Thursday, April 9, 2009
I can think of no Direct Action more conducive to Anarchist Ideals (well...few...) than Squatting. Squatting is the re-appropriation of unused public space by a group of individuals for living communally, and without having to pay rent or adhere to strict tenant standards.
Squatting provides an environment for like minded revolutionaries to gather and feel safe, a place where you can come and crash or live for a damn long time (some old heads have lived and died in their squat). Community being one of the integral parts of Anarchist Philosophy, squats are focal points where community and communal living work concretely, for all to see. Squatters often take buildings that are trashed to say the least, and rebuild them slowly, through work and labor that they organize themselves.
As I said, the re-appropriation of space is a great way to concretely show others how self-organization can work, and how people are capable of achieving success without a manager or a boss. Every squat that gets built up from the bottom turns into a haven for people (like myself) who want to live off the greed and out of the system. The friendly atmosphere I've found in every squat I've ever stayed at is conducive to making new friends. I've had monumental political discussions that have refined my own theories. I've eaten great food, got my hands dirty, put shingles on roofs, and hauled toilet water into the basement in the middle of the night.
Squatting seems profoundly correct and good to me, and to others that find it disconcerting that we have a growing homeless population and thousands of buildings sitting empty and decaying. Is squatting illegal? Yes, in most cases (though squatters are gaining rights of their own in Europe!!). But you have to ask yourself sometimes if every law is right and just. I don't think it's right for people to freeze to death and sleep on park benches and under cars when they could lay their head down in a condemned building and be warm(er). For landlords to only think of the profit that they can make on their real estate and turn a blind and ignorant eye to the homeless is revolting.
For all of those people who think that collective labor can't work en masse, check out some of the noted US and Euro. squats that do exist and do function. They are beacons of hope for the Anarchist cause. Start a squat!!!