Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Profit Versus People.

        Gentrification is not a new phenomenon, nor is it confined to any one town or city. It is just one of the methods used by the financial Mafia to increase their wealth at the expense of the ordinary local people.
      At the moment there is a battle raging in the district of Exarcheia in Athens. The newly elected government, New Democracy is brutally trying to "cleanse" the district by removing people who wish to live together in co-operation mutual aid and a community of common interests, to allow property investors a free reign in filling the area with luxury apartments, expensive restaurants and high priced fashion shops, to syphon money from tourists to the property developers bank accounts. Tourism is their current milking-cow, their goose that lays the golden egg.
      In our world of high finance, the "economy" profit and growth, outweigh any human values, the poor will continually be pushed to the margins until they decide that enough is enough.
       This extract from an excellent article by Molly Crabapple. It is well worth reading the article in full.
      From New York to Berlin, gentrification is consuming cities, and any enchantment a neighborhood offers is a harbinger of its eventual doom. Hoping to boost low real-estate prices after years of economic crisis, Greece began granting the so-called golden visa, a five-year E.U.-residency permit in exchange for a two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-euro investment in real estate, in 2013. Wealthy citizens of autocracies took up the offer. Chinese investors bought up blocks of buildings; one purchased a hundred apartments in Exarchia alone. Many of these apartments were converted into Airbnbs (the Web site has more than three hundred listings for Exarchia), which drove up the rents, drove out residents, and brought in tour guides, who attempt to repackage the neighborhood’s insurrectionary spirit as vapid, marketable cool.
       “They want gentrification, to promote this as a historic neighborhood while destroying its history of artists, struggles, intellectuals, and anarchists.” Anna told me. “They want to do what Berlin did, to sell the neighborhood’s past while killing its identity.” In the last decade, Berlin rents have risen more than a hundred per cent, and for Athenians like Anna, the city is a cautionary tale. Graffiti offered a succinct rejoinder: “Airbnb TOURISTS FUCK OFF REFUGEES WELCOME.” Neither refugees nor anarchists would fit into the city that had been dreamed by the world’s wealthy. That Athens would be a series of clean, glass-walled, interchangeable rooms, through which capital could frictionlessly glide.
        Throughout the winter, police repeatedly attacked Exarchia Square with tear gas and flash-bang grenades. Sometimes the pretext was a protest; other times, it was an attack by anarchists on the police. One night, police trapped residents inside a café for hours. On November 17th, after a march commemorating the 1973 uprising, social media lit up with photos of protesters left bloody by police violence. Three days later, the Ministry of Citizen Protection issued an ultimatum: squatters had fifteen days to evacuate every squat in Greece. By late December, only a handful of squats remained, the last survivors of a network that had once given thousands of refugees a home.
        I thought of the words of an activist from Exarchia, when I asked him whether the government would succeed in fundamentally changing the neighborhood. “Exarchia is not just territory,” he answered. “Territory without people is nothing. I don’t care about losing Exarchia. I care about losing the people.”
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