Nomad Scholarship

In response to Gabriel’s and Cheryl’s posts, I thought I’d share a personal dream of sorts, in the form of a thought experiment. Take this lovely building, located in heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood:


Though I’ve only lived in this neighborhood for about six years, I’ve watched the gentrification machine come and go, and recently return. Around the time this photo was taken, I believe the only commercial tenants on the first floor were the Comet Tavern (live music, on the corner) and the Basic Plumbing bath house (yes, that kind of bath house) to the right. The bath house has closed and a diner is currently going in. A seedy dance club where there was a shooting back in 2008 or so has been split into two retail spaces, one of which is The Lobby bar, and the other of which stands empty. But the retail isn’t what…

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3 thoughts on “

  1. I’m into it. And am in agreement on the first task of reversing primitive accumulation.

    I’m not so confident in the ability of combined radical and reformist movements to free property from such a state of capture.

    The first thing that comes to mind while reading this post is the relatively recent and short lived occupation of the vacant warehouse (formally the Union Cultural Center, now a ditch, soon to be unaffordable apartments) located one block south.

    About 70 radicals stormed building, barricaded the entrances, dropped banners from the roof, and had an impromptu dance party. Part of what makes this approach fruitful is the antagonism. Proof that conflict can be fun. The pigs show up to tell the occupiers that the party is over and are surprised to be greeted by a locked door, while jeers and spit are volleyed from above.

    From CHS Blog: &

    I enjoy the struggle I take part in. It seems like working with reformist groups usually involves charity and sacrifice, compromise and appeasement. Boring!

    Thought experiments surrounding alternative economic systems are also fun. But i do not like the idea of transforming capitalist relations into radical ones, especially with help from reformists. I would rather attack, carving out space for radical alternatives.

    The aforementioned occupation did not last very long. Special weapons and tactics breached the building before sunrise. I’m wondering if you think a radical approach to freeing property isn’t sustainable without the reformist component? If so, does less sustainable equate to less disruption to flows of capital? I guess it probably depends…

    • Thanks for the comment and I apologize for the slow response. I do remember the occupation at 10th/Union and am fully supportive of those radical movements that burn the brightest, even if they don’t burn the longest. And I loved Babylonia’s subsequent marriage to the building as well. My entire argument is based on an idea of expanding the number of participants in action that registers on a spectrum between reformist and radical, though I’d hope that it could become increasingly radical as time went on. Something like coming to be part of the 10th/Pike building as a co-op though “sweat equity” seems to be a more accessible way than storming a warehouse, and I do think it’s more sustainable, because the special weapons won’t be an issue. So I’m calling for both reformist and radical action, in an attempt to gather as much momentum and many bodies as possible.

      As for the question of the relationship between sustainability and disruption of flows, I think the more sustainable and reformist path that I’m advocating for here, would, in the long term, be more of a disruption. The rent on the land would be fixed, and even if the speculative value of the land increased, the ‘rent gap’ would be of no concern. There would no longer be a structural reason for the property to participate in the process of gentrification.

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