| Anarchist perspective on the squatting ban |
A collective - 25.05.2010 15:08
There have been many discussions in and of indymedia about how to deal with the upcoming squatting ban. There seems to be a lot of diversity between those who see squatting as simply a housing-thing and those who see it as a means of political struggle.
We as an anarchist collective have the following view and call out.
This text is in English because we as anarchists are internationalists without borders. (And this way the giant, violent hordes of barbaric Italian and Polish squatters that the media keeps writing about can also read along!)
Firstly, we find it very disturbing that the indymedia-editors have removed a posting by a certain self-proclaimed Michael Bakunin. Even if you do not agree with his or her or their statements indymedia should be a website where freedom of speech is not in danger because conservative propagandists like GeenStijl are trying to make money out of it.
Secondly, we are disturbed by the lack of analysis on the squatting issue from the side of the anarchists. There have already been a few postings by conformists and those whose see squatting as a solution to housing-problem. They proclaim that the almighty eighties was when it all happened and that since then the squatting scene has been bankrupted by the so-called dirty, violent element within the squatting scene. It should be rather simple for people to give retort, but with a few exceptions there is a big lack of proper feedback.
We will try to give some.
If we like it or not the squatting scene is a subculture in the eyes of the mainstream media and public. The enormous diversity of the squatting scene is usually put into one pigeonhole. We do not agree that it is a homogenic scene, but it is important to note that squatting is an alternative way of living. It is not a third option next to buying or renting a house. It is the complete opposite. And for 90% the squatting scene does sprout a variety of counter-culture groups that you will not so easily find anywhere else in society. Punk, tekno and goa-parties, artists living spaces, anti-capitalists, antifascists, refugee-supporters, anti-psychiatry activists and many other subversive groups and individuals have rooted themselves in the squatting scene. Without squats many of the above mentioned initiatives would not have been realised.
We think that the problem today is that a large group of the squatting scene is not politically active and/or aware. They see squatting as a legal State approved way of living and are very angry that they now will be officially called criminals. They seem to be blaming the political active part of the squatting scene.
In countries around us squatting has always been illegal and has been largely dominated by the anarchist struggle against capitalism and the State. From the anarchist point of view it is ridiculous to want the approvement of the State for living the way you want to live. This fear of illegal versus legal is laughable. When has the State and the media-infused society seen squatters as a normal part of society anyway? Smelly, stinky, dirty, violent, lazy, workshy, foreign(why is that bad?), dog and flee infested parasites of society. The last 15 years the squatting scene has tried over and over again to look good in the media. To show society that "We" are just normal people with normal problems and needs but we just live alternatively. There have even been squatters who have publically denounced "those others" for ruining the image of the squatting scene by fighting against evictions masked up and in black. Your worst enemy being your neighbour.
The reason why there is a squatting ban today is not because of the very rare moments of squatters fighting back against the evictions in the last 15 years. The holy eighties were much more violent. The reason squatting is made illegal is because political parties like the CDA and VVD finally think they have the majority in the political country together with the PVV to get rid of non-conformist elements in society. Refugees, illegals, squatters and many others are now the target of conservative white society. Parties like the PvdA and Groenlinks no longer have leftist views in the way that we would like to see them as they hope to gain more and more votes by becoming centrist.
As anarchists we have never had any faith in the State or representative democracy. It is capitalism and the hierarchy of power that rules the State. The only reason to have anything to do with the State is to fight them by any means possible. Even if they make a law tomorrow to make squatting legal again it will (and has never) not stop them from evicting us or attacking us at demonstrations. The State was, is and always will be the enemy.
We as a collective think that by the State making squatting illegal again it might even rid us of the parasitical element that has infested the squatting scene.
Like those who have been immobilizing us for years with their calls for non-violence and conformist policies. Never have they respected the anarchist way of dealing with the State and police in a non-conformist way. Every demonstration has been gutted by them. A lot of squatting actions and evictions have been sterilized by those who did not want to upset the State and it's powers. Afraid of their jobs, positions in society and "the way society sees us!". It is they who have bankrupted the squatting scene with their Polder-way of trying to be friends with the State that has never wanted to be friends with us. It has always been an unfair balance between them and us. To be a force of reckoning you must have some leverage. Especially because of the conformists and lobbyist we have lost the leverage. For fuck sake we invite the Wijkagent to come and check for us to see if a house is really empty! From the first moment on we leave the State to decide if what we are doing is right!
The other parasites are those who use squatting simply as a means to live free and party without letting any politics get involved. They use excessive amounts of drugs and alcohol, treat their dogs worse than most people in "normal" society, have no political views about sexism (rape and assault not being uncommon in the Tekno and Punk scene) and have made the squatting scene a closed off space for those who only belong to the crusty party scene. They look very alternative and on the surface they act like it, but they are nothing but another subculture of normal society. They party and take drugs just like many other "normal" people do in the weekends but they just dress differently. There is nothing revolutionary about them. We see them only at demonstrations that have anything to do with squatting and they are absent when it comes to real struggles about racism, sexism, etc. They probably won't read indymedia because there is no agenda on when the next Tekno-party will be.
We do not wish for these subcultures to dissappear. It is their choice. But what we as anarchists should realize is that they are not their to help us, they are their to be in our way. We must circumvent them and not listen to their whining.
It is time for anarchist to realize that the global squatting scene is politically active and motivated. They fight for their houses, they use their squats as places for creating politics. The are staging grounds for demonstrations and actions.
We do not think there is any reason to go to The Hague on the 1st of June. We do not care what the State decides. If we go to the Hague it should be to oust the government for all the reasons it should be ousted, not just because of one of their laws.
We should squat more houses and barricade them. We should show them what making squatting illegal really means. No more nice phonecalls to the Wijkagent so he can check the meters. No more waiting for a year for a building to be empty, no more agreements with the owners if they have no good plans with the buildings, no more nicely waiting to be evicted. No more fluffyness. The State has declared us enemies. Fine. We can live with that. We have always seen the State as our enemy, so it is only fitting that they finally say it openly aswell.
The situation will be more unsure. Squatting will become even more a way of living because the State could be at our doors at any moment. We will not be able to use their courts or their laws anymore. We have no shame about the fact that we did use them before. By any means necessary means by any means necessary. But as they are taking away those means we should adapt instead of falter. That has always been the strength of anarchism. We adapt. Dogma's are for conservatives like capitalists, communists and socialists.
We will not let the State decide our way of living. We must show society that we, like in Greece, can bring anarchy to the streets. Not in the same way as in Greece for we do not have the same amount of people with us. But as a global society of anarchists we are a many-headed monster that can bite the State and capitalism. We are not few! Look at Greece, Ungdomhuset, riots in Berlin and Hamburg, Strassbourg NATO meeting, G8 meetings, no border camps, etc. We are more than a gnat.
So the 1st of June is nothing special. We must do what we always do. And that is squat and fight the State.
Lees meer over: anti-fascisme / racisme vrijheid, repressie & mensenrechten wonen/kraken
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|The Anarchist perspective? |
| dec23 - 26.05.2010 12:37 |
The squatting ban is not even definite yet, and already all kinds of groups (or individuals) fall over eachother to call everyone to arms and declare war on the state, and this time for real. All of those posts claim to be authoritiative when it comes to Anarchism, but seem to have a strange understanding about what that actually is. Certainly, Anarchism is a political ideal that rejects top-down rule from any state authority - be it a representative democracy or a totalitarian regime. This ideal is of course very unpopular with those who implement and run the system of rulership, and therefore it often has to be defended in militant ways. Violence may or may not be necessary to do so, and one should be prepared for violent confrontations at all times.
There is, however, something that Anarchism is not: A violent mob-rule subculture that brings "anarchy to the streets". What Anarchism aspires to bring (to the streets and elsewhere) is another form of regulation: Self-regulation on the basis of democratic consensus. Also, all successful Anarchist movements and projects both in the past and the present have looked toward a positive way in which to go into the future. This is in the first instance an inclusive perspective where participation and contribution are valued instead of relegated to the status of "parasite" or "conformist". Any form of society that wants to be prosperous and progressive will have to include a multitude of individuals. Especially if this society puts the freedom of the individual in the centre.
The person (or persons) who wrote the piece above display a certain wishful rethoric that goes into the right direction, but then tends to jump back and forth between lashing out in helpless frustration at society, and pointing fingers at those who supposedly damaged the Anarchist squatting movement by conformism or by being 'parasites'.
If one wants to be better than those people one holds in such contempt, then one needs to develop the necessary skills to surpass them. Certainly, a confrontation will come, and the conservative powers in this state have declared open season on all squatters. The first step however to meet that confrontation is to save your strength and prepare. Telling the whole world your plans way ahead of time can only be interpreted as an empty gesture at best, and as rather stupid at worst. Of course there are Anarchists all around the world, and some of them are indeed successful at being a pain in the ass for state and capitalism, but we are not a majority that has the means to prevail in atavistic revolutionary battle. Not even in guerilla-style insurgency. For Anarchism to prevail and to survive the seemingly inevitable downfall of current society, a level of sophistication is necessary that I miss in all the recent statements and proclamations.
For sure a crucible lies ahead of us in more ways than just the criminalization of squatters. I am afraid though, that the authors of recent comments and their comrades will not 'live' through it. They would rather sacrifice themselves in mislead and frustrated outbursts not unlike islamic suicide bombers it seems. It is a shame though ... so much enthusiasm for the struggle, but so little deliberation and thought goes into doing it well.
|a response to dec23 |
| A Collective - 26.05.2010 16:52 |
Even though Indymedia is not a discussion-site (don't we always say that and do it anyway?) we would like to respond or elaborate on what dec23 has said.
First of all: Our perspective is just one of many anarchist views on the squatting ban. Luckily not every anarchist thinks the same or has to think the same. We are not communists or fascists.
Secondly: We are not in favour of a mob-rule of the streets. We are however in favour of self-defense by any means necessary. We speak of conformists and parasites that have sterilized the anarchist influence on the squatting scene. This does not mean, and we do adress this, that people cannot do what they want. God knows many of us have visited countless Tekno and Punk parties for instance. But it does not take away the fact that we cannot rely on 99% of these people to actually do something meaningful for the squattingscene or the anarchist struggle. By letting them and conformists dominate the entire discussion and actions concerning the squattingban nothing fruitful has surfaced.
Thirdly: For as many successes for non-violent anarchism we can put the same amount of losses. The same can be said for "violent" anarchism. (we can name the Weather Underground, the Makhnovista's, EZLN, all squats in Germany, Spain,Poland and other countries that are still there after they violently defended themselves, antifa-actions, animal liberations and sabotage, etc.) We think there is a multitude of ways to bring down the State and capitalism that includes all forms of direct action. We do not however think that waving banners and inviting journalists to your squat to show off your eco-garden will bring us any further. Showing society that we are just like them is not going to inspire anyone. We need to show society that we are different. We have different and most of the times very militant views. We are not afraid to show our militance. Society and the State should know they shouldn't fuck with us.
Fourth: As we do not see squatting merely as a solution to housing problem we do not find it very useful to have an indebt analysis on the role of squatting. We see squatting as a means to show society that there are other ways of living. It is a form of expropreation. It is an anti-captilist action. We think squats should be the centers of the struggle. The dutch squatting movement has, after the holy eighties, become a toothless tiger with people trying to get their squats legalized or by cuddling up to gemeentes and owners to stop evictions. It is not, in our view, the violent evictions that resulted in a squatting ban. Whatever we think of the generation that used to be militant squatters in the eighties and have turned yuppie since then, it was the violent defense of their squats that gave the movement leverage and a name. Sadly their response to amorization by the government was less than admirable. The seduction of a normalized existence was too hard to ignore. We understand but do not approve of this.
Fifth: Saying the squatting ban is not there yet and that people are jumping the gun is very naive. There is no reason to believe the squatting ban is not going to be there. We do not only have to be reactive.
Finally: As anarchist we are not a majority. Therefore we think that talking about how an anarchist society should look like in the future should be left to the intellectuals for now. We are convinced that we should bring Anarchy to the streets, not anarchism. We keep the anarchist way of life in our autonomous zones. There we use consensus, strive for equality, etc. On the streets we should show the State and Capitalism that we think that their ways are destroying the world. We will defend this world by any means necessary. Setting up barricades, throwing rocks and bottles, using sticks to fight the police and using the cleansing ways of fire are the way to show the State that we have to be taken seriously. Every time they attempt to attack our demonstrations or evict our squats they should wonder about how much it's going to cost in property damage and police presence.
By making this clear we are not telling the world our secret plans! There is no shame or secrecy about being a militant anarchist. We do not give a date, adress or number of people. We do not even talk about one specific action. We are simply saying that for the squatting movement the time of lobbying and conformism are over and that we as anarchist should finally show our teeth again. Despite what the conformists and lobbyist will say.
|Considering further arguments |
| dec23 - 27.05.2010 13:02 |
Well, I actually don't care so much about whether Indymedia is a discussion site or not. But if they were to throttle this rather constructive dialogue while there is a fingerpointing and name calling session going on elsewhere on here, I really would not know what goes in their minds anymore.
I'll address you in plural because you are - as you claim - a collective.
I wonder where this problem with the 'parasites' and 'conformists' comes from in this context. The way I see it, the criminalization of squatting will most probably purge those elements anyway. Those you call conformists will be too scared to go on, and those you call parasites will most probably find another niche where they can do their stuff. Even though I think the law will be implemented much less harshly than it is written, it will probably be enough to discourage those who are just 'looking for a free house'
I also do not agree with this theory of 'sterilization by the conformists'. I see nothing wrong with the aspiration to make it clear that sqatters are just 'normal people'. After all, this is how you build bridges. Of course, after the bridge is built, it also has to be crossed, and there some of the 'nice squatters' have arguably fallen short of what political radicals would want, i.e. they did not make it clear sufficiently that this is - after all - part of a political struggle.
For any politically radical struggle to be successful, though, it is crucial to build bridges and to communicate. One must of course be aware of one's own principles and not sell out. The way how some have tried to be friends with the Christen Unie, of all people, to lobby against the law, is indeed one step too far into that direction.
In a future with squatting criminalized, it will be very important though to push on with campaigns, connect to the neighbourhood around you and put the occupation of an empty building into a larger social context. That this is true, becomes obvious when you analyze which squatting actions that were already criminal (429 cases) were successful. In all cases that are known to me those were clear political actions with a strong connection to the neighbourhood and the broader social context of the real-estate mismanagement by the state and the capitalists. To struggle from the isolation of a heavily barricaded house wearing balaclavas will yield you a lot of negative press (especially if you don't release statements about the point you want to make) and the feeling that you fought the good fight, but there will be no victory and no achievement besides that.
It is this way how the political struggle of the squatting movement has _really_ been damaged in my opinion. By self-proclaimed radicals who squat houses, do not talk to anyone, do not write press releases and leave the stage wide open for houseowners, right-wing media and other adversaries to claim the story for themselves and further polarize against squatters and squatting.
You state that in the eighties the violent actions were what yielded us the leverage and the name that we have now. I do not agree with this. First of all, many sympathizers became alienated in those days by excessive violence. Second, there was the fact that up until then, squatters have done great things to provide alternatives for people that the collapsed housing market and social system did not provide. Children,s creches, kitchens, spaces for women, alternative media, workshops, cooperatives etc. etc. The majority of people who have a positive view of squatters and radical activists appreciate them for creating these alternatives, not for the riots at the queen's coronation.
Don't get me wrong though, I am not arguing for being a nice, cuddly but slightly rebellious youth movement that is good for local subculture and nothing else. But I do think that violence is not a means of social struggle, it is at best an unwelcome necessity. The way you guys are speaking of it though, I get the impression that you see the struggle as a first and foremost violent one.
Well, I am afraid many will wake up from that dream in a cell with the cops beating the crap out of you. In my personal experience, most squatters - even most anarchists - do not know how to fight. They lack the discipline necessary for regular training, they have no idea how to act as a coordinated fighting force, they don't even know how to pick their fights properly. I am prepared to believe that your collective is a tough-as-nails guerilla troupe, but the fact is that you are - in case that's true - a small minority.
So when it comes to struggle, I think we are better off by waging active campaigns in the media and our neighbourhoods, by doing direct physical actions that are well planned for highest possible impact, and through leading by example.
The most significant duty of the Anarchist in my view is, to make it clear and obvious that our way is superiour to the alternative provided by state and capitalism.
To sum this up, let me close with a quote from an old man who joined the Anarchists in Spain before the civil war (from the documentary 'Living Utopia')
"They were workers like us, but they did not drink excessively after work like we all did. They were dressed well and used the language like educated people. All of them could read and write and were very organized. Those were the Anarchists, and when I saw them I knew I wanted to join with them."
| foreigner - 29.05.2010 16:57 |
i just read the spanish version of this text on barcelona.indymedia and i just wanna show my respect and full support to the people who wrote. i was recently squatting two years in amsterdam (the second half of that time just waiting for the squatting ban to come, cause i had some stupid hope that squatters would fight back), and i finally moved out cause i was sick of all the fucking bulshit that's going on up there: basically a squatting scene split between junky-party-squatters, empty-mind conformists and reformists with so many contacts inside mass media and official politics that it looks like they can't fart without considering what AT5 will say about it..
so, good luck & greetings from x-pain.
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