Housing: Your Squalor Their Profits

Housing: Your Squalor Their Profits

The text of a leaflet put out by the Anarchist Syndicalist Alliance, London, some time in the mid 70s. While some areas are dated, some is clearly as relevant today as it was then.

Housing – Your Squalor Their Profits

A situation exists in housing, both council and private, of rents steadily rising, house prices rising, mortgages rising. This serves to put the entire burden of soaring prices on the backs of the working class. Workers now face increased – or “fair” – rents on council estates. Workers are now making massive mortgage payments to the private building societies to try to buy their own house. (In 1999?)

Private – and council – landlords always quote “repairs” or “maintenance costs” as a reason of r increased rents. They say that house prices are rising because of “land and property speculation, there’s nothing we can do”.

The myth that this speculation is strange and new is heard from them on TV and in the papers. But in face it is merely an extension of the speculation on our work and time by shareholders and stockbrokers.

Why Rent Increases?
The reason for rent increases is that those who “own” the houses want to make higher profits from their tenants, and, on a national scale, that the state wants the money for “state” housing to come entirely from the workers’ pockets rather than from general taxation. The property companies, builders and building societies want to make greater profits, so they put up land prices, house prices and mortgages. The professional speculators have extended there are of interest to include land rather than merely share in our labour.

Thus, we are being made to pay ever-increasing rents to the class which exploits us in every other field.

This splits up the low-paid and high-paid workers, and keeps the low-paid where they are, low-paid. The higher-paid workers are being driven into owner-occupation; mortgage payments put them into a different class of worker. Lower paid workers are made conscious of their lower status and are driven more and more into “state” housing for which they themselves have to pay, while giving the state a much greater control over them.

The threat to the individual worker posed by the house-owning state and the building societies serves as an intimidation to anyone dissatisfied with his or her situation – a powerful monopoly is being created in housing.

What is obscured is that whoever you pay rent of mortgage to, and however much there seems to be a split between the high and the low paid workers, the whole of the working class is in the same circumstances.

WHY PAY IT?
The working class built the houses.
They were exploited by the class which employed them and to whom they now pay rent.
The working class is being forced to “rent” or “buy” the houses for which it has already paid many times over with the work of generations. The houses we, as a class, built, are logically ours.
No individual can make an effective stand, or hope as an individual to defeat the injustices of the housing situation or of the capitalist system. Tenants must organise themselves into groups and associations, and, irrespective of the legal set-up, party dogma, and propaganda, claim their collective ownership of the houses built by workers for the working class, not the bosses.
That means total rent strike, refusal to make mortgage payments and so on.
The state and the police may be able to break a loner, but they cannot break the working class.

IF THEY THINK THEY CAN
Their job can be made much harder by using logical arguments;

Not only “Who built the houses?”, but –
We can do repairs ourselves, individually or as a class, just as we did the building
We need a place to live – haven’t you got one?
Why are houses knocked down for offices and car parks? Whose offices? Whose car parks?
Who profits out of building workers’ labour? Like other workers, they are payers of mortgage or rent.
The state rats on about “fairness” but why should we be born into a lifetime of insecurity?
It’s time the working class took what, by rights, belongs to it!

P&P Anarchist Syndicalist Alliance, N5 around 1974 (?)