Reclaim The Streets

Ultimately it is in the streets that power must be dissolved: for the streets where daily life is endured, suffered and eroded, and where power is confronted and fought, must be turned into the domain where daily life is enjoyed, created and nourished.

The street is an extremely important symbol because your whole enculturation experience is geared around keeping you out of the street... The idea is to keep everyone indoors. So, when you come to challenge the powers that be, inevitably you find yourself on the curbstone of indifference, wondering "should I play it safe and stay on the sidewalks, or should I go into the street?" And it is the ones who are taking the most risks that will ultimately effect the change in society

The street, at best, is a living place of human movement and social intercourse, of freedom and spontaneity. The car system steals the street from under us and sells it back for the price of petrol. It privileges time over space, corrupting and reducing both to an obsession with speed or, in economic lingo, "turnover". It doesn't matter who "drives" this system for its movements are already predetermined.

The privatization of public space in the form of the car continues the erosion of neighborhood and community that defines the metropolis. Road schemes, business "parks", shopping developments - all add to the disintegration of community and the flattening of a locality. Everywhere becomes the same as everywhere else. Community becomes commodity - a shopping village, sedated and under constant surveillance. The desire for community is then fulfilled elsewhere, through spectacle, sold to us in simulated form. A TV soap "street" or "square" mimicking the arena that concrete and capitalism are destroying. The real street, in this scenario, is sterile. A place to move through not to be in. It exists only as an aid to somewhere else - through a shop window, billboard or petrol tank.

Above all, never make transportation an issue by itself. Always connect it to the problems of the city, of the social division of labor, and to the way this compartmentalizes the many dimensions of life.

One place for work, another for "living," a third for shopping, a fourth for learning, a fifth for entertainment. The way our space is arranged carries on the disintegration of people that begins with the division of labor in the factory. It cuts a person into slices, it cuts our time, our life, into separate slices so that in each one you are a passive consumer at the mercy of the merchants, so that it never occurs to you that work, culture, communication, pleasure, satisfaction of needs, and personal life can and should be one and the same thing: a unified life, sustained by the social fabric of the community.

Won't the streets be better without cars? Not if all that replaces them are aisles of pedestrianized consumption or shopping "villages" safely protected from the elements. To be against the car for its own sake is inane; claiming one piece as the whole jigsaw.

The struggle for car-free space must not be separated from the struggle against global capitalism - for in truth the former is encapsulated in the latter. The streets are as full of capitalism as of cars and the pollution of capitalism is much more insidious.

At first the people stop and overturn the vehicles in their path... they are avenging themselves on the traffic by decomposing it into its inert original elements.

Next they incorporate the wreckage they have created into their rising barricades: they are recombining the isolated inanimate elements into vital new artistic and political forms. For one luminous moment, the multitudes of solitudes that make the modern city come together in a new kind of encounter, to make a people.

The streets belong to the people: they seize control of the city's elemental matter and make it their own.

We are about taking back public space from the enclosed private arena. At its simplest this is an attack on cars as a principal agent of enclosure.

It's about reclaiming the streets as public inclusive space from the private exclusive use of the car. But we believe in this as a broader principle, taking back those things which have been enclosed within capitalist circulation and returning them to collective use as a commons.

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