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Elsewhere today March 17, 2010

Posted by Tomboktu in Capitalism, Class, Economics, Housing, Human Rights, Ireland, Justice, Political Philosophy.
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HumanRightsInIreland, a blog run by Irish academic lawyers, has a series of posts today on the theme (to my ear, hi falutin) of ‘Human Rights Lexicon’. However, don’t let that put you off. I recommend the post by Illan Rua Wall on the right to housing in a post-crash Ireland. It gives some thoughts that are new to me on how we might approach economic injustices through the legal concept of human rights. (Whether it will ever get legs is another story.)

To begin the task of shifting the neo-liberal imagination, I suggest the crime of squatting (for it is a criminal offence in Ireland). Squatting is to take direct action, not against this or that policy of the government, but against trite neo-liberal abstraction and injustice. By placing people, real lived experience, in these ‘toxic’ assets, the reality of the situation is manifested in a material sense. Ireland is increasingly a country which is divided between the rich within their neat comfortable zones, and the poor who are increasingly subjects of toil, insult, degradation and burden. It is not alone in this, but that is not the issue. What if the 43,000 families currently waiting for social housing, broke into the empty houses and apartments all over the country, now in state (or at least NAMA) ownership? I suggest this would at once be an a-legal vindication of their economic rights, but it would also present an attempt to rupture the neo-liberal ideological hold on the country.

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1. WorldbyStorm - March 17, 2010

Now that’s an interesting approach. Mobilising people even in quite small numbers would be tricky, but there’s some merit to the idea. It’s not as if this sort of approach hasn’t had its uses in the past.

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2. sonofstan - March 17, 2010

Interesting – squatting used to be, if not socially acceptable, at least understood and to an extent, condoned beyond as a rough and ready Robin Hoodism – it would be instructive to see how it would play in property obsessed Ireland now…… not well, I fear.

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3. Pope Epopt - March 18, 2010

Can’t we combine the property obsession with squatting? In other words support those who wish to squat their own home in the face of repossession.

“Can’t pay, won’t pay.” If the property tycoons are being let off repayment even of interest, most people would see it as just that mortgage debt slaves should ejoy have similar leniency.

Solidarity to resist eviction would have deep historical resonance here. It also subverts the inviolable notion of nominal ownership and could legitimate the squatting of empty properties.

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4. Wednesday - March 18, 2010

Funnily enough I was actually thinking something along these lines yesterday: that the residents in places like O’Devany and St Michael’s should decamp en masse for the new empty housing estates around Dublin and take them over. Not that I’m suggesting that as a solution, but as a stunt it would certainly highlight the absurdity of the present situation where the government claims it can’t build new homes for the people in dire need of them, while there are hundreds of thousands of new homes built for profit and lying vacant.

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5. Rejuvenate yourself with music-aid | Acoustic Guitar Reviews - March 19, 2010

[...] Elsewhere today « The Cedar Lounge Revolution [...]

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