Montreal’s 17th Annual International Anarchist Theatre Festival May 2024, seeks plays
Application deadline: November 14, 2023
The Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival (MIATF), the only festival in the world dedicated to anarchist theatre, is currently seeking plays, monologues, dance-theatre, puppet shows, mime, etc., in English, French and other languages, on the theme of anarchism or any subject pertaining to anarchism, i.e. against all forms of oppression including the State, capitalism, war, patriarchy, etc.
We will also consider pieces exploring ecological, social and economic justice, racism, feminism, poverty, class and gender oppression from an anarchist perspective. We welcome work from anarchist and non-anarchist writers.
About us Anarchist Union Journal is a free Canadian/USA anarcho-syndicalist online and paper aperiodical publication.
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Comments Off on Montreal 2023 Rent Strike, Why and How
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
To pledge to join the strike, fill out this quick form. 5,000 pledges are needed. More information, including sample letters, graphics, pdfs, and events, will be posted here. To support the strike, hang a banner from your balcony. An upcoming event, a BBQ at Parc Lafontaine (corner of Panet/Sherbrooke), 12pm, this Saturday (Aug 19) will go over the following points in detail. For questions about the strike, email email@example.com.
On August, 2nd the Montreal Autonomous Tenants’ Union released a call for a rent strike across the city. The strike is against the government’s new Bill 31, against rent hikes, and for housing for all. The call included a pledge form with a required 5,000 pledges from tenants across the city to join the strike before the strike could officially begin.
To some, a call for a rent strike of 5,000 tenants across Montreal may seem ambitious and risky. The purpose of this text is to respond to legal and political concerns. We hope that this text helps supporters and likely allies better understand the strike and find ways to help.
Hundreds of tenants are currently on rent strike across Ontario. In the past six years, rent strikes have exploded from Los Angeles, to Parkdale, to New York, and all across North America during COVID-19. The strikes have proven that withholding rent is our most effective weapon as tenants against the real estate industry. A general rent strike in Montreal would be no exception in its ability to help ignite a social movement and threaten the interests of government and landlords.
Consequently, we think there is broad agreement that if we can pull a strike of this scale off and win, that would be good. We think most disagreement comes from whether this is possible or safe for tenants.
This is a long text. It is meant to be as comprehensive as possible at this moment. It can be scrolled through depending on the questions that interest you. The text is probably missing answers to questions that we have overlooked, or lacks clarity in sections. Please send over thoughts and recommendations for our work moving forward. For a much shorter summary, we recommend our instagram primer on the strike.
Whether a strike is possible or safe boils down to questions about the integrity and seriousness of our plans for the strike, the historic precedents of this kind of rent strike, and the risk of eviction for tenants.
A Summary of the Plan to go on Rent Strike
This plan describes how 5,000+ people could go on rent strike in Montreal for and no one get evicted. A rent strike of this magnitude would be a serious escalation in tenant power, create the basis for future rent strikes in the city, and offer the best chance at beating Bill 31 (a social democratic analysis of the bill can be found here) and rapidly rising rents.
Key parts: This rent strike has four core components 1) an online pledge to go on rent strike 2) banners on balconies against Bill 31 and for a rent strike 3) regular strike meetings of people who have filled out the pledge and the election of strike captains for each neighbourhood in Montreal 4) regular popular education events, leaflets, and posters on how to rent strike safely and historic precedents, and 5) a strike fund to support tenants on strike.
The online pledge is a form (like a Google form but a cryptform), that people sign to pledge to go on rent strike if 5,000 other people sign the pledge. If less than 5,000 people sign, there will be no rent strike. The pledge collects contact information, including phone number and email, as well as neighbourhood. Once someone pledges the union contacts them to get them involved in activities in preparation for a strike.
The banner on balconies (or signs on windows) would be a process of people putting banners on their balconies “Against Bill 31 / For a general rent strike” This is a good mobilizational tactic overall against Bill 31, and would encourage people to learn about the rent strike. Flyering outside metro stations, tabling, social media, and banner making events, are being used to encourage people to hang banners from their balcony or put signs in their windows.
Strike meetings would be meetings of people have filled out the pledge. We plan to announce our first strike meeting of people who have filled out the pledge soon. They will occur regularly come September, with a major strike assembly once 1,000 pledges are received, and another major assembly once 4,000 is reached. Strike meetings would be used to coordinate 1) flyering 2) tabling & banner dropping 3) social media sharing 4) workshops on rent striking 5) postering 6) neighbourhood, street, and building organizing to discuss Bill 31 and the increasing cost of rent 7) when the strike is closer, reconfirmation with people who’ve signed the pledge form that they are still interested in going on rent strike through a phone call campaign. Strike captains and committees for each Montreal neighbourhood will be organized at these assemblies. Once the strike starts the strike meetings would be responsible for coordinating mutual aid among strikers, raising strike funds to pay interest and court costs, and targeting landlords and tribunals trying to evict tenants.
Popular education forms will be help regularly to inform people about the strike in greater detail, answer popular questions, and share information about future events.
A Strike fund which we plan to release soon will be designed to support tenants who are on strike facing eviction proceedings. It will also be used to assist tenants facing harassment or antagonism from their landlord because they are strike supporters before and during the strike.
But what if I’m the only tenant under my landlord on rent strike? Even with 5,000 people on rent strike, there will be some tenants under landlords without neighbours on strike. The purpose of the strike meetings would be to coordinate building organizing and street organizing in the case of duplexes and triplexes so that people can draw in their neighbours. It is much easier to convince neighbours to withhold rent if they know it is a city-wide movement and if hundreds of people have banners on their balconies against Bill 31. Even if you are alone, rent strikes, including during COVID, have often had individual tenants joining thousands of others on strike without their neighbours necessarily being involved. The legal protections remain the same (as long as you pay rent before a judge can give a decision, it is much harder to evict you, especially for the first month). With 5,000 and more people on rent strike, it would also clog the tribunal system significantly. It might take a few months before a hearing. Landlords would also be afraid to file for eviction. If they did, the strike committee would hear about it and organize actions against any landlord who tries to evict during the rent strike. Actions could also be organized at the TAL to condemn the eviction process. If the worst does come, which we doubt it would, the strike committee would have funds to help pay for moving costs, legal fees, and possibly subsidize some rent.
What if people don’t actually go on rent strikebut have pledged to? This is subject to continued discussion but one important thing would be a calling campaign. If 5,000 pledges is reached, we will call a general assembly to prepare for the strike. Strikers will then coordinate a call campaign to confirm with people before if they’re still interested in a rent strike now that it is a real possibility. So long as 5,000 people are still ready and willing, the rent strike will move forward at an appropriate 1st of the following month (so long as there is ample time to prepare). It would be expected that many more people may join the rent strike if it goes on into a second month.
The History of Rent Strikes and Going Up Against Power “Alone”
The victory of Toronto’s 2017 rent strike of 300 tenants against MetCap Living has set an important example for how rent strikes can achieve much more than our court system will give. Rent strikes continue to unfold in Toronto, with another 300 tenants on rent strikes reported in May of this year. With other recent examples in cities like Los Angeles, it is inarguable that rent strikes are our best chance at collectively winning major concessions.
The concern here is that the rent strike we are proposing would cover a variety of different landlords. Using our model, even if we are encouraging and assisting building organizing, it is very possible that some tenants will be the only tenant on strike against their specific landlord. However, this is not uncommon in the history of successful rent strikes.
In fact, studying the history of notable rent strikes suggests that a mass of tenants striking against a single common landlord as in Parkdale is an exception. Rent strikes have often been generalized social movements against a variety of landlords. Crimethinc’s short history of rent strikes is available here.
COVID-19 is a perfect example of thousands of tenants in different cities going on spontaneous rent strike. Our union has several examples of Montreal tenants solo-ing rent strikes and succeeding during the pandemic (and, in fact, several tenants who have solo-ed rent strikes after the heat of the pandemic, without a broader context of organizing, and won). In the US, for instance, a landlord association estimated 31 percent of tenants went on rent strike for the month of March 2020. Parkdale Organize, which organized Toronto’s 2017 strike, also organized similar multi-landlord strikes. Keep Your Rent Toronto estimated 100,000 people used their forms to notify their landlord of their intention to withhold rent. These strikes succeeded in protecting tenants from having to pay during the heat of the pandemic, even in cities without eviction moratoriums. Strikers used systems of mutual aid, and mobbed court hearings of tenants from different buildings. These strikes had unity between strikers, despite not having the same landlord. This is to be expected when thousands of people are in the same rent-strike boat together.
Other examples come from strikes like Harlem’s 1963 rent strikes, the 1970s Italian auto-reduction movement, Barcelona’s rent strike in 1931, and Ireland’s land wars. In Harlem, for instance, tenants across over 50 buildings of dilapidated housing went on rent strike. One major victory came in the form of many tenants’ rent being temporarily set at $1/month. During Barcelona’s rent strike, tenants would blockade streets to prevent evictions, and break tenants back into their housing, making use of neighbourhood and worker committees.
In New York, eviction defence is currently a popular tool that has been used to stop the eviction of tenants. The most well-known examples are of tenants who have resisted through physical blockades outside of the tenants’ apartment. The blockades are defended by eviction defence networks, not usually other tenants of the same landlord. Although, much more illegal and less legally grey than rent strikes, this strategy of eviction defence has had huge success in New York and elsewhere.
In the worker and tenant sphere, wildcat strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, refusals of unsafe work, and walkouts, and even strikes such as the Oakland 2011 general strike, have included people spontaneously and even lone-worker striking against specific or different employers or schools with the protection of a broader union or mass movement. In Montreal, you can visit the IWW if your employer is stealing your wages. The IWW can then mobilize their membership to call your employer. The union is leveraging the collective support of workers from a variety of workplaces to individual people who are otherwise alone in front of their boss. They have had a lot of success.
The benefit of our current moment is that, unlike during COVID-19, we have a few more months and weeks to plan the rent strike. We can organize neighbourhood committees to coordinate mutual aid and eviction defence. We can offer more escalation. We can also meet in person, and are more agile in our capacity to do street actions. Mass and neighbourhood meetings of everyone participating in the rent strike would actually be possible this time.
It is not as though we are without legal protections while on rent strike. One protection that Quebec tenants have under Article 1883 of the Civil Code is exactly similar to the protection relied on by tenants who went on strike in Toronto in 2017. If a tenant had eviction proceedings opened against them, as long as they pay their rent back before a judge can render a decision they can avoid eviction. One tactic is to pay back all the outstanding rent on your court date. Other people get a non-profit or lawyer to hold the money in trust and to pay it on this date.
There are limitations to this legal strategy. We understand that frequent delay, if it causes serious damage to the owner, may constitute a legal reason which justifies the eviction of a tenant. For this reason it may be ideal to only do a rent strike for one month. This will be a decision of the strike assembly. We are making sure tenants and our members are familiar with this article.
Legal scholars, most notably Seema Shafei, have also argued for the right to rent strike as being incorporated within our constitutional right to strike or similar associational protections. Striking at work, for instance, is recognized as constitutionally protected.
Above the legal protections, is the practical questions that will face a landlord if they try to evict a tenant on rent strike. If 5,000 people are on rent strike, able to coordinate and organize between one another, attempting to evict a tenant could be… well, difficult. If neighbourhood strike captains and the core strike committee is sufficiently organized, the public would become familiar with any landlord trying to evict a rent striking tenant. We would leverage the power of this mass to make it clear to each and every landlord that they should wait the strike out, instead of applying for eviction. A variety of street and collective actions have been used by SLAM to pressure landlords, and have had major success with much smaller groups.
Another practical protection is the flooding of the tribunals. Basically, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the tribunals to quickly process 5,000 eviction requests. The hearings would take a lot longer to roll around than expected.
Just as during COVID-19, the landlord will also know that they can expect the rent back eventually. They know that their tenant otherwise makes their rent payments. Unlike the usual situation of eviction, the failure to pay rent is not financial but political. While there are many landlords who would love to evict their tenants for any reason, several landlords may keep a tenant knowing that they will pay their rent more regularly once the rent strike storm has rolled over.
Finally, while we have focused on the case of a tenant who is on rent strike without their neighbours, one of our principal efforts will be spreading rent strikes in buildings with willing tenants. Once one tenant in a building has pledged to go on rent strike, it is a lot easier to convince others. This is possible through the Montreal tenants’ union usual strategy of building and street organizing (organizing common meetings, door-knockings, one-on-ones), and because there will be more optimism around rent striking if you know 5,000 other people, and at least one neighbour are on rent strike. Banners on balconies, street demos, and news coverage, would also inspire increased confidence. If several tenants in a building are on rent strike, the logic of “But I can’t possibly evict all of them at once!” (to quote a landlord during the COVID-19 strikes) applies to a landlord.
There is the possibility of low participation in the rent strike. This is really only a concern for the organizers of the strike, rather than the sympathizers. If 5,000 tenants do not pledge to go on strike, then there simply would be no strike. We would conduct a phone and text message campaign if 5,000 is reached to also confirm that there is continued interest and the 5,000 pledges is not some phantom figure. However, even if 5,000 strikers is not reached, the popular education, flyering, information sharing, the threat of a potential strike to the government, will not disappear. In fact, if 5,000 strikers is not reached, we will still have done a job of spreading knowledge and comfort with tactics of resistance. While failing to get a strike vote can be demoralizing, they can also be excellent opportunities for spreading popular education and training new organizers. While we do not like elected officials, launching a campaign that is likely to not succeed entirely has been used with success by political parties to gradually build a base. But again, success or failure at hitting 5,000 pledges, this is a concern for the organizers, not other tenants.
Once 5,000 people have both pledged and confirmed their interest in a rent strike, if the strike lasts longer than a month (a decision up to neighbourhood committees and the strikers’ assembly), we can certainly expect more tenants’ to join. Every strike we are familiar with significantly increased their numbers in their second month of striking.
But Still, is a Rent Strike Risky?
There are certainly risks with going on rent strike. It is imaginable that the tactics above don’t work, that government repression is too strong against the strike, that the legal protections in place fall through, and several if not several dozen people are evicted. It is possible that relationships of tenants with their landlords take a turn for the worst, or that landlords act outside the bounds of legality or manipulate their legal privileges in response. These are possibilities. We have highlighted above many reasons why we think these possibilities can be mitigated. However, what is probable, going forward… actually, what is almost certain… is that without an organized tenant movement taking risks, using bold tactics, Montreal will be the next Toronto and Vancouver. Our rents will outpace our incomes, the elderly and poor will be harassed and evicted from their units. Homelessness will continue to increase. In ten years, our current rents will seem like a pipe dream. This is all to say, we are balancing competing risks: the risk of bold action versus the risk of inaction. Both could mean eviction, gentrification, poverty, and displacement. For the reasons we highlighted above, we believe taking our chance can lead to huge reward. We can seriously mitigate the risks. It is possible, in fact precedented, that 5,000 people go on rent strike and no one is evicted. The risks we are taking are for a better world and to avoid the risks of a worse one.
People involved in the strike are not professionals. That should be clear. The union has long-time organizers from different milieus. However, they don’t accept the responsibility of housing professionals. Their goal is to offer a tactic to the tenants’ movement: the rent strike. If it is accepted by tenants in the city, we will try our hardest using some of the tactics and goalposts above. But, whatever is done will be up to the tenants involved. The union will help organize the assemblies, popular education, and actions. As in every uprising, though, the union won’t be responsible for every success or mistake made along the way. During the 2012 student uprising in Quebec, over 3,000 people were arrested, people faced disciplinary measures from their university, serious injuries were suffered, and over 400 people faced criminal charges. We can’t say that the 2012 strike organizers were responsible for this repression. We can’t even say that it was “worth it.” All we can say is that sometimes people stand up, accept the risks or ignore them. These are decisions made by mature people. They are risks necessary to social progress that every social movement takes.
Thank you for reading through the proposal for a 2023 Montreal general rent strike. Here are ways the tenant union suggests in which you can support the work towards a strike:
You can join our tenants’ union in calling for your strike and add your name to the organizations encouraging a Montreal rent strike. To do so, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Easiest: You can share our Facebook events, especially the upcoming event on “Why & How” to go on rent strike against Bill 31 (Saturday, Aug 19th, 12pm to 2pm). At the moment, our Facebook game could use a boost.
You can join us at our upcoming event on “Why & How” to go on rent strike against Bill 31. It will be at Parc Lafontaine, Saturday, August 19th, from 12pm to 2pm at the corner of Sherbrooke/Panet. There will be a BBQ!
You can hang a banner from your balcony: We have extra banners, email email@example.com to get your hands on one.
About 20 people storm a construction site of the Coastal Gas Link pipeline in western Canada. They are armed with axes and flares, threaten employees, hijack heavy construction vehicles, destroy the site’s building and ultimately the vehicles themselves. The damage amounted to millions. That was almost a year ago. It is still unclear who sabotaged the construction of the pipeline in the province of British Columbia. Fracked gas was soon to flow through the pipeline, which runs right through indigenous land, to the West Coast, from where it would be shipped on to Asia.
Whether you occupy universities, schools, trees or streets. Whether you spend your nights worrying or sabotaging. Whether you strike or write about it.
The certainty that the current system will result in the collapse of the massively damaged ecosystem has already inspired countless people to resist. Tens of thousands are taking to the streets against the “business as usual” of the capitalist machinery, people are resisting the destructive large-scale projects en masse, the infrastructure of the system is being blocked and courageous fighters are setting fire to the machines that are being used to rob them of the very basis of life. What we need in the struggle against the destruction of nature and the resulting social misery is the shared pursuit of real revolutionary rupture and freedom of all. Pursuing an initiative that rejects all compromises and cosmetic corrections of the state and brings about a transformation of our social relations. Because the destruction of the planet by the neoliberal economic system is inextricably linked to patriarchal patterns of thought, racism and colonialism. The initiative for this must necessarily come from below. From the struggles of the excluded. From the struggles of those who enact a self-organized solidarity against the state’s promises of salvation. From the struggles of those who see that there can be no compromises in the fight against the systemic destruction of the biosphere.
We are certain that self-organized struggles are the only realistic answer to dealing with climate change and ecological crisis. Not because our ideological stance urges it, but simply because there is no evidence, no experience, no showcase example of how states and corporations have taken effective action against it.
A few hundred years of state capitalist rule and humanity is on the brink of the abyss. Radical movements against environmentally destructive development, on the other hand, have often proven that they have the power, creativity and perseverance to at least partially halt the gigantic machinery of destruction. And even if they don’t succeed, these initiatives are experiences we can build on. These experiences of struggle, in the Hambi, in the Danni, in Bure, against Castor transports in Wendland, on the ZAD – have proven the effectiveness of leaderless, offensive and solidarity movements. These struggles have also proven that we can build horizontal connections with other people who have different experiences and methods of struggle, and that we can reject the attempts of the state to divide us along the question of violence.
If we let our gaze wander to more distant territories, we see, from northern Canada to Patagonia, from Colombia to Indonesia, how indigenous groups, communities, villages, and organizations have been struggling for hundreds of years against the colonial domination of states and against the destruction of nature. These struggles are often invisiblized in their effectiveness and militancy. We want to break through this and be inspired.
Local struggles against climate change also emphasize with their actions the necessary urgency of action, even if they often stop short with their demands and appeals to the ruling politics to implement this action.
The problem is that the climate catastrophe is the logical consequence of this very policy. And this policy continues to adhere to the logic of financial profit for the few, the ruthless exploitation of people and nature for this goal, and competition as the driving force for continuous technical progress.
We think that we can really achieve effective successes if we manage to bring our struggles closer together; if we deepen links of solidarity and points of reference, if we fight for spaces for ecological projects, spaces for counterattacks, sabotage, spaces to learn about the history of struggles. Many are aware that it is a question of ending the entire capitalist mode of production. It is not about tightening our belts, but developing a perspective for an eco-social revolution.
La Araucanía Region, Chile – In the early morning hours of Friday, July 8, 2022, on the road from Traiguén to Lumaco. The driver of a logging truck of the company Forestal Mininco is stopped by five armed people and forced to get out. The group then sets the truck on fire and disappears. The CAM (Coordinadora Arauco Malleco), a Mapuche organization defending their habitat on Chilean territory, subsequently claimed responsibility for the action. In a similar attack on Forestal Minico in 2021, 29-year-old Pablo Marchant Gutiérrez was shot dead by carabinieri. A year after the murder, dozens of attacks are taking place against logging infrastructure, its operators and security forces.
The Same Game in Green – Technocracy and Geoengeneering
The narrative that we will solve climate change and ecological destruction technologically is naive at best, but much more likely it is a deliberate strategy to profit even further from the problems generated by earth exploitation.
The world economy’s hunger for energy, which has been growing steadily since industrialization, is often not seen as a problem; instead, research is conducted into new, supposedly green energy sources.
For example, recent breakthroughs in nuclear fusion research have been hailed by politicians as news of salvation. No attention was paid to the warning of the researchers involved that its use would be decades too late to solve the world’s energy problem.
New, green energy sources currently do not even cover the additional energy needs of the global economy – let alone a complete transition. Instead, the already existing ‘regenerative’ energy sources – sun, wind, water – are integrated into production and expand the supply. The reason for this is the so-called rebound effect. This effect has been occuring in capitalism for over 150 years: the steam engine burned coal more efficiently than before, but it was with it that industrialization really took off. And so – despite more economical technology – significantly more energy was consumed overall.
A green capitalism, i.e. climate-neutral and sustainable, is simply impossible. Since among its fundamental principes are constant growth and mass consumption instead of sustainability, and the profit of a few instead of the well-being and continued existence of all mankind.
The search for effective measures to mitigate climate change is also limited to technological solutions instead of addressing the root cause of the problem.
Currently, these are mainly technologies that can be grouped under the term geoengineering. This time with intentional human intervention in the climate system, global warming is to be reduced. In “solar radiation management,” for example, tiny particles are to be released in the stratosphere and reflect some of the sunlight back into space.
Scientific warnings of unforeseen interactions with such a massive intervention in the climate system are brushed aside with the claim that this is the only way to preserve our current economy and prosperity.
Another proposal with destructive potential comes from the Green Ministry of Economics. Injecting CO2 filtered from the air into deep rock layers was recently considered a high-risk technology. CO2 ‘final storage’ was banned because of its immeasurable effects on the environment. Recently, its formerly staunch opponent, Economics Minister Habeck, has become convinced that the climate problem cannot be solved without this technology.
The same approach, along with ecocide, global warming and other horrors, has already given us a heap of highly radioactive nuclear waste with no solution for the permanent storage problem.
For us, this approach represents a technique of domination for imposing new technologies without regard to the consequences for people, nature or society. With firm faith in technical progress, reference is made to future technologies that are to be created by the same actors who caused the previous problems in the first place. In this way, the ruling technocrats flaunt their solution-oriented ability to act.
The economic system, which is responsible for the destruction of our capacity for life, is not questioned. Just as little as the positions of power these actors hold.
We can no longer afford the rich
Who are those who have always been able to profit from the crises and wars of recent years and secure their supremacy? Who is responsible for the majority of emissions of climate-damaging gases? It is not those who are already excluded, the refugees and the poor. It’s the energy companies, banks and defense contractors. It’s the rich, whose way of life can only exist at the expense of others. And on a global scale, it is the lifestyle of mass consumption and the waste produced by societies in the Global North.
And so the struggle against climate destruction is inevitably a struggle along ‘class lines’. The richest 1% of the population in Germany emits significantly more CO2 than the poorest 50% of society. The appeal of those in power in connection with higher fuel and energy prices, “we all have to tighten our belts”, is a farce. The majority of the emissions is caused by the subsidized car, gas and coal industry, industrial agriculture and the jet-set lifestyle of bosses and managers. No change in consumer behavior toward electric SUVs and vegan sausages will help.
Consumption is not simply an individual choice, but an indispensable part of capitalist value creation – it is the step at which value becomes money again. So there is a powerful interest in maintaining or even reinforcing current consumption patterns. “Green” consumption also works in this way. That’s why, despite the double whammy, climate protection and traffic reduction, this will not be shaken.
Simply taxing CO2 emissions at a higher rate does not solve the problem either. That would link CO2 emissions to wealth – but it is precisely those who cause a lot who have the money to be able to pay these taxes.
Compensation through purchased CO2 certificates, on the other hand, only exacerbates the problem. The trade with CO2 certificates opens a huge market for land grabbing by making larger and larger parts of land available for (western) financial markets.
Since no reform policy will even aim at, let alone enforce, a fairly distributed CO2 budget, it remains the task of the ‘climate-conscious’ part of the population to enforce the ecological common good by ourselves against destructive property ownership. Those who now remark that this ultimately amounts to expropriation hit the nail on the head and have grasped the systematic magnitude of the climate problem.
Colonialism – eternal cornerstone of capitalism
Countries of the Global North are responsible for more than two-thirds of historical greenhouse gas emissions, but countries of the Global South are two to three times more vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. These figures alone indicate that the climate crisis is not caused equally by all people.
The wealth of the North, which created this inequality in the first place, is based on the colonial exploitation of raw materials and human labor through slavery. Starting with the silver mines in Potosi, through the exploitation of oil deposits in South America, the Middle East and North Africa by Western energy companies, to the soy and palm oil plantations in the rainforests.
In this way, the history of colonialism continues, which goes hand in hand with the displacement of people, the transfer of profits to the West and a constant political and economic dependence of the countries of the global South, up to the raw materials that are needed here for the implementation of the “green” energy transition. Copper and lithium from the same colonial mines in Latin America for the batteries of e-mobility, uranium from West Africa for “green” nuclear power plants, cobalt and other rare earth minerals from the Congo for cell phones and other advanced electronics, and finally “green” hydrogen from the wind- and sun-rich deserts of Namibia.
The urgently needed systemic rupture with a colonial resource waste will radically change our lives. An everyday life consistent with the demands of a realistic climate perspective (which is of course never free of contradictions) requires an uncomfortable but necessary reorientation for us as well.
Currently, immense migratory movements to the still livable North are taking place, which will intensify in the future. On the one hand, this is due to the poverty caused by the global economic network, on the other hand, it is due to the wars fought to assert political influence and secure resources. And last but not least, the consequences of climate change are already noticeable in the (neo-)colonial destruction of nature in the global South.
The perpetrators of this in the global North are practicing military isolation. Fences are built and the borders to the south are systematically monitored with the help of drones, satellites and airplanes. Thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean and in the deserts of North Africa and Mexico are being accepted. Pushbacks are taking place and a further advance of the EU’s external border is being planned. Those who have made it across these obstacles are institutionally harassed and discredited in the media. In the self-image of the countries of the Global North, however, the only criminals are autocrats like Putin and Erdogan, who abuse migration management as a political weapon.
May 2016 – During a protest action against the lignite industry in Lusatia lasting several days, the opencast mine and the rail network are shut down in several places. Thousands invade the plant site and sit on rails, conveyor belts and power plant access roads. Contrary to the will of the organizers of Ende Gelände to limit the actions to sit-in blockades and lock-down actions, several hundred people invade the site of the power plant “Schwarze Pumpe”. At the access tracks to the power plant, the track bed is removed, through this “graveling” the tracks become impassable. In the power plant, doors are broken open, distribution boxes are sabotaged and emergency stop switches are pressed. As a result of the interplay of the various actions this weekend, several power plant towers have to be completely shut down. This is a much larger outage than the two-day shutdown planned from the outset by the operator Vattenfall.
Compromise and radicalization
Not only in questions of migration, the political leaders are radicalizing – more and more uncompromisingly they avoid taking the really necessary paths. They stick to fossil energies and the dinosaur of nuclear energy. The more radically it is claimed that these technologies are clean and infinite, the more radically and unmistakably society, and with it a resistance movement, must react to the energy policy for the corporations. It is not even particularly radical to take seriously the scientifically attested future of an ecological collapse of large parts of the earth in the current course of politics. On the contrary! It becomes radically dangerous not to be prepared for the ecological consequences of the oh so sustainable new technologies.
Climate Minister Habeck is selling this to us as a compromise. The Greens are making up stories about how replacing imports from Russia will lead to a revolution in renewables. In fact, however, elsewhere on the world energy market, they are buying from other autocrats and using fracked gas from the USA as a substitute. The ‘compromise’ is used as a justification to be competitive as an export nation with relatively cheaply purchased energy. The compromise conceals the fact that the promised decarbonization is already about securing the raw materials necessary for the new game. Thus, the compromise is not a compromise, but a double strategy, an attempt to continue radically, albeit in a new guise. In the public debate, however, it is said that the activists of the climate justice movement have not understood the nature of democracy with their uncompromising demands.
In view of these political-strategic reversals in the stigmatization of radicalization and compromise, the following applies to us: Whether militant or (civilly) disobedient, we can hardly block and sabotage climate change as radically as capitalism has made it necessary.
There are not only ecological tipping points at which the climate system irreversibly reorganizes itself – there are also social tipping points. Points at which either the misery caused by the rulers becomes so obvious that large parts of the population see the need to fight back. Or at which impoverishment and the expansion of repression have progressed so far that a revolution seems almost impossible. It is along these tipping points that we must develop our resistance. The initiative for this must necessarily come from below. The state is committed to a dystopian ‘business as usual’ for the economic system, except for cosmetic corrections. Holding on to this ecologically devastating, capitalist way of doing business is tantamount to an ignorant acceleration towards collapse.
If now the interior ministers of the countries claim that climate protest radicalizes and questions our political-economic system as a whole, then the answer that makes sense in terms of climate policy must be: Yes, necessarily – anything else would be an unforgivably senseless compromise for the planet.
Whether as pinky & the brain with their tunnel system in the ‘underground’ or as the monk in the Lützerather mud, whether as SUV-halters or climate-gluers, whether as nocturnal saboteurs or as discourse-interveners trying to debunk the crudest fake-narratives of coal and nuclear lobbies – all efforts should be able to be carried out independently and respectfully side by side. And, at best, work closely together toward a common goal: the containment of a progressive destruction of nature and for the overcoming of the destructive system of oppression, racism and patriarchy.
Those of us who still remember the phased, well-coordinated coexistence of the various forms of action during the protests against the nuclear waste transports to the Wendland may know what is intended here: a larger sit-in blockade on the tracks and rail sabotage that is offensively defended from police forces in close proximity to each other posed a greater challenge to the railroads and police in their simultaneity than the two actions did individually.
A dynamic and broad climate justice movement would do well not to allow any identitarian and thus divisive notions of ‘militancy’ or ‘nonviolence’ to be imposed on it. Certainly not an easy task, as we know from different heterogeneous movements. But it is worth it.
We find the question of whether it is worthwhile to appeal to political leaders much more decisive. Here we have (without any need for delimitation) a clear position with the above analysis: No, it is not worth it – and it raises false hopes that can make a movement dependent and paralyze it.
The same is true at the global level. A serious internationalism must connect our struggles here, also with the struggles against the destruction of nature worldwide, e.g. LNG production in Canada. We can only fight against a global system of destruction if we relate to each other internationally and meet at eye level. An anti-colonial perspective for our efforts for climate justice is necessary for this reason alone.
Here, too, we should not stop at appeals to the global community. How much it achieves when politicians from all over the world decide together on the goal to mitigate climate change we can clearly see in the consistent implementation of the decisions of the Paris Climate Conference.
A ‘technical solution’ to climate change can only be found with toxic mines, deployed militaries and expropriated indigenous land, at least in the periphery. And against the people fleeing this misery, the metropolis enacts brutal violence.
Thoothukudi in southern India – The Indo-British corporation Vedanta Resources operates the second largest copper smelter in India here. Cancer rates, as well as the incidence of respiratory infections in the city, have risen dramatically since it opened. For the past 100 days, the local population has been protesting in the hundreds of thousands against an expansion of the smelter. On this 100th day, May 22, 2018, the police stop the huge demonstration procession, when the demonstrators refuse to be stopped, they shoot specifically into the crowd. 13 people die from the bullets, over 100 are injured. After this black day, on which the police and politicians had finally exposed themselves as stooges of the copper industry, the operating company nevertheless had to give in to pressure from the population and the copper smelter was completely shut down.
Even if the sky falls on our heads…
It should be clear to us that we cannot completely prevent the creeping collapse of a massively damaged ecosystem, not the loss of biodiversity, not the depletion of resources. We will not be able to prevent the climate catastrophe because we are already in the middle of it.
It’s a question of habitat loss for billions of human and non-human life. ‘Human’ life is already a privilege and will be possible primarily for those who can afford it.
Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is already out of reach, yet global greenhouse emissions would have to be reduced to zero within a few years. The rulers repeatedly show that they are not willing to do so and we are not (yet) able to realize such a change.
Admitting this – without any doomsday pathos – does not paralyze us. On the contrary: it should open up for us and our contexts the question of what our lives and our revolutionary struggles might look like in the future.
So that another world becomes possible: Let us cooperate with each other in solidarity to be able to live a dignified life. Let us realize our ideas in the here and now and already within our struggles and actions. We will not be lulled by the appeasement attempts of those in power.
We think that we can only become a serious threat if we seek communication with each other. We propose to relate to each other under the slogan “switch off – the system of destruction” and thus put our struggles in a shared context.
Our actions must make clear that there can be no capitalist green alternative, no peace with existing conditions. We choose the means ourselves and no one stands above another in a hierarchy. We would love it if many would take up this idea.
This is not meant to be an attempt of absorption, but a call to go further on the offensive and strengthen existing struggles. Let’s ignite a long-term wave of action towards revolt. Take care of yourselves and be brave.
For a struggle of solidarity under catastrophic conditions – worldwide!
the future is still unwritten!
Anarchists, Autonomists and Social Revolutionaries from German-speaking countries
This year Punch Up Collective hosted our seventh contribution to recognizing May Day in Ottawa: a kid-centred picnic and short march. We wanted to share something about why this was so fun and to reflect a little on including kids and families in these kinds of celebrations, and the difference between including them and focusing events on kids and families.
We’ve done a mix of things to recognize May Day – sometimes events, sometimes workshops or other things that we hope contribute to carrying on the legacy of struggle for dignity and joy for everyone. Our first May Day event, in 2015, was a called “All In: Worker Organizing Beyond the Mainstream Labour Movement.” It was a panel featuring people talking about sex work, migrant labour, harm reduction workers, and drug users. As part of our planning for the event, we paid a local comrade who ran a daycare to bring toys and activities and set up a kids space. No one brought their kids. That same year we ran a workshop called “Planning to be Good to Each Other” about building social harm reduction practices in radical groups; again we set up childcare, again no kids were there.
In 2016, we organized a showing of the Lego movie at a community centre, with a video projector, legos, and popcorn. A bunch of families came (and we, none of whom at the time had kids, had a chance to marvel at how many of the under-ten crowd had the whole Lego movie memorized, and at the sheer volume of popcorn kids can consume!). The next year we stepped back from publicly-oriented May Day organizing after the Revolutionary Communist Party took over the planned events. Instead, we hosted a potluck at a private house with no formal childcare situation, and a bunch of kids came. This was fun partially because there were also a bunch of non-parent people who really liked hanging out with the kids and their caregivers. And so the year after that, 2019, we decided to have a more elaborate potluck, with activities and someone explicitly ready to hang out with kids, at a local community centre. Very few people came at all, and only a few kids. It was a bummer.
A normal collective might look at this litany and decide that there just isn’t the need in the local radical left to have formal kid care available at our events generally and May Day in particular. 2020’s May Day was the first one under the shadow of the pandemic, and we instead doubled down on trying to do something with kids in mind: we paid a local artist friend to make colouring pages under the label “Quarantine Capitalism,” and we shared them both here in Ottawa and online. People sent us wonderful pictures of people of all ages colouring these pages in and posting them up in public places.
In 2021, exhausted by zoom events and not prepared to gather in person, we sent out a May Day greeting card by mail. Last year, still not willing to get people together in person but reflecting on what we were hearing from people wanting more space to understand how to work together, we offered an online version of our workshop about how and why to build effective collectives.
So, that brings us up to this year. The pandemic is still ongoing, the weather in Ottawa at the beginning of May is very unpredictable, and still we decided to have an in-person, kid-focused thing outdoors. We were inspired by the 1947 Candy Bar Protest, when kids went on strike to bring the price of candy bars back down to 5 cents; this started in B.C. but circulated across the Canadian context, including actions in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, and the Maritimes. We consulted with some of our parent friends about our idea to have a kids parade with noisemakers (parents responded, “Have you considered that kids are noisemakers?”), story reading, and a banner making. They all said, “Sounds good! Not sure if we’ll be able to make it!”
It was raining hard on our planned date, and we had to postpone to the following Saturday morning. If you aren’t a parent, you may not know that Saturday mornings are for whatever reason the main time where – if you’ve been lucky enough to register for gymnastics or swimming between 9 PM when the city portal opens and 9:02 PM when everything is full – kids have Activities. So we rolled up to our planned location with our banner, noisemaker-making supplies, snacks, red and black flag, and queer flag, but without a lot of hope that any kids would come. At seven minutes after the planned start time, one of us asked, “How long should we give it before we pack it in?” and we spent some time reflecting on whether it had all been a mistake. We tried to call the person who’d agreed to contribute music to tell him maybe not to come. Luckily, he was biking over with his guitar, and so he missed our call, and thus was there when, bit by bit, a whole bunch of adults and kids showed up. Some people knew one another, many others didn’t know anyone. The kids got right down to work making drums out of buckets, shakers out of paper plates taped together with beans and grains inside, and decorating other noisemakers. Others drifted over to draw flowers, hearts, and other more mysterious things on our “Everything for Everyone” banner. People had snacks, and listened to a reading of Candy Bar War, and then some May Day themed songs. And at a certain point we got together to sing and march around.
It was a really beautiful day. Most of the kids there were between one and six. Many of the adults were aging anarchists, and many of us hadn’t seen one another for many years, since even before the pandemic started. This was the first thing since 2020 that we’d hosted in person and it felt weird and good to be together. We had thought that we’d be contributing just one piece to a bigger set of May Day celebrations in our city, but in the end this small event was the only observance in Ottawa. This has made us reflect on how we direct our energy for future years.
Although we’d invited people who aren’t parents or caregivers, mostly the people who came were pretty directly connected to the kids there in one way or another. Even though we reached out to parents we know, we didn’t connect with organizers in town like the folks working with Child Care Now, who are campaigning for universal publicly-funded childcare, nor did we reach out to our anarchist librarian friends who host kid-centred events in public spaces in Ottawa to see if they had ideas for activities leading up to the parade that might have brought in people we didn’t already know. In general, we were not thinking sufficiently strategically about the context in which we wanted to participate.
Of course, it’s also nice to just have a social space to celebrate May Day with other radicals. But even if that’s the goal, hosting public events where there’s space for people who don’t already know one another to meet needs to be deliberate and thoughtful. We’ve tried to practice this by moving from a model where we have existing events and just add child care to them to hosting more events that are explicitly political and that are conceptualized as being for kids and families from the start. Looking at other organizing that maintains a steady commitment to always offering something meaningful for kids to do, we think that this is not only worth doing but also just much more fun than the bifurcated spaces we see so much on the left, where things are either only for kids or only for adults. But figuring out the balance on this is still a work in progress for us.
Talking with Louve Rose from P!nk Bloc Montreal about Quebec’s transphobic far right, drag defence, and building a revolutionary anti-capitalist queer organization for both community self-defence and to intervene against gay assimilationism.
This September 2nd marks Kjipuktuk’s 6th annual Anarchist Bookfair! The Halifax Anarchist Bookfair is a place for anarchists and those curious about anarchism. Join us to reflect on wins and struggles both local and worldwide, and to dream and to collaborate with like-minded others on building a better world together.
Comments Off on Action Against Luxury MTL Real Estate Agency
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
July 1st is moving day in Montreal. It’s always chaotic, but with the threat of Bill 31 rent reforms the situation may become far worse.
We are told there is a housing crisis, a term used to avoid naming those responsible. Why is housing scarce, unsafe, expensive, and precarious in Montreal?
Greedy landlords who renovict, charge damage deposits and “finder’s fees” to maximise profits.
To avoid rental laws and increase profit landlords convert housing into short-term rentals (e.g. Airbnb). This caused several deaths in the spring.
New housing is built for investors, not residents. While low-income housing is “impossible”, dozens of towers with luxury housing are built, units sold to investors just to sit empty and appreciate in value.
Over 500 people are newly homeless since moving day. The eviction of people living in tents under the Ville-Marie expressway is imminent. They build skyscrapers and pander to rich urbanite investors while people sleep rough. Bill 31 is part of this plan. The landlord lobby, developers, property managers and real estate agencies profit from a Montreal where you must pay up or get out. The powers that be want a city made for the rich – high rent, expensive food, yuppie gentrification – the rich get richer.
We say fuck a housing crisis, housing is everywhere. Luxury MTL, also known as Montria Real Estate, is part of the problem. Luxury development creates a world for the rich. We will attack it. Their windows are just the beginning.
Solidarity with rent strikers in Toronto. Squat the world!
A young man of 17, Nahel, was shot dead by a cop the day before yesterday, June 27, in Nanterre, a summary execution for something that has come to be called “a hit-and-run” or “refusal to comply”, for something that appears to be trying to escape so as not to remain at the mercy of two cops ready to kill. We don’t have the words – we’re still looking for them – to express our anger and total solidarity, unconditionally and even before we know more details about what happened the press has been spewing out rumors straight from the police precinct. Here are just a few thoughts, since we feel it’s necessary to express ourselves.
17 years old, damn it.
The government tried to play down the drama to avoid direct confrontation, to protect its cops, itself and the world of shit and misery it keeps in place. In an attempt to protect themselves from the wrath of everyone, they used a disgusting technique: that of mitigation and pacification, by not skimping on the use of lies. Using the media and press statements from the various parties on the left and right, they claimed that the teenager had a criminal record (which turned out to be untrue), that the police officer was in danger (which turned out to be untrue as well), and invoked the role of mediation by the justice system and national mourning to resolve the problem. All these techniques are well tried and tested, but were ineffective yesterday and today: everyone knows that this execution is not a private dispute between a policeman and the family, nor is it an extraordinary blunder. What the press and the state are defending by smearing those they execute is the ability to maintain order at all costs, the ability to hold us at gunpoint and shoot, the right to “self-defense” of their own existence at the cost of our lives. It’s us against them. And no one cares whether they have a criminal record or not, just as no one cares whether the people the cops are targeting are on the S list (1), or whether they are unfavorably known to the CAF (2), Pôle Emploi (3) or the police. Everyone knows they have to fight, and no one seems to want to mourn in silence. While the fire department, the government, the left and all the peacemakers call for calm, Nahel’s mother courageously called for “a revolt for her son”.
Attempts to quell the anger have so far failed: the very same day, riots broke out in Nanterre, and the revolt has spread throughout the 92, part of the 93 (4), and to other cities, including Bordeaux, Lille, Nantes and Roubaix. In some places, the police were overwhelmed and wounded, and in others they fled or gave up. The second night of rioting was even more ferocious, and spread to other cities: Toulouse, Lyon, Strasbourg, Clermont-Ferrand, some parts of Paris, in the Xxème, Belleville, La Chapelle, the south of the XIIIème…, and above all to many towns in the Île-de-France region. This morning, the cleaning services are struggling to hide the traces of the revolt. Cars, buses, streetcar lines, town halls, barricades, schools and police stations are all ablaze. Stores, trucks and supermarkets have been looted. This breadth of vision to effectively target what maintains order and the relevance of the attacks, which the movement against pensions has struggled to achieve despite its scale, seems to have been envisaged after only two nights of rioting. The Fresnes prison was bravely stormed on the second night of rioting, to free the prisoners, to free us all. A breach is opening up, a breach to shake up what yesterday seemed invincible. But yesterday was November 2005. Yesterday, it was the yellow vests. Yesterday, it was May 68. Yesterday, too, we shook the State, its maintenance of order, and so we understand that this order is far from unassailable, since it is shaking.
We need to step into this breach, and we can see some of the means available to all of us, here and now. Ideally, we’d like to be able to go beyond these “few means within everyone’s reach”, and to do so we need, like the Nanterre rioters, to find new ways to be effective against our enemies, the police of the state, of capitalism, of democracy, and even more so against apathy, resignation, daily suicide and collective disinterest. All this is not normal, and must be fought, for Nahel, for M. killed in the CRA (5) in Vincennes, for the thousands of people who die on Europe’s borders, for Serge and the wounded from policing in Sainte-Soline and everywhere, and for all the others of yesterday and tomorrow, for all of us, to put an end to pity, paternalism and condescension, and with all our rage to put an end to this world and with our desire for freedom, intact.
In this battle that many of us will be fighting, let’s always remember that the enemy facing us, the one waging open war on us, is not the only one. Let’s not forget the one who is on our side, the one who recuperates and destroys from within, who suffocates and vampirizes: the left, its moralizing big brothers and its armchair sociologists, the negotiators of social peace who will very quickly try to contain and eradicate our hatred for the court of justice which, above all, is our enemy. It is this court of justice itself that prolongs the arrests. Solidarity with the 180 people arrested last night.
From Nanterre to the whole of France and the rest of the world
(1) fiché S – a list of people considered a threat to state security
(2) Caisse des Allocation Familiales – French state welfare agency
(3) Government agency that deals with unemployment
(4) 2 of the poorest working class suburbs of Paris that are known as banlieues
(5) Administrative Detention Centers that are run by the border police