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(click here to see an egalitarian law about it and click here to see a letter about it by a PDRBoston member)


Gentrification is when a working class neighborhood becomes too expensive for the long-term residents to remain, as wealthier people move into the neighborhood and displace many of the poorer ones. Sometimes wealthier people move into the neighborhood because of something that previously caused it to be more desirable, such as extending a subway line into the neighborhood for the first time. And sometimes wealthier people, for whatever reason, buy homes in, or rent apartments in, the neighborhood, "spruce up" the property and arrange for other improvements in the neighborhood. In either case the result is that property values increase, which in turn causes property taxes to rise and in turn rents to rise, leading to poorer people (either home owners who can no longer afford to pay the increased property tax, or renters who can no longer afford to pay the increased rent) being forced to leave.


The "gentry," meaning the wealthier newcomers, are typically professionals earning relatively high salaries, but they are not typically members of the plutocracy--billionaires, CEOs and other corporate and banking elites with hundred-million dollar salaries and politicians who serve them--that rules in our dictatorship of the rich. Often the "gentry's" wealth and income provide them a standard of living that is not substantially better than most people would have if we had an egalitarian society.


In an egalitarian society with no rich and no poor there would be no gentrification as there would be no "gentry"--no people enjoying a higher standard of living than others. In an egalitarian society nobody who was willing to work reasonably would have to leave their neighborhood for lack of enough money to remain in it. Any improvements to the neighborhood would be enjoyed by the long-term residents as well as any newcomers to the neighborhood.


The cause of "gentrification" is, thus, the class inequality of our society. In a society based on inequality, in which some people have a lot more money than others and money is power--including the power to buy homes in the more desirable neighborhoods and kick the poorer people out--there will be gentrification inevitably. Trying to end gentrification without abolishing class inequality (i.e., winning egalitarianism) is like trying to stop the water of a river from flowing to the ocean by building a dam--it can't work.


Gentrification should be made illegal. In an egalitarian society it would be illegal. Anybody who worked reasonably "according to ability" would, for that reason alone, own their primary residence free and clear, without having to pay anybody rent or taxes or a mortgage payment (there's no money at all in an egalitarian society); they would be able to take for free what they reasonably need or desire from the economy (or obtain scarce things that are rationed equitably according to need) the same as anybody else because there would be no rich and no poor. Nobody would need to be a landlord renting to somebody else in order to afford to pay the tax and mortgage payments on their own home. Everybody could own their own home free and clear.


Who, exactly, is the enemy?


When it comes to gentrification, the enemy is all the people who deliberately enforce class inequality to gain at the expense of others. The people who must be removed from power in order to abolish "gentrification" are the plutocracy and those who willingly serve them: politicians who raise property taxes instead of taxing the plutocracy, landlords who raise rents more than required to offset the rise in property taxes, and the police who evict tenants from their apartments when they fail to pay the increased rents. The "gentry" are not the enemy for earning relatively high salaries and wanting to live in a nice neighborhood convenient to where they work. Some of the "gentry" may very well support an egalitarian revolution. Some of the gentry, on the other hand, may act to enforce inequality and attack the egalitarian revolutionary movement. Individual members of the "gentry" should be judged on the basis of how they act. Treating somebody as the enemy just because they are part of the "gentry" serves no useful purpose and only weakens the egalitarian revolutionary movement.



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