Reclaim your time and reclaim the definition of space
“[Space] is a means of production, it is also a means of control, and hence of domination, of power.” — Henri Lefebvre
Land and space are means of production. Without shelter and without a social space, you exist in a vacuum. The power to even organize the labor you perform outside of your home will be limited. Without unfettered access to land to live on, and space you have agency over, the ability to build a family, and a community will be negligible. How do you organize without a place to live? How can you negotiate with no habitation?
You can’t do these things. This is both a theoretical concept and an empirical concept.
We need access to habitats that have no connection to the capital of the rich. Meaning a person, an LLC, or a corporation can’t make money off the land we live on, and the habitat of where we live isn’t tied to labor we perform to increase the capital of a person, an LLC, or a corporation.
Often when you hear the phrase “seize the means of production,” the focus is frequently labor. The idea is, we’re going to take the factory and work for ourselves. I don’t want to work at a factory. I do not want to own Amazon. I am personally of the belief that while capitalism still exists and poverty and housing insecurity are widespread, we should reject working completely.
I’ll use the argument of those on the left against UBI, those wages just go to landlords who will continue their sadistic behavior. But unlike UBI, you’re too exhausted to do anything. How work is constructed now is about controlling you, exhausting you, and not paying you. What can you do now but pay your rent, pay off your credit card, pop a sodium-filled frozen entree in the microwave, sleep, so you can do it again tomorrow? You can’t organize a paradigm, that entire point is to make you suffer and break you down.
The masochistic fetish of work that is unfulfilling is based on, as Marx said, “the opiate of the masses” religion.
An idle mind is the devil’s workshop is the cynicism of many in the West. Isn’t it interesting how the devil is always associated with challenging the rich and powerful? But as god is not a universal truth, neither is the devil.
A 40-hour workweek is no longer necessary for those who have moved beyond the idea of puritanical busywork. Technology has made a 10-hour workweek within reach for the vast majority of humanity in the West. Physical tasks can be shared and extra work if wanted can be done, but no one has to work 40 hours anymore.
But it is challenging to think on that level. We can’t help but take what is happening now and fling it into a future hellscape. Murray Bookchin stated in 1978, “I’m not a futurist at all. I’m a utopist. I want to see this word revived. I want to see us use it. I want to see us think utopian.”
Before we can seize any factory, we need a place to sleep. We need a place to organize. We need protection from the elements. This is why these are scarce. The wealthy knows that without a secure place to sleep, you cannot oppose them.
And we need to stop thinking about labor as a thing we do away from home.
Building a community is labor. Caring for people is labor. Creating a place where everyone has access to their dreams is labor.
Advances in technology have opened up our door to countless opportunities. We do not have to fear it. A.I., algorithms, etc., are designed by humans. As a community, we need to encourage the creation of algorithms that expand access to justice, allow for more free time which would support and strengthen family and community life.
Our advances can significantly improve the quality of all life and preserve the natural environment. Those could easily be the objective of technological advances rather than profit and control through surveillance.
Labor, as it was designed from the 19th century, rooted in colonization and chattel slavery doesn’t have to be the model of future union-organized working. There will never be a big push by people to organize if our big ideas still don’t allow the average person a place to live.
We need shelter. We need shelter that doesn’t require two people doing backbreaking work 40 or more hours a week and a side hustle. Housing prices are out of control, philosophically because the wealthy views the entire planet, including us, as pieces on a gameboard, but the exact mechanism that is driving up our housing prices is speculation.
The wealthy have swindled the land. The entire Western hemisphere is two paychecks from defaulting on their mortgage, car loan, or payday loan and in grave danger of being evicted. This is a human construction and not to the benefit of most. The land has no owner. It was already here. How do you claim nature as yours? You do not. We’re all its steward, and the land should be reclaimed and put into a trust. That trust needs to protect the land from environmental harm and utilized to provide housing for people.
People are not capital, and neither is land.