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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 (610 points)
Allow me to play devils advocate briefly, if only to explore this a bit further.  Its great to strive when doing house forclosure and squat stuff to arrive at a situation of non-payment, but i think we all know that rarely happens, and the situation becomes 30 or so people (if that many) vs. the sheriffs department, and i think many of us have seen how that goes.  Even in those cities of europe famous for squat defense where police are met with molotovs and bricks, most often squats are lost. So is it really that bad to arrive at a situation where people still have a house and just pay a lot less for it? I mean, most people already pay rent, most especially the people who call for others to stop paying rent instead of negotiating.  We bail our friends out of jail, sometimes we fake being sorry so we go to jail for a month instead of 12, many things that seen in one light begging the banks/landlords/state.  I guess another question would be, if we talk to our friends and neighbors and whoever else saying that we dont respect law or property, but lie and cheat in the courts and stuff to get more things for ourselves, what does that mean?  Im not necessarily saying I feel so strongly about this position, but Im throwing it out there to see what other people bounce back
reform isn't evil. it's totally understandable to settle for working or agitating for lower rents instead of no rents. it's just not anarchist.
unless one thinks that anarchism is something different than negating the state and capitalism. or unless one thinks that negating the state and  capitalism isn't just about economic relations.
we all have to negotiate in a world not of our making; we all make compromises. whether we call those compromises anarchy or not is an open question that we have to debate with ourselves and our friends all the time.
there are no simple answers. there may be no answers at all.
only lonely failure.
;)
I prefer my anarchist failures to be shared, thank you very much!
I see reform activists as being a tad bit more insidious and less benign. True that, for individuals whom have fallen prey to the worst of what capitalism inflicts on society, it is certainly understandable. But what of the ill effects this has on general situation? Failures are indeed shared by many, more so everyday. Do these activist organization aid and abet capitalism in the long run via false hopes and a chance to portray the foreclosing authorities as stern but somehow tolerant of people they just evicted. I don't know, but anarchist resistance is probably a lot more coherent especially along those lines.
all failure is lonely, whether it's shared or not, is what i'm saying. but maybe that's just me.

and yea, skitter, i agree that reform is entirely insidious - which is really what makes it reform as we know it, rather than the preliminary steps that we usually want it to be when we're starting a helpful project. and there are certainly many people who end up being insidious whether they intend to be or not. anarchist purity (any kind of purity probably) has been a reaction to that. but purity comes with its own problems, as we know. :(
I agree with everything y'all have said, my only concern, and i havent thought this through all the way is the way in which we call these things "reform".  I agree totally that campaigns, "struggles" and all other things political in this nature could be called reform.  But if my friends and i are evicted from a house, and we think the court method citing loopholes and other such things is the best route to actually just keeping a house, is this "reform"?  Is it possible to not automatically abstract the situation to the level of politics? If we do not have political intentions, that is, do not think or produce rhetoric about rights, etc., if it is not "political", is it still reform, or is it just my friends and i trying to stay in a house?  Im not saying this is or is not "anarchist", just regarding reform, is there any escaping it that isnt then explicitly anarchist?  this is wandering a bit from the original question, but was just something im thinking about.
Reform is when you use one or more parts of the state to leverage a decent deal for yourself and/or your friends/family/loved ones/oppressed people in general. Calling it "reform" is not necessarily a condemnation. Most of the time it is merely descriptive, as in "that's not anarchist." Among the criteria for an anarchist action there would have to be a removal of reliance on the state or other legally constituted authorities, a move away from thinking that there's a part of the state that actually protects you and your "rights." Eroding confidence and loyalty toward the state is the main thing I look for when trying to discern whether an action is one I can support. Anarchists can't do anarchy all the time, and often we do reformist things. I'm just trying to be clear about which is which so as not to confuse myself or others who are interested.
i disagree with lj minorly here (but apparently enough to make the up the word "minorly" lol). i think reform is attempting to make the system better by using its own tools, or trying to turn the system against itself.
i think that just being in the system is more what you're talking about jingles, where there is no attempt to make any lasting change, you're merely working the system the way that people try to do all the time. i wouldn't call that reform. i would call that status quo, or capitalism, or life, or some other word that makes me sad.
sigh.
Well said as usual dot. I guess I was taking it for granted that there was some sort of long-term ameliorative strategy where there really is none. It's just finding a niche scam to keep the cops at bay.
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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