Practical @narchy

O N L I N E


Issue 4.1, January/February 1995

A bimonthly electronic zine concerning anarchy from a practical point of view, to help you put some anarchy into your everyday life. The anarchy scene is covered through reviews and reports from people in the living anarchy.


Editors:
Chuck Munson : cm150@umail.umd.edu
PO Box 179, College Park, MD 20741-0179

Mike McEvoy : mjmc@fullfeed.com

Subscription to P@ Online is free in its electronic format and each issue is anti-copyright and may distributed freely as long as the source is credited. Please direct SUBSCRIPTION questions to CHUCK at the above address.

We encourage our readers to submit articles and to send in short items from everywhere. Local or worldwide doesn't matter--we publish it. Send mail to the editors.

We now have 188 subscribers on our mailing list!


NEW P@ONLINE SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS!!!!!

In order to make this publication easily available to all who are interested, and in order to make mail management easier for the editors, we now offer the following options:

[A] You request that you be put on the mailing list. Send a subscription message to Chuck. You will be sent the full issue of the zine each time it is published. Beware that a zine can be awfully big!

[B] You ask to be put on the notification list. You won't be sent the full issue, but will be sent a short email message announcing the new issue. You can then retrieve the issue from an archive at your convenience.

[C] You send us nothing. It's up to you to browse the various FTP, Gopher, BBS, and WWW sites to see if a new issue has come out.


Back issues of P@ Online are available from the following locations:
GOPHER: gopher etext.archive.umich.edu
WWW: Available via the Spunk Press home page:
http://www.cwi.nl/cwi/people/Jack.Jansen/Spunk/Spunk_Home.html
or
the Infoshop Page http://www.wam.umd.edu/~ctmunson/Infoshop.html FTP: etext.archive.umich.edu


**NEW HYPERTEXT FORMAT**

This zine is now available in a hypertext format! Point your WWW browser at http://www.wam.umd.edu/~ctmunson/Infoshop.html to find the latest Practical Anarchy Online.


Table Of (Dis)Contents

Practical Anarchy Suggestions
Top Ten
Net Resources for Anarchists
Zine Reviews
Contacts
Groups and Projects
Beyond Squat or Rot by Chuck Munson
CATCH :The Mutual Housing Umbrella and the Birth of the Co-op /A Report from the Bloomington Trenches by Joseph Average
Is It Anarchy on the Internet? by Craig
BOOK REVIEW: Freedom Road

PRACTICAL ANARCHY



* Think for yourself
* Spread the word about the Zapatista struggle in Mexico
* Advocate a moratorium on new prison construction
* Advocate the closing of Pelican Bay and Florence supermax prisons
* Treat children with respect. Remember how hard it was when you were growing up.
* Volunteer at your local food co-op
* Call in sick to work
* Talk to people face-to-face instead of over the phone or email
* Make your own subvertisements
* Take direct action against local developers. Expose their plans to your community
* Support efforts to free Leonard Peltier
* Plant an urban garden on some abandoned land
* Fifty years is enough! Disband the World Bank

P@Online Top Ten


(Chuck's list)
ZINES
1. Alternative Press Review
2. Kick It Over
3. Factsheet Five
4. The Blast!
5. Global Mail
6. Fifth Estate
7. Anarchy
8. Apistogramma
9. Minnesota SRRT Newsletter
10. Claustrophobia


NET Resources for Anarchists

An excellent anarchist contact list has been prepared by Spunk Press called "Anarchist and related contacts on the Internet." It is kept at etext.archive.umich.edu:/pub/Politics/Spunk/anarchy_texts/Spunk150.txt, along with the rest of the Spunk Press archive of anarchist and alternative material.

Please email short descriptions for lists, organisations and publications, corrections and additions to jack@cwi.nl.

A hypertext version is available at http://www.cwi.nl/cwi/people/Jack.Jansen/spunk/Spunk_Resources.html. This is a good place to find WWW pages related to anarchy, feminism, and radical subjects.


[The following is excerpted from the Spunk Resource List]
MAILING LISTS

Unless stated otherwise the email addresses listed here point to people who can subscribe you or give you more information. In the case of automatic list-subscribers the text to send is also given.

Anarchy Discussion
Subscription address: anarchy-list-request@cwi.nl
Archives under WWW:
http://www.cwi.nl/cwi/people/Jack.Jansen/anarchy/anarchy.html
Organiser: jack@cwi.nl
1-Union (Syndicalist)
Subscription address: listserv@lever.com
(send sub 1-union YOUR-FIRST-NAME YOUR-LAST-NAME in message body).
Organizer: mlepore@mcimail.com
Alternative Institutions
Subscription address: altinst-request@cco.caltech.edu
Non Serviam
solan@math.uio.no
IWW Mailing list
Subscription address: Majordomo@igc.apc.org
(send subscribe iww-news in message body)
Digital Anarchy.
The philosophy of digital anarchy is that the beauty of the internet, usenet, and other forms of mass telecommunications is total freedom and lawlessness that exists. Rumoured to be anarcho-capitalist oriented.
digianarch@aol.com
Libertarians
List Address:LIBERNET@DARTMOUTH.EDU
Coordinators:
Barry Fagin fagin@ELEAZAR.DARTMOUTH.EDU
June Genis GA.JRG@FORSYTHE.STANFORD.EDU
Anarchocapitalist Discussion List
extropians-request@extropy.org
Socialism Discussion List (Trotskyist)
SOCIAL-L
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(send sub social-l 1stname lastname in message body)
Organizer: Felix Kriesel KREISEL@PFC.MIT.EDU
Left-Wing Political Discussion List
LEFT-L
The Left List is an uncensored forum for the discussion of building a broad democratic left in the United States and within the world that can seek fundamental change in our economic and social system.
Subscription address: listserv@cmsa.berkeley.edu
(send sub left-l 1stname lastname in message body)
Organizer: Nathan Newman newman@garnet.berkeley.edu
Left-Wing Political Organization Discussion List
LEFT-ORG
Subscription address: listserv@cmsa.berkeley.edu
(send sub left-org 1stname lastname in message body)
Progressive News List
PNEWS
pnews-request@world.std.com
There's an accomanying list for discussing the news, PNEWS-D.
Subscribe via pnews-d-request@world.std.com.
Organizer: Hank Roth odin@world.std.com
Marxism Discussion List
MARXISM
Subscription address: majordomo@jefferson.village.virginia.edu
(send info marxism in message body for information)
Archives are available on jefferson.village.virginia.edu, directory
/pub/pubs/listservs/spoons/marxism.archive
Alternative Institutions
AltInst-request@cs.cmu.edu
Chiapas, Mexico (and the Zapatistas, specifically)
CHIAPAS-L
Subscription address: majordomo@profmexis.dgsca.unam.mx
(send sub chiapas-l firstname lastname in message body to subscribe)
Archives available under gopher on profmexis.dgsca.unam.mx, "foros locales", "Chiapas".
McLibel Defendants mailing list
Subscription address: majordomo@world.std.com
(send subscribe mclibel in the message body)
Organizer: coniberr@cs.man.ac.uk
Race Trator mailing list
for discussing the need and methods for destroying whiteness, white skin privilege, and the construct "white race.".
Subscription address: majordomo@acpub.duke.edu
(send subscribe fightwhite in the message body)
Organizer: jschultz@acpub.duke.edu
Riot-l
articles from Reuters capitalist news service which deal with resistance to oppressive forces (imperialism, patriarchy, capitalism, white supremacy, etc.) and attacks by those oppressive forces.
Subscription address: listserv@burn.ucsd.edu
(send subscribe riot-l FIRSTNAME LASTNAME in the body)
Zines Discussion List
zines-l-request@uriacc.bitnet
Punk list
punk-list-request@cs.tut.fi
America OnLine socialism conference
Email address: PowerKord@aol.com


ZINE R E V I E W S

Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed no.41 / Winter 95 [B.A.L. Press, POB 2647, Peter Stuyvesant Station, New York, NY 10009 / anarchy@panix.com] Anarchy magazine has pulled up stakes and moved east! This is the first issue for the new collective which is now based in New York City. This issue includes another installment in Anarchy's serialization of Vaneigem's "The Revolution of Everyday Life." Other articles include "The Right to Be Greedy," "The 'Illegalists'," and "Against Prisons." The issue includes the usual range of short opinion pieces, news items, and the big letters section. ($3.50 sample / $12 a year)

Alternative Press Review vol.2, no.1 / Winter 1995 [C.A.L. Press, POB 1446, Columbia, MO 65205-1446] This quarterly from the people who brought us Anarchy magazine is quickly becoming one of my favorite magazines. The Utne Reader used to cover the alternative press--this magazine does much better. APR excerpts articles from true alternative mags like off our backs, Holy Titclamps, Liberty, and Crash Collusion. Articles in this issue include "Paul Goodman and the Media" by Taylor Stoehr, "Spiritual Anarchy and the Wild Man in Colonial America" by Peter Lamborn Wilson, and "The New Mythologies of Rape" by Wendy McElroy. I especially enjoyed the article "Film Noir since the '50s". Also includes reviews of books, magazines, and zines. ($3.95 / $16 for one year)

The Blast! No.4 / December/January 1995 [PO Box 7075, Minneapolis, MN 55407 / jolson@polisci.umn.edu] A radical anarchist newspaper published in the Twin Cities. Filled with news on various radical actions. Special articles look at the "Crime Bill and Social Control" and "Sex. Lies, and Depo Provera: the international politics of population control." Also includes news briefs, letters, and book and zine reviews. Special pages devoted to the Anarchist Black Cross. ($1 / $9 for 6 issues)

Factsheet 5 no.54 / January 1995 [Factsheet Five Subscriptions, PO Box 170099, San Francisco, CA 94117-0099] The bible of zinedom. This is THE directory of zines. It appears that the new publishers have finally hit stride with this issue. In addition to the pages and pages of zine reviews, this issue finally includes some articles. Reviews of zines are organized by sections like "Medley," "B Movies," "Science Fiction," "Grrrlz" and more. It is even indexed! I don't think many people understand how much time it takes to write these reviews. Great job. ($6 / $20 for 6 issues)

Fifth Estate vol.29, no.2 / Winter 1995 [4632 Second Ave., Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA] If you are reading this issue of Practical Anarchy on a computer, you'll want to check out this issue of The Fifth Estate. The feature article is titled "A Treatise on Electronic Anarchy & the Net: arguments for elimination of the information age." It's a very interesting criticism of the things that some anarchists are using the Net for. It has provoked lots of discussion on the anarchy discussion list. Other articles look at nuclear power and "anarchy and elections." An excellent anarchist newspaper, long noted for its excellent analyses of technology in our society. ($1.50 / $6 for 4 issues)

Global Mail Issue 10 / January-April '95 [soapbox@well.sf.ca.us / Ashley Parker Owens, PO Box 597996, Chicago, IL 60659] An excellent, useful resource for mail art fans and anybody who wants to network with alternative projects around the world. Lists mail art exhibitions that are calling for entries. Also an invaluable source of info on penpals, networks, tape & sound compilations, email, and zines looking for contributors. Well-organized, with time sensitive entries included in a special section. Now printed on newsprint. Nice collage artwork at no extra charge. ($2.50 sample /$8 for a sub?)


Kick It Over No.34 / Fall 1994 [Kick It Over, PO Box 5811, Station A, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5W 1P2] This issue's theme is "Food and Land." Articles include "Permaculture: Focus on the future" by Jay Boggess, "Anarcho-spatialism: towards an egalitarian land tenure" by Anders Corr, "Land Trusts" by Jeff Johnston, and other pieces on the McLibel case, Food Not Bombs, being a lesbian in the southern U.S., and the problems with "the built environment" in the U.K. Also includes a series of reports on "a summer of gatherings." Lots of resources and news. I consider this to be the Canadian equivalent of Practical Anarchy. Highly recommended. ($3 sample / $12 for 4 issues)

Love and Rage vol.6, no.1 / January/February 1995 [PO Box 853, Peter Stuyvesant Station, New York, NY 10009] A regular anarchist newspaper which covers current events. This issue examines the 1994 US elections from an anarchist point of view. Other articles cover the developing situation in Chiapas and the ongoing Intifada struggle. Feature articles include "Afrocentricity vs. Homosexuality," "The Marxist theory of the state", and an examination of the state of the Love and Rage Federation. Also a good source for info on what other anarchist groups are doing. Features a special section on fighting fascism. ($1/$13 for 6 issues)


MSRRT Newsletter December 1994 v.7, no.10 [Chris Dodge/Jan DeSirey, 4645 Columbus Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55407] A newsletter that's not just for progressive librarians. They now are putting back issues online! This issue includes "zine news", a list of events taking place in the Twin Cities, and a robust section of resources for radical activists. The strength of this publication is still the excellent reviews of alternative books and periodicals. ($15/year)

Profane Existence no.23 / Autumn 1994 [PO Box 8722, Minneapolis, MN 55408] The punk anarchist newspaper of the Twin Cities. Most of the anarchist stuff seems to be devoted to actions. Includes an interview with Subcommandante Marcos. Lots of coverage of the local anarchist scene. Bands interviewed include Total Chaos and Deformed. Music, zine, and book reviews. ($2 / $9 six issue subscription)


CONTACTS


Affinity Group of Evolutionary Anarchists (AGEA)

AGEA is an address exchange network linking individuals who favor education and self-organization as the preferred methods of achieving a voluntary, egalitarian and cooperative society.


For more info contact: Ed Stamm, PO Box 1402, Lawrence, KS 66044-8402 USA

AGEA has just published a new pamphlet called Consent or Coercion. This pamphlet is an introduction to anarchy. An electronic version is available from cm150@umail.umd.edu. A paper version is being published and will be available from Ed Stamm.


PROJECTS


ANARCHIST COOKBOOK


The editor is collecting recipes for a cookbook to be published in 1995 titled "The Anarchist Cookbook: Recipes by anarchists and their friends."

Interest in this project so far has been great. The recipes are rolling in!

Please send your vegetarian and vegan recipes, tips on cooking for large groups, personal food idiosyncrasies, art, and info on other resources. Let's show the world what anarchy is all about!

All recipes will be tested in the Practical Anarchy test kitchen. Bon Appetit!

Send recipes to: Anarchist Cookbook, c/o Chuck Munson, PO Box 179, College Park, MD 20741-0179 or via email to cm150@umail.umd.edu



PRACTICAL ANARCHY: The Book

Chuck Munson, Joseph Average, and B. Moody invite you to submit one, two, or a half dozen articles to an edited collection on the theme of Practical Anarchy. We aim to publish this collection in book form within one year (Summer 1995).

Topics will include, but not limited to:

To submit articles, or to get a writing contract and more info, write to: Joseph Average, c/o Bloomington Anarchist Union, PO Box 3207, Bloomington, IN 47402

To get an electronic copy of the writing contract contact Chuck at cm150@umail.umd.edu

SPUNK PRESS


Spunk Press is an independent publishing project whose goal is to collect anarchist, alternative and underground materials in electronic format and make them available free of charge. Although our archive is located on the Internet ( a worldwide network of five million people), we want to reach out into the world of bulletin boards and personal computers and to those without computer access. We want to help editors and writers to convert or produce their works in an electronic format and use our distribution channels (electronic archive sites, e-mail address lists, etc.) We are seeking submissions of fanzines, pamphlets, books, articles, interviews, reviews, posters, and other material, both in print and out of print. Currently archived selections include Thoreau's Civil Disobedience, a history of the IWW, Practical Anarchy magazine, H.Bey's T.A.Z., and a Situationist bibliography. You can submit material either via the Internet or on a PC or Mac diskette. You can receive material via the Internet (FTP to etext.archive.umich.edu and access directory /pub/Politics/Spunk), or by sending a diskette. For more information and a copy of our current catalog, contact Spunk Press by electronic mail at spunk@lysator.liu.se or write to:


Spunk Press, c/o ACF Freedom Bookshop, 84B Whitechapel High Street, London E17QX, UK. or Spunk Press, c/o Practical Anarchy, POB 179, College Park, MD 20741-0179, USA.

The electronic Spunk Press archive was last updated in July of 1994 and contains over 400 items. The next update will occur soon and will contain over 800 items. To access click here.



A R T I C L E S


Beyond Squat or Rot : Anarchist Approaches to Housing

by Chuck Munson

First in a continuing series
[upcoming issues will focus on squatting, community land trusts, tenant associations, intentional communities, and more]

Introduction

It's time to renew your yearly lease and once again your landlord wants to raise your monthly rent. Should you stay or should you go? Are there options to leases, rents and mortgages? Why does the landlord get away with raising everybody's rents, when they probably haven't made any improvements to your building in the last year? This issue of Practical Anarchy looks at some of the answers to these questions, what alternatives exist, and how to challenge the traditional way housing is provided.

Why are we addressing this issue?

Those active in the alternative housing movement should not automatically assume that everyone wants to join them. After all, suburban living is rather entrenched. Suburbanites may not fully like their living situation, but they aren't exactly clamoring for something different. It will take some time before more suburbanites realize that the suburbs are the cause of that disappearance of community that everybody talks about. They'll also realize the tremendous costs commuting and car-dependence has on the environment, their families, their psyche, and their health.

Alternative housing activists have one thing in their favor when it comes to convincing the mainstream to join them. They have existing examples to point to, be it a co-op, a squat, a land trust, an intentional community, or a cohousing community. And there are hundreds of examples of successful projects. The challenge is to spread the word to folks who are unaware of this movement. What would be an effective method of outreach? More media coverage? Field trips?

Critical Mass

One of the big challenges of the alternative housing movement is how to expand beyond a handful of houses/projects to a widespread system of alternative housing. How do you get to a critical mass of alternative housing in a city, where it becomes easier to start and finance new projects? A small city like Madison Wisconsin has over ten co-ops and most of these co-ops have been around for ten years or longer. Through cooperation these existing co-ops can pool their money and start a new co-op, or at least help some folks get a new one started. That is, if the members of the current co-ops have the inclination to do such a thing.

Dishes

One of the big things that will go unexamined in this segment of the series is gender relations in alternative housing. The members of co-ops and squats often say that the are for gender equality in everyday life, yet only some will actually live according to the principles they preach. Even today, all to often women are still being stuck with the housework and child care in these alternative projects. A whole article could be devoted to the inability of men to do the dishes. In order for the alternative housing movement to grow, these concerns need to be addressed, and ACTED UPON.

Cooperatives

When one thinks about housing cooperatives, one generally thinks about student co-ops in university towns. Traditionally university towns such as Madison (WI), Berkeley (CA), and Oberlin (OH) have been fertile grounds for student-occupied housing co-ops.

These co-ops generally consist of a large house with 5 or more bedrooms, common living and dining areas, and several bathrooms. Some co-ops are "unofficial," that is, they consist of several people renting a multi-bedroom apartment and sharing costs. But I am concerned here with "official" co-ops like the one I lived in for two years in Madison, WI. Official co-ops usually average around 10 to 20 members, with the extremes having over 100.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Co-op Living

Advantages

Disadvantages External Factors Affecting Co-op Success

Co-ops / How To

How does one start a co-op? If you are lucky you may live in a town that has already existing co-ops. Give them a call. Find out how they got started (if anybody remembers). If your town doesn't have co-ops you will have to call a co-op in another town. Be prepared to find that the people you talk to may have no idea how their co-op was started. Some co-ops have been around for over 20 years and the original founders aren't still living there.

In order to have a co-op, you need people who are willing to live in one. You need to find these people and get them together to talk about starting a new co-op. One effective method is to put up posters around your town or community announcing a meeting and soliciting interest. These posters should go up in places were people will see them: food co-ops, stores, kiosks, laundromats, classrooms, or telephone poles. Another possibility is to make an announcement on a local radio station or to take out a short ad in the local newspaper.

Once you have people together, you need to have lots of meetings, mainly to plan for the co-op, but also to shake out those who aren't serious enough to commit. Also, you develop relationships with your future co-opers. You'll need to set up bank accounts, determine officers, file as a non-profit corporation, and create by-laws. The by-laws are necessary so that you have organized procedures for member shipping new members and removing troublesome ones. they also cover many other facets of running a co-op; contact existing to co-ops to find out what should be included.

There are several financial considerations that have to be included in a co-op. Normally in most co-ops you'll be needing to pay off the mortgage and other loans on a monthly basis. The rent collected from the members on a monthly basis should cover this as well as several other important finances:

After I left Rivendell, they were able to refinance their mortgage, which allowed them to finance several projects including a major remodeling of the kitchen and basement, fixing a frequent leak, tuckpointing, and painting the house purple.

Another major aspect of a co-op is the food co-op. This is a feature which involves the pooling of money to buy food for the co-op and a system of preparing co-op dinners. Some co-ops make cooking for the co-op a work job, but some, like Rivendell, expected everybody to take their turn cooking dinner for the entire co-op. In a co-op of ten people, this meant that I had to cook for everybody ONCE every two weeks. The other nights I just showed up for dinner.

The person running the food co-op collects money from each member once a month. An amount needs to be decided upon which is settled on after some experience (the food co-op at Rivendell was about $70 a month). Several of the co-op members have the work job of shopping, which is done once a week. The cooks for the upcoming week list what ingredients they need. The shoppers buy groceries to cover this along with buying "basics." A food co-op can be inexpensive because you are buying in bulk. If money is spent on lots of processed foods, dairy products, and meat, the cost per co-oper will go up. House philosophy may also determine the diet; an all vegetarian or vegan house won't buy any meat.

There are many tasks that must be done in order for the co-op to function harmoniously. These tasks can be managed by a system of work jobs. The co-op must decide at a meeting how to allocate work jobs. This is often done at a meeting at the beginning of a semester (if the members are mostly students). The members decide what tasks need to be done, how to weight each task involves on a weekly basis, and the amount of work each co-oper is expected to do. Then they negotiate who does what task. Work jobs include such things as bathroom cleaning, common area cleaning, food co-op treasurer, house treasurer, grounds keeping/gardening, maintenance, and others. Some co-ops may come up with special tasks such as bulk food preparation, composter, mail forwarding, and liaison to the co-op association.


LANDLORD, n. A pillar of society as necessary to its existence as a tick is to a hound.
-- Chaz Bufe, American Heretic's Dictionary.

LAND, A part of the earth's surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property, subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B, and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist.
-- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.


Cohousing

Cohousing is an alternative form of housing that has become popular in recent years. The movement got its start in Europe, where Denmark in particular is a hotbed of this housing type. Cohousing has been getting lots of attention in the U.S. in the last couple of years, with several projects having been built and others on the drawing board.

What is cohousing? It is a planned community which is a cross between an intentional community and a housing co-op. The building or buildings in the project are often built from scratch, but sometimes pre-existing structures are adapted for the project. Cohousing is usually found in cities or suburbs.

A cohousing community usually consists of individual households or buildings clustered around a common building that houses group facilities such a communal kitchen and dining area, laundry facilities, a library, workshops, and child care facilities. Some cohousing projects consist of a single building divided up into individual residences and common areas. The residences in cohousing developments usually contain private kitchens, so a person, couple, or family can eat separately from the others once in a while.

Cohousing has many advantages over traditional housing. The residents have a say in the development of the community. They have a say in the day-to-day life of the community. It gets more people involved in a cooperative lifestyle. Cohousing balances the needs people have for personal space and community space. It offers a way for several generations to live cooperatively, yet meet their diverse needs.

Some anarchists have criticized cohousing as bourgeois, a fad for rich yuppies. People involved in cohousing are often middle class individuals or families with the financial resources to devote towards making a cohousing project happen. Most of them are white professionals. It could be argued that these folks aren't doing anything to help poor people to start similar projects. Is it fair to make such a generalization? Don't most "revolutions" start with the middle class? Why can't we support "mainstream" people who are making a commitment to cooperative living? If the cohousing movement reaches a critical mass, more and more projects will be started, including ones that include poor folks. Cities like Madison, Wisconsin have a large number of co-ops because there is a pre-existing co-op scene with the finances to loan money to new projects. A project or movement doesn't have to include radicals to be radical.

This article won't go into depths on life in cohousing or the how-to in running such a community. The reader is directed to the excellent book on cohousing which is listed at the end of this article.

What is a TAZ?

A TAZ is a temporary autonomous zone, a concept first elaborated on by Hakim Bey in his 1990 essay "The Temporary Autonomous Zone." Bey wrote that a TAZ is hard to define, but that instances of it could be described. Bey was inspired by his study of the instances in history where independent enclaves sprung up, "whole mini-societies living consciously outside the law and determined to keep it up, even if only for a short but merry life." He was also inspired by cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling's book Islands in the Net, which describes a near-future world filled with autonomous "experiments in living: giant worker-owned corporations, independent enclaves devoted to 'data piracy,' Green-Social-Democrat enclaves, Zerowork enclaves, anarchist liberated zones, etc." Bey thought that these temporary autonomous zones were not only possible in the future, but already existed.

Much of the essay is devoted to the discussion of the anarchist potential of developing a WEB to counterattack the Net in cyberspace, but that falls outside of this discussion. Bey also outlined the various instances of TAZs throughout history: pirate utopias, people defecting from civilization to the "wilderness" (the infamous Roanoke colony that left the message "Gone to Croatan"), revolutionary urban communes (Paris), and Makhno's Ukraine. A TAZ these days would be a festive, spontaneous happening , or it could be something else...

In a later essay, Bey introduced something he called a PAZ, or permanent autonomous zone. A PAZ is a TAZ that has put down roots and intends to stay around for a while. Bey wrote that in TAZ that a TAZ that put down roots would be something similar to a bolo, which is discussed in the next section.

What's a bolo?

The concept of bolos are introduced by author P.M. in the book bolo'bolo. This book details the structure and workings of a hypothetical near-future world. In many ways, this work of science fiction introduces anarchistic concepts in a new light. The world of bolo'bolo is dominated by such anarchist concepts a decentralized politics, cooperative living, cooperative trade, the lack of national borders, and confederated regions.

Individuals living in the world of bolo'bolo are known as ibus. Ibus can join with 300 to 500 other ibus to form a bolo. P.M. defines a bolo as a

"basic agreement with other ibus, a direct, personal context for living, producing, dying. The bolo replaces the old "agreement" called money. In and around the bolo the ibus can get their daily 2000 calories, a living space, medical care, the basics of survival, and indeed much more."

P.M. explains that an ibu can choose to join a bolo, remain alone, or transfer to another bolo. Bolos are largely self-sufficient, but do not exist in a vacuum. Other parts of the book detail how trade works in this world.

Bolos would be as diverse as the region in which they are located. The inhabitants would also contribute to the look and feel of the bolo. P.M. suggests some possibilities for how bolos would look:

"Larger and higher housing projects can be used as vertical bolos. In the countryside, a bolo corresponds to a small town, to a group of farmhouses, to a valley. A bolo needn't be architecturally unified. In the South Pacific, a bolo is a coral island, or even a group of smaller atolls. In the desert, the bolo might not even have a precise location; rather, it's the route of the nomads who belong to it (maybe all members of the bolo meet only twice a year). On rivers or lakes, bolos can be formed with boats. There can be bolos in former factory buildings, palaces, caves, battleships, monasteries, under the ends of the Brooklyn Bridge, in museums, zoos, at Knotts Berry Farm or Fort Benning, in the Iowa Statehouse, shopping malls, the University of Michigan football stadium, Folsom Prison."

Ten to twenty bolos can form a tega, which can be thought of as a village, small town, or large neighborhood. What kind of function does a tega serve? P.M. explains:

" A tega (let's call it 'township') will fulfill certain practical tasks for its members: streets, canals, water, energy-plants, small factories and workshops, public transportation, hospital, forests and waters, depots of materials of all kinds, construction, firefighters, market regulations, (sadi), general help, reserves for emergencies. More or less, the bolos organize a kind of self-administration or self-government on a local level. The big difference to such forms in actual societies(neighborhood-councils, block-committees, 'soviets', municipalities, etc.) is that they're determined from 'below' (they're not administrative channels of a centralized regime) and that the bolos themselves with their strong independence limit the power and possibilities of such 'governments'."

Bolo'bolo is a thought-provoking exploration of an anarchist alternative to current society.

Anarchist Neighborhoods

Is there strength in numbers? Should anarchists try and live in one place? Would it be effective to set up an example so that other people could see what we are proposing, and then start their own project? Would people defect from "normal" society to join "anarchistic" housing projects? Would such an example promote separatism or the possibility of government repression?

There are some anarchists who argue that in order to show others the alternatives, we need to construct some living examples. One possibility would be a project in a big city that houses local anarchists and others who have flocked there. Why can't we, for instance, start an anarchist neighborhood made up of row houses in Philadelphia or New York? The proponents of this approach suggest that anarchists from other cities and towns move to this one neighborhood so that a big concentration of anarchists is formed. This "critical mass" of anarchists would serve as a catalyst for similar projects, and at the same time would start other projects such as cooperative economics and cooperative workplaces. This neighborhood would be a crucible for anarchist ideas to be enacted, thus becoming an example to the rest of society.

There are several drawbacks to this approach. An obvious one is government repression. A large grouping of anarchists would give the state an easy target for a misinformation campaign and eventual violent assault, like MOVE or Waco. This could happen even if the neighborhood kept a low profile. Another complicating factor, arising if the neighborhood intended to do outreach to the rest of society, is the misrepresentation of the project by the mainstream media. This could dilute the message so that the project is written off by others as a hotbed of weirdoes. Hopefully, the neighborhood would spread the word through alternative media. This type of project could also be a magnet for counterculture bums, you know, the folks who come to gatherings or hang out at DIY projects and never give anything back. The guys who talk but won't do the dishes.

Anarchists, like many other radical activists, also overlook the fact that we have lots of allies who aren't anarchists. Many people are interested in anarchistic housing projects, but they aren't necessarily anarchists. Would you really want to live in a big neighborhood with only anarchists? There are many successful alternative housing projects that are filled with people who aren't political all the time.

Undoing suburbia

All the alternative housing in existence today is little compared to the square miles of suburbia around the world (not to mention all the apartment blocks). How do we change the current way of living in our suburban society? Why should we convince these people to try something different? What are the possible alternatives to tract-living? Do we tear all of suburbia down, or do we convert it to a more cooperative, egalitarian form? How would that alternative look?

Unfortunately, those of us interested in getting more people involved in cooperative living are up against some tough, deeply-held, cherished beliefs. We all know about the "American Dream" of every person owning their own home and lot. I read recently about a survey which asked suburbanites if they'd be willing to live in something other suburbia. Most were willing, but didn't want to give up their "land."

Resources

Further Reading

Communities: journal of cooperative living / 1118 Round Butte Dr., Fort Collins, CO 80524; (303) 224-9080. Quarterly. A good resource for information on intentional communities, cooperatives, cohousing, and other housing/community alternatives.

The Raven: Anarchist Quarterly #17 (vol.5, no.1). Use of the Land issue. January-March 1992. Freedom Press, 84b Whitechapel High St., London E1 7QX (Available from Left Bank Books in the U.S.)

A Pattern Language : towns, building, construction / Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, et. al. New York : Oxford University Press, 1977.

Cohousing: a contemporary approach to housing ourselves / Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett. Ten Speed Press: Berkeley, CA, 1988.

Tenants Take Over / Colin Ward. The Architectural Press Ltd., London 1974.

Collaborative communities: cohousing, central living, and other new forms of housing with shared facilities / by Dorit Fromm. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1991.

bolo'bolo / by p.m. New York: Semiotext(e), 1985.

Cracking the Movement: squatting beyond the media / Adilkno. New York: Autonomedia, 1990. English trans. 1994.

Occupation Insurrection: towards an anarcho-spatialist land tenure / Anders Corr (manuscript in progress)

T.A.Z. The temporary autonomous zone, ontological anarchy, poetic terrorism / by Hakim Bey. New York, Autonomedia, 1991. [Autonomedia, PO Box 568, Williamsburgh Station, Brooklyn, NY 11211-0568]

Kick It Over. No.34 / November 1994. PO Box 5811, Station A, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5W 1P2 (sample copy $3). Special issue on "Food and Land." Housing-related articles include "Land Trusts: Land held in common" by Jeff Johnston and "Anarcho-Spatialism: towards an egalitarian land tenure" by Anders Corr.

A guide to cooperative alternatives / edited by Communities, journal of cooperative living ; editors: Paul Freundlich, Chris Collins, and Mikki Wenig. Louisa, Va. : Community Publications Cooperative, c1979.

American communes, 1860-1960 : a bibliography / Timothy Miller. New York : Garland Pub., 1990.


CATCH

The Mutual Housing Umbrella and the Birth of the Co-op A Report from the Bloomington Trenches

by Joseph Average

In the Winter of 93-94, what had been for twelve years a hush-hush "problem" in Bloomington erupted into a full-blown crisis. Suddenly, the city government and local Real Estate developers were scrambling to pass the blame and the buck for what had been a decade and a half of deregulated freeloading. Snouts buried in the trough of tax abatements, Federal Home Funds, and Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs), the avaricious pigs had grown corpulent during the Reagan-Bush-Clinton years, to the detriment not only of low income families and homeless people, but to the overall quality of life in the community.

A study done jointly by the State of Indiana and local housing agencies found that, not surprisingly, Bloomington has the greatest lack of affordable housing in Indiana—more than Gary, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Evansville. Now, in light of a recent Federal Report ranking Bloomington-Monroe County as the 11th poorest metropolitan statistical area in the nation, as well as the closing of the three-year Section 8 waiting list, and devastating industrial closings and downsizing, Real Estate developers and city officials are sweating bullets.

But the final straw came this Spring, when a consortium of greedy developers calling themselves "Pinnacle Properties" bought out the last vestige of low-income housing in downtown Bloomington: the Allen Building. Home to a diverse array of families and individuals, old and young, townies and students, artists and musicians, anarchists and surrealists, the Allen building was a microcommunity in itself—and a stick in the craw of the mayor's office, which has been hell-bent on driving out anything from the downtown area without a credit card and some purchasing power. It was, in fact, the last bulwark of what was once a vibrant and diverse public culture in the heart of the city. The rest of that culture had been swept out by gentrification throughout the 80s, forced to move either to the periphery of town or out of town altogether. Now the Allen Building is being renovated into high-income student and professional housing, designed for people who can shop in the costly, effete clothing stores that replaced Bloomington Hardware, Harriman's News Stand, and a host of other local institutions which had served a broad sector of the community.

Many homeless people stayed in the Allen Building because the shelters were overflowing with the refugees of urban renewal. Poor families, individuals, and homeless folks depend on close proximity to the downtown area where most of the jobs and human services are located. Unable to afford cars, and given the horrendous condition of public transportation in town, they have been mightily stiffed by the rich and powerful. The utter lack of affordable housing means that a per centage of those displaced end up homeless; in fact, Bloomington "enjoys" a higher per capita homeless population that New York City!

Students bore the brunt of the early blame. Indeed, the presence of 35,000 students in a town of the same size creates monumental competition for slots in the housing stock. Indiana University is partly to blame for its atrocious lack of housing contingencies: no student housing has been built since the early 70s, and the administration maintains a dry-campus law which encourages students to move off campus as soon as possible. And to be sure, most students are oblivious to their role as pawns in the gentrification game and in the destruction and disintegration of neighborhoods.

But in the end, the blame must rest squarely on the shoulders of the profiteers and their supporting lackeys in the city, state, and federal governments. "Our" city government has been so overwhelmingly favorable to business interests that nearly 98% of all the present City Council's resolutions have been in the favor of developers. In other words, ask and ye shall receive. Aside from council resolutions, the Housing Code enforcement has been nil for low income housing throughout the 70s and 80s, due primarily to the political connections of developers. Code is used in Bloomington—as elsewhere—as a weapon against the poor, not as a set of protections, and this was no more in evidence than when the city government proposed to use the code violations of the Allen Building to condemn the structure and kick out the residents so as to avoid paying relocation costs.

These are the people to blame, city officials and private developers. They are the ones profiting—whether economically or politically—from poor peoples' misery. Developers point to the market as if it has a life of its own independent of the morality of its users, as if they were COMPELLED to charge enormously high rents that favored multiple-income student arrangements while squeezing poor and even moderate-income families to the geopolitical margins. City officials turn a blind eye, and indeed facilitate this process, charging that limits to the market system are limits to freedom—irregardless of the effects of market activity on the community as a whole. Finally, city officials and developers blame one another in a constant circus of culpability and denial. In the meantime, people suffer and traditional solutions seem remote and pointless at best.

But when developers and city officials took on the Allen building, they challenged a group of people who were already fed up with the destruction of neighborhoods through gentrification. Nothing changed from 1993 to 1994 in terms of the actual scope of the housing ''problem,'' except that now voices were being raised, and the "problem" could graduate to a "crisis" whose dimensions and origins would be part of public discussion. No longer could political hacks and rich developers hide behind silence: people from all walks of life were speaking up and articulating diverse concerns and interpretations into a substantial critique. In February, a lengthy cover-story appeared in the January issue of the Bloomington Voice, a local alternative weekly, titled "Bloomington Gentrified," and the city was awash in the rhetoric of crisis.

So we're getting screwed: now what?

I wrote that article, on behalf of the residents of the Allen Building, where I had also lived for a time. From that moment on, many of us felt that we could not turn back, and that though we were to lose the Allen Building, we would organize to find workable solutions that would blend our anti-profit, anti-capitalist and grass roots ideals with pragmatic strategies for creating affordable housing.

Many of us have squatted in other cities, but recognize that squatting depends on the prevalence of neighborhoods or regions where the housing stock is economically "dead" or comatose. No such opportunities exist in Bloomington; developers keep a tight grip on properties and check up on them regularly, even if they are unoccupied. Thus, we had to look to other strategies which would be locally appropriate. Taking our cue from successes in Madison, Wisconsin, we decided that co-operative housing was our best bet.

In January of 1994 we formed a non-profit, grass roots community development corporation dedicated to establishing affordable co-operative housing in Bloomington on a large scale. CATCH (Citizens Acting Together for Co-operative Housing). As we envisioned it, CATCh's mission would be twofold: 1) to act as a mutual housing association in order to leverage public and private monies to buy properties, which we would then develop into co-operatives and 2) to pull these properties permanently out of the speculation racket by placing them onto a Community Land Trust. By eliminating the profit variable in the housing equation, an affordable stock of housing could emerge through co-operative arrangements.

How, then, have we gone about the nuts and bolts of organizing a mutual housing association? What ancillary projects have we landed ourselves in through this process?

Towards the nut, bolt, and wrench of a solution: structure, outreach, and municipal intervention

Perhaps the most important question to answer has been that of strategy: how do we, as an organization, take on this mammoth problem? Do we adopt an ingratiating approach so as to grease the egos of city bureaucrats who hand out entitlements (and lose our self-respect and that of our community)? Do we hit head on with biting attacks on the municipal government and real estate developers, risking any opportunities to actually accomplish something solid?

We partially answered these questions through the structure, temperament, and composition of our group. First, in order to get underway, we formulated a platform statement and a mission statement, as well as a set of by-laws, in order to incorporate and apply for non-profit status. The benefit of incorporation is the same for a grass roots organization as it is for a transnational enterprise: limited liability. No individual in a corporation can be sued for damages or held accountable for failure to make payments. In such cases, the corporation itself dissolves but the individuals will not lose their livelihoods in the process—a crucial benefit for groups like ours, composed of poor, homeless, and low-income people. Next we applied for a 501(c)3 designation as a charitable organization. 501(c)3, or non-profit status, which legalizes our commitment and qualifies us for all kinds of grants, low-interest loans, and tax credits. Moreover, any structures we buy will be exempt from property and other taxes. Finally, we constructed a set of by-laws, required for incorporation and tax exemption, and a good idea for fail-safing the organization to insure that its original mission be respected and adhered to.

Hardwiring the by-laws against the intervention of profiteers or special interests was a lengthy but worthwhile process. In order to maintain our mission as non-profit housing developers for ourselves and other poor people who become involved, we wrote in an income-ceiling clause which can only be waved by consensus. We created a board of directors because it is required by law, but subverted the law by making everyone who joins the group a board member. We created board officers, again required by law, but subverted the legal intent by disempowering them to the status of functionaries with special duties. In practice, tasks will be shared by everyone, while officers do the grunt maintenance.

Finally we brainstormed nearly every kind of decisions that would have to be made, and assigned a method of decision-making to each concomitant with its weight and importance. The methods include: consensus, 2/3 majority, simple majority, and delegation/autonomous. In this way, we can avoid the pitfalls of trying to make every decision by consensus, but can reserve consensus-building for truly momentous decisions. As part of the by-laws, this will insure a smooth, coherent, and concise decision-making process throughout the life of the organization.

Next we chose a member to be our executive director, our public figure and spokesperson, our lifeline to municipal and state agencies and bureaus. Cheryl Damron, a dynamic powerhouse and schmooz artist extraordinaire, is the executive director for CATCH. This means that she is our (not-as-yet) paid staff who we, the board, hire to do all of our dirty work. Of course we all pitch in for the grant-writing, researching, and so forth, but Cheryl is our chief liaison and front for our group. Besides, very few of us are capable of talking with city bureaucrats and real estate pigs without losing our temper and wanting to string them up! Cheryl does that talking for us. I highly recommend that every municipally-oriented organization have a Cheryl Damron!

Having an executive director has solved a lot of our problems of tack and approach. Cheryl represents us publicly, and endures the day-to-day negotiations and meeting work with the city officials, state authorities, and various other agencies. Her approach is tactful but never snivelling, direct and to the point, headstrong but never jeopardizing. This frees the rest of us up to do unilateral work against gentrification, to develop literature and flyers and pamphlets against profit-based development, and to generally enhance the already existing anti-rent sentiment in our community through dissemination and organization. We can take these actions as individuals, we can write and speak out fiercely as individuals, without having to represent CATCH as an organization. It makes for a clear and delineated relationship between the individual and the collective.

Our basic strategy for creating the conditions within which affordable co-operative housing can exist has been through municipal intervention. We take the upper hand in defining the scope and nature of the housing crisis, we counter the US Housing and Urban Development department's definition of "affordable" with one that is locally appropriate and locally contextualized, we place our feet in the doors of the city agencies and departments, we insert ourselves into the business and the process of municipal development in order to buy ourselves both breathing room and funding, and to make our critiques of development and our solutions part of public discussion. Moreover, we always insist that the issue of private enrichment of real estate developers from municipal funds is an ongoing public issue.

The strategy of municipal intervention has brought us into conflict and negotiation with city officials on a number of issues surrounding the housing crisis. These include: parking and traffic, zoning, human service funding, work and labor, and perhaps the biggest one—economic development. In sum, most of CATCH's work amongst our community and with/against the city machinery comes down to the very basic set of issues that the British anarchist writer Colin Ward foretells: urban planning and design.

Drawing on Ward's work on housing and design, as well as economist Herman Daley's writings on steady-state economics, and inserting ourselves into the business of the city at all points possible, we have articulated broad critiques of standard capitalist development schemes—which we are working now to make public. We are steadfastly critiquing some of the sacred cows of the protectionist market—the racket of capital (such as the quasi-religious adherence to "growth" ideology), and providing our own practical solutions for organizing and fostering parallel or counter-institutions. These include everything from starting up tenent organizations, co-operative workplaces and child care centers, to plowing community gardens, expanding green space, creating community food processing shops, organizing rotating credit pools as capital outlay, mandating rent control and compact urban form (no-growth policies), starting neighborhood consumer co-ops and low-level food production and distribution networks, developing low-capital alternative energy technologies, preventative health care clinics staffed by lay practitioners and midwives, and Community Sponsored Agriculture programs. Obviously, we have a long way to go, but our views are slowly becoming part of public awareness.

Most importantly, we are recommending that these efforts be co-ordinated and integrated democratically, and designed and implemented by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) comprised of people who will be direct beneficiaries, rather than exclusively by city officials, profiteers, and other so-called development experts. Basically, then, we are making a public insistence across the board that the process of community "development" and organization be opened up to broad sectors of society, and that avenues be created everywhere possible for people to become involved and contribute their intelligence, energy, and sweat.

Economics and much more in the co-operative challenge

With the capital leveraged from public and private funding sources, we plan to use CATCH, as a municipal housing association, to buy properties and turn them one-by-one into co-operatives. This entails the development of succinct, complex, and detailed mortgage plans and other financial contingencies. For example, one of the benefits of co-ops is that, rather than pay into the coffers of greedy scumbag real estate speculators and landlords, the co-op dweller pays into her own equity, which represents a share of the total mortgage. Each co-op has to work out for itself how equity is paid out, but what CATCH will recommend will be a 2-year minimum commitment, before which time if a co-op'er moves out he will not receive any of his shares back. He will, in that case, have to consider his input as a donation to the co-op. Given that co-op fees will be substantially lower than the average rent charged in Bloomington, both parties end up gaining in such a scenario. But if another dweller stays longer, and moves out after 5 or 6 years, than she gets the major portion of her equity back out of the co-op. That does not mean, of course, that she gets all the money back she put into it, as much of it goes for emergency repairs, maintenance, insurance, utilities, etc. But she will get a portion of the mortgage payment back as her own equity. Still another dweller might be living there when the mortgage is paid off, and will have the option of being a partial owner of the dwelling.

A co-op is at root, then, an economic arrangement among people, and a basic way to alleviate the lack of affordable housing. The arrangements among individuals need not rise to any greater complexity. Indeed, any kind of building, from standard houses to apartment buildings, motels, mobile home courts, and warehouses can be commandeered for co-operative purposes, so long as the basic economic principles apply.

However, co-operative arrangements can be much more than economic. They can be social, cultural, and political as well, and every group of individuals will design their own particular mix of these concerns. Co-ops, particularly ones wherein common spaces exist for mingling, performing tasks or projects, sharing child care, cooking, and eating, provide excellent models for working social arrangements grounded in mutual aid and support, solidarity, co-operation and sharing, self-respect and respect for others.

Once CATCH acquires a property to develop into a co-op, that property will be jacked out of the real estate circuit permanently. The Community Land Trust (CLT), operated by CATCH, requires that all imporvements and physical facilities atop the Land Trust—including the co-ops—must be controlled democratically for the good of the community. This does not divest the residents of control over their living situation, but rather insures that the houses may not be sold on the open market. In fact, a CLT will enhance resident and community control of the housing stock, as it will create permanently affordable, democratically controlled housing. Ultimately, this will re-orient our standard notions about housing. Opposed to the fettish of the private proprietor and the atomized house participating in a "free" market, and rejecting equally state ownership and control of housing, CATCH and other like organizations see housing as a human right, and the maintenacne of the housing stock as a community obligation. NGOs such as CATCH want to find the right balance between the needs and desires of the individual and the health of the community—a balance which neither the state or capitalists will ever be capable of creating, as the scale is intimate and decentralized.

The details of the processes outlined above are innumerable and can not be adequately covered here, but any interested individuals or groups should contact the addresses I have listed for more information. CATCH will also be glad to provide copies of our brochure, by-laws, and platform statement, meeting minutes samples, and other goodies, provided you send us a few stamps to help cover postage. After all, we are a very poor organization!

Some thoughts on the strategic relevance of the mutual housing association: countering standard anarchist dogma

What is the use of this approach for anarchists? To begin with, Bloomie anarchists tend to define the most significant, real, and immediate problems, to develop tools and strategies for attacking those problems, and to encourage and aid broad political participation in the forging of solutions.

Housing is just one area wherein real and immediate problems can be challenged: other areas include food production and distribution, plant closings/de-industrialization and the re-organization of "work," child care, and health care. It is our desire to situate ourselves within these struggles and to work for anti-authoritarian, non-statist solutions—which does NOT mean, by the way, refusing Federal monies. If the defense, petrochemical, and timber industries are not subtle about taking government monies, why should we be? After all, it is OUR wealth produced by OUR toil and creative energies.

However, the terms by which we accept this kind of money militate against standard Liberal posturings on welfare. First of all, we do not intend to re-create the welfare net or become another overburdened social service agency. Our organizations should be self-help in nature, and composed of people who will directly benefit from participation and struggle. Furthermore, we should devise strategies which will increase rather than decrease our reliance on mutual aid and support, as well as maximize political participation. Finally, we should use public monies only on projects that will be self-sustaining, insofar as they will not depend on continual infusion of government aid, but rather on the mobilization of the creative energies of broad and previously de-politicized sectors of our community.

In a larger context, we see ourselves as part of a diverse and energetic international movement of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) both within core capitalist nations like the U.S., and throughout the Third World. CATCH, as an NGO, sees its mission in tandem with that of most NGOs around the globe: to mobilize people into self-help organizations, to channel energies and funds away from profiteers and elites into projects designed at the grass roots level, on a small and intimate scale, and to create accountable and face-to-face quasi-institutional bodies in order to solve the multiple and complex problems created by capitalism and statism. In other words, housing solutions, like other solutions, should not be devised and directed by private profiteers or the state, but by non-profit NGOs and other groups that rely on people power from start to finish. (Two primary reasons for the failure of the modern Liberal housing development process that occured in the 1960s were: 1) The high-level, multibillion dollar public-private marriage between US Housing and Urban Development and the Real Estate community, and 2) The complete lack of input by residents in the design, review, implementation, and management phases.)

On the other hand, one of the most glaring ethical problems we face in our work to establish co-op housing is that we are still participating in the housing market, paying mortgages to banks, financing, the whole bit. Even the term "affordable housing" itself is ideologically challenging because it assumes that homes are to be part of a system of commodity exchange, that housing is not produced for use-value but for exchange-value, and must be integrated into this network. Thus, all the while we refuse to profit from housing, others are profiting: home owners profit from selling their mortgages to us, the banks profit by the interest charged on our loans, and politicians profit by using our success as a feather in their cap—as if to say, see, we helped CATCH accomplish their goals so WE are NOT to blame for the housing crisis. If we allow this to happen, then people will think that the system DOES work, that it doesn't need to be scrapped. We do not want to provide an inoculation for the Corporate-Liberal statist establishment.

Nevertheless, it is our belief that the strategies we have developed here are the most pragmatic and useful for addressing the particular housing problems in Bloomington. We recognize that nothing short of a revolution will eliminate the profit-basis of market exchanges for basic human needs. But we are not content to wait for the onrush of utopia, and moreover feel that revolution must be a lengthy process of self-education and organization, so that we can develop democratic, accountable, decentralized organizations/councils/bodies which not only achieve practical goals in the interim, but train us in participatory politics for the future. What is more, organizing co-operatives can go beyond merely reducing people's costs of living; they will, in fact, exist as parallel institutions, with an anti-profit, anti-capitalist ethic built in at the base. Co-op housing will be a grass roots self-education process, a way in which we can learn how to organize and house ourselves locally until such a time arrives where we can do this on a grand scale.

The development of mutual housing associations such as CATCH, and the establishment of co-ops and Community Land Trusts, allows for broad, daily, and direct political participation in the process of housing ourselves. This in itself is a radicalizing process for many, and a chance to see the contrast between ineffectual municipal bureaucracy and concerted people power. Moreover, by tying up houses within a co-op umbrella, we effectively take them out of the speculative market and prevent them from being subdivided into high-rent student housing. In this way, we can act as a re-invigorated bulwark against the gentrification of neighborhoods by developers.

None of this takes the place of other kinds of strategies designed to raise consciousness among ourselves, as well as the costs for developers and profiteers. We NEED groups who are dedicated specifically to disseminating literature and information on gentrification, and who are hell bent on taking direct action against developers. We NEED and must support the efforts of squatters, tenant's rights organizations, and housing advocates. And we must support those who work directly to propagandize for anti-authoritarian solutions or revolution. Nothing we do in our work need contradict what others are doing: the anarchist community ought to recognize the importance of integrated strategies and struggles, and the usefulness of organization on multiple levels. To fail to do this will render us as drab, simplistic, and undistinguished as the ossified old Left.


Addresses and contacts for further information

Citizens Acting Together for Co-operative Housing PO Box 1277 Bloomington, IN 47402-1277

People's Housing 7510 N. Ashland Chicago, IL 60626

National Association of Housing Co-operatives 1614 King Street Alexandria, VA 22314

North American Students of Co-operation PO Box 7715 Ann Arbor, MI 48107

Institute for Community Economics 57 School Street Springfield, MA 01105-1331


Is It Anarchy on the Internet?

In a word, no. Considering that it was founded by branches of the U.S. government, and today is funded mostly by commercial companies, public and private schools, and the government, it seems like kind of a stupid question. But since countless pundits, some of whom even claim to be anarchists, have maintained that it is, I'd like to state why I think that the Internet does not fit any definition of `anarchism' that I am comfortable with.

The media seem to have adopted the practice of using the word `anarchy' to describe what happens when a government fucks up more than usual--the civil war in Somalia being one of the more recent examples. Anarchists, on the other hand, use it to describe a system of social organization where people and communities take responsibility for their own lives and actions instead of depending on a government to do so for them. Anarchists, in other words, are describing a positive, proactive alternative to the current political system, whereas the popular press are describing the lack or failure of certain acts of the current system. So it's not surprising to see some of the various services of the Internet, which have pretty much had ``anything goes'' usage policies and have remained quite free from government control since their inception, described by the press as ``anarchic.'' What is surprising is that I occasionally see self-proclaimed ``anarchists'' who seem to agree with this!

The thinking seems to go like this:

In other words, this philosophy seems to define the Internet in terms of what it isn't [not (usually) centralized, not (usually) censored, not (usually) expensive]. You'll notice that this fits very neatly into the ``media'' definition of `anarchism,' but says nothing about the need for a positive alternative to government-dependent lifestyles, as required by the ``anarchist's definition'' of the word.

The Internet is a very useful tool. It's both faster and, for most people, cheaper than the U.S. Postal Service. It's far cheaper than the telephone, and usually just as fast. It's also the easiest way I know of to get a message out to a large group of people at once. I also find that I get much more personal feedback from email messages than I get from zines, and sometimes even personal letters, probably because it's so much easier to do. But there are several downsides that we must keep in mind:

So while Internet services can be a great way to get the word out about the real, constructive projects that you and your community are doing, please don't fall into the trap of mistaking use of the net itself as something of any real value to the creation of an autonomous society.

-Craig

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Any comments on this article? Send email to the address below! -----------------------------------

Craig (stuntz@rhic.physics.wayne.edu)


BOOK REVIEWS

Freedom Road
by Harold Hough
Loompanics Unlimited / PO Box 1197, Port Townsend, WA 98368

Ever had the urge to give up your settled lifestyle and hit the road, for good? Tired of rents, mortgages, home repair, noisy neighbors, landlords, and looking at the same view through the windows every day? Tired of the same old "secure" job? Feel the need to live a nomadic existence? If you're thinking about switching to living in an RV (recreational vehicle), than this book is for you.

Hough's book is filled with practical advice for a person or couple who live on the road. The book opens with an examination of the strengths of RV-living. Hough argues that RVs are the key to living a life that is more free of government interference, community standards, and financial worries. The rhetoric in this part of the book would sound familiar to many anarchists. Living a life free of government interference is a concept that appeals to many. Hough's approach to this desire is to live life on the road.

Most of this book is filled with practical advice for the person who decides to take up residence on "Freedom Road." How does one choose the right RV? How does one earn money if one lives on the road? How do you choose your state of residence? Where should one get a drivers license? Where does one stay overnight? For several months? Hough answers these questions and provides many more practical tips for those living the RV lifestyle.

As a person with no intention of hitting the road, I nonetheless found this book to be very interesting. It makes one think about the things we take for granted when we put down roots. It also gives a glimpse of a lifestyle that few of us lead. Another fine practical book from Loompanics.


Most government laws and actions are based on the premise that all people live in fixed residences. Thinking this, they tax your real esate, fix its use through zoning, and control your behavior through silly laws. Without a fixed residence you can avoid most governments and many of their laws.



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Send comments to: ctmunson@umail.umd.edu * HTML version, February 18th, 1995