A Big Hole On Jagtvej: Remembering Ungdomshuset.
There’s a big hole on Jagtvej. They tore it down and now there’s nothing but a big hole. It could be a carpark. At the wall to Saxons there is still a chimney and flue that they couldn’t destroy. Some people gather around it and there’s a few candles lighting, a makeshift shrine in an imaginary fireplace. Someone tells me that you can go down Jagtvej and if you don’t pay attention you can still see Ungeren in the corner of your eye.
But it really is gone. If this was a normal day I would have come into Copenhagen and walked up the steps and said hi to everyone at the door. I would have walked past the stairwell and into the bar, and all my friends would be there, sitting in a corner and complaining about the kids even if they’re only twenty three. I could have gone to the bar and got a warm organic beer for only 12 kroner and I could have smiled till my cheeks got sore.
But it’s gone now, and there’s nothing but a hole on Jagtvej. It took three days of rioting and seven hundred arrests to tear down Ungeren. but they did it. And now my friends are in jail and who knows when they’ll get out. And there’s a great big hole on Jagtvej.
What could they put there? Property prices have shot right up, now that those disreputable elements have been denied their refuge. It could be a train station, a shopping centre, apartment blocks, even a church, but it won’t be Ungeren.
We had it for over a hundred years. Built by the worker’s movement it was a bookstore, a meeting house, a ballroom, a boxing ring. It grew disused and run down before we took it back, and the resistance used it as a base to fight the fascists from. Years later and it was empty again, ’til the city gave it to quiet a growing squatters movement. Now it became a concert hall, a soup kitchen, a bar, a place for those who wanted something different to go. A place to read books, make music, cook food and drink beer.
But now there’s nowhere left to go. How can a movement centred around a single place survive without that place? It doesn’t seem possible. Even if they do get a new house, it won’t be the same. Who can handle a defeat like that?
There was nothing perfect about Ungeren, it was full of faults and all the inconsistencies that trying to live free in capitalism entails. The market logic penetrates everything, even some supporters of Ungeren would claim that it ‘nurtured creativity’ to please the city council. But you cant express the value of a place like Ungeren in the logic of capitalism. The value of Ungeren was freedom, autonomy, a place that you could organise yourself; that’s what made it fun, that’s what made the people there the nicest people in all of Denmark, how can you sell that to a politician?
But now they have had their way, and once again Copenhagen is to be grey, peaceful, bland and boring. Sports bars, bistros and cinemas, organic food and who fucking cares? Every single bit of it shouting in our face ‘there’s no place outside of capital, there’s no place we can’t find you’. The only answer we have is struggle, struggle and the refusal to give up until our whole lives are made of freedom.
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