Squatter Problem LO19761

Rol Fessenden (Rf9@compuserve.com)
Sat, 7 Nov 1998 19:30:06 -0500

Replying to LO19755 --


I missed the early discussion of squatting, but I thought your post was
very thoughtful. As you implicitly point out, the whole concept of
"Squatting" implies that someone has a pre-eminent right to whatever it is
that the squatter is squatting on. In many cultures, property ownership
is just such a pre-eminent right. However, in many, many other cultures,
'ownership' itself is a foreign concept. In some parts of Africa for
example, people do not own land, but the do have priority over the land
they physically inhabit and farm at any given time. They may choose to
move on to another piece of land, and if they do, they give up any claim
to the land they left. In choosing their new land, the only pre-requisite
is that no one else be inhabiting it at the moment. The president of the
country may have inhabited it 3 years ago, but that is of no consequence.

The notion of pre-eminent right is, of course, an emotional one. In the
US people feel a pre-eminent right to a particular job, or perhaps to any
job in a particular company. This pre-eminent right is disappearing. We
also have the notion that particular industries should stay put, so for
example, the textile industry should not move from the southern US to
various third world countries. Of course, we ignore the fact that the
industries moved originally to the southern US from my home, New England.
I guess if I wished, I could hold a grudge against the southern US for
stealing New England jobs, but it seems inconsequential. Even the
industries in New England originated in England, so perhaps all textile
industries should revert to jolly old England.

Which leads to my real point. Squatters may be breaking man's laws.
However, they are not doing anything unusual in the broadest, historical
sense. In a very real sense, squatting is the very first step in changing
from one world order to another. There is no guarantee that squatters
will improve anything, but the absence of squatting-type behavior is a
pretty strong indication that things are too static.


Rol Fessenden

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