Monday — Logics of Enclosure and Prospects for an Urban Common(s) — Week 6

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Monday — 10.21.13 — Logics of Enclosure and Prospects for an Urban Common(s) — Week 6

0. About Monday
1. Notes Relating to Detroit
2. Detroit Solidarity Gathering on Wall Street
3. Related Readings for Monday

0. About Monday

What: Meeting / Conversation / Gathering
When: Monday, October 21
Where: 16 Beaver Street (at 5:15pm) and Wall Street (at 7:30pm)
Who: Free and open to all

As we send this, today on the 19th of October, throughout Europe, a day of action has been organized around housing rights. The attack and enclosure on the bases of reproduction is nothing new in the global south, where decades of “structural adjustments” have attempted to destroy any possibility of autonomy for communities to exist outside the logic of enclosure and speculation. But as these neoliberal policies fuel a new phase of enclosure in Europe and the US, is there an opportunity to find common ground and bases of resistance. What is the thread linking Durban to Warsaw to Paris to Rome to Athens to Lissabon to Madrid to New York to Detroit …?

Our inquiry into money and common(s) continues where we left off last week, looking into and discussing what we find a seminal and overlooked text from David Harvey, from his book, ‘The Urban Experience’ entitled: Money, Time, Space, and the City. At the time of its publication, 1989, the text may have felt completely off-sync considering the proclamations of the end of history and by inference politics at that time. Today, this text appears to us as a lucid account of the social power of money as money and as capital particularly in its intersections with time, space, and the city.

This week, in addition to the mix of regular contributors to the common(s) course, we will be joined by Nicholas Mirzoeff, who will be giving a report on Detroit where emergency management and debt are being used to mask an inherently racist and classist assault on the residents of the city.

Our friends in Detroit are organizing a week of actions related to the an upcoming court decision. We thought after the course, we could invite people to gather at Wall Street, at 7:30 to do something in solidarity with them.

We also are suggesting, for those who are interested and have time to explore two chapters from Rebel Cities, David’s last book:
one on the ‘Urban Roots of Capitalist Crisis’
two ‘The Creation of Urban Commons’

The added texts are there as suggestions for people who are interested in seeing how some of the concerns outlined in the more speculative text from 1989 may relate to processes and struggles unfolding today especially as they relate to the city.

We hope to be organizing a subsequent gathering relating to Detroit, but given the timeliness of this week’s actions, we thought even a brief discussion can be a good beginning.

1. Notes Relating to Detroit

On October 23, 2013, judgment will be rendered in Federal Court regarding the motion to place Detroit into bankruptcy and the petition under Michigan’s constitution. Everyone expects the bankruptcy to be upheld and the constitutional challenge to be rejected. In order to satisfy Wall St, a city of 700,000 people, 85% African-American, will be placed outside even the limited electoral republic that is presented to us as democracy. The situation in the city is unparalleled. The COO of Emergency Manager Orr turned off city electricity this September, with temperatures at 91 and over, because he felt residents had not complied with his order to reduce consumption. Smirking, he said he wanted to send a “message,” that message being apparently: do what we tell you.

The other message being transmitted very clearly is: “We want what you have. However little it is.” Orr has been creating a great deal of fake anxiety about the art in the Detroit Institute of Arts being sold. It won’t be. But it might be “leased,” allowing for various quasi-legal forms of money laundering. Detroit would then find itself paying for the art it currently owns. Orr might decide to be “magnanimous” and leave the DIA alone, winning liberal support even as he further eviscerates services to the African-American community.

Detroit is evolving into a new model for neo-liberalism. The downtown is being equipped with sports stadia, outdoor markets, cheap apartments, art studios and other forms of gentrification to attract white people. These people may live downtown if they don’t have children. Or they live in what Detroiters in a telling term call “across the border” in residential suburbs with the requisite “good schools” if they do have offspring. As one person said, “people used to realize that they were coming to live in an African-American city. Now they are clueless.”

The actions being taken in the city express the remarkable local autonomous politics that has developed there over the long crisis. Urban agriculture. Autonomous schools. The work of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center. But people in the city are clear that they need support and solidarity. It’s also clear that other cities are now likely to be targeted if the bankruptcy goes ahead.

2. Detroit Solidarity Gathering on Wall Street

At 7:30pm, we will try assemble in solidarity with our comrades in Detroit, who will throughout this week be staging actions in resistance to efforts to further privatize and destroy the city for its current residents. If you know singers and musicians, invite them to come, maybe we can write a song together.

3. Related Readings for Monday

European Day of Action for Housing Rights

In addition to last week’s reading.
From David Harvey’s Rebel Cities


Suggested Chapters:
The Urban Roots of the Capitalist Crisis
The Creation of the Urban Commons

Week 26 of the Occupation:

Detroit: Laboratory of Neo-Liberalism:

A guide to the Emergency Manager:

Detroit Arcadia:

Detroit Arcadia