Anarcho-Urbanism

Some Basic Thoughts on Building Housing

Housing must be built in USian cities. There are some leftists and anarchists who would rather put their heads in the ground and claim that there are sufficient houses. This is, on its face, true, but falls apart at the merest scrutiny. There is not enough housing in the cities where people want to live. For any city based organizing to have a positive impact, we have to be clear-eyed about the source of the problems. Cities in the so-called United States are not dense enough.

It should be obvious to anarchists that the problem of housing in cities is the same as the general problem of property under capitalism. This is that things are produced that do not serve human need but instead create profit for capitalists. Further, the work that the inhabitants of a city put into the collective project of the city is subverted into private property.

There are two ways that anarchists can challenge this. The first is well known in our circles - it is the squatting of private property. This attacks the capitalist housing model by turning private or state buildings to communal ends. The second way that anarchists can intervene is through championing direct action to build dense housing.

By advocating for density, we advocate for improvements to the lives of urban residents. Under capitalism, a housing market with a glut of houses will tilt the scales towards renters, while the opposite will be true if development is curtailed. This doesn't mean however, that we must champion the cause of landlords and developers. The cause of the anarchist movement must be for an alternative to state landlordism (often called public housing) and private landlordism. We must champion a distinctly anarchist housing, that has space for a variety of forms, and flexibility in building, so that everyone who wants to experience the bounty of the city can.

This blog post is more of a statement of principles, and primarily a self-reflective exercise, to hopefully better clarify for myself my own thoughts on anarchist approaches to housing.

#urbanism #housing