You hear a lot about gentrification these days.
As with so many other phenomenon, gentrification is best defined by Urban Dictionary, which defines gentrification as:
When a bunch of white people move to the ghetto and open up a bunch of cup cake shops
Oppression of the professional victim class by Da Man.
It’s hard for people to understand old practices and institutions. Nevertheless, many modern phenomenon are just old ones re-hashed. Slavery, for all its faults, was a solution to certain problems that haven’t left us and that we don’t have better solutions for.
Another example of a problem that our ancestors were better at solving is the problem of how to civilize an uncivilized area. They called this process colonization. We can’t hope to perform this task on the same scale, so we have a mini-version of the same process called gentrification.
Not only were our ancestors better at giving rise to civilization, but they took on the process on a much grander scale. They tried to civilize areas that had no familiarity with modernity, had never been civilized and were far away from existing pockets of civilization.
An Egypt that’s as civilized as Lord Cromer’s or a “Zimbabwe” that’s as civilized as Ian Smith’s Rhodesia is incomprehensible to the modern mind. We can’t even get the citizens of Detroit some decent food.
What better exposes the absurd notion that we have progressed politically in the last few hundred years as a lie than the fact that we’ve given up expanding civilization across the world and are instead desperately trying to carve out patches of civilization in our largest cities?
If you read about gentrification regularly, you’ll notice that any discussion is always accompanied by stories about how it’s negatively affecting parts of “the community.” For example, here’s The New Republic on gentrification:
where only a decade or so ago gunshots provided the beat in the background noise: People leading pets to dog parks, picking up Italian kale at the corner farmers’ market, meeting friends at the local gastropub, admiring the latest yarn-bombed bike rack. The only housing towers going up in these rising neighborhoods have penthouses and lap pools.
Sounds like everyone is a winner, right?
Not so fast, you see the problem is that the uncivilized residents of these areas (the ones shooting each other) are not the ones doing the re-civilizing. This surprises the progressive mind:
When I recently asked a half-dozen urban planners to name places revived by indigenous residents alone, they were hard-pressed to come with examples.
The problem is that civilized neighborhoods lack diversity. And, when the choices are the absence of gunshots or diversity, are we really so sure gunshots are all that bad?