Pennsylvania Virginia resources (PVR) are guilty. For in the process of evicting 37 families from Riverdale Mobile Home Community, Aqua America joins the ranks of corporations who operate just like invading and terrorizing armies—they make refugees of the people who stand in the way of their objectives, and the difference between the military objective of conquering territory and that of the profiteering objective of the Big Extraction corporations is naught but semantics for a nation state corporatized such that words like “America” or “Pennsylvania” are but advertising strategies that allow, say, Aqua America to fly a flag. And in doing so, their actions can only be described as genocidal.
at 6:54 PM