Teach-out on rent

Alongside the strike by university workers about employer attacks on the USS pensions scheme and disputes over the casualisation and discriminations of university jobs and pay, there will be a teach-out on Tuesday 3 December at 11:30 in the brick circle @ Tolmers Square NW1 2PE

How can land rent theory help us fight today’s battles? A #ucustrike teach-out, looking back & forward at land, rent, housing, planning with numerous contributors, including

Michael Edwards @michaellondonsf
Callum Ward  @Callumny
Daniel Fitzpatrick @danielmadav
Andrew Purves
Elena Besussi @ecudielle & perhaps others from UCL Bartlett
Louis Moreno, Goldsmiths, whose Review of Brett Christophers is here
(invited) Mary Robertson, Mr Corbyn’s office.
The event is triggered by the re-issue as a Routledge Classic of the 1985 book
Land Rent, Housing and Planning, a European Perspective, edited by Michael Ball, Vincenzo Bentivegna, Michael Edwards and Marino Folin. This was a compilation of Marxist work on rent and private land ownership. Contents and order details at http://bit.ly/2M8z11P
Review of the re-issue by Callum Ward in Radical Housing Journal
The 1985 book was itself one product of The Bartlett International Summer Schools (BISS) on the Production of the Built Environment. These international meetings were held annually from 1979 until 1997 and were the proving ground for a key strand in Marxist urban scholarship centred on the production and labour processes within the whole society. Thanks to the efforts of Jake Arnfield and MayDay Rooms,  the Proceedings of the BISS – out of print for many years – have now been digitised and are online at  http://bit.ly/AllBISS Further work at MayDay Rooms will shortly apply OCR to produce searchable versions.

Notes from Michael Edwards

What we discovered in 1970s and 80s from reading Marx on rent was (for me):
  • Rent as a feature of class relations in the division of the social product, rather than simply another kind of transaction among individuals in markets;
  • Rent and private property relations not only a mechanism for distributing part of the social surplus between capitalists and landowners (Topalov), but one which can profoundly affect the whole structure of the economy, at times fostering particular types of growth, at other times frustrating and extinguishing branches of production (examples of Ben Fine’s analysis of coal mining or, currently, the fortunes of retailing, the stalling of productivity growth);
  • A determining factor in the structure and evolution of construction, the choice of technologies (Michael Ball and Andy Cullen) and the labour process of architects and other built environment trades and professions;
Today’s London issues and rent theory:
  • Mainstream strategies for London dominated by a crude, Neo-classical, supply/demand analysis, an imperative justifying state violence in support of speculative housebuilding, not the meeting of needs;
  • Density controls on London housing which were largely circumvented in our notoriously ‘flexible’ planning system, followed now by the controls being scrapped in favour of ‘design considerations’, fostering developer over-bidding for sites;
  • The fetishisation of ‘agglomeration economies’ to sustain an imperative for London’s growth, underpinned by state investment in infrastructure, with value harvested by landowners including owner-occupiers; (HS2 is ripping up the Tolmers Square area right now.)
  • Endless increments of building height and density in a (?doomed) quest to finance infrastructure from developer profits, with social housing loosing out (Jenny Robinson).
Some current hazards
  • Calls for land nationalisation could simply make a more efficient capitalism (Singapore, new towns (a warning by Massey and Catalano 1978)
  • Calls for Land Value Taxation could simply hand extra power to a (fairer, more wholesome) market, instead of reversing commodification. (Analogous to the UBI dilemma.)

Tolmers Square…

…is part of a development by Camden Council for social housing, secured as a compromise after a long struggle by tenants, squatters, students and local businesses against a huge office development planned by the same developer who had transformed the NW sector of the Warren Street intersection into offices. There are a book and a movie by Nick Wates about it. The photo is from 1977 by Nick Wates and Caroline Lwin (c)

Tolmers 1977 Wates Lwin
A short link for this post is http://bit.ly/33y8AuI

Author: Editors


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: