Alexander Bard on Sun, 18 May 2014 15:09:44 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Gentrification - or a focus on income and wealth?

Dear Friends

Concerning the recent discussions on the evilness of Google and/or
Facebook as corporations (one thing) and the evilness of Google and
Facebook employees for causing major gentrification to speed up in
the Bay Area (an entirely different issue to me), can soebody please
explain to me how gentrificaton became a major cause of concern to
leftists? It smacks of good old conservatism to me.

Should cities be stale, unchanged, fixed over time? Should people only
be allowed to move through government directives and/or death? If not,
then why is gentrification our concern? Is Niznij Novgorod suddenly
the ideal here?

Should we not be more concerned with the classic issues of wealth and
income distribution and Piketty's extremely vaiid point that Europe
and America have returned to a 19th century class society in terms of
precisely wealth and income (for which Reagan and Thatcher plus of
course Blair should correctly be blamed)? Because the problem with
gentrification is not that rich people buy poor people's property when
the poor can not afford to keep them (or as is of course mostly the
case, the poor never owned the property in the first place) but if and
when the wealthy have all the wealth in the first place (which is far
from always the case at gentrification).

Every time I see a political maneuver to save a city from
gentrification the biggest benefactor turns out to be a terribly
wealthy old ladiy who likes to keep an eight-room apartment for
herself and a cat. I just don't like the naivety of Soviet-style
economics precisely because it kills both creativity and equal
opportunity even with the best of intentions. So why can't we do
better than that and go straight to the core of what a class society
is: The struggle over financial means. Today increasingly also the
struggle over connections (lobbies killed democracy) and education and
job opportunities etc. But back to Marx! Would he have been concerned
with gentrificaton? Certainly not. It was a conservative concern then
and so it is today.

And if gentrification is a particularly bad problem in the Bay Area,
have you guys even heard of Mumbai, Shanghai or Istanbul? Doesn't seem
so, or have I missed something here at Nettime?

If you're particularly horrified at gentrification in the Bay Area,
perhaps it is just because it happens to be particulary fast and
therefore obvious there (for American standards, it is still nothing
compared to Asian and Latin American megacities) and perhaps because
you're docking the real issue here: lax Californian taxation. Nope?

Best intentions, but more long term I hope

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