Nestled between two golf courses in the Hampstead area of North London lies a row of colonnaded mansion houses, each looming from behind stern borders of black iron fencing. Lush vegetation, old trees and rhododendron bushes subtly screen the opulence from full view of the street. Estate agents advertise them for sale with features such as a car lifts, indoor pools and libraries. Many remain dark, and lifeless as they await the return of owners who seem to have forgotten them.
Campbell Robb, the Chief Executive of the homelessness charity Shelter, recently commented on the housing crisis in the UK, saying: “Astronomical house prices mean that millions of people are finding themselves trapped in our broken rental market with little chance of ever finding a stable place to call home.” As the government continues to slash benefits to those most in need and rent continues to rise more than earnings, 2014 will bring a wave of evictions across the UK and the whole of Europe, leading to thousands of vulnerable adults and children being forced into overcrowded hostels, temporary accommodation, friend’s sofas, and on to the streets. 18,000 people are evicted from social housing alone each year – the equivalent of the entire population of Stamford. In the UK, bailiffs are the guys who turn up to enforce those evictions. They are comparable to ‘repo men’ in the US.
On a trip to the formerly-radical-now-hipsterized capital of cool Berlin, I dropped in to the Koepi – a squat-turned-housing-project – to attend a session entitled Anarchist Improvisational Theatre. I had high hopes, having experimented with anarchist theatre forms in my own praxis. My heart sank when I saw that we were to be subjected to an extremely traditional, conformist and unimaginative approach to the possibilities of theatre. The audience was assembled in chairs before a space occupied by three to five actors, improvising witty and hilarious responses to suggestions from the crowd with the slick experience and confidence of automatons at a theme-park ride.
“The sun beams down on a brand new day
No more welfare tax to pay
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
Jobless millions whisked away
At last we have more room to play
All systems go to kill the poor tonight …”
– Kill the Poor, Dead Kennedys
Smash down the door, six in the morning comes the Law, to protect you from your wicked ways, and pin you to the floor. The sound of your front-door splintering on its hinges as the battering ram hits it is a singularly significant moment. Especially if you live with your partner and children, the invasion of armed, black clad riot police screaming orders and brutally throwing you and your loved ones face down on the ground at gunpoint by automatic weapons means you’ve done something the State is not best pleased about.
Permaculture is a system of intensively designed agriculture intended to mimic the natural processes and arrangement of forests in order to provide a sustainable food source and maintain the biodiversity of our local, regional and global ecologies. The principles of permaculture as designated by Bill Mollinson have a wider application to our social relations, and in many ways mirror the ambitions of anarchism – especially of the green shade. The following explores how his ideas on care for people, the earth and setting limits to consumption can sustain humanity through the coming period known as energy descent.
Millions Of Black Masks is an upcoming zine composed of interviews with anarchists from around the globe, archiving their personal interpretations and experiences living with anarchy. If you would like to be interviewed and included in this oral history of real anarchists, then please contact me directly. To introduce the project on Daily Anarchist, editor Davi Barker kindly agreed to answer some questions on his life as an anarchist.
You’ve moved to the boondocks, surrounded by forests and mountains on all sides, minimal road access – sheer idyll. There are neighbors within a couple of kilometers who are farming and living off the land just like you. Your homestead is thriving, the gardens blooming and fruiting, the atmosphere peaceful and productive.
Then, the tribe moves in next door.
“Left wing violence, right wing violence, all seems much the same,
Bully boys out fighting, it’s just the same old game.
Boring fucking politics that’ll get us all shot,
Left wing, right wing, you can stuff the lot.
Keep your petty prejudice, I don’t see the point,
ANARCHY AND FREEDOM IS WHAT I WANT.”
– White Punks On Hope,
“Public policy blindness to the health and food security benefits of home food production is matched by ignorance of the potential gains in resource use efficiency and sustainability of garden and urban agriculture. This peculiar situation reflects a general public policy blindness towards household and community [non-monetary] economies that might bypass corporate profits and government taxation.”
David Holmgren, A Revolution in Efficient Water Use