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What are some of the anarchist criticisms of foreclosure defense and what viable alternatives do anarchists propose?

+2 votes
Private property seems to get at the core of what capitalism is, even more so than exchange, labor, consumerism and commodity production. How can anarchist better organize against these social relationships?
asked Nov 3, 2012 by anonymous

1 Answer

+3 votes
Foreclosure defense (at least as it's being practiced locally) is mostly connected with high-profile sob stories of old ladies (deemed defenseless by patriarchy) being tossed out of their homes. These actions have almost always been organized and stage-managed by activists (like those connected with ACORN or some other government sub-contractor and/or NGO or non-profit) who are more interested in keeping themselves in the media spotlight than they are with more general issues around housing. Foreclosure defense is also almost always about renegotiating with the bank/lender for a more favorable mortgage in line with a fixed income or new job loss.

An anarchist strategy around foreclosure might gravitate toward non-payment rather than asking for a lower payment. Helping navigate bankruptcy courts, helping to open up and maintain habitable squats, helping to organize rent strikes... You know, things that are characteristic of direct actions rather than begging the landlord/bank for a better deal so the homeowner can maintain the illusion of prosperity fully beholden to the capitalist status quo.
answered Nov 3, 2012 by lawrence (13,560 points)
What I think is problematic about foreclosure defense is not that it's reformist/non-revolutionary/etc. My issue is the form it often takes. Foreclosure defense usually is a cause championed by activists who act based on either a moral obligation or because they simply "want to do SOMETHING." This moralist intention bleeds through in their action, it alters how they interact with the person being defended, their neighbors, the media, or the police. This moralist, activist sentiment does not resonate with other people because they don't share the same motivating force behind their actions; they aren't interested in activism, they are looking out for themselves, their family, their friends, their neighbors, etc. So due to this foreclosure defense is limited to the activists who feel compelled to perform it.

It doesn't have to be this way though. If someone was being foreclosed on and they chose with a community of people to fight the bank and protect their home, it would be different. Their motivation would be that they didn't want to be foreclosed on, that they were sick of taking shit from the banks, that they were going to fight back against a system that is seemingly invincible, etc. This would resonate, meaning people would see their own struggles reflected in said people resisting their own foreclosure, and therefore the tactic would have the possibility of spreading. Rather than one activist group in a city who jump around defending homes from foreclosure, different pockets of people would (possibly) fight back on their own terms with their own loved ones and form their own community in their 'struggle' against the bank/cops.

What's important isn't that the tactic is 'reformist' or 'revolutionary,' but that it resonates enough to cause a rupture in how people view their relationships with the banks, the cops, 'the law,' and their  obligation towards society.
can you explain the rupture part a little more? for anarchists, obviously this wouldnt be a rupture, merely a continuation of the conflict already established.  Do you mean it should be propaganda for non-anarchists to convince them to understand that they should have a certain relationship with banks/pigs/capital?
There’s no way I can know what it is people who fight for their homes from the police and banks feel or think, so I don’t think I can describe what a personal rupture for them would feel like. But when I think of that idea generally I imagine a realization of ones’ power in opposition to their own existent reality followed by the willpower exerted to attempt to take control of ones’ life from that which harms them. It’s the beginning of the attempt to dissolve the barrier between thought and action.
i guess im just a bit skeptical about the liberal use of "rupture", not to raise to some high position, but perhaps to have it keep the weight i think the term should carry, but i might be way off
Having faith in received esoteric knowledge from some celestial voice is a world away from the naive and inexperienced having faith in the expressions of their desires. Experiments with new concepts and ideas can, in the hands of those lacking experience, seem quit idealistic and even puritanical. The clinging to concepts may merely be an attempt to com to grips with them, or at worst perhaps, a reaction to their marginalization amidst an ever hostile and confusing world.
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