Gentrification, like all facets of capitalism, is often presented to its victims as a natural process. Shrouded in the logic of progress and polished up with euphemisms like “neighbourhood revitalization” or “urban renewal”, the violent displacement that it brings in its wake is carefully hidden behind a cover of market forces, zoning changes, public consultations and glitzy marketing campaigns. But those who have felt the force of the ‘invisible hand’ plucking them from their communities and pushing them out of their homes are not so easily fooled.
The illusion that gentrification is natural, or even inevitable fact of life, is shattered when people decide to take a stand and fight back. Attacks targeting the front-line agents of gentrification force people to take sides. Often, the resulting sense of clarity can cut through the smokescreen of inclusivity and social peace that states and capitalists use to lull us into believing our communities are nothing more than potential sites of investment. They remind us that our neighbourhoods have a pulse, and that they are physical territories whose futures can be contested, and ultimately shaped, by the people who live in them.
In this month’s episode of Trouble, the second of a two-part series on gentrification, sub.Media talks to comrades in Montreal, the Bay Area and Berlin to see how people in these cities are fighting back on attacks on their communities by developers, real estate speculators and the tech industry.