Going through the ‘zine archive at the Long Haul Infoshop I found a discussion bulletin from the conference in Chicago preceding the start of Love & Rage! I also remembered there’s a great deal of info on Love & Rage on libcom: http://libcom.org/search/apachesolr_search/Love%20%2526%20Rage
I’m going to add a “collective living” tag to this journal. It’s hard to believe how much squatting has changed my life in a very short period of time, much like visiting my first urban commune then starting to Travel mostly by myself and living communally later on.
I’ve decided to re-post an old article of mine about communal living and working in Chi. There are some things I regret about this article such as being mostly uncritical of the communities I wrote about. There were other drafts where I wrote a bit about the short comings of both communities, but when pressed by an editor from Area Chicago for more details I decided to cut the material, that there was enough negative information about both communities already floating around of varying levels of truth so I decided to not play a part in that. I regret this now, mostly because I never went back to St. Francis House. Those people never had any similar respect for me, I was always just someone they were using, just like the Jesus People.
Collective Living & Work Spaces
One of the main reasons I moved to Chicago in February 2003 was to experiment with communal living. One of the reasons that I am regularly drawn back to the city are the friends I know through collective houses and the opportunities these spaces create.
Two of the oldest intentional communities in town, the St. Francis Catholic Worker House and Jesus People USA (JPUSA, pronounced “jah-POO-zah”), have put up thousands of people since their respective starts in the 1970s. I spent most of my first two and a half months in Chicago living and working with some 499 other people at JPUSA in Uptown.
JPUSA was started in 1972, and according to their website, http://www.jpusa.org, “[t]he community is primarily self-supporting, generating about 90% of our income from a variety of community-owned and operated businesses. These include a roofing supply house, t-shirt printers, and a sheet metal shop.” When I was there, they also had a woodworking shop and a print shop.
Their ministries in Uptown include a women’s and children’s shelter; Cornerstone Community Outreach, to aid the homeless; a senior citizens’ home called Friendly Towers; and Brothas and Sistas United, an outreach program for neighborhood youth. Their outreach also includes Cornerstone magazine, “a quarterly journal of culture, politics and faith,” and, since 1984, the Cornerstone Festival, an annual music and arts festival held in Central Illinois that draws 20,000 people from around the world. I was introduced to their community through the festival in 2000.
Soon after my arrival at JPUSA I started hanging out at Francis House, also in Uptown, and became part of its extended, non-live-in community. In fact, so many people both before and after me have fled JPUSA for Francis House that we are called “refugees.”
Francis House was started in 1974. A chapter in the book Voices From the Catholic Worker, edited by Rosalie Riegle Troester, documents the house’s unfettered hospitality within the framework of Uptown in the 70s, when the neighborhood was “the national home of arson for profit” and “the white supremacists in the neighborhood would write threatening notes and paint swastikas on the house.” The start of the gentrification of Uptown is also mentioned. “This handful of owners had a block club type thing and they were pushing to sweep the poor out. The worker was there years before these yuppies with their attaché cases wanted to move in. And then they want us to keep from blighting their neighborhood,” recalled one Francis House resident.
As a house of hospitality Francis House provides food, shelter, a safer space, and clothes for single adults. As a part of the Catholic Worker Movement, which sometimes has very little or nothing to do with being Catholic or having a job, it is part of an informal network of some 200 houses and farms all over the world. Having been a part of the extended community of another Catholic Worker House in Ohio City, Cleveland, I made a point of looking them up shortly after getting to town.
Besides the live-in guests and drop ins who come for the hospitality, Francis House offers work for room and board for people interested in participating in the Catholic Worker Movement, Round Table Discussions on topics of interest to the community, Reading Amoebas to share whatever people are reading about, and sometimes is a sort of Movement Hotel for activists briefly coming to town or passing though.
Collective living and workplaces have many flaws. In many ways they are microcosms of the greater society with all of its flaws. Sometimes conflicts can seem more intense since you live and work with the person. Personally, dry houses are important to me. Shared food has also become a requirement for me from having bad experiences with lazy, shady housemates who repeatedly ate all or most of my food and then had the nerve to criticize me for not buying better food!
Zero tolerance for violence and sexual assaults in both theory and practice is also something I think a community needs. From my experiences, it seems like “accountability processes” have sometimes only enabled certain people to become repeat offenders in the same places, even equipping them with a rhetoric to hide behind so that “non-violent communication” becomes just a way to be verbally abusive without swearing and/or yelling.
If you are interested in living in a collective community I strongly recommend visiting one or as many as possible before moving in. Especially in urban areas, it is usually possible to just hang around and to see if you can fit in. For better or for worse, I think there is an intentional community out there for pretty much everyone, and it’s just a matter of finding where you are comfortable, and where people are comfortable with you.
Frequently when I leave town, one of the first things I will do is check to see if there is a Catholic Worker Community in the area where I am headed. “The Catholic Worker” prints a directory about every other year, which can also be found online at http://www.catholicworker.org. I’ll also check the Intentional Communities Directory to see what other kinds of collective living spaces there might be. It’s a wonderful textbook-sized book that can also be found online at http://www.ic.org. I also check Slingshot Organizers to see what kind of radical spaces I could get involved with in an area. I had an absolute blast slumming around Minneapolis in 2004 with one as my guide. Other ways I have been able to get involved in the various areas I travel to include http://www.foodnotbombs.net, to find local servings and get involved; local indymedia.org affiliates to find out about events; and hostels.
If it wasn’t for collective living and working spaces I don’t know how people without extensive resources like myself would make it. Collective living and work spaces have been invaluable institutions and infrastructures for many people around the world, and despite their flaws, they should be seen as a basic part of the fight for a world based on mutual aid, not competition.
Around the time I first became seriously involved in radical politics in the fall of 2001 I became addicted to a computer game called Age of Empires III. The thing that bothered me most about the game, really the only thing aside from how much time I was wasting playing it was how basically imperialist it was. I wondered, what kind of games do or have they played in Socialist(ic) countries?
I found this game, Class Struggle (TM!), for the first time at a housing co-op in Madison, Wisconsin. I can’t remember if it was at Emma Goldman’s which I stayed at my first time in Madcity when I came there for the Pencils and Pandemonium Anarchist Bookfair and Soccer Tournament, or at Lothlorien when I stayed there the next year and actually played the game.
I just found this game set at the Long Haul Infoshop the other day. I’m going to try to set up a game night before I leave.
We did have a copy of the board for Anti-Monopoly at the South Side Punk House in West Lawn, CHicago when I lived there, but none of the pieces to actually play it. The board just kind of hung out in what passed for a living room there but was usually full of our landlord’s brother’s filthy equipment from his plumbing job…
I also found a copy of this game at the Long Haul, but open closer examination doesn’t seem as radical, being a game about small business fighting monopolists. But what the hay? It’s better than most games out there I’m sure.
I’ve just started to paw through the mnay old copies of Love and Rage at the Long Haul Infoshop, but I’ve been pretty impressed by what I’ve found so far. Since the first collective I was in in Chicago, the Autonomous Zone Infoshop Collective had been part of the Network of Anarchist Collectives which was at least to a certain degree formed in opposition, or as an alternative to the Love and Rage Anarchist Federation I don’t remember ever hearing about Love and Rage until I started doing research on the early years of the A-Zone.
Article from 1994 Oct/Nov copy of Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation’s newspaper by Noel Ignatiev
To Advance the Class Struggle, Abolish the White Race
Race is a biological fiction, but it is a social fact. The white race consists of those who enjoy the privileges of the white skin—freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, the inside track for jobs and careers, not having to fear for their lives every time they leave the home, expecting, if they are female, that the state will protect them from strangers. Its most downtrodden members enjoy a social status above any person defined as “non-white.”
From the standpoint of the working class, the white race is an attempt by some workers to cut a separate deal with capital, at the expense of the class of which they are a part. From the standpoint of capital, it is a cheap way of buying some people’s loyalty to a social system that exploits them.
The cops provide an example of how the white race is held together: the natural attitude of the police toward the exploited is hostility. All over the world cops beat up poor people, and it has nothing to do with color. What is unusual and has to be accounted for is not why they beat up black people but why they don’t normally beat up propertyless whites. The cops look at a person and decide on the basis of color whether that person is loyal to, or an enemy of, the system they are sworn to serve and protect. They don’t stop to think if the black person whose head they are whipping is an enemy; they just assume it. It does not matter if the victim goes to work every day, pays his taxes and crosses only on the green.
On the other hand, the cops don’t know for sure if the white person to whom they give a break is loyal to them. They assume it. The non-beating of whites is time off for good behavior and an assurance of future cooperation. White workers’ color exempts them to some degree from the criminal class—which is how the entire working class was defined before the invention of race, and is still treated in those parts of the world where race does not exist as a social category.
HOW TO ABOLISH THE WHITE RACE
But what if the police couldn’t tell a loyal person just by color? What if there were enough people around who looked white but were really enemies of the state so that the cops couldn’t tell whom to beat and whom to let off? What would they do then? They would begin to “enforce the law impartially,” as the liberals say. But, as Anatole France noted, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids both rich and poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” The standard that governs police behavior all over the world (except where race exists) is wealth and its external manifestations: dress, speech, etc. At the present time, the class bias of the law is partially repressed by racial considerations; the removal of those considerations would give it free rein. White poor would find themselves on the receiving end of police justice as black people now do. The effect on their consciousness and behavior is predictable.
The abolitionists consider it a useless project to try to win the majority of whites, or even the majority of working class whites, to “anti-racism.” They seek instead to compel capital to turn millions of “whites” against it, by rendering the white skin useless as a predictor of attitudes. How many would it take to rob the white skin of its predictive value? No one can say. How much counterfeit money has to circulate in order to destroy the value of the official stuff? The answer is, nowhere near a majority: in the past, five to ten percent fake has proven enough to undermine public faith in the other. Whiteness is the currency of this society; to destroy it would take only enough counterfeit whites (race traitors) to undermine the confidence of the police, etc. in their ability to differentiate between friends and enemies by color.
The abolitionist strategy depends on the coming together of a minority determined to break up the white race. What would the determined minority have to do to plant doubt about the reliability of the white skin? They would have to break the laws of whiteness so flagrantly as to make it impossible to maintain the myth of white unanimity. Such actions would jeopardize their own ability to draw upon the privileges of whiteness. That is what would define them as race traitors.
Just as the capitalist system is not a capitalist plot, race is not the work of racists. On the contrary, it is reproduced by the principal institutions of society. Therefore, the main target of those who seek to eradicate it should be the institutions and behaviors that maintain it: the schools (which define “excellence”), the unions and employers (which define “employment”), the justice system (which defines “crime”), the welfare system (which defines “poverty”), and the family (which defines “kinship”).
AGAINST FASCISM, AGAINST CAPITAL, AGAINST THE STATE
The collapse of the white race does not mean that all people now classified as white would suddenly become revolutionary. Some, whose class interests rest on exploitation, would remain faithful to the capitalist system. However, once color ceased to serve as a handy guide for deciding who gets a beating and who gets off, many victims of exploitation who previously considered themselves “white” would join with the rest of the working class in waging struggle against capital.
Others would take a different path, seeking to restore the privileges of the white race. Alongside class struggle, it is to be expected that militant white-supremacist movements with anti-capitalist slogans would grow among the poorest and most alienated sectors of white society.
The fascists are the vanguard of the white race; however, the big problem right now is not the white vanguard, but the white mainstream. Any anti-fascist struggle that does not confront the state reinforces the institutions that provide the seedbed for fascism. Moreover, every time the fascists are able to depict their opponents as defenders of the existing system, or mere reformers, they gain support among those whites who believe that nothing less than a total change is worth fighting for. An anti-fascist counter-rally where people gather to hear speeches, chant slogans, and shake their fists in rage is a display of impotence, and the more people who attend, the more they reveal their futility.
Fascism and white supremacy will only be defeated by a movement aimed at building a new world. It is not enough to declare this commitment abstractly, by waving the red or black flag; it must be expressed in the content and forms of the struggle itself. How to do that is no easy question. But it is the question of the hour.
[Note from the Production Group: The women of the PG strongly disagree with Noel’s statement at the outset of this article that “not having to fear for their lives every time they leave the home, expecting…that the state will protect them from strangers” is a “social fact” for white women. As white women, we have all been harassed by police and fear that we will fall victim to the common practice of police rape and a legal system that still makes it nearly impossible for a woman to `prove’ she has been raped. Some of us have also been physically abused in the presence of police that have turned the other way.
Given that this is the only reference Noel makes to women in his article on class struggle and white privilege, we gave him the opportunity to delete this sentence. He refused, arguing that it is his viewpoint and that it should be left in to “provoke debate.” We find the claim offensive, and we want to point out that we believe it runs contrary to the newspaper’s commitment to recognizing the way in which state power is used to uphold patriarchy.]
Anti-Colonial and Anarchist Bookfair
Matt from Squat the Planet visited one of the squats I’ve been staying at in Oakland and wrote this about it:
he also took some pretty great pictures… it was a good visit. I used to like his website a lot. I should probably still at least check the blog now and then.
I’ll re-post more here: http://apocweaver.tumblr.com/tagged/squatting
In Slingshot #113 this blurb caught my eye as something to follow up on as I was going to spending sometime in the East Bay:
“The Battle for the Bulb: On May 6th, 2013, Albany City Council voted towards removing the humans and art that live on the capped landfill known as the Albany Bulb, a capped landfill that juts out into the Bay. The Albany Bulb has been a space of human wilderness for over a decade — with art, music, theatre, gardening, and creativity bursting from the seams. It is not always a “safe” place, but it is a free space, and it has become an international icon of autonomy. This summer, we are calling on artists, performers, builders, and creative people of all ilks to come make the Bulb your playground. Let’s show the world why autonomous space is more valuable than anything money can tame!”
After getting to Berkeley and checking in at the Long Haul Infoshop, I found out there was going to be a screening of a film about the Albany Bulb and a discussion about how to stop the impending eviction. It turned out Osha Neumann, who had been in the Family/Up Against the Wall Mother Fuckers and lived at Black Bear Ranch was at the discussion and was in the film, Bum’s Paradise which I had actually seen at the Chicago Anarchist Film Festival in 2003 but had totally forgotten about.
I’ve been able to go out to the Bulb a few times, sleeping out a couple of times, and meeting with people, trying to figure out what we can do to try to preserve the space. At least some of the other media coverage has been down right bizarre such as article, The Bulb: Enter the Anarchists, posted on the Albany Patch website. This reminds me of the importance of controlling our own media. I’ve pasted below an update on the Bulb from the new issue of Slingshot, #114.
Albany Bulb Under Attack
By Amber Whitson
So, it has all come down to this. Twenty years of human habitation, wild art, wildflowers, wildlife, wild lives… All set to come to an end, in a flurry of bulldozers and dirt.
In the early, and mid-1900’s, the Albany Waterfront (along with most of the East Bay shoreline) was a dump, literally. The Albany Landfill was the final resting place for everything from slag (a rock-like byproduct from milling steel), to household trash (I have friends who remember going to the dump with their parents), to debris from the demolition of everything that was in the way when BART was constructed (the original Richmond City Hall, the original Berkeley Public Library, houses, businesses, etc.) The Albany Landfill was created, as a result of that dumping. Twenty years of litigation by various environmental groups finally resulted in the closure of the Albany dump, in 1983.
30 years after local environmental advocates stopped the waters off the Albany Coast from being further filled with trash, the old Albany Landfill is a year-round pitstop for nomadic critters; an endlessly evolving gallery of Found-Object Art; and Home to (at last count) 64 people, who otherwise have nowhere else to live.
In 1993, local police started actually *telling* Albany’s homeless citizens, to go live at “the Landfill”. Then, in 1999, they threw the previously-homeless Albany Bulb residents, back out into the streets. The City of Albany spent money on a dog and pony show of “service organizations”; and put an ordinance on the books (which outlawed, among other things, “loitering” in Albany Parks and Open Spaces), in an attempt to essentially stop homeless individuals from being able to live in their town. Somewhere around the year 2000 (roughly), Albany told their Police to NOT enforce the camping ordinance.
So, not long after the ’99 eviction, people who were homeless in the area, were again, told to go stay at the Albany Bulb. Since then, those living on the Albany Bulb have done so without fear of the police harassment that others endure in nearby Berkeley, being inflicted upon them, just for being homeless.
Since this country’s economy started to *really* tank, and the number of people living on the streets in America has increased, so too has the number of otherwise-homeless individuals, who have (for lack of anywhere else to live) found and made a Home for themselves, on the Albany Bulb.
All these years, alongside those who live here, there are those who visit the Landfill, and enjoy this land for its recreational value. They hike, they walk their dogs, and 99% of them will tell you that the people who profess to be scared of the homeless who live on the Bulb, are being ridiculous.
With all of Albany’s homeless safely quarantined on the Albany Bulb, the City has seen no need to build (or even properly zone part of their town for) a homeless shelter. Albany has only 15 units of low income housing (the Creekside Apartments complex, at 1155 San Pablo Ave.) in the entire city. The City of Albany has never spent any of the funds that it receives from the government, which other cities commonly spend on their *own* homeless, on anything that has actually helped any homeless citizens. Ever.
Yet, in May of this year, a handful of right-wing recreationalists (mostly representatives of Citizens for East Shore Parks) wormed their way into the ears of the Albany City Council. And, in a unanimous decision, the Council voted to spend *more* money, on yet *another* dog and pony show, to be followed up by the “resumption” of enforcement of the camping ordinance, starting in October.
With nowhere else to legally sleep (while homeless), within the City of Albany, an economic cleansing* of sorts, is inevitable. “Economic cleansing” is similar to ethnic cleansing, but is instead done to an economic minority (poor people), as opposed to an ethnic minority.
The goal that the City of Albany is ultimately trying to achieve, is to hand the Albany Bulb over to the State, for the purpose of becoming part of the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park.
However, the transfer of the Bulb to the State, will mean something far more devastating than just 60 or so people becoming “re-homeless”…
From the Eastshore State Park General Plan: “Consistent with the Eastshore park project’s cultural resource guidelines, the practice and products associated with unauthorized artistic expression (e.g., installations, structures, paintings, etc.) on the Albany Bulb will be reviewed in accordance with State Parks’ systemwide (sic) cultural resource procedures prior to their removal.”
East Bay Regional Park District’s definition of a “cultural resource”: “Cultural resources include archaeological, historical, and scientifically valuable sites, areas, and objects.” To the Parks District, as well as to Albany, any art that is not officially commissioned is unauthorized.
That’s right. They’re coming for the art. And, they’ve already started. So far, they have only removed the Art that was on/near the Plateau. But, that’s merely the first few millimeters of their descent down the slippery slope of gentrification.
First, the Art and the Community of Bulb-dwellers… then, off-leash dogs… then…
If you support the right of *all people* to Share the Bulb:
1. Check out sharethebulb.org
2. Write to Albany City Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org, or
3. Go visit the Albany Bulb: At 1 Buchanan Street Extension in Albany, California, on the Albany Waterfront. Come see for yourself, we don’t bite. We just want to Share the Bulb… without being forced (back) into homelessness, first.
Stop Hobophobia. Share the Bulb
Taken from: http://slingshot.tao.ca/issue.html?0114007