Archive for social centers

The Crisis as Pacification

Posted in Direct Action & Civil Disobedience, Housing Rights, Immigration & Borders, Police State, Revolution with tags , , , , on July 26, 2010 by Ⓐb Irato

by Peter Gelderloos
Cascades: Conversations in Crisis

Coming back to the US after four years living abroad, I’ve been surprised to see a proliferation of tent cities, foreclosed home occupations, squatting, university occupations, illegal urban gardening, immigrant solidarity rallies, and anti-police riots from one coast to the other.

On the one hand, there seems to be a country-wide level of resistance, a potential boiling-over, not seen in this country in decades. On the other hand, the collective feeling of being in a revolutionary moment, the emotional reality of participating in a strong and global struggle, seems suspiciously absent. People don’t dare to get their hopes up, when precisely what a struggle needs to have any hope of accomplishing anything is to be bold. Yet the reality of the NGO-style activism to which many people consign themselves, and which has controlled social movements in this country for years, is nothing if not demoralizing.

Many people have pointed out that “crisis is business as usual”, or that crisis is a normal part of the ebbs and flows of capitalism. Another good way to understand crisis is as the pacification of social movements. Capitalism is always exploiting us, and the government is always trying to pull one over on us and increase its powers. Perhaps the most tragic element of the current crisis is how much they have been able to get away with, precisely because we have been pacified.

In Barcelona, where I currently live, the practice of squatting abandoned buildings for housing and social centers has coalesced into a major movement with an evolved ability to defend itself. Nearby in Greece, a deeply rooted anarchist struggle has gained ground time and again in urban land occupations, workers’ movements, immigrant struggles, responses to police brutality, and more.

Contrasting the situation in the US with the situation in those two countries, one can tease out a number of lessons that could be helpful here.

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