Introducing The Urban Gorilla Concept

Intro

The Urban Gorilla Concept is an artistic, political, and anti social idea based around the reclamation of space and recalibration of the urban environment. Observing and experiencing processes that occur in every concrete jungle, Town Square, and abandoned factory the Urban Gorilla concept is a framework in which to view, and create various types of grass roots space interaction (from squatting and urban exploration, to graffiti and free running) and to act as a platform for the facilitation of greater space reclamation (a meeting point for all those wanting to engage with the landscape in a more meaningful way).

The wording urban gorilla concept is chosen for two fold reasons, firstly because the UGC is about struggle, resistance and battling against the powers that control the landscape around us, (famously the Urban Guerrilla Concept was a phrase coined by a variety of South American revolutionary movements and by the Red Army Faction in their struggle against state power in Germany and this name similarity is a deliberate choice by its authors to make a connection between space reclamation and revolutionary struggle), and secondly to attempt to portray the notion that for many of us the city has become our natural habitat (hence the animalistic reference).

Philosophy/Politik

The city is our natural habitat, we were born inside it and many of us will spend our last hours in the shadow of some monolithic glass and metal part of it. For us, lampposts are our trees, skyscrapers our mountains, and railway lines our winding paths through rolling hills. Where once the “hunter gatherer” meant carrying a spear and a makeshift bow, to chase down ones prey; today it means taking a bike and a torch to rummage through the waste of every consumer outlet. And yet, we have been forced into a position of disconnection to our habitat, confined to mere passive consumption of our surroundings. We are alienated from those lamppost trees; those skyscraper mountains because they belong not to us, like foxes on the ice plains of the artic our habitats belong to someone else. Ever they price us out of the communities in which we grew up through the gentrification process; whilst ever expanding their bland consumptive office structures and corporate cafes through the centrification process (the process of the centre of cities becoming bigger and bigger, to expand their business potential, whilst taking away residential habitat).

Beauty is in the street. For every bike punk sticker on a rusty lamppost, for every graffiti stencil in an abandoned alleyway, and for every shadow jumping across a rooftop there is a story. That story is a story of struggle against the ideology of passive consumption, of reclaiming the urban habitat (ever more becoming an urban prison) that has been built around us, and of resisting and combating the norms of spatial interaction. The first step is to kill the cop inside our head. The road bends left towards the shopping mall, as the crow flies our home is to the right, but the shape of the road dictates we must first pay homage at the alter of spectacle (the mall): what stops us jumping that wall, dodging through the car park of the shiny offices and slipping down the darkened side alley home- what restricts us is our own imagination of the possible. In combating reality, we must first understand why it is a certain way, the road bends left because the citizen factory requires that we go left- so go right and avoid its clutches if only for a moment. Like this, to be an Urban Gorilla is simply to challenge, to confront, to defy expectation. From the psycho geographer analyzing how a building is used, and by who, and why, to the small child painting a chalk hop scotch on the concrete outside his house, to the person imagining itself in a night time- time trial race across London on its cycle ride home from work: we can all be Urban Gorillas.

The citizen factory is everywhere and always against us: through cameras, wide roads with no escape routes, and fines on our imagination which they term trespass and criminal damage (whilst criminal companies plaster their ideologies of destructive consumption over our walls and trespass on our communities with skyscrapers and condom machines) they attempt to destroy us- their ideology must be everywhere or else it is nothing. As Urban Gorillas in ravaged habitats, we must constantly evolve, imagine, reflect and grow; where their advertisements are compulsory and everywhere our graffiti must be optional, replaceable, removable, and adaptable. Where their roads say turn left at the junction an into something particular ours must be a hundred different routes over roves, behind walls, between office blocks and into nowhere or anywhere whichever we like. We must make their cameras pointless by moving in places they don’t know or don’t see any reason for us to want to travel such roads- in sewers, in gardens, by canals, on roof tops we can find our liberation in evasion and active ignorance (ignoring the presence of cameras). Where they see meaning in objects only in so far as they create value (e.g. a lamppost is valuable in so far as it makes travel from the trendy club to home possible) we must see objects as part of our giant playground as a value in our fulfillment (the lamppost is a paint-able canvas, a climbable tree, a perfect post from which to hang a street volley ball net). Under the cobblestones is the beach, but we need not tear up the concrete to unveil it- we can built within it, recreate it until it is in itself a beach.

So let us run at night into the private square and paint a chess board on which everyone can play, let us turn the shopping mall into a dance hall, an amphitheater, a whatever the fuck we like, let us make that piece of corporate art a climbing frame and that water feature a swimming pool, let us make the urban jungle what it was always meant to be.

Climb to the roof of that abandoned building at the end of your street- I promise the view will be worth it.

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This From the London Queer Social Centre

The London Queer Social Centre

Part 1: Skipping

 Image

Supermarkets throw away 300,000 tonnes of food waste every year1. Skipping, or dumpster diving, is the practice of liberating that food from rotting in a bin and using it to nourish an empty belly. It’s easy, fun and if you don’t have much money you’ll probably end up eating much higher quality food by skipping than you would buying it from a shop. This guide will give you a walk-through of the basic things you need to know to skip effectively wherever you are in the country.

How to find a bin

Go to your local supermarket and do a walk around the perimeter, you can scout out places using google maps/street view as well, but there’s no substitute for investigating in person. Sometimes the bins will be behind a fence that you’ll have to climb, sometimes it will just be in a bag…

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Give Up Classtivism

Just got Permession to publish this Extract from some Northern friends of ours DP and CW. The full article can be read at http://libcom.org/library/give-classtivism-why-class-struggle-long-boring-hard-work

Tactics – “Organising is about creating a series of friendships”

Activists are part of the working class just as much as factory workers and miners. We all form active parts of capitalism, as consumers and workers, but as workers we create surplus value. Just because we don’t wear overalls doesn’t mean we are excluded from this process. However, protest actions play into the idea that activists are an exterior force. If activists want to get involved in class struggle, they need to develop their own class consciousness as well. It is easy to talk about this as if it is a theoretical concept that the working class needs to develop on a general basis. What developing class consciousness actually means is each of us realising our own position in capitalism – your own, real position as an actor within the process of production, not of the mythical, abstract concept of “the workers.” Until individual activists start to grasp this fundamental role they’re not in much of a position to ask others to.

The working class for far too long has been reliant on exterior forces, political parties, do-gooders, union bureaucrats: We need to do things for ourselves. It is our historic mission to overthrow capitalism and this cannot be achieved by relying on the intervention of charitable types. We have been serviced by unions for decades, succededing only in seeing hard fought reforms vanish and safety nets disappear. At the heart of these errors is the failure to build and sustain a culture of class confidence that has a willingness to defend workers’ interests (and fight for more). Taking steps towards this means abandoning our reliance on outside forces (in whatever form this may come) and looking to the immediate relationships around us as our source of solidarity and support.

Finally, there is the danger that activism will strengthen the reverse relationships – the capitalistic ones between workers and managers and workers and the company. The sentiment that “we are all mates with our manager, why shouldn’t we just talk to them he takes us out for a drink all the time”, for example, forms a continuous barrier to workplace organising. Starbucks Workers’ Union organiser Liberté Locke has described it well as being akin to an abusive relationship – “My body, my rules: a case for rape and domestic violence survivors becoming workplace organisers”. At Pizza Hut, mangers receive bonuses based on the amount of money the store spends. If the manager doesn’t repair broken mopeds, they receive a higher bonus, if they don’t replace safety equipment, such as oven gloves, they receive a higher bonus. These things help the manager as an individual, but make the rest of our working lives more difficult. At the same time, this is hidden by the manager who then acts as a social leader, as everyone’s mate, offering people lifts home, organising the Xmas do etc. As Liberté Locke argues, these abuses are hidden by a friendly exterior and layers of manipulative behaviour. Breaking through that is one of the most difficult things to achieve as an organiser. “Shop pickets” may well do real favours to managers, giving workers in store a false sense of the limitations of their own capacities, reinforcing existing worker-brand identity and the idea of the company as “one big family”.

Friendship must be at the core of solidarity. For our Fellow Workers to take the organising we push seriously they have to trust that we are saying it as a friend and not as a political campaigner. As organisers we must be there when the important conversations happen, and those aren’t the conversations that happen with the activist outside, they are the ones that happen on smoking breaks, while taking a pizza out to the moped, as you mop the floor at the end of the shift or in the pub after work. That is where people express their true feelings, whether that is about the protest outside, or the dick-head manager. Working under capitalism is stressful, isolating and hard, and we need the support of our Fellow Workers as much as everyone else. Class organising is about creating our own spaces of resistance. It is a process of creating a series of friendships.

In short, what we need is a far richer (perhaps a micro-level) understanding of class consciousness to accompany our organising perspectives. We take inspiration from the idea of the “Wobbly Shop” or to “Wobbly the Job”. To “Wobbly the Job” is not just to get people signed up to the union or provoke actions, it’s to foster specific attitudes in that workplace. This can range from anything to the jokes that are made behind the bosses back at break time, to the walk-out you hold during peak operating hours. The point is that this is something that emerges within the culture that organisers create as a result of the real bonds of solidarity and support they have built with their Fellow Workers.

Against the spectacle of material, in defence of the value of material

Thoughts on Christmas, and the Battle Between Materialism and Anti Materialism within Consumption Culture.

The circus has once again come to town, hundreds upon hundreds upon thousands upon millions of feet are marching up and down streets all over the country (indeed all of the world) on a multitude of separate quests- chasing something, a dream, an image, an impossible reality sold to each and every one of us on our t.v’s, on billboards and in magazines. Like the children of Hamelin running blissfully towards their unhappy [1]ending all of us march glazed eyed and dozy footed through rows of lights and tinsel, eyes shining towards that unattainable moment, that glorious realization that can never quite be reached; because each time we get close to reaching material satisfaction, the advertiser, the store owner, the profiteer, our peers, and even ourselves snatch it away and raise the bar a little higher.

Yet doggedly we keep on, believing somewhere somehow perhaps that in material we will find salvation, that among the cess pit of new toys, lingerie, and Christmas fucking pudding we might find something that will bring daylight streaming into the underside of the hill[2]– but we won’t. Shopping, the quest for material enlightenment is like masturbation without the orgasm[3]. Yet, when Christmas is done and put away and we go back to working overtime at our nine to fives to pay back the money we owe to loan sharks and credit card companies; we will if nothing else have once again achieved one giant cum stain of waste, broken toys, and half eaten food in the landfill of post consumer commodities.

So here is the paradox. We live in a society that practically made I phone a religion, (there are probably more I phone users than Sikhs in the world right now with approximately 400 million ipods sold since 2008 compared to around 30million Sikhs worldwide) we spend half our lives chasing NEWER, BIGGER, BETTER, we have whole industries that exist solely to give us wet dreams about things we don’t own yet but will soon; and despite all of this we are fundamentally anti materialist in our interactions with commodities.

We hold them (commodities) aloft and afar as spectacle but in attaining them, in demystifying them, we devalue, degrade, and eventually destroy them. A perfect example of this interaction is the rate at which the monetary “value” of any item depletes from the moment it leaves the store; it’s so called value, it’s worth evaporates as soon as it is in the hands of the consumer.  Now part of this of course is down to the power relationship between chain stores and individual consumers meaning that a shop has much more power to dictate “value” than you or I; however if we explore concepts like “mint in the box” and the obsession with “new” we see a trend which indicates a desire not for an item as a useful or valued thing, but as a concept a symbol of a lifestyle that is part of achieving some kind of perfection. We have reached a point where we no longer care for material possession; we care only for the thrill of the chase.

For me this new anti materialism is characterized by two key factors in our consumption; the first is the upgrade culture of add-ons and new versions of things (take for example Windows 1997,1998, XP et al) every five minutes, and the second is the throwaway culture attached to many commodities- many products including children’s bikes are not made too last more than a year, whilst even among individuals the destruction of material possessions is a common consumer act (you only need to look in the refuse bins of most housing estates to find all of the furniture, cooking equipment, and electrical goods needed to keep a household running).

So what does this conflict between spectacle and value mean, and where should we position ourselves around it? For me the root of the problem is tied intrinsically to the nature of our society and of our wider systemic structures. The capitalist and corporatist abattoir to which (like good little lambs to the slaughter) we have all merrily wandered into demands constant growth, constant expansion, and constant profit; despite being pitted against a world that cannot sustain this strategy and us such must continue to produce to “change” and to sell. When we run out of new markets and new products, we run out of capitalism and into a new freedom of reuse; the coming apocalypse of no more oil and the eventual ceasing of the ability to mass produce consumer commodities will see us all running to scrap yard to salvage our Iphone 2’s, Mini Disk Players, and gramophones; when this happens we will truly be free of the spectacle of material and perhaps once more understand the value of material.

Enough though of my nihilist predictions for the future, what can we do now? How do we eliminate the spectacle of material? An option in this war against spectacle is to simply destroy commodities “People who destroy commodities show their human superiority over commodities[4]”, to tear them from the shelves and burn them, to destroy the adverts that perpetuate them, to smash the shops that sell them, and bomb the factories that produce them; this at least would end their reign of terror over our lives, negate them as anything meaningful, and eradicate at least for some short time their grip on our reality. However, in the modern capitalist setting, the impending doom of total environmental collapse leads this writer at least to question the effectiveness of such a tactic, and this for me is where our relationship to the value of goods because important.

Each and every product on the frickin shelf has a story, a life, a journey, it has almost certainly been made of one or many natural resources that the planet will sooner or later be entirely void of; if we destroy the product then we only perpetuate the wasting of thousands of natural resources. So what can we do? For me we must begin to reuse, to reinvent and to modify those commodities that we do have, to keep and to treasure them as valuable things, to look after them, and adapt them to make a new world from the tattered scraps of welded metal and processed oil of commodity culture.

Alongside this though, we must advocate a strategy of spectacle destruction; we must tear down the billboards and the cumming soon (though never actually cumming) culture, we must kill the voice inside our head that tells us we need the next car, t-shirt, or DVD, we must slay the advertising monster and make soup from its cold dead heart, we must smash the lie that the next product will bring us that step closer to material enlightenment or we will be crushed to death under the sheer weight of our own consumption.

Time is ticking.


[2] Reference to the Pied Piper “And when all were in to the very last, The door in the mountain-side shut fast.”

[3] You work yourself up and up until in a frenzy, but never reach satisfaction.

[4] Guy Debord The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/decline.html

A brilliant criticism to the farmer (principal) of Queen Mary Factory Farm (University) by Anarchist in Space

anarchist in space

I wrote the below email today to the Principal of Queen Mary, after a horribly patronising email was sent around about impending cuts. It probably wasn’t a very good idea, but it was one of those situations when i was absolutely fuming and couldn’t stop myself.

Have a read – I might put it on the gravestone that I’ve ordered…

Dear Ms A**** – FAO Prof Gaskell,

Many thanks for this email. I am especially grateful for this email as it confirms a
number of suspicions held by myself, but I suspect also widely held among us staff,
postgraduate students, and the undergraduate students whom we teach and support.

First, that the strategy of UUK and its affiliates (including QMUL) is chiefly to
patronise and belittle the intellect of our workforce and students, claiming that we do
not understand our position in relation to the economic conditions that we…

View original post 1,526 more words

“This is it then, this is the end.”

We began walking over a deserted Westminster bridge, the rain pouring down
hard on us. In front of us, thousands of students were making their way
through the streets of Lambeth, a borough with high levels of
impoverishment, to demand “Educate, Employ, Empower” to I'm not quite sure
who.

In many ways, this moment really did feel like the end of the student
movement. Those in power sat smugly and safely behind the police fortress
that had been set up along Whitehall and Parliament Square. The NUS could
lie to anyone still listening that it had represented its members as well
as bolstering their own chances for power in the Labour party. The majority
of people seemed to have no problem with parading straight past Parliament
and onwards to Kennington Park, seduced perhaps by that promise of
employment. Damp and despairing it felt as though this had been some sort
of last chance and we'd lost it – nothing had happened (although we can
take some comfort from the egging of Liam Burns and chants of 'NUS shame on
you, where the fuck have you brought us to').

2 years before marching from A to B was simply not an option. Instead we
targeted those who wanted to see us denied free education (both free as in
no price and where learning is free from the dictates of the state and the
market) and indebted for the rest of our lives. Students stormed and
smashed the Tory HQ creating a spectacle that inspired and galvanised
students here and in Quebec. With the NUS condemning our actions, we went
on to show how much more effective we are outside these sorts of
organisations. Another demonstration saw the windows of other government
buildings smashed in and protestors get close to breaking through police
lines around parliament. These experiences, these acts of fuck you and the
destruction of power, were a kind of empowerment beyond the NUS' wildest
dreams.

The NUS' march was purposely designed to kill off the lessons and
experiences that we had gathered from these times – to kill off the student
movement – as we creeped around backstreets and into a south London park
encircled by railings in the 1800s to prevent unrest. But whilst the slogan
and route were organised around demobilisation they provoked an angry
response that asserted our need for action, autonomy, and anger.

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts counter march saw over 1,000
students (whilst the official march managed only a couple of thousand more)
gather at UCL with substantive demands and propositions illustrated by
banners proclaiming 'Smash the NUS', 'The Dead Bury the Dead – Never Work'
and '#Wrong to Work' and insurrectionary literature from the Imaginary
Party declaring 'Educate, Disempower, Destroy'. The march was for 'free
education' and for the freeing of society but also for the destruction of
the NUS which is a barrier to our practices and aims.

Plans for direct action were stopped by heavy policing (surely they don't
have the funds to keep this up?), with the NUS stewards relishing their new
found 'authority', and perhaps a lack of communication between ourselves.
Whilst energy had been high at the start, the longer we were funnelled down
the streets by the police, the wearier we grew. Our attempts to make a
break down the Strand rather than join the NUS march at Embankment were met
with lines of police and reinforcements arriving behind them. Our numbers
were simply not enough to overcome this total policing. And so we arrived
on the corner of Westminster bridge, Parliament square on our right blocked
by 2 barriers with lines of police and riot vans. We half-heartedly
discussed possible plans knowing they would come to nothing.

But there is still rage. Even though it did not manifest itself in
particularly obvious and compelling forms that day. We got to know each
others faces, or eyes, for those wearing masks. And that is the start of
something.

And perhaps we were looking in the wrong place for that rage at this
moment. Maybe the streets, blocked and lined with riot police, are not the
place to meet right now – although, of course, this is where the beauty is.
The other day I spoke with three women in the computer room of our Further
Education college about the introduction of fees for their courses that
will come in next year. This is where the rage is. They described their
anger at the government 'robbing' from them. They explained how they were
studying so that they could get a job to be an example to their children.
They were surviving on £30 a week.

*'I think education should be free – it shouldn't be like that [ever
increasing fees]'*

*'We don't know where we're going to stand with fees coming in, we've got
our kids to look after as well,'*

*'Don't try and rob from me to make yourself pppffff'*

*'It's ridiculous where money is – they let the rich off and f the poor,'*

*'they waste money on stupid sculptures, that new building, that point
thing, the Shard shit'*

*'You can't even have little treats, it is £30 a week on food. We can't go
out, we don't have a social life'.*

*'We're just surviving, just getting by, without this education now, where
am I going to be?'*

*'We're trying to help ourselves but we're just in debt.'*

*'I was watching This Morning and they were saying that if you live on less
than £400 a week you live below the poverty line. I'm poor but you're not
helping me,'*

*'They really categorised us now – we're poor. Categorise us, put us into a
little...'*

Listening to them, I did not even bother to mention the student demo. It
felt as if I would be somehow selling them out suggesting they come along
to something I had little hope in to start with. They were busy enough
looking after their children, studying, and surviving.

Clearly, then, this is not the end – there is a belief in free education
and the anger with which to obtain this and much more. NCAFC has called for
a National Day of Action on December 5th in all places of education.
Drawing as well from the Imaginary Party's literature, it is clear that the
struggle, having learnt from Quebec, should return to these places, where
we can listen to and organise with each other. Whilst never forgetting
Milbank.

N.B.
As we publish this post we are hearing news that
UCL has staged a sit in (with the possibility of it turning into an
occupation) over UCL management's involvement in the social cleansing of
Carpenters Estate. Elsewhere across London university campuses this
evening, there is a protest of cleaners and student supporters outside
University of London's Senate House for sick pay, holidays, and pensions.
Earlier on in the day, UCL academics lobbied the 'UCL council' against
reforms to Statue 18 which would give management powers to *fire at will*.
Now those words uttered as we crossed the bridge seem so laughable.

'Anonymous'- Radical writers collective