Let anarchy soar
Love all scum, piss off
Sitex property opened!
Lone ape sleep park, or,
Leech a sick pink orc?
Let’s all squat!
Liberate, and shout:
Police out! Landlords – attack!
Squat punks oi!
–The Tao of Squatting
I keep having a weird experience. I have to clean my squat.
In 13 years of squatting, previous records for staying in a single building personally were around 10 months in 2020 during lockdown and an apocalypse, and previously a tantalising 11 months and two weeks back in 2017.
Sure, back in the good ol’ days, when squatting was easy and every street was lined with crusty-packed rezzies and there was a bissette in every estate, I’d visited a number of squats (commercial and residential) that were lasting a year or more, and most people said averages for evictions were around 6 months, especially in council properties.. Back then, squatted social centres were still a thing, with RampART in East London, RatStar in south, and a host of other short-lived attempts. Practical Squatters ran every week and was regularly packed with newbies.
September 2012; the shit hits the fan, the law changes, and suddenly everyone is on the move. After a year-long consultation in 2011 where 90% of respondents, including the Met Police, said “don’t criminalise squatting”, an 11th-hour amendment slipped the criminalisation of residential squatting into the LASPO Bill. It seems possible the Tories anticipated the coming waves of evictions and wished to not only protect the vast empty luxury spaces of land-bank London, but prevent a similar situation to Spain where many families continue to squat their homes after repossession by the banks.
“This is the death of squatting” I heard, during that horrible summer of 2014 when IPOs were more abundant than empties, and every eviction haemorrhaged more friends out to the squatter retirement homes of boats, vans and Cable Street studios. We met more and more forlorn and exhausted-looking mateys on the curbside surrounded by their possessions looking haggard and lost.
However, against all logic and rationality, squats are not only lasting, but thriving, and still taking the piss.
Meaning that we now have to clean the fuckers.
Actually, it is of course up to you how you want to live.
Not only that; the dreaded, draconian, IPO that criminalises any occupants who remain after 24 hours, has repeatedly been resisted or ignored.
Similar legislation drove the Amsterdam squatters to ever greater militancy, and Berlin as a model has been battling the legalisation and criminalisation of the housing project movement for 30 years. Spain, Italy, Poland, Greece, all over, the anticapitalist movement continues to resist, bitterly and bloodily, ever more defiant as it kicks and screams against the aching terror of capitalist logic.
And fuck me if we aren’t still going.
I reflect upon Victor Serge’s ideas on the differences between political radicals and poets, and offer that squatters in aspect be more like artists than revolutionaries, though the difference might mostly be in terms, rather than possessing a grand narrative and glorious, inevitable future, the squatters exist at the dangerous cusp of creation and destruction, a space of limbic non-being that allows far more potential than any politico’s scheme:
“Poets and novelists [and squatters] are not political beings because they are not essentially rational. Political intelligence, based though it is in the revolutionary’s case upon a deep idealism, demands a scientific and pragmatic armour, and subordinates itself to the pursuit of strictly defined social ends. The artist, on the contrary, is always delving for his raw material into the subconscious, the pre-conscious, in intuition, in a lyrical manner that is rather hard to define: he does not know with any certainty either where he is going or what he is creating.”
-Victor Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary
So, happy 10 year fuck-you-adversary to the bullshit legislation and criminalisation of residential squatting of the LASPO Bill, and big up the squat massive of yore, now and future, be they dirty hippies, sneering punks, idealistic students, drug-ravaged miscreants, technoheads, Autonomous Nations of Anarchist Libertarians, Space Hijackers, House of Braggers, Republicans of Frestonia, Vigilantes, working class heroes, middle-class squat tourists, sluts, scum, anyone and everyone whoever has or ever will squat, apart from Piers-fucking-Corbyn. Let those afraid of the new laws being brought in by Priti Patel take solace in the consistent failure of the Tories’ centuries old war on the people to quash our collective efforts. Our struggle is against the enclosures of centuries, the dominion of private property, and for the very soul and future of our collective world.
To paraphrase Rebecca Solnit, hope is not a lottery ticket, it is a crowbar to smash open doors in an emergency.
We said it before, and we will keep on saying it:
FUCK THE LAW.
ONLY THE STATE IS GUILTY.
WHATEVER THEY SAY, SQUATTING WILL STAY.
SQUAT THE FUCKING LOT.
Illustration: Rod Webber