What is a city? What should it look like? Who lives in these places? Who gets to make these decisions? Those are the questions that all cities face. The antagonism in every case comes down to who a city belongs to. The locals, those who have lived there their entire lives, who were born, spent their youths and got old, laboured and built it and brought up their children there, who welcome refugees and migrants into their families and communities, who contribute to its cultural and spiritual wealth, will claim it belongs to them. Rich parasites, who have no claim whatsoever except for the fact that they are moneyed, will claim it is theirs. It is this conflict of interests that brings an anarcho-punk community in Berlin called Køpiplatz to the forefront in October 2021.
Squatted since 1990, Køpi is an alternative community that houses roughly fifty people and their children, some of whom have lived there since birth. Køpi is a significant part of Berlin’s alternative culture, having played host to thousands of solidarity shows and musical acts from across the world and contains an alternative cinema, an infoshop, band rehearsal rooms, sports spaces, a bar and community kitchens. Next to the building itself is Køpiplatz, a community of around thirty people living in construction wagons. Køpi and Køpiplatz are at the heart of the city’s antagonistic counter-culture and are potent symbols of resistance to the neoliberal status quo. Køpiplatz is currently scheduled to be cleared on the 15th of October to be redeveloped into loft apartments and luxury student residences.
This follows a year after the eviction of the legendary anarcha-queer-feminist space Liebig34, which witnessed roughly 2,000 cops clear the building, all to make way for latte-sipping yuppy progressives who use their over-priced organic supermarkets and other trendy bullshit to make working class people feel unwelcome in their own areas. When right-wing anti-vaxxers tried to storm the Reichstag two months prior on the other hand, there were perhaps three cops defending the building, giving an indication of where the state's priorities really lie. This reflects the general trend of gentrification across Berlin. In recent years, several important alternative spaces have been wiped off the map, including the Syndikat and Meuterei bar collectives, DieselA, Sabot Garden, Drugstore, Friedel54 and Liebig14. While many others remain, including Rigaer94, Potse, Mollie and Ratibor, they are also facing the threat posed by the endless development that seeks to eliminate any vestige of working class culture in the city.
This is why the battle for Køpiplatz is so important. With so much space already lost, not another step back can be taken. Losing Køpiplatz would lead to the expulsion of Køpi and so on and so forth. A loss there would be an absolutely devastating blow to Berlin’s counter-culture. As the Interkiezionale group notes, we can understand “this process of Gentrification as yet another mega-project, perfectly in line with the extractivism development of contemporary capitalist society, which extracts all the resources of the territory, a process that involves large private interests, national and foreign, the state and finance in its various articulations to grab the resources on the territories against the interests of local communities and the environment on which they depend, distorting the way society can self-organise.”
We in Anarchist-Communists Meanjin voice our solidarity with Køpiplatz. Like Berlin, Meanjin is also subject to soaring rent prices and gentrification. Districts once overflowing with creative energy have given way to canyons of empty streets polluted with American trash food joints and corporate bars. As we have previously noted, “as long as the working class lacks access to and communal control of their own sustainable housing the crisis will remain, sometimes at a low point and at other times surging upwards. As long as a landlord class remains, homelessness will continue, renters will be exploited and housing will remain precarious. These simple facts cannot be legislated or reformed away, only the destruction of capitalism can resolve them.” It is to this end that ACM has enthusiastically supported the formation of the Southeast Queensland Union of Renters (SEQUR). The defeat of the developer’s plans for Køpiplatz will serve as inspiration to people fighting for their communities across the world. Yuppy invasions can only be stopped when the bastards are too scared to move in.
Stop gentrification and speculation! Stop the eviction of Køpiplatz! Stop all evictions!
Køpi Bleibt Risikokapital.