user preferences

What's in a Name: Grounding Housing Justice in Class Struggle

category north america / mexico | community struggles | opinion / analysis author Friday November 22, 2013 00:14author by S.B. - Rochester Red & Blackauthor address https://www.facebook.com/pages/Expect-Resistance-A-Documentary-on-Housing-Defense-and-Liberation/131551616928675 Report this post to the editors

When considering creating an "Eviction Free Zone," you have to remember that it is only a rhetorical tool in the advance of a class-based agenda. [Italiano]

evictionfreezone.jpg

The anarchist and anti-authoritarian tradition has its roots not in high theory but instead the actual on-the-ground work. This often traces itself as a sort of reaction to lived experiences; a way of synthesizing a practical theory that has been excised from trial and error. David Graeber notes that this really helps to separate schools of anarchist thought from Marxism, seeing the diversity of theory really in the diversity of practice.

“There are Anarcho-Syndicalists, Anarcho-Communists, Insurrectionists, Cooporativists, Individualists, Platformists…None are named after some Great Thinker; instead, they are invariably named either after some kind of practice, or most often, organizational principle. Anarchists like to distinguish themselves by what they do, and how they organize themselves to go about doing it.” (1)

This is the foundation that really separates the revolutionary character of anarchism from the various ideological strains that attempt to subvert the system: it is an effort to realize a movement and a world as it could be. Anarchism, with its focus on direct action and direct democracy, sees the methods to fight hierarchy and create revolution are exactly the social systems that should be in place once the major hurdles have been laid. The methods for getting to a new world should be inherently the institutions of the liberated society.

Prefigurative politics play directly into this theory of practice in that we see our large protest and counter institutions as capable of being a model for future social systems. The neighborhood assembly, tenants unions, and systems of mutual aid that can defend neighborhoods during anti-foreclosure work can plant the seeds for the systems that can maintain community control over housing in the future. This can often lead us to go even further as to say that our tactics can become steadfast institutions in and of themselves since they are in use to create this countercultural force. The problem with tactics, as Noam Chomsky often says, is that they don’t make movements.

The paradox that often erupts when we think of our organizing project now as prefiguring the society of the future is that our politics today exist largely as performance, often dealing in relative absolutes. An example of this has been brewing in foreclosure defense work where the term Eviction Free Zone has often been used tactically. The idea here is that we give a movement a set parameter in a city, often where affected families have been dense. We declare this area “off limits” for foreclosure and forcible eviction, attempting to create community bonds of solidarity so strong in those communities that it literally becomes a difficulty for banks to actually execute foreclosures on certain blocks. This projects is often associated with various slogans focusing on ending evictions altogether. This steadfast language is a great sign on a lawn to detract developers, but it does not reflect the reality of how a healthy neighborhood functions.

As difficult as it may be for those in anti-capitalist movements to say, some people simply should be evicted.

In any given neighborhood there will be dozens of homes owned by developers who are refusing to pay their taxes. Foreclosure, and by default eviction, is going to be logical to almost anyone else in the community, especially if we are talking about vacant slumlords who are living an insulated upper class life.

Secondly, there are numerous situations where people in a neighborhood may be creating dangerous situations for the people surrounding them. Domestic violence, drug issues, and a whole range of coercive social relationships can create problematic situations that create neighborhoods entirely alienated and unable to find a nurturing social space. There are a host of reasons why a community might want to ask someone to relocate, though we do not frame it in the terms that we currently associate with eviction. Even under the most basic scrutiny this principle of “no evictions” fails to be a universal axiom that we could stand behind in any and all situations. A community should be able to come together and demand that an abuser or fascist organizer be forced out.

This type of sloganeering, while incredibly useful as a way of creating absolutes during an organizing campaign, is one that confuses values with tactics. Tactically, we are declaring an area an eviction free zone. The values that drive this campaign, however, run much deeper than a simple legal hurdle.

In our communities. evictions almost always reflect a class inequality, not a forced removal because a person’s presence has become unsafe or violated some type of community trust. Evictions reflect the failure of a person to live up to what is economically demanded of them, which is not the same as moral failure in any regard. The resistance to evictions is not about the act itself, but the very basic inequities that it represents in our social life. Eviction is a tool of class exploitation, and by confronting this manifestation we use it as an area to develop class struggle. Evictions become incidental to a larger matrix of intersecting forms of oppression and attacks made by ruling class institutions. It’s easy to vaguely see that there is a class inequality in society, but there has to be a vessel in which to confront it. The struggle around housing is a direct manifestation of these class antagonisms, and therefore eviction resistance becomes a front in which to counter the logic of this capitalist steamroller. Foreclosures become especially ripe for harvest as we have come to see that banks do not even want to play a rigged game anymore: now they simply reach out and take what they want.

The goal here, as with any social movement that wants to really force a new set of social relations, is to cripple the current class institution and shove in something more humane to replace it. Popular institutions of community control can obviously meet the needs of the people of any given street better than the sharpened blade of a commercial bank, and the only way to do this is to strip the power from those who are currently in control. Their strength comes from their ability to declare ownership, get the support of the police, and force people out through an eviction. Until we say no. Until we won’t go.

The problem here is not with using the kind of absolutist language, especially since it is this kind of rhetoric that wins campaigns. The real issue forms when people base a culture and praxis off of this simple campaign goal rather than the values that stand behind it. Working on an Eviction Free Zone is only useful in as much as it is used to strike back against the banking class and to create counter-institutions that have the ability to open up new possibilities. Without that it is simply charity work and a really hip Band-Aid on a growing social wound. We do support an end to evictions as a tool of adversarial social class, as a weapon to end the stability of families and threaten homelessness, and as method for destroying communities. These are in line with a set of values that are in stark contrast to the way that housing functions today. Here we can begin to create a long-term vision that moves beyond the individual campaigns and has the ability to actually create the world that we imagine during long meetings and community rallies. In these moments we get a glimpse of what we could build simply from the fire and solidarity among neighbors, and what could happen if we identify a crack in the system and decide to take pickaxe to it.

Endnotes

(1) Graeber, David. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, LLC), 5.

Related Link: http://libcom.org/blog/whats-name-grounding-housing-jus...92013
This page can be viewed in
English Italiano Deutsch

Front page

Aodhan Ó Ríordáin: Playing The Big Man in America

Nós anarquistas saudamos o 8 de março: dia internacional de luta e resistência das mulheres!

Özgürlüğümüz Mücadelemizdedir

IWD 2017: Celebrating a new revolution

Solidarité avec Théo et toutes les victimes des violences policières ! Non à la loi « Sécurité Publique » !

Solidaridad y Defensa de las Comunidades Frente al Avance del Paramilitarismo en el Cauca

A Conservative Threat Offers New Opportunities for Working Class Feminism

De las colectivizaciones al 15M: 80 años de lucha por la autogestión en España

False hope, broken promises: Obama’s belligerent legacy

Primer encuentro feminista Solidaridad – Federación Comunista Libertaria

Devrimci Anarşist Tutsak Umut Fırat Süvarioğulları Açlık Grevinin 39 Gününde

The Fall of Aleppo

Italia - Ricostruire opposizione sociale organizzata dal basso. Costruire un progetto collettivo per l’alternativa libertaria.

Recordando a César Roa, luchador de la caña

Prison Sentence to Managing Editor of Anarchist Meydan Newspaper in Turkey

Liberación de la Uma Kiwe, autonomía y territorio: una mirada libertaria para la comprensión de la lucha nasa

Misunderstanding syndicalism

American Anarchist and Wobbly killed by Turkey while fighting ISIS in Rojava

Devlet Tecavüzdür

Attaque fasciste sur la Croix Rousse et contre la librairie libertaire la Plume Noire

Red November, Black November – An Anarchist Response to the Election

Resistance at Standing Rock

1986-2016: 30° anniversario di Alternativa Libertaria/fdca

El feminismo es cuestión de vida o muerte

North America / Mexico | Community struggles | en

Mon 27 Mar, 08:51

browse text browse image

textIn a time of hardship, Miami-Dade County Ramps up Foreclosures 09:40 Thu 20 Dec by S Nappalos 0 comments

In a time when people are experiencing unparalleled hardship, Miami-Dade county is ramping up to steamroll more foreclosures. This news comes as rents are rising[1] in Miami spurred on by international speculators and investors, and people losing their homes. Nationally homeless is increasing due to the pervasive unemployment, sub-poverty wages of the lowest tier of the working population, and the multi-decade long attacks on housing safety nets. We are now witnessing a homelessness that includes young able bodied people some of whom are working while homeless[2].

the_real_obama_spread_it_out_by_latuff2.jpg imageUnchanged: Progressive Disillusionment in the Age of Obama 12:44 Sat 24 Nov by Zakk Flash 0 comments

Now that President Obama is “safely” ensconced in the White House for another four years and “disaster Supreme Court decisions” are averted, liberal and progressive voters need to join radical activists in the fight against endless war, ecological destruction, and austerity. Obama no longer has an incentive to make any pretense of throwing a single crumb to liberals – resignation and acquiescence on “pragmatic grounds” will allow bargains that are hostile to the interests of the working class.

text"Riot" at Greenbridge: Three Arrested at Anti-Gentrification Occupation in Chapel Hill, NC 14:38 Mon 20 Jun by Jericho 0 comments

On Saturday, June 18th, dozens of anarchists and other community members staged an angry protest against gentrification and green capitalism at Greenbridge, a “green” development of condos for eco-yuppies. Demonstrators held banners outside while others occupied the lobby in an expression of outrage against the displacement of renters from the neighborhood. Three people were arrested and charged with felony “inciting a riot” and misdemeanor property destruction, and have been released on bail. The demonstration drew attention to the ongoing tolls inflicted by the development, which was built by a coalition of multi-millionaires over the protests of community members to profit off the bourgeois craze with all things “green.” But money is the only thing green about Greedbridge, as it has been nicknamed by neighbors.

wisconsin_8.jpg imageWSA statement of solidarity with Wisconsin Workers 18:18 Tue 01 Mar by Workers Solidarity Alliance 0 comments

WSA extends solidarity and our most sincere wishes for victory to the workers of Wisconsin in their current fight. And to all public sector workers now struggling against attacks on their pensions and their rights.

sante.jpg image[Quebec] Health Care Action In Saguenay 10:57 Mon 08 Nov by Voix de faits 0 comments

Yesterday, November 6, the Collectif Emma Goldman of the Québec UCL, along with the student employee's union of the University of Québec in Chicoutimi organized a demonstration against the privatization of health care and fees for service. The following is translated from the original French at the Québec City Voix De Faits Blog. More details and photo reportage are available at the Collectif Emma Goldman site.

[Français]

(translation taken from Molly's blog: http://mollymew.blogspot.com/)

textMilitary Surveillance of Anarchists in Washington State 11:40 Thu 06 Aug by Brendan Maslauskas Dunn 2 comments

A request for the public records the city of Olympia, Washington keeps on anarchists, Wobblies, and members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) has forced into the open a military infiltrator who posed as an anarchist for two years, in clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

2008.us.tour.a3.jpg imageAnarchists Against The Wall, North American speaking tour 16:47 Wed 21 Jan by Anarchists Against The Wall 0 comments

Schachaf Polakow, a member of Anarchists Against the Wall, will be touring the U.S. and Canada from February 1st to March 9th. His presentation will include film and photos, and will focus both on AATW's recent work in solidarity with Gaza and our ongoing work in the West Bank.

09401_309_408b.gif imageWhose Streets? 03:25 Fri 10 Oct by Andrew Hedden and Jacquelyn Hermer 0 comments

Seattle today is a tale of two cities. For developers, government officials, and many new residents, Seattle is about its places of plenty: shopping opportunities, property values, beautiful views, and potential profits. Look beyond the skyscrapers and a different image of Seattle emerges: that of a blue-collar port city with an immigrant soul--a place of strength, survival, and struggle against racism and poverty. When these two Seattles collide, it's called gentrification: the displacement of poor and working class people by upper-income residents. It's a conflict over values, over purpose: who is claiming the city?

If we plant these today, what will we harvest tomorrow? imageProtests in Juchitan against wind companies 05:44 Thu 04 Sep by Assembly in Defense of Land and Territory 0 comments

For more than seven months, we, communal land owners from Juchitan de Zaragoza, Union Hidalgo and Xadani, have dealt with the irresponsibility of the civil judge of Juchitan de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, in front of whom we've placed more than 120 claims for the nullification of contracts we were deceived into signing with transnational wind energy corporations.

textAnother Successful Eviction Blockade for Boston's Working Class Housing Movement! 03:54 Fri 18 Jul by Thomas Giovanni 0 comments

On the July 15th eviction blockade led by Paula Taylor and the City Life/ Vida Urbana Bank Tenants Union

more >>

imageWhat is at Stake in North Minneapolis and #Justice4Jamar Dec 22 by db 0 comments

The horrific execution of an unarmed, handcuffed, on the ground black man in front of dozens of witnesses has led to an outburst of struggle whose fire is not spent and whose meaning is still being defined. In this article, I will argue that what is at stake in this struggle is the future of North Minneapolis, which, in miniature, is a question of the future of our cities and of working class people across the country.

imageProcedural Justice: How We Can Find Our Foundations in the Worst Case Scenario Jan 20 by SB 0 comments

In the housing defense movement, we often get bogged down in legal approaches and the banking fraud we use as leverage. But what about situations when it is merely a lack of funds for the person living in the home? It is at those moments that you see the most crucial element of the struggle, and how you can use this organizing to transform the conversation about housing.

imageOccupy is Dead. Now What? Dec 27 by Colin O 5 comments

How do we move beyond movement moments, and start taking strategic advantage of the moment in such a way that strengthens our efforts decades down the road? Did we gain strength from involvement in the Occupy Wall Street movement, or not? Is the idea of Occupy Wall Street a short-sighted route to building mass revolutionary movements?

imageFrom the Square to the Block to the Shop: Spread The Occupation Amid the Whirlwind of Crisis Oct 12 by Miami Autonomy & Solidarity 0 comments

A movement is born. Across America and around the world occupations have spread. We witness the beauty and struggle of a new protagonist joining the fight against oppression and exploitation.

Crisis feeds conflict: the pillaging of communities galvanizes people from Greece and Chile, Bangladesh and China, the United States and Spain. A massive wave has been unleashed of impoverishment, unemployment, austerity, and stealing of resources by capital, governments, and the wealthy. We face loss of our jobs, homes, and way of living, with no avenue for contesting these problems within the institutions of power. Doors are being closed. Futures are being stolen.

The newly impoverished, students whose hopes have been dashed by a life debt and joblessness, veterans returned from hellish war to be discarded, workers facing speed-ups and cuts across the board, families displaced and attacked by anti-immigrant reaction, the sick without access, people forced out of their homes: we are the indignants. While economic restructuring creates new opportunities to pile wealth upon wealth and heap poverty on poverty, new protagonists come forth. The working class recomposes: they force changes on our lives, and we respond with new struggles, new demands, and new relationships – a new social protagonism. [Français]

imageFilm Screening: The Chicago Conspiracy Apr 25 by Subversive Action Films 0 comments

A documentary based in Chile that explores the legacy of the Pinochet dictatorship, the current political conflict and the response by radical social movements.

more >>

imageWSA statement of solidarity with Wisconsin Workers Mar 01 WSA 0 comments

WSA extends solidarity and our most sincere wishes for victory to the workers of Wisconsin in their current fight. And to all public sector workers now struggling against attacks on their pensions and their rights.

imageAnarchists Against The Wall, North American speaking tour Jan 21 AATW 0 comments

Schachaf Polakow, a member of Anarchists Against the Wall, will be touring the U.S. and Canada from February 1st to March 9th. His presentation will include film and photos, and will focus both on AATW's recent work in solidarity with Gaza and our ongoing work in the West Bank.

text200 Soldiers Invade Zapatista Land Jun 10 0 comments

"Comrades of the Other Campaign in Mexico and other countries, we ask you to be on the alert because the soldiers said they’ll be back in two weeks. We don’t want war. We want peace with justice and dignity. But we have no other choice than to defend ourselves, resist them, and eject them when they come looking for a confrontation with us in the towns of the Zapatista support bases...All we can tell you is to look and see
where the provocation is coming from. We’re now informing you of what’s going on, hopefully in time."

textStatement on the Murder of Brad Will and the Situation in Oaxaca Nov 01 NEFAC, NYMAA 0 comments

A statement by the New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists, endorsed by the anglophone secretariat of NEFAC, on the murder of Brad Will and others, and the situation in Oaxaca.

textBoston Actions in Solidarity with the People of Oaxaca! Oct 03 Boston Anarchists for Popular Assemblies 0 comments

On Saturday, September 30th, as Mexican military helicopters flew over Oaxaca City with the intent of threatening and intimidating the peaceful movement of the Popular Assemblies of the People of Oaxaca, Boston activists gathered at the Boylston T stop to spread awareness about the imminent invasion of Oaxaca City by the federal Mexican Army. This small educational action marked the beginning of an on-going campaign of Boston solidarity with the movement of the popular assemblies in Oaxaca. Read more for ideas on how to get involved!

more >>
© 2005-2017 Anarkismo.net. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Anarkismo.net. [ Disclaimer | Privacy ]