If “the revolution devours its own,” as the saying has it, then anti-gentrification activists in Boyle Heights, a heavily Latino district just east of downtown Los Angeles, have been feasting. They have greeted liberal artists and hipsters with racial taunts, vandalism, boycotts, and mask-wearing demonstrators. In several cases, they have succeeded in forcing events and establishments to move their activities elsewhere.
One of the pipe dreams the left tells us that, “if we could get rid of these conservatives, we’d have harmony and comity.” No where is that disproven more consistently than in California. We’ve seen the slugfest over single-payer healthcare and this is yet another example.
The thing the left forgot which engenders debacles such as this is the class struggle. For all of their talk about being the champions of the oppressed, liberals have forgotten about the importance of class differences. Gentrification, for all the improvement it can develop, runs up already high housing and other living costs, dispossessing people of limited means. It’s little wonder the current residents fight back.
As someone who sees first hand gentrification taking place in my community, I have mixed feelings about the process. On the one hand, it does make for a spiffier looking neighbourhood. On the other hand, the pushing out of the existing residents is clear. In the South, that generally means mostly black neighbourhoods, and these, with their churches, were the place where the civil rights movement was born. And, of course, it’s hard to take when we turn over parts of town to the people whose main claim to greatness is getting laid, high or drunk, no matter what their income level is.
What neighbourhoods like Boyle Heights need are community organisers with a vision to make the place better with existing residents and self-sufficient economics. Instead we have too many which use their community prominence to move to higher office; Barack Obama is the outsized example of that.
If this trend continues, what we’ll end up with is the same thing we see in Europe, where the prosperous city centre is surrounded by suburbs ranging from good to hopeless. Not only will our elites have to go over flyover country, but they’ll have to speed through ungentrified places to get to the airport.