Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The contradictions of class. Gentrification is led by liberals; they've always been the avant-garde of capitalism.

NYT
LONDON — The widening gap between haves and have-nots in debt-saddled Europe has sharpened a debate over whether the accelerating gentrification of its major cities is leading to the ghettoization of their urban poor.

The rioting in housing projects in the northern French city of Amiens this month marked a recurring phenomenon in France, after decades of planning policy consigned the urban working classes to suburban “banlieues” where poverty and unemployment are now rampant.

In Berlin, a magnet for an international set of affluent hipsters and artists since the Wall came down in 1989, locals are opposing a plan to demolish Communist-era apartment blocks in a prime city center location and replace them with upscale homes and shops.
"While people generally think of gentrification as the process wealthier residents displacing poorer ones, it's also about revitalizing retail/commercial corridors that have become a bit, well, hellish. When I first got to the urban hellhole there were only a few locations I would think to direct visitors to, not because the city had nothing else to offer, but because areas were a bit spotty if you didn't have a destination in mind. Now there are many more."

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