Friday, November 13, 2009

Dry Fears for Fate of Marvels

I joined a group of volunteers at the weekly bar at Seco SC in Madrid last night. They were trying to karaoke, but the software was not cooperating. Earlier in the evening, there had been an assembly meeting at the SC Patio Maravillas (really a “CSO” for “Centro Sociale Okupado”; Seco is legalized). El Patio is under an order of eviction, which could come any day. They were discussing what to do. Earlier in the year, the authorities had announced the time of eviction, so hundreds of people were able to assemble. This time the cops are being more cagey. So tactics were discussed… Let’s just say at this point that an innovative use of technology is planned by the “hacktivists” of the place. Stay tuned to the website!
Ironically, Patio was criticized for negotiating with the authorities. This SC was hoping to legalize itself. Other squatters criticized this position, arguing that if one group negotiates, the state can more easily criminalize the other groups. The argument became incendiary, when some people planted a bomb in the door of Patio. The explosion blew out the door. Still, the incident was not reported, the perpetrators were suspected. A family argument? Perhaps…
Some at Seco expressed bewilderment about the younger squatters in Madrid. To these older social center volunteers, these youth seem “identitarian,” overly immersed in their sullen, conformist subcultures to be doing any useful political work. (I remembered the man outside Joe’s Garage in Amsterdam earlier this year, who told me that the place was “a social center for squatters”!) I suggested this might be after-effect from the Copenhagen “Youth House” eviction, in which the forces of the right pretty much rubbed young peoples’ noses in the facts of their powerlessness. Kids from all over Europe converged to fuck up the streets, and a new wave of squatting was born. I am told now it has even spread to super-sedate Munich.
Tonight in Madrid there is a party at a squatted social center in an old building inside a cemetery in the La Elipa neighborhood. This will be a very late night hardcore goth and rap scene, so again this old man won’t go. The motto of this squat, I’m told, is: “Dando vida en espacios muerte” – Bringing life to dead spaces.