Huge hand-painted sign removed from bridge by police ahead of Conservative party’s conference in Manchester
MPs from both the main parties have denounced a banner that appeared on a footbridge in Salford prior to the Conservative party conference in Manchester.
One Conservative MP said the party’s conferencewas being targeted by “fascists” after pictures circulated on social media of a 10-metre wide banner reading: “Hang the Tories.”Continue reading...
Critics fear checks will destroy relationship NHS staff have with patients and create climate of fear that stops people accessing care
Protesters gathered at St Thomas’ hospital in central London on Saturday to voice opposition to the introduction of ID checks at hospitals and up-front charges for patients not eligible for NHS care.
People from overseas are already liable for the cost of treatment, but new rules will require hospitals, community interest companies and charities receiving NHS funds to identify such patients before treatment in order to bill them.
The essay below, which we share in translation, is by Tiago F. Duarte, a member of the Assembleia de occupação de Lisboa, a collective responsible for the recent occupation of a residential building in Lisbon’s centre. We share the essay not because we agree with everything that is stated therein – for example, its overly marxist reading of history, of the opposition of the city and the countryside, of class conflict, and its reduction of occupation to a means or tactic of anti-capitalism when it is as much an end and a strategy (that is, these distinctions are in the end not only meaningless, but problematic) – but because of its insistence in reading “okupation” as a radical politics.
The city begins where the metropolis ends
(Revista Punkto 21/09/2017)
Questions regarding access to housing in large cities seem to have become critical in the last years, acquiring an unprecedented exposure in the public sphere. Neighbourhoods where rents were formerly accessible to large segments of the population witnessed an unheard of speculation around housing prices, making evident a continuous destructive re-composition of ways of life in the city.
The phenomenon is global: San Francisco, Mexico City, Barcelona, Porto, Lisbon, and numerous other cities. However, the ensemble of phenomena that came to be called gentrification is not a new phenomenon. In its current version, it gained form with the re-valorisation of urban centres in the United States, beginning in the 1980s, linked to the emergence of “creative economies” and of a relatively comfortable professional class who, breaking with the cultural conservatism of previous generations, appreciated the cultural, ethinic and social diversity of the city centre and saw these elements as contextually appealing. The diffusion of these emergent socio-cultural forms becomes global with the idea of “creative cities”, thus rehabilitating the idea of urbanity in the eyes of the middle strata of the professional classes. It is only after the crisis of 2008, though, that the globalisation of this dynamic to cities other than those in the nerve centre of global capitalism becomes noteworthy. The dynamic behind urban transformations ceases to have as its principal motive changes in the sectoral composition of capital, to instead mirror, in the most brutal way, the emergencies of financial capital.
Contemporary gentrification, contrary to common opinion, has less to do than is thought with the fluctuations of the housing market. Vulgar economics affirms that the prices of commodities are determined by the fluctuations of supply and demand, and that therefore it is the abnormal flux of elements foreign to the local economy that would provoke the rise in prices: tourism, temporary accommodation, foreign residents, the influx of the high middle class into the centre of the city, etc. All of these elements certainly contribute to influencing prices, but the determination of the price of real estate obeys more complex rules. Part of the value of a house is defined by the expected profit that can be periodically extracted from it. This value, speculative value, of future rent, is included in the fixing of the final price of the real estate. This dimension has as its agents economic groups who trade products precisely on the basis of their speculative value, that is, the expected return on the investment is not based exclusively on future rents, but also on the possibility of new sales of real estate and the speculative profit associated with it. In producing a real-estate bubble, buildings are bought and sold at prices significantly higher than those that would be ideally set by the “real” economy. The economic and financial crisis of 2008 however underlined the global fall in profit levels. In the face of a generalised crisis of profit in the various financial and industrial sectors, the large financial groups have at their disposal few minimally secure options to render their capital profitable. Given the imperative necessity of continuous reinvestment, the financial agencies encounter serious difficulties in knowing where to invest. It is in this context that the realm of real-estate appears as a refuge for ever larger quantities of money. Having always been a sphere of relatively “safe” investment, the international flows of capital find in the real-estate market a place where to “park” their money while no better options for investment appear. Becoming a focal point for appetising global investment, capable of attracting foreign capital, the profits to be made in local real-estate stock increase, and accordingly, the prices of rents and sales increase proportionately. The increase in prices occurs not only because of a distortion in the market caused by external factors (tourists, foreigners, immigrants, etc), but because of a speculative use of the markets.
When a call is made to return to the old economy of the city, or when the demand is put forward to regulate the housing economy, we are incurring two mistakes: the first is the naturalisation of the property relations that preexisted the “distortion of the market”; the second is the acceptance of the belief in the regulatory function of the markets, that is, the idea that the protection of the right to housing rests upon the defense of things which are foreign to it – be they socially undesirable tenants who reduce the values of property or well-off buyers who increase excessively the entry sums of money appearing on the market.
The modern city, as we know it, as our grand-parents knew it, developed contemporaneously and organically with capitalism. It arose, changed and expanded in step with economic and political trends that concentrated workers in a specific territory, while, out of this same emergence but in an opposite direction, it made the emancipatory promise of dissolving traditional social and political constraints. The modern capitalist city is the ultimate stage where the daily class struggle plays itself out: if in one corner power demolishes whole neighbourhoods to make way for broad avenues, elsewhere the inhabitants organise themselves to make common, abandoned lands; if in one neighbourhood, local authorities and private interests organise themselves to make way for a wave of gentrification beginning with new artistic and cultural spaces, in an another, excluded populations begin to outline and invent their own creative languages.
What appears as relatively unprecedented, in the last decades, is that the common processes which the city inhabitants organise among themselves become in turn commodities: urban subcultures, from Punk to Hip Hop; the spontaneous occupation of squares by youth; the cultural displays of ethnic and sexual minorities; the bohemian life of artists and the marginal; sexual emancipation, etc. All of these expressions of forms of life that sought to construct a world beyond the culture of work and money were absorbed by capital. The other side of everything having become a commodity, of the so-called “consumer society”, is that we have all become producers – we are all proletarians in every moment of life. Social and cultural relations became a field of commercialisation. Despite the fact that this is a process which installs itself within previously existing social relations of production, modern capitalism eventually became a social force that created its own world, that designed its territory, that planned the ways in which to circulate within it. A centrifugal force that turns upon itself, seeking to attract everything that tries to escape back to its centre. The modern city outlined itself as the material, physical and concrete expression of capitalism, inscribing in everyone of its nooks and corners the inherent contradictions of this mode of production.
For centuries, urban cultures were cultures of resistance. It was in the cities that the men and women of the countryside could escape from the heavy patriarchal constraints of rural societies, it was there where they could conquer the possibility of survival beyond feudal or family servitude. It was in the city where thousands of industrial workers were concentrated and where spaces of conviviality would arise that served as the stage for the emergence of the first revolutionary movements. It was in the cities where those who for one reason or another could not be accepted into the reigning paradigm of citizenship were able to meet each other, creating areas of security and recognition. It was in the city, abandoned by the middle classes in flight, that the countercultures found the space to launch their attack on the dominant culture. From the beginning of the 90s of the last century, with the rehabilitation of the city within the bourgeois imaginary, this idea of the urban territory as a place of wild and dangerous freedom began to change. The centres, formerly dangerous, are cleansed and opened to the leisure classes. Modern systems of video surveillance and police control are deployed in the territory; creative professions emerge and their progressive yuppies; the idea of the “typical”, the “authentic”, half way to being transformed into “gourmet” appears and the sons and daughters of the middle class, sheltered in suburbs, can barely wait to join the great party that announces itself in the historical centres.
The idea that an extraordinary combination of factors – tourism, return to the centre, golden visas [See the BBC for a brief account of Portugal’s “golden visa” scheme], relocation of foreign pensions and including in international financial real estate markets – would provoke something like a “perfect storm” hides an important dimension. The naturalisation of the process as a natural cataclysm – “the storm” – suggests that there exists something like a natural homeostasis of economies, in other words, that the “invisible hand” effectively works, as long as it is corrected, supported, managed. In truth, the composition of the elements and the terms of operation of an “economy”, as well as its constitution, were always politically deployed elements. There is no “storm” in housing; what exists is a situation where all of the elements that frame life are defined by capital.
What the “left” in general has difficulty in understanding is how the process of the commodification of the city and its cultures depended from almost the beginning on the domestication of urban populations. The gentrified city is that city which under the pretext of citizenship was previously mapped, accounted for, cleansed, organised and deployed first as a collection of social apparatuses and then as commodity. The city that can be sold to tourists and to investors is that whose flows were normalised and homogenised by the political action of local authority, marked by the opening of the museum of contemporary art X or the inclusive festival Y. The citizens’ metropolis is little more than a network of social entrepreneurs, surrounded by islands of precariousness and poverty. The city, by contrast, possesses the potential to affirm itself as a rhizomic network of forms of life that organise themselves beyond the political and economic frameworks of capitalist planning. This seems to be the question that is absent from most of the criticisms of “gentrification” and “touristification”. In addition to repeating the fundamentally Keynesian argument that it is necessary to regulate the markets, that is, to accept “the markets” as something inevitable in the collective management of lives, the vulgar criticism of gentrification hesitates in understanding the connection between the contemporary developments of capitalism and the political forms of the management of populations. The mere legal regulation of the problems of housing may help to momentarily break the escalation in prices, but this will only serve to, on the one hand, oblige real-estate capital to find ever more sophisticated forms and, on the other hand, to deepen and develop the apparatuses of control of that which is the political potential of the city. The rebel city, the autonomous city, that city which rises up as one of the principal protagonists of the insurrections of the last 250 years, disappears as much before the onslaughts of capital, as before the apparently more praiseworthy organised interventions of political power. It is enough to look at the ground zero of gentrification in Barcelona: the MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) which at the same time as it houses the most radical artistic deconstructions of the bourgeois aesthetic of the 20th century, promotes the total pacification of the political territories of the 21st century.
The common criticism of gentrification, that which is obvious in the electoral programs of the left and in the discourse of various organisations, is a tendentially de-politicised criticism. It aspires to little more than “just” capitalist relations, without ever understanding the way in which economic domination is linked to political domination. Present in the idea of the political, in the idea of politicisation, is the idea of an opposition between forms of life. A political criticism of the city, of tourism, of gentrification is that which can assert an insurgent power – that seeks to oppose to the processes of metropolitan normalisation and homogenisation the creation of a collective and collaborative way of inhabiting the territory. When resistance is reduced to indignation, when it is reduced to lamentations for the skewed functioning of institutions, when it can aspire to no more than a call for justice for what cannot be just, then it is a resistance reduced to the social that cannot be considered political: because it has nothing to oppose to what it contests except lamentations and indignation, and finally, resignation.
Resistance, in the city, organises itself through the constitution of forms of life that inaugurate combative forms of inhabiting space. These forms of life gain shape through what they are materially capable of carrying out, through the autonomy that they are capable of essaying within a territory that, comprised as it is of commodities and exploitation, is hostile to them. Resistance to gentrification, to the commercialisation of all fields of life, to expulsion from the city, to the surrender to naked valorisation, takes place from within the organisation that we oppose to the political-financial management of the city. It is comprised of occupations, blockages, means of collectivisation, the act of making common what power atomises and capital separates, the act of abolishing what separates the urban territory from the the rural territory and the act of ceasing to see the city from its historical centre and from the spaces where the apparatuses for the accumulation of power and capital are concentrated.
In occupying a house, a space, a street, these cease to be a mere means of profit and a simple box in which to sleep between workdays, to become a place where a political process is born. This political process occurs when the participants in the occupation come to have the possibility of inhabiting the space in a collective relation that goes beyond mere individual use, in a relation that begins to immediately dissolve capital’s forms of command. The question of organisation, of the organisations that we want to oppose to the dominion of capital, is a material question. “Organisation” is nothing but the strategic and collective use of material forms of power that we are able to gather together. The contest for the city occurs in the multiplication of these moments and in the multiplication of the knowledges and methods engendered by these moments.
The question of occupation as a method of struggle is not however reducible to the rejection of property relations, nor to the process of common subjectivisation that takes place in the struggles that express themselves territorially and spatially. The determination to occupy as a mode of struggle, its emergence as a diffuse and shared tactic, follows on the material transformations that occur within capitalism. The total immersion of life in the infrastructure of capital has as a consequence that the relation between ourslves and commodities ceases to be mediated by the “means of production”, because, at least in the parts of the world where we live, it is the totality of our existence that is in itself a means of production. To this immediate relation with the commodities produced corresponds the imposition of a series of levels of political mediation that aim to separate this continuous production of goods from their use. Occupation is thus a means of appropriation of goods socially produced, a means that dispenses with and rejects the mediations by capital itself and which turns these goods over to a common political and shared use.
Contrary to how it has been expressed, the “right to the city” is not a right to urban infrastructures that transport us from home to work, nor the few social services that soften the hours between work shifts. The right to the city can only be thought of as a process through which are determined, autonomously and in opposition to power, the methods of collective organisation that make it possible for the city to cease to be dependent on a right, that is, on a power which authorises, controls and manages it. The city begins where the metropolis ends.
Tiago F. Duarte (member of the Assembleia de Ocupação de Lisboa)
The squatted cultural freespace ADM exists 20 years in October. And that will be celebrated at the 12th, 13th and 14th of October 2017. Three days full of spectacle you do not want to miss. Artists, performers and visitors from all over the world will come to ADM this weekend to celebrate that there is still a place where unnecessary regulations do not exist, the hands of the clock are not breathing in your neck and where non-conformers walk freely.
For three years, ADM’s continued existence is under pressure, there are countless lawsuits and a lot of media attention. In early August, the court decided that the municipality of Amsterdam has to enforce the areal planning, with the result that ADM should be evicted. If this actually is going to happen is the big question, the municipality must still determine whether the so-called owner is allowed to execute the building plans. All in all, this does not change the ideals, life-lust and cultural expression of the ADMrs or the celebration of ADM’s birthday festival!
The porcelain jubilee is celebrated with: three music stages, on which (among others) Latwal (dubelectropunk, FR), Spanner (Skapunk, GB), Amsterdam Faya Allstars (Skareggae, AMS), ZZz (Organelectro, AMS), the Giletjes (rock’n girlz, AMS), Trikosis (anarchofolk, NL), de Stokers (acoustic balkan, NL), Zibabu (spacepunk, ADM), the Beatzers (pirateskank, ADM) will play.
An experimental circus- and theater program: Twisted Fairground (GB), les Humains Gauches (FR), ZaZi (NL), Feminist Mouse Circus (GB) et al.
Fire Spectacle: Compagnie Doedel (BE). Children’s paradise: OCCII kinderpret.
And the Symposium of free cultural spaces about de-gentrification with international speakers.
Plus: Suwanne’s Clit-Club, RoboGallery, reggaedub- hiphop field, skating ramp and much more.
Take a day off from gentrification and visit the lungs of westpoort, the cultural tickler of Amsterdam; an adventure for everyone from the age of 0!
Let yourself be surprised and cherish the madness.
Up to the silver anniversary!
Thursday 12 October 20.00 – 01.00 Friday 13 October 17.00 – 04.00 Saturday 14 October 13.00 – 05.00
Please note: no cash machine, cash only. Shuttle bus is driving during the opening hours of the festival from Piarcoplein (Station Sloterdijk). No camping and no dogs!
The ADM festival is an unsubsidized and non-profit festival. All employees and artists work on a voluntary basis. Any winnings are used in the battle for the continued existence of ADM.
ADM – the current situation in a Nutshell (September 29, 2017)
In 1997, Chidda Vastgoed BV bought the 42 hectare big ADM terrain and in the same year the terrain got occupied by over 125 people. Until 2014, Chidda could and did nothing with the terrain and in the meanwhile the residents became a close working-living community who use the place for experiment and cultural appeal of Amsterdam.
The last three years are characterized by a multitude of complex legal procedures where Chidda tries to evict the site in order to milk it out afterwards. In these procedures ADM residents constantly make clear that Chidda has no proper development plan nor one that fits within the limiting restrictions of the buying contract. Those restrictions, once introduced by the municipality of Amsterdam, exclude speculation.
According to ADM, Chidda’s only focus is to remove the restrictions which would cause the value of the terrain to increase at least five times, so Chidda can collect lucratively.
It is the responsibility of the municipality to maintain the destination restriction (shipyard). Only then the municipality can repurchase the land for a fair price and by doing so serve the public interest.
Currently, the municipality seems to approve Chidda’s plans and thereby is threathened to not only losing control of the site, but also look upon a loss of hundreds millions of euros. Chidda then gains the added value of 80 million euros, as a gift from the municipality!
At the end of July, the ADM, with a majority of the city council, succeeded in demanding an independent research to clarify if the municipality should reject the current plans for development.
If this happens, the municipality can develop a future strategy themselves and in the meanwhile, cherish the freespace ADM.
ADM opposes the speculation with the ADM land, against the improper enrichment of a dishonest property entrepreneur and also against municipal negligence.
ADM fights for preservation of freespaces in Amsterdam and the rest of the world.
Hundreds of residents gathered in front of the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul on Thursday for a rally to “Hold the Line” against a pipeline project called Line 3. Backed by the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Energy, the inter-state project was the subject of the city’s only public meeting held later that day, and residents were firmly determined to make their voices heard.
With an hour to go until the public hearing, they marched over a mile to the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel. Once inside, they argued against the project’s approval to the judge who will decide Line 3’s fate next year.
“It’s just nice to be in a sea of people who feel the same way that you do,” said Mysti Babineau of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe in northwestern Minnesota. “It gives me hope because a lot of these people I’m seeing nowadays are so young.”
Enbridge is proposing a replacement of its old Line 3, which was installed in the 1960s and is now considered to be inefficient and too costly to remove. Once decommissioned, the old Line 3 would be cleaned and left in the ground and a new $7.5 billion pipeline would be constructed. While taking a slightly different path through northern Minnesota, it would end at the same oil facility in Superior, Wisconsin.
Enbridge claims the project is the “best [way] to maintain system integrity while minimizing disruption to landowners and communities.” But many Minnesotans disagree and think the plans for both pipelines raise serious concerns — one of which is the violation of treaty rights. These rights, guaranteed by treaties signed over 150 years ago, include the right to hunt, gather and fish. If a leak were to occur with the new pipeline — which is not farfetched, considering the company’s history of over 1,000 spills — it would jeopardize these rights.
“They want to go through permeable soil that would be hard to clean up if and when there is a spill,” Babineau said. “Our wild rice that we gather every year, which is really important to the Ojibwe people, will be impacted by this line. It will go through the heart of Ojibwe country.”
Indigenous people aren’t the only ones opposed to the plan. David Johnson, a 70-year-old landowner in southern Minnesota, first came to know Enbridge about two years ago, when the firm requested use of his land for their failed Sandpiper pipeline, which would have carried Bakken crude oil to the same Wisconsin terminal. The company flooded him with letters and phone calls, but he refused. They even offered him $1,000 at one point.
“I said, ‘When you get the thing approved, you can come talk to me here,'” Johnson recalled. “They said, ‘Well, we’ll take your land with eminent domain.'”
The Sandpiper project was withdrawn last year due to the falling price of oil, but Johnson — still angered by Enbridge and the damaging effects of its projects — shifted his opposition to the company’s Line 3 replacement, though it doesn’t pass near his land. He was one of the many speakers at Thursday’s rally in Saint Paul.
“I didn’t want to [be a speaker], but I love this land,” he said. “It’s a pretty isolated part of the county right on the edge of the vast wetlands. There’s lots of wildlife and very few people. I don’t want it threatened by the pipeline and their access roads and the potential leaks.”
Johnson was unable to join protesters in their march because of health issues, but felt “grateful for the groups that have done so much to fight these pipelines.”
One of those groups, the Northern Water Alliance of Minnesota, has been focused on the ways in which Line 3 will impact the state’s water resources. Retired architect Jim Reents, who volunteers with the alliance, has testified in front of numerous committees, collaborated with various environmental organizations and assisted in reviewing the effects of the project. What concerns him are the numerous problems associated with the old Line 3. In fact, he said Enbridge admits to over 900 “structural anomalies” with the pipeline.
To make matters worse, Enbridge has done little to stop such leaks. For instance, the firm didn’t reduce the pipeline’s capacity — following severe leaks in 2010 — until federal regulators ordered them to do so. Nevertheless, Enbridge called it a voluntary measure. Such carelessness, according to Reents, makes it difficult to trust that Enbridge’s new Line 3 will be any better.
“You’re talking about an alignment that essentially crosses the drinking water for the entire state and beyond in many cases,” Reents said.
Meanwhile, the crude oil that doesn’t leak from Line 3 will ultimately be burned, producing carbon emissions that threaten today’s youth and future generations. That’s why the Youth Climate Intervenors — a group of 13 young activists under the age of 25 — filed for the right to intervene as an official party in a court case against Enbridge in November.
The group argued, without legal counsel, that the pipeline would have a drastic impact on their future. The social cost of the pipeline’s carbon emissions alone is anywhere from $52 to $287 billion, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
“The judge ruled that we did have standing,” said Akilah Sanders-Reed, a 23-year-old Minneapolis resident. “We were going to be impacted, and we have a right to have a voice in this process. That was really groundbreaking.”
While the next phase of the case is set for early November, Sanders-Reed urged the importance of the public hearings — nine are currently scheduled — across the state in highlighting Minnesota residents’ opposition to Line 3.
“If there were ever a pipeline that could turn Minnesota into a leader in clean energy, climate action and the way we treat indigenous rights — this is it,” she said.
She then pointed to the examples of resistance to the project happening across the state — from the indigenous resistance camps in the north to landowners like Johnson opposing the use of eminent domain to the formation of a coalition of activists that includes faith leaders and youths.
While the public hearing in Saint Paul lasted only a day, resistance to the line will continue. Activists plan to mobilize citizens to attend other hearings in the state, knock on the doors of residents to warn of the plan’s dangers, and take part in the November court case against Enbridge.
“There is no way we’re going to let it cross Minnesota,” Sanders-Reed said.