Scenes from the class war in spain: okupation and resistance

Social movements form around problems. We don’t mean this in a simple functionalist fashion, as if there is a pre-existent problem which then produces a social movement that, in turn, forces the state or capital to respond and solve the problem. Rather, social movements produce their own problematic at the same time as they are formed by them. … As we try to formulate the problematic, we create new worlds. This is what we mean by ‘worlding’: by envisaging a different world, by acting in a different world we actually call forth that world. It is only because we have, at least partially, moved out of what makes ‘sense’ in the old world that another world can start to make its own sense.

The Free Association

Some six months ago, a movement of house occupations began in the small town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz). Initially without coordination or exposure, the movement now extends to eight collective occupations of buildings constructed with speculative interest and never inhabited, and home now to some eighty families.

This direct action movement that been largely spontaneous, but has now constituted itself into a platform, adopting the name of earlier house occupations, corrala, in Andalucía: Corralas de Sanlúcar. Among the persons occupying are unemployed and precariously employed families, pregnant women, evicted families, the homeless; people who have, even in the face of great difficulties, nevertheless been able to organize themselves collectively for the autonomous self-management of their homes.

These okupations are but the last in a now countless number of similar actions throughout the country since late 2007. They testify to the capacity of people to organise themselves to meet their needs, when these last are ignored or excluded from a society. And they put question the supremacy and inviolability of private property and the laws and institutions that enshrine and protect it. (Periodico Diagonal 14/07/2014)

From the original communiqué of the new Corralas:

…we struggle for the right to a dignified home, as is recognised in the Spanish constitution of 78 and in international treaties signed by Spain.

And we struggle so that this right may become real for all. But in the current situation where residential buildings remain empty for years, and where family evictions have become endemic, it is not easy to overcome the inevitable consequences and the fatal combination of bank fraud and precarious labour. … We are living a housing emergency surrounded by more than 1 million empty houses owned by banks.

… the more we work and the more taxes we pay, the less we earn, the more the debt increases and the less services there are to which we have a right. … unemployment with aid means social exclusion and despair. Before this reality, questions about the legality of the act of occupation are trivial and laughable; what is necessary is to demand the social function of property, as justice demands. The fundamental right to a home must be always above the right of a bank to possess empty houses under a regime of private property.

As social movements create alternative social relations to the reign of capital, the need for resistance against those who would seek to destroy them inevitably surfaces. But as the recent mass solidarity in defense of the Okupied Social Centre Can Vies, in Barcelona, against eviction and destruction confirms, the survival of anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian social realities depends on “the density of the web of social relations which integrate any particular movement into the surrounding society.” What is crucial for “the self-defence of a movement for social change is the degree of its integration into society, and such integration implies organization in a way that runs against-and-beyond the state process of separation.” (John Holloway, Change the world without taking power, p. 238)

On the 22th of July, some 300 hundred people physically impeded the execution of the eviction order of the Centro Social Ocupado Autogestionado La Traba. A battle won in a larger war.  (Periodico Diagonal 22/07/2014)

From the manifesto of La Traba:

Why did we okupy?

We live in a system that has privatised the land that we walk upon, converting it into one more commodity. And it has implanted a development model that is manifest in the massive proliferation of urbanisations, golf courses, motorways … and in a series of infrastructures, very often unnecessary, and sources of environmental and social problems. Governments in turn implement these policies in benefit of business interests, provoking, among other things, an ever greater inequality between the ruling class and the working class.

To carry out this politics, the system needs in parallel to extinguish all popular resistance. While hundreds of buildings are in a situation of abandonment, awaiting their recuperation (and therefore the increase of their speculative value), public spaces where one might gather, organise and participate in the discussion of questions that affect our lives, are for the most part controlled by institutional bureaucracies.

For this reason, we okupy. Because we believe that it is necessary to denounce and struggle against urban speculation with deeds, more than with words. Because we need spaces to bring together and animate existing protests, to create places of encounter for the revolutionary transformation of society. Because even though the private and public mis-information media say that this system is democratic, we believe that it is time to conquer real democracy, with popular participation in anti-capitalist politics, activating the struggle in the neighbourhoods and in this way constructing true direct democracy.

Because we believe that to okupy is to recuperate what belongs to us, what belongs to the majority of the population, that which works for a miserable salary constructing buildings where we live and make the bread that we eat, and which however one does not own what one produces. … We are merely the owners of our bodies, which we are forced to place at the service of business people and bankers so that they may fill their pockets at our expense. To okupy is simply to recuperate what has been taken from us.
We okupy because we want to attack the principal pillar of the capitalist system: private property …

 

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