Squatting as Commodity on Film…

Just read an article from metamute by Matthem Hyland on a documentry on squatting in London, which I think is worth the read…

The film sounds as though it is a product of a gaze that is very much apart of squatting as “a quirky cultural niche in the market”. Perhaps the film-maker is themselves a subcriber to the lifestylist ideology of squatting.

Hyland is quite right in suggesting a focus on the necessity of squattng would be more interesting, as well as the social context which facilitates it – ie the identification of ‘neighbours’ with the situation of squatters that is an acknowledgment of the inescapability of work…

also alluded to is the foreign worker squatting nexus that I have mentioned before.

I have copied and pasted the following prime cuts…

…squatting means getting away from the actually-existing working class in order to embrace ‘creativity’, such as puppet theatre and Electronica. Any squatters who do think this way are already riding the Camelot-Foxtons aspirational conveyor belt…
But what’s infuriating about the film is its failure to establish clearly that this attitude is not the norm among squatters, not because they’re more community-minded or ideologically insightful than anyone else, but for straightforward practical reasons.

Misanthropy is just what lifestyle evangelism combined with universal sociability (eye contact and first name greetings or else you’re anti-social, etc) stinks of. It reappears in a different way in the next section of the documentary, with Shiva, apparently the spokesman for Urban Nomads (maybe an artists’ collective? it’s not made clear of course). On ‘an earth contaminated and polluted by human endeavour’, the Urban Nomads are an Elect fraction, ‘ready for economic and ecological change’. Yet the Elect programme is good for everyone, whether we know it or not. Whatever their race or background, people who come to the squat will find out that they’re ‘just like’ one another. ‘Assimilation’ is a word Shiva repeatedly uses in a positive sense. This attitude to humanity in general reappears on a different scale in a remarkably frank avowal of what Félix Guattari would have called personal ‘micro fascism’, an all-too-common phenomenon within squatting. Shiva starts saying something about ‘what I’m trying to do’ with the squat, then quickly adds: ‘when I say ‘I’, it includes the whole group’. What he wants is for their benefit too. This is the terrifying sincerity of micro fascism, the passionate presumption to ‘help’ others, to want things for them.

…the function imagined for squatting is spelled out quite clearly: a minority taste that complements the proper range of capitalist life-skills; a quirky cultural niche in the market surrounding it.[8].

The film sounds as though it is a product of a gaze that is very much apart of squatting as “a quirky cultural niche in the market”.
Still I would be interested in viewing the film…

Also…I heard on the grape vine that some ppl in Melbourne were making attempts to get squatting ‘organised’…will this simply be efforts in lifestylism, a form of romanticism or something that will genuinely broaden living conditions in this city?…only time will tell.


About barkingcoins
This author is just another fucking dickhead.

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