Human Strike at Empire Hotel:
How can one read a ghetto, and understand the paths of description with not ever having been in the ghetto? The comparable might be, a reader try to construct the experience of a hospital, without ever having been hospitalized.
You would read of the sanitation and its septic smells, hallways with doors, moans and excretions, commentaries on the cafeteria, acknowledgment of workers, the mystery of the basement, ect.
But, as you have no doubt been to a hospital, you know this lineage of descriptions fail.
A ghettos success is in its repression of comprehension. What images and stories allowed to leak out are banal. The texture of the ghetto is raked upon the ghetto itself. Its system of symbols is produced within. These symbols cannot be deciphered by alien systems. One can only rule over them- or be ruled by them. Words hold nothing.
In accounting for what is happening, now, in the ghetto, a writer must abandon the pretense of illusion. I have been in most the hotels over the last decade: and I know not what I saw. Another’s anguish is beyond my pale.
All we can read is the structure. The institutionalization of these buildings. The distribution of control threw an assembly of totalitarian channels. Not a network of power (*) we can philosophize, but rather, an assemblage of automised oppressive mechanisms, lorded over by a legion of outreach workers, bureaucrats and cops; as sequestered by a centralized power of force and at the behest of the deterritorialised Empire.
The material confines of control have material histories. Histories of war. War waged over the bodies of the interned. POW’s. It is the methods of internment and the means of war that are open to interpretation. To exist in this war without knowledge of it, is to become a vector of its onward decimation.
(*) The inherent bunk of Networks of Power is not in its departure- but its inability of arrival. A voyage of ceaseless travel that coils the globe never touching down till its eventual crash into oblivion.
Upon the terrain of power, the agents of this theatrical network are free and ambiguous. A parade of messengers each signifying a supposed stream of power. Each a herald trumpeting an echo of the end.
No doubt an army serves power, but not an infinite troop. Nor a force without structure and command. In this war each agent is responsible. All cops are enemies, and all policing genocidal.
Power is networked, it streams threw mandalas of breakers; and we are all factories of these breakers, our biomass fuels the onslaught of power. But we do not all agree to this. We do not all pledge an allegiance to this force. We too are occupied territories. And this is an element of our subversion: to sabotage the networks that cut threw us. To see our bodies as factories of production, to syndicate ourselves in a network of self-management. (But, again, this proletarianisation of ourselves- exposes power and control above and beyond networks. It shows power as something wielded, plates of tectonic control that are supervised and specialized. Specific modifications- targeting specific populations. If just a network, it could be hacked. Somewhere, camouflaged by flanking networks is the centers of command and their commanders; it is they whom must be hacked)
The Natural History of the Ghetto:
Nature, not in its ontology or its essence, but its ecology – its nature. From whence the ghetto begot. Once nature, once a Coast Salish fishing village- then since always a ghetto. The trajectory of colonization runs threw the ghetto, and always the refuse of progress has been heaped here. The land below us runs straight threw to China in skeletal remains of labor and the sacrifices made to labor. The ghetto as a way station for laborers and an internment for what came back. Not simply a surplus as assumed- although there is a real value to that surplus that does exist. The ghetto has always been a concentration camp for labor. By stockpiling workers there it drives down prices of labor elsewhere; and when those workers elsewhere are destroyed by work, they are shipped into the zone. A skid row that runs from every logging mill and coal mine. The whites that made it to the edge of the empire and the slaves shipped from the corners of the earth, only to have their backs broken- where discarded here. And the Indians. For the most part the indigenous populations where massacred by various agents of the continental holocaust. The survivors have existed in a flux of internments- an archipelago of gulags running across the shores and threw the interior and draining out at the end into the ghetto.
The archeology of the building of Babylon-upon-the-coast is best viewed in the excavations of these buildings.
Once, upon settlement- a vast expanse of capital. The degenerated workforce was concentrated in a small zone. A plantation of rent was seeded in massive hotels. The unemployed paid for their unemployment. Those who could, would take any job to get out, those who couldn’t, succumbed to the increasing psychosis of poverty. The collective health of the zone became pathological. Whilst this heart of darkness was carved, comparisons to African rates of HIV where made whilst health emergencies where stuttered. Soon all talk made of the ghetto was made in clinical discourse. Poor, became addicts and crazy. Systems of power became administrations of control. The inherent threat of the working class was lobotomized in the asylum of the ghetto. No more the threats of strikes, On-to-Ottawa Treks, occupations, gas-town riots. The workers- now patients, where drained of labor value and left to the new quarantine.
This is too general and spread thin. So much has become beautiful from this gloom. A solidarity in vulnerability, a collective trauma that makes communes of the Balmoral Hotel ‘as impenetrable to police as a gypsy camp’.
It is these last spaces that must be defended by those who would incite insurrection in the Downtown Eastside.
It is these last holes in empire that the forces of biopower seek to stabilize (**). And look to what ferocity they do so. The entirety of the oppressive apparatus has transcended into destroying the body of the ghetto, not with exclusion and violence, not with prisons and hospitals, but with the sanitised totalitarianism of community.
The police now force the homeless into homes, where a rack awaits them to have their confessions carved into their backs.
Their home; forts of empire, a perfect construction of totality. The sadism of every institution congealed into one single building. Your neighbor is your welfare worker, your file there ever open. At the end of the hall, a health worker separates your medications. In the lobby sits the guard in control of the gate, under the gaze of the police who see all threw close circuit surveillance; all the hotels fortressed and light up with cameras, a panopticon before the viewing station of the police; all information shared benevolently between all agencies operating in a pact of conspiracy. All these agencies become one, all these institutions become one. The utility of fascism permeates.
The government purchases more property to feed the utility. The activist demands more. The government concedes and buys more, and more.
(**) The paradigm of camp, that political space that opens when the State of Exception becomes the rule- that is the hotel-camp. Following the trajectory of internment upon the west coast the current manifestation of camp can be judged by dominations legacy of attempts to capture its subjects and create from them bare-life.
It must be noted that the apparatuses of capture are a response to subversive subjectivities, as the case with the hotel-camp. A strategy to territorialise a nomadic population- becoming empowered in their political movements towards de-subjectification.
The inmates running the asylum! The way forward for a common ground. What is held in commonality here is the strength the binds, it’s the empathy of solidarity. Call to STRIKE! A human strike against biopower!
The social relationships of the slumlord hotels cannot be compared to the alienated violence within the governmental institutionalised hotels. We do not reminisce the slumlords brown shirts patrolling the halls with baseball bats, but we know our force is at this time greater then theirs.
Now, we cannot take the asylums, but we can lay siege to them, create breaks of escape and defend the exodus.
Buildings for our own have proven their militant importance, as well as their call to arms. Where else will we construct our pirate radios; where else to fall back on; where else to eat and dance; where else to sharpen our knives.