Portland Anarchists Want to Fix Your Street's Potholes

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Joined: 25-11-16
Mar 21 2017 20:13
Hieronymous wrote:
... At this pace, taking the rain into consideration, the Anarchists will have it done by 2020.

By no means are the Portland anarchists/pothole fillers ready-made replacements (not at this stage at least...) for the government or professionals who do road work on a much larger scale and with all the appropriate equipment, etc. I never said that, and I'm sorry if I seemed to imply that.

Hieronymous wrote:
... So there's no shortage of money.

From what little research I've done, I'd be skeptical of the claim that road repairs are underway, or that it is simply not a problem. The very fact people feel the need to draw penises around potholes, in England, and take action themselves in Oregon as well as other states is evidence that potholes and other road damages/blemishes are not getting repaired. I'm by no means an expert on infrastructure, but among the issues I've read about is that the fuel tax is not collecting the required revenue because cars are more fuel-efficient these days, in addition to people using other means of transportation to get around, and money is going into building new roads rather than maintaining the existing ones. But yeah, you seem to know more about it, but I still have my doubts that it is simply not a problem.

If anything, the Portland anarchists are contributing, and that I think should be taken seriously (commended even) and not dismissed or ridiculed. (I'll concede that their posing for photos is a bit silly.) Just glancing through their Facebook, they appear to be getting some positive feedback, and like I said, I'd have no problem with them repairing a road I cycle or drive along and that wasn't getting fixed. The people taking action/volunteering should not be used as the whipping boy for the problems inflicted on other workers. (At least I still don't see why they should be blamed.) It's management who decide to lay workers off or cut their pay, increase productivity/pace of work, etc. Could we not do things ourselves and organize against our bosses at the same time?

Also consider it this way; the Portland anarchists are (presumably) more involved in what they're doing; they're not motivated just by a paycheck. They're motivated by the work itself and seeing results (the positive feedback too), so they're less likely to cut corners or "mark potholes as fixed" when they're actually not as happens in some states. I imagine there is no top-down structure within their pothole repair organization, and that they decide things democratically rather than receive orders from above. (And I don't mean "no orders" like not doing things correctly.) There is comparably less exploitation going on than in the actual road repair business. This is what we want, no? (The only thing I'm curious of is what they do when they're not volunteering - perhaps they're road workers? That would be interesting.)

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Joined: 9-02-06
Mar 21 2017 21:04

I think the use of scab to describe someone with worse conditions is divisive and unhelpful.
My employer started hiring people on one-year probation contracts on reduced salaries, that doesn't make the new employees scabs, it means the employer is exploiting them and it required solidarity from existing workers, which didn't appear incidentally.

In terms of repairing stuff then if it's fixing an actual problem faced by people and it's clear to the people using it why it's been done then I'm not against this. Isn't the US facing a massive problem with crumbling infrastructure? There were a few articles a while back about the number of bridges that states can't afford to maintain and there seems to be no plan aside form 'hope that they don't fall down'.
Near my house there's a stretch of road where the tarmac has worn down to cobbles, could be lethal for a cyclist. If someone fixed that then they'd potentially be doing something very useful.

Joined: 21-02-12
Mar 21 2017 21:30

In my capacity of semi-professional killjoy, aren't you lot over analyzing this a bit? i don't know what the thought process behind this was but maybe it's just a bit of a publicity stunt? A lot of people associate anarchism with dudebros in V for Vendetta masks, smashing up Starbucks with iphones or such like, so maybe they're just trying to demonstrate mutual aid by doing something useful - not that it's that useful, an article I read they said they've filled in 5 or 6 holes, which out of 1000s is not going to be putting anyone out of a job. Not only that, the way they're fixing them, it's only going to be a temporary job and they're going to be needing redoing later in the year. I wouldn't worry about municipal workers being laid off because of a few anarchists with bags of asphalt.

Jef's right about North America having a massive infrastructure problem, pot holes are the first sign of Spring around here. No amount of gonzo road patching is going to solve that.

Joined: 6-01-07
Mar 21 2017 21:34

Leaving aside my previous comment it seems to me that widespread volunteering whether self-organised or not demonstrates that we humans are often motivated by a variety of factors that do not require that we be paid for what we do..... but so long as capitalism persists most of we humans are also either directly or indirectly dependent on getting a wage or state benefit of some kind in order to survive and volunteering is not a substitute for that. Material resources are largely monopolised by the capitalist class and it's state and volunteers are in no position to supply such resources on anything like the same scale. So nothing wrong in principle with volunteer 'work' (as long as it's not strike breaking) but we cannot allow this to be seen as, or become, an alternative to organised collective class struggle to defend our day to day interests and to reclaim the worlds material resources for the common good. Volunteering outside of such class struggle is not in itself a means of 'building dual power in the community' to borrow that terminology for now.