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New SolFed community strategy

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Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Aug 3 2011 16:08

I think it's been said before (and better), but I think most of SF acknowledges the strategy in the document will become sharper from experience. This a framework to kind of explain what were about (someone drew up the example of the countering the 'report an anarchist' callout from the police), a context to place our community struggles in, and to be developed through our actual practice of community struggle. That last point is the most import, imo.

Quote:
Regarding landlords, is deposit theft still an issue following the law changing meaning that you no longer pay your deposit to a landlord? I thought that had pretty much fixed the problem.

My last landlord ripped me off for 250 quid and is now looking to do the same to some friends of our who just moved out of the same building. Depending on how this pans out, you may just be hearing about some SF community action to tackle stolen deposits.

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JoeMaguire
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Aug 3 2011 17:13

I think people need to grow thicker skins in general and others not be so tepid when they want to raise criticism. Some valid points have been raised.

The basis for the document as I understood it, was to actually show those not familiar with the practice of locals, that SF wasn't some organisation that fetishised the workplace, it participated in regular 'community' struggles and had something to offer activists who were unemployed. All of which are points most members would have had to address from others at one time or another. So its nice to see this down in writing for people to pick over.

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 3 2011 18:08

One thing that can probably be made more specific pretty quickly is our take on wage theft disputes. We have a bit of experience with this already, and I know in brighton we've discussed the details a lot (and come to the conclusion the details really matter). How much this can ge generalised, and how much can be public without conceding tactical advantages I'm not sure. Certainly more than there's in there at present anyway.

syndicalist
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Aug 3 2011 23:36

Good luck Solfed comrades in fleshing this out in practice.

Martin O Neill
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Aug 3 2011 23:58

I have just published a longer contribution to this debate in the news section:

http://libcom.org/news/contribution-discussion-around-solfeds-community-strategy-03082011

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thegonzokid
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Aug 4 2011 00:10
prec@riat wrote:
From my experience (which seems somewhat acknowledged in the description) "anti-gentrification" campaigns end up with many of the same problematics as "anti-imperialism" (i.e.-encouraging cross-class ties based on culture to attack the "bigger"/"foreign" capitalist/other).

I can't see this being a significant problem in the UK. The people involved in campaigns against homes being bulldozed or forcibly sold to property developers tend to be working-class residents. I was only speaking to a woman today who survives on disability benefits and is being forced out of her council flat by the local authorities so they can knock the whole block down. She says she's perfectly happy in the flat as she's lived there for years, knows all her neighbours and is near her family. It's people like her we should be aiming to assist.

Also in the area of Liverpool where I live, residents recently managed to temporarily stop the demolition of their homes (see here). The houses still got knocked down in the end, but it's a good example of residents using direct action to defend what is rightfully theirs.

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Steven.
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Aug 4 2011 07:49
Chilli Sauce wrote:

My last landlord ripped me off for 250 quid and is now looking to do the same to some friends of our who just moved out of the same building. Depending on how this pans out, you may just be hearing about some SF community action to tackle stolen deposits.

don't want to derail the thread, so maybe I should start a new one this, but I am curious as to how this happened. Didn't you pay your deposit to a third party, like you're supposed to? My girlfriends landlord tried to rip them off, saying that it cost him x amount to fix things in the house after they left (like £40 to change a lightbulb) so they wrote back with more realistic amounts (like £2) and paid that instead

Our landlords didn't even bother with this, they just told us to pay two months rent in advance (so when we move out we will stop paying two months in advance).

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Aug 4 2011 09:39

On a total derail, that post just made me remember I promised to email you. Hopefully see you this weekend and I'll explain the situation then....

Caiman del Barrio
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Aug 4 2011 10:39
thegonzokid wrote:
prec@riat wrote:
From my experience (which seems somewhat acknowledged in the description) "anti-gentrification" campaigns end up with many of the same problematics as "anti-imperialism" (i.e.-encouraging cross-class ties based on culture to attack the "bigger"/"foreign" capitalist/other).

I can't see this being a significant problem in the UK. The people involved in campaigns against homes being bulldozed or forcibly sold to property developers tend to be working-class residents.

Just to play devil's advocate, the best/most successful anti-gentrification campaign I can remember in London was around Broadway Market. A number of Libcom posters were involved (I wasn't personally), but much of it hinged around defending local small businesses such as a cafe.

Also in my part of London (New Cross), there's currently a campaign against a new Sainsburys which involves a motley crue of local radical liberals and small business owners. Moreover, check Stokes Croft, etc...

Caiman del Barrio
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Aug 4 2011 10:42
Steven. wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:

My last landlord ripped me off for 250 quid and is now looking to do the same to some friends of our who just moved out of the same building. Depending on how this pans out, you may just be hearing about some SF community action to tackle stolen deposits.

don't want to derail the thread, so maybe I should start a new one this, but I am curious as to how this happened. Didn't you pay your deposit to a third party, like you're supposed to?

Steven, I'm pretty sure I'm right in saying that this only just came into law and doesn't affect existing tenancies so won't apply to a lot of people coming to the end of 12 month contracts.

Quote:
Our landlords didn't even bother with this, they just told us to pay two months rent in advance (so when we move out we will stop paying two months in advance).

Nice landlord you have! Many landlords go up in arms when you attempt that!

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 4 2011 10:58
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Just to play devil's advocate, the best/most successful anti-gentrification campaign I can remember in London was around Broadway Market. A number of Libcom posters were involved (I wasn't personally), but much of it hinged around defending local small businesses such as a cafe.

which is why although it doesn't give much detail, the strategy does include "whilst we do not wish to end up fighting for one set of capitalists over another, struggles over local developments are often flashpoints which bring people together" wink

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Steven.
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Aug 4 2011 11:20
Caiman del Barrio wrote:

Steven, I'm pretty sure I'm right in saying that this only just came into law and doesn't affect existing tenancies so won't apply to a lot of people coming to the end of 12 month contracts.

the law came in in early 2007, and has applied to the last two places I have rented. If landlords try to screw you out of your deposit they should get fined triple the amount of the deposit.

Quote:
Quote:
Our landlords didn't even bother with this, they just told us to pay two months rent in advance (so when we move out we will stop paying two months in advance).

Nice landlord you have! Many landlords go up in arms when you attempt that!

I think with this new deposit scheme more do this, due to the fact that as far as I was aware it is not easy to steal deposits anymore (unless the tenants have damaged the property, in which case it's not really stealing)

Joseph Kay wrote:
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Just to play devil's advocate, the best/most successful anti-gentrification campaign I can remember in London was around Broadway Market. A number of Libcom posters were involved (I wasn't personally), but much of it hinged around defending local small businesses such as a cafe.

which is why although it doesn't give much detail, the strategy does include "whilst we do not wish to end up fighting for one set of capitalists over another, struggles over local developments are often flashpoints which bring people together" ;)

exactly what was the success there? It seemed like it was a complete failure

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fingers malone
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Aug 4 2011 11:22

I was pretty heavily involved and I wouldn´t call it successful myself, it did get massive publicity and loads of local popular support, but we didn´t stop either of the evictions and the street carried on gentrifying.
Actually that struggle had more contradictions than you could shake a stick at, you could write a book using it to illustrate just about every contradiction I can think of.

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thegonzokid
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Aug 4 2011 11:23

I think the emphasis needs to be on residential rather than commercial gentrification. In recent years, Liverpool city council (like many local authorities) has been offloading its council housing stock and putting compulsory purchase orders on other homes so property developers can snap up the land and build accomodation for students or professionals. The council have refused to carry out repairs in council houses and flats because they don't see the point (and won't provide the money anyway), meaning the residents who were the last to be forcibly relocated were living in damp, run-down properties, plagued with rats and often had to put up with heroin addicts breaking in to vacated flats in the same building (this is according to the personal testimony of a woman I met when I was trying to get the IWCA going in Liverpool). It might different in other parts of the country, but this scenario is what comes to mind when I think of gentrification.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Aug 4 2011 15:11
Quote:
If landlords try to screw you out of your deposit they should get fined triple the amount of the deposit.

Not anymore. Judges have re-interpreted the law so that if you call out a landlord for not putting money into a scheme, they then have time to place it into a scheme and avoid the fine.

This comes from a housing lawyer.

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Steven.
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Aug 4 2011 17:02
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
If landlords try to screw you out of your deposit they should get fined triple the amount of the deposit.

Not anymore. Judges have re-interpreted the law so that if you call out a landlord for not putting money into a scheme, they then have time to place it into a scheme and avoid the fine.

This comes from a housing lawyer.

yeah, but not putting money into a scheme is different from trying to steal your deposit. If they put the money into a scheme, then it means you'll get the deposit back if you haven't significantly damaged the property. I'm still not sure how deposit theft is an issue which we can organise around in the community.

Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe it still is an issue for lots of people, I just haven't heard about it and have just been lucky that all the cases I have heard about have been resolved easily after writing a letter

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prec@riat
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Aug 5 2011 21:39

Perhaps a split off thread to discuss Anti-Gentrification efforts would be in order...
I'd be willing to discuss a little more in depth some of my own experiences with such... but I'm also interested in this London example alluded to... it seems Caiman (and maybe JK) thought there was some success but Steven and Fingers felt otherwise...

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oisleep
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Aug 5 2011 21:53
thegonzokid wrote:
Weaknesses of the IWCA strategy:

long-term, intensive grassroots work

interesting that in the context of meaningful class politics in general and your community strategy in particular - which in your own words should demonstrate our collective willingness and intention to engage with the rest of our class where they live, you see the above approach as a weakness rather than a strength

If the above is genuinely seen as a weakness - what is the antidote to ensure that class politics retains momentum in a particular area? short-term, superficial, lollipop, surface only work?

no1
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Aug 5 2011 22:02
oisleep wrote:
thegonzokid wrote:
Weaknesses of the IWCA strategy:

long-term, intensive grassroots work

interesting that in the context of meaningful class politics in general and your community strategy in particular - which in your own words should demonstrate our collective willingness and intention to engage with the rest of our class where they live, you see the above approach as a weakness rather than a strength

If the above is genuinely seen as a weakness - what is the antidote to ensure that class politics retains momentum in a particular area? short-term, superficial, lollipop, surface only work?

I think you are distorting the meaning somewhat, the full quote is :

Quote:
Strategy was based on long-term, intensive grassroots work meaning momentum and growth was difficult to maintain.

I think we are very much in favour of long-term work, however if it needs to be so intense that it kills momentum and growth, then that's obviously not sustainable.

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oisleep
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Aug 5 2011 22:26

and if you take the view that you can only gain (meaningful) momentum and growth in the first place through long term, intensive grassroots work?

do solfed believe that meaningful momentum and growth could be attained through means other than long term, intensive grassroots work? If so then fair enough, if not then why class it as a weakness?

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thegonzokid
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Aug 6 2011 04:30
oisleep wrote:
do solfed believe that meaningful momentum and growth could be attained through means other than long term, intensive grassroots work?

Hi oisleep, three points:

1. The opinions expressed in the community strategy discussion from the Solfed weekend school are mine, they are not federal Solfed policy.

2. I'm an ex-IWCA member and am very sympathetic to the organisation (in fact I'd really like to see Solfed be in a position to do pretty much everything the IWCA does/did in working-class communities, except for standing in elections).

3. I hope it's obvious that I'm not saying long-term grassroots work is in itself a negative thing. The potential for organisational burn-out was always high in the IWCA, that was my point. I am also speaking as someone who was an 'isolated' member, rather than someone who was part of an active IWCA branch. But lack of resorces is a 'negative' thing that all small organisations must face up to.