Reflections on Anti-Olympics Resistance in Vancouver

From From Embers, Jul 18, 2019

Reflections on Anti-Olympics Resistance in Vancouver

Jul 18, 2019

A conversation with an anarchist who was around during the height of the 2010 anti-Olympics resistance in Vancouver. We talk about the impact the Olympics has had on the social climate, the surveillance experienced by anarchists and other organizers, and the infamous Heart Attack demo that tore up the city's downtown core.

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What's to say about the "activist tradition" in Montreal or how is it more efficient or well-grounded? It equally achieved so little in opposing gentrification, with their usual bandwagon of demands for (State-funded) social housing. I'd rather say that gentrification in Montreal is way more rooted, less bare and considerably more socially hyped up than in Van, where aggressive gentrification has made the news and sparked a level of passive outrage, like over Reddit. In Montreal you had Leftie projects like the the hipster disneylands of Casa Del Popolo/Sala Rossa type of leftoid gigs, the liberal yuppie Mile End, the Gay Village, the millenials' many communal (yet private) houses and housing coops, acting not as obstacles but *vectors* to gentrification.

That sure would have been one of the best things to do to be having a (self-) sustained squatting struggle around the times of the Olympics, but if there was a squat back then, it was being kept hush-hush for an elite crowd. Which sucked since when I was there I had experienced many squatting projects across Europe and would have been gong ho bringing my enthusiasm in the fold. Most of what I saw during that "resistance" was that sectarian maoist gang everyone surely knows by now (who may or may not have been the RCMP... back in the days their undercovers were all still covered up) and the reformists. The activist superstars were from either of these, and frankly... I still would have put my money on someone like Harsha even if she was siding with reformists, instead of these few dodgy insurrecto maoists known for whoring/pimping around. So I understand the more radical anarchos to be uninterested in this activist circus, yet what else did they do?

That moment where E. Hastings was occupied was pretty cool, yet too late to become something interesting imo.

Clandestine squats, or people self-organizing and taking direct action to meet their needs and desires, is elitist? You decry activism but want us to make our squats public, or, turn them into activist statements...

their existence was safe-kept within a tiny private group of friends. While I understand why people would be so paranoid in a context of aggressive evictions, this clearly didn't help against such a context in the first place. One of the strengths of the Euro squatter movements is the possibility for motivated individuals you don't know too much in the first place to be joining your squatted space and contribute to it in one way or another. Then when there is an eviction you multiply the potentials for not just starting new occupations elsewhere, but also making this praxis a praxis for a growing number of anarchos (i.e. making it "live"). The reason for the demise of the squatter milieus in Germany wasn't only related to political repression (that indeed was aggressive) but also to the super-exclusive gimmicks of the few collectives running the remaining occupations. Leaving Hamburg and maybe Potsdam aside.

That makes sense. What's an example of these "exclusive gimmicks" then? Like identity stuff or sectarianism or what?

PS: regarding the squats at the time, always had the impression that anything that got opened up and announced as public was very quickly crushed by the po because they seemed aware of how their problems multipled when they left political squats to build up a base of support.

So there were secret squats and there were squats that last 12hrs or less. That's how it seemed to me.

For fuck's sake... "opsec" doesn't mean full paranoia against anyone out of your direct gang. It means to be controlling the info you're giving away, who you give it to and how it's packaged. Making a squat fully public in most parts of NA will be obviously a 12 hours house party, AT BEST. I was talking about just letting it know to those who prove reliable enough to know. Don't tell me there ain't a middle ground somewhere...

Easier said than done, mon ami!

Also, don't opsecsplain ;)

By "exclusive gimmicks", I meant not being able to be welcomed in a squat, even for a night, on the sole basis of them not knowing you.

So to make sure nobody they don't know doesn't know about their squat(s) is just a higher notch in exclusive politics.

Your description of elitist still doesn’t make sense. You are asking people to sacrifice enormous amounts of their time and energy, face possible arrest/court time/criminal record, etc., in the highly unlikely scenario that their actions might inspire others or so that anarcho tourists and travellers with no understanding of local context can join in for a few days?

Have you actually ever started a squat? At any time in Montreal or Vancouver there are dozens of them. Every now and then some comrades want to alter their ‘praxis’ ( I hate that leftist word), from taking care of their needs through collective direct action to a more confrontational approach, but neither is better than the other. Having been involved in several of both, they are just different undertakings, with the public ones almost always quickly overtaken by an activist ethic and devolving into reformist demands for social housing, and the clandestine ones posing no substantive threat to the social order. But that is the nature of squatting - it has inherent limits unless it is on a large scale like The Francis Street squats or the ZAD etc.

My praxis is a drinking game where you drink every time a post leftist says praxis or has to do backflips to avoid saying it.

What's another word for when you actually do shit but like, you think about it first?

Been a post-left anarchist for quite a while and have never written or uttered “praxis”

The latter should only be a last or forced resort. Anarchy in an age of hierarchy is about doing things in a semi-visible not so public way(think the freemasons and other 'secret' societies). What might make sense is to involve some level of blockchain economic system to create further solvency. Not to the level of fetishism or anything like that but just enough in the context of the exchange relations that we do live under. A naked practice of Proudhonian economics if you will.

"At any time in Montreal or Vancouver there are dozens of them"

What weird fucking drug u on, dude? Anarcho-leftism?

A makeshift shelter or stealth camping ain't squatting. Couch-surfing ain't squatting.

Squatting's about reclaiming a space for your own, as living and/or organizing and/or partying space. For the few abandoned buildings i've seen in Montreal (and god you don't know how obsessed I've been about these for a while), I've never seen a trace of human presence/activity going on there. Some distant suburban spaces, prolly some are occupied, but they're like distant planets to everyone else. Will you go all the way there even by bike?

Well, when I was around ( quite a few years ago admittedly), there were plenty in each of those cities. Drug squats, punk squats, artsy squats, by night only squats, alcoholic squats, anarcho squats...abandoned houses, abandoned commercial buildings, derelict structures of all sorts...maybe those days are over?

The Vancouver plebiscite to host the Olympics resulted in a yes vote. This guy is a liar.

They meant everyone who isn't a fucking idiot. When polled, everyone who wasn't yuppie scum and had two brain cells to rub together, voted no. But like, not by actually voting because again, for fucking idiots.

Given how most people in Van were already yuppie scum back in 2010, that's a double negative, no?

There was about 2 dozen of us who opposed the olympics, if you recall :P

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