The Provisional University, an activist research and autonomous education project based in Dublin is posting a series of articles on the Mortgage Holders Platform (Platforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, or PAH), a Spanish movement of people in danger of being evicted because they cannot pay their mortgages. The movement has emerged in response to the repossession of the homes of those who cannot afford to pay their mortgages. The same banks that have been wholeheartedly supported with public money are kicking people out of their homes and leaving them to pay for the consequences of reckless bank lending.
The PAH has grown from a small campaign to a national movement and has been one of the most active and succesful forms of action in the context of the 15-M movement. They have undertaken a number of actions to fight for the right to housing, including direct action to resist evictions, campaigning for legislation to stop evictions and occupying housing under the control of banks.
The financialization of housing has meant that what should be a social right has become an enormously profitable business for the banking sector, allowing financial institutions to capture huge quantities of socially produced wealth. López and Rodríguez argue that this process of financialization should be conceptualized in terms of a “spatial and temporal extension of the dynamics of exploitation”. But against this process of ‘enclosure’, the PAH are fighting for a different way of accessing and organizing property. Most concretely, by occupying housing held by banks the PAH are creating what can be understood as a form of ‘commons’, a way of accessing and managing urban resources in a manner which is different from, and against, the current model of financial capitalism.
In the first post, published on the 2nd of August, we look at the political economic context of the struggle around housing, focusing on the Spanish property bubble and its crash from 2006.
In the second post, published today, the 31st of August, we look at the social movement background to the PAH, in particular the developments in the ‘okupa’ and social centre movements. In tomorrow’s post we will examine the initial challenges faced by the PAH as well as their campaign around ‘dación en pago’.
We think that it is particularly important to learn from the PAH in the Irish context, given our own mortgage crisis.
The provisional university would like to thank the Institute for Anarchist Studies who provided a grant for the research presented here.
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