The Autonomous Winter Shelter in Central London is celebrating more than 3 months of self-organised direct action that has facilitated the continued safe housing of dozens of houseless people, the service of 100s of hot meals, and the distribution of clothing, medicine and hygiene products since a former St. Mungo’s hostel was occupied by anarchists last December. It was seized in response to the failure of state and 3rd-sector lackeys that feed and sustain the misery of those who are reduced to becoming vassals and to show what is possible when people take power into their own hands. It was organised to prove what is possible with mutual aid and mutual respect.
St. Mungo’s failed when they sold their property to slumlord housing speculators OneHousing, when they worked with the border agency to deport refugees from other countries. The tories failed when they destroyed social support services over the last decade. All governments and vertically-structured entities succeed only in the reproduction of the rotten values of capitalism, maintaining their dominance and monopoly of violence. We occupy and defy to remind politicians and the power-hungry that we the people know that all tories are oligarchs, and all politicians parasites.
Today is the first day of a new season, the wider autonomous community and those-in-residence are delighted to announce the renaming of the winter shelter as the Autonomous Spring Shelter, or A.S.S.! (TM/R/C all rights reserved).
Since the A.S.S. opened in December 2021 as a short-term solution to a long-term housing crisis, there’s been drama and parties, vim and vitriol, politics and police, and yet equal measures of hope, goodwill and delight. The initiators of the project didn’t expect it to last 3 days, yet 3 months later, we are still here in Gray’s Inn Road, organising and agitating against oppression and for anarchy, attempting to solve our own problems through self-determination and co-creation. Having lost in court back in January, residents have been waiting under barricades to resist eviction since then, with the support of irate local residents and other squatters from across the UK. OneHousing have stated only that they have no desire to communicate with residents and wish only to work with the police to ensure eviction.
As last week’s action by the London Makhnovists against the oligarchs shows, another way is possible, beyond dependency on charities and governments, through collaboration, courage and bold defiance of the state and the logic of submission. In solidarity with oppressed peoples everywhere, we defy the capitalist ideology that reduces people to objects, to being refugees in their own country, to living in a world that those ostensibly in charge are reducing to rubble, ashes and ruin whilst mansions, banks and luxury apartments lie empty.
We did not ask, we did not demand, we took. We occupied, and seized back a slice of what has been stolen from our peoples. Our gamble has paid off, and we cite it as an example of only one facet of what is possible is we dare to live wild, to die free.
The capital is weak. All over, peoples are rising up, looting back, occupying, and defending liberated territories. The time has never been more right, more urgent, more necessitous. Never before have we had so little to lose, and so much to gain.
As war rages across the globe, the forests burn and the sea curdles, the time to take control of our lives and aspire to total liberation is upon us.
In solidarity with the GRT and refugees of all nations!
For the people of Ukraine!
For a summer of anarchy!
All tories are oligarchs!
Putin and all politicians can go fuck themselves.
Emoji masks by @ombelinerat
Photo credit: Guy Smallman