It’s time to revisit gentrification here at Social Matter.
The odd part of this phenomenon is that many of the people who are most aggressive in re-settling old, run-down cities destroyed by misguided policies are also usually some of the most ardent fanatics for Civil Rights. Part of the reason for this is that everyone who goes through any kind of modern schooling in the US learns to venerate Civil Rights activists from the 20th century more fervently than any other figures. American schoolchildren probably need to write more essays about Martin Luther King than they do about people like George Washington or Andrew Jackson.
Unlike the colonists who settled North America, today’s re-colonizers tend to hate themselves while being simultaneously self-obsessed. They tend to under-emphasize the historic dominance of their own ethnic group over America’s increasingly ruined cities, while over-emphasizing the very recent migrations into those cities by the ‘historically underprivileged.’
In 1950, for example, New York City was 90% White. By 2010, the proportion was about half that — 44%. Politicians tend to call New York a ‘city of diversity,’ but historically, it was more of a city of Northern European diversity with a few Southerns thrown in to the mix. The Dutch settled the city; not the Africans, and the latter were never all that significant in the history of the place.
People who write about real estate tend to emphasize the early young re-settlers in part because they absorb a lot of risk while rehabilitating neighborhoods by their presence — also tending to be unable and uninterested in actually buying much property. Hipsters come in, pile into apartments, and make their presence felt on the streets, boosting revenues at commercial properties, and making the neighborhood more attractive to speculators of all kinds interested in serving a far higher quality demographic.
First there’s one White kid on the block occasionally going to the local bodega. 18 months later, it’s no longer a Mexican neighborhood.
Despite this, most urban settler types will tend to be as dogmatically leftist as their professors are — they rarely set into these sorts of things with any conscious projects for themselves or their city beyond their own self-advancement and amusement. The self-loathing and the critical poses that they adopt towards their own culture make them seem a little less threatening to the relatively fragile, government-dependent enclaves of what will soon be no longer called ‘racial minorities.’
By making a big show of hating themselves for what they’re doing, they make it a little harder for anyone to actually do all that much to keep them from progressing. Really, the successful way to stop gentrification — and maintain power for your own ethnic group — is to steal stuff, bash some of their heads in, or otherwise use force to scatter the rest of them. Nothing stops gentrification faster than violence, especially when the police are recalcitrant or otherwise unwilling to put in a show of force on behalf of the re-settlers. A spectacular assault or murder of some kind that draws press attention is a basic act of territorial defense that we can recognize in countless different species, but in humans, we tend to call it the expression of some pathology.
This is a sort of pretentious biological strategy — the hipsters consciously try to appear nonthreatening and ‘cool’ with the group that they’re displacing. They then blame the violence that they rely upon on police: the creatures with the fangs and claws that make their entire life strategy feasible. Hipsters will even feign an interest in ‘old-school hiphop,’ or whatever, to seem less threatening than they really are — and of course, vote Democrat, put up Obama portraits in their rental apartments, and fully believe that they’re doing the right thing.
This strategy, which relies on a pretense, has some major holes in it — mainly, that it’s insufficiently conscious, it tends to fail when the police are unwilling to support it (as in cities like New Orleans, Detroit, and Baltimore), and it became much too popular.
Hipster hypocrisy — and part of the reason why no hipster will usually call themselves a hipster — exists because the pretense is itself something that’s part of their adaptation to political conditions in American cities. Speculative hipster classes have cropped up everywhere, but trying to use the same strategy endlessly in cities where it’s not actually adaptive usually ends in hipster brains getting spilled out onto the pavement. In the end, hipsterism winds up being a bad strategy, because it essentially relies on parasitism upon the ‘Giuliani-time’ type policies which American cities have attempted to put into plays uniformly.
But part of what makes the Hipster strategy work is its lack of self-consciousness — it has to deny the existence of ‘Giuliani-time’ type policies like stop-and-frisk that make their implicit political strategies possible. When people force the policy into awareness, the hipster becomes forced to vocally oppose it at the same time as they need it more desperately than before. Since the hipster class is not terribly cohesive, and often incredibly focused on their position on the intra-hipster status hierarchy, they care more about damaging other hipsters than promoting their general interests as opposed to other ethnic groups.
In short, ‘Black lives matter’ to some hipsters because they know that if some of the Blacks take out some of their competition for them, they’ll be able to continue to live in the style to which they’ve become accustomed — if they’re lucky, which they probably won’t be, but they don’t really know that. Riots are a great way to get rents down, and hipsters are renters who could care less about ‘good schools.’
Blacks, Hispanics, and other groups which have been partially contained — but not really suppressed — by these policies tend to understand it fairly well, and activists have been excellent at playing these different groups off of one another and the police. This generates an entropy that feeds off of itself, and will likely get worse before it gets better.