[many links in original]
Gentrification as Total War or “Triumph of the Williamsburg”
Written by Bjørn Vosskriger
The descent of Ferguson into chaos, the bankruptcy of Detroit, and the arrest of yet another black mayor on corruption charges might lead one to question whether or not civilization in America can be salvaged. One commenter threw out “Rebel’s Guide to the Collapse of an American City,” which, if taken at face value would suggest that all American cities are doomed to become mega-Camdens, or worse American Port-Au-Princes. The commenters on the article largely agreed, lamenting that their city centers were stolen by mobs of rampaging blacks. From where I sit, however, the forces of civilization are fighting back in cities and neighborhoods across the country, and winning. Take one specific neighborhood, Harlem’s 28th Precinct. Just 23 years ago, the epicenter of black culture in New York City had 41 murders, 71 rapes, and 1050 robberies. The same neighborhood last year experienced 2 murders, 12 rapes, and 211 robberies, a staggering decrease in crime. Like Harlem, neighborhoods that just ten years ago were considered “no-go zones” are now attracting white settlers by the tens of thousands. America’s murder rate, once the highest in the developed world has fallen to a fifty year low.
The essay that follows is a very brief history of the conquest of many American cities by a predominantly black underclass, the nascent Reconquista, and an examination of the strategies and tactics in use. I choose to look at gentrification through the lens of total war. For gentrification to be successful, it requires mobilizing disparate elements of society: individuals, families, businesses, governments, and civic organizations. Like war, the strategy and tactics best suited to reclaim a particular neighborhood are highly context dependent. The ideal strategy for the Malaya Emergency (anti-communist counterinsurgency) is very different from the Battle of France (maneuver warfare with combined arms). Similarly, the ideal strategies for reclaiming West Oakland and Harlem may differ significantly.
Any foreign visitor to America who is not steeped in our history would likely visit a city like Chicago, St. Louis, Oakland, or Detroit, and wonder, “How is it that the wealthiest country in the history of the world has allowed some of its nicest cities to become smoking craters?” The answer is complex, but certainly the most common answer is “White Flight.” According to this narrative, once upon a time, nice blacks moved to predominantly white cities to work in the factories. Racist whites were aghast at the thought of black neighbors, so taking advantage of FHA subsidized mortgages and vast freeways, they all moved to the suburbs, taking their wealth with them. Then, starved for tax money, the now 90+% black inner cities became the hellscapes we know them as today. One question that is rarely raised is this, “How did predominantly German, Italian, Irish, Polish cities like Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis come to have enough blacks to alarm the whites in the first place?” A large part of the explanation is the “Great Migration.”
Between 1910 and 1970, roughly 6 million (mostly rural) blacks moved from the American South to the cities of the North and West. This deluge produced radical changes to the ethnic makeup of Northern cities. The blacks mostly moved to the poorest parts of Northern Cities putting them into direct conflict with poor, relatively recent immigrants, often Irish or Italian whites. While many places tried to contain the situation using racially restrictive covenants, change was coming to America. That change was Progressivism. One after another, federalism replaced localism, anti-discrimination trumped freedom of contract, and mass democracy became the law of the land. The death knell for white urbanism in America was the Supreme Court decision to integrate public education. Soon enterprising Real Estate agents began blockbusting, essentially the practice of selling blacks homes in overwhelmingly white neighborhoods with the goal of encouraging whites to sell their home immediately, before property values fell further. Mapping the decline, a University of Iowa project, painfully demonstrates the destruction of one American city: St. Louis, Missouri. Following the abolition of racial covenants in 1948, blacks began to take control of St. Louis proper before marching on in inner-ring suburbs like Pine Lawn, Normandy, and Jennings.
Seeing the rising crime, decline in school quality, and coming terrible governance, most whites made the rational decision to make a tactical withdrawal to adjacent suburbs. Certainly some of the decision to move en masse was a result of rising post-war prosperity, the “baby boom”, and the desire to live in single-family dwellings, but those factors were transient while “White Flight” continues today in places like Ferguson, MO and Conyers, GA.
While Progressives were certainly shocked that newly black cities became mired in crime, corruption, and poverty and sought to blame their problems on the departing whites, some Progressive politicians tried to slow or reverse the collapse of civilization occurring in America’s inner cities. Unfortunately, guided by incorrect ideas, their proposed solutions were often doomed from their inception. Many of their programs have been lumped under the umbrella term “Urban Renewal.” One sociological theory suggested that black misbehavior was a result of the abysmal conditions of the slums in which they lived. In the 1930’s through 1960’s the Federal government provided large sums of money to municipalities like Chicago, St. Louis, and New York. The cities took the money, razed ghettos and build massive Modernist monstrosities like the Pruitt-Igoe and Cabrini-Green housing projects. Concentrating thousands of poor and violent blacks in high-rise towers created a civilizational black hole, a place in which any amount of money could be poured without raising the standard of living one iota. Other top-down plans such as “tax increment financing,” “blight condemnation,” and “Model Cities Program” attempted to impose the urban planner’s vision on a rapidly declining urban core.
Rather than stanching the demographic bleeding, such policies generally enriched politically connected businesses and corrupt politicians. In one famous example, the black mayor of Detroit, Coleman A Young used eminent domain to seize the homes of 4,200 predominantly Polish residents to enable General Motors to build a new factory. More recently, sociologists have insisted that persistent black poverty and crime is a result of the structural racism inherent in projects like Cabrini-Green, which were perceived as being “warehouses for the poor.” The “solution” came through the increasing implementation of subsection 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 the “Housing Choice Voucher Program.” Conservatives love “choice” and “vouchers,” so this plan had immediate bipartisan support. Section 8 offered blacks on the dole the Federal government to pay private landlords the difference between 30% of their income and the market rate for apartments. In principle, the planners believed that moving blacks from urban slums to predominantly white suburbs would fix their crime and poverty, instead they brought their crime and poverty with them. Despite the failure of central planning to rebuild civilization in American ghettos, whites, mainly operating without a central plan or centralized leadership are making great strides in reclaiming American cities.
First, a word on terminology: “gentrification”… let’s be honest for a moment, is a euphemism for “becoming more white.” If, to restore civilization in urban areas, we need to obfuscate this simple fact, so be it. I don’t want the soon to be defined “Fallschirmjäger of gentrification” to wave the flag of demographic replacement. To understand the “how?” of gentrification, first we must understand the “why?” The answer to “why?” is quite simple, visit a city like Manhattan. One is immediately impressed by the insanity of seeing the NJ Transit, Metro-North, and Long Island Rail Road systems transport almost a million workers from the surrounding suburbs into the city everyday. At the same time, parts of Manhattan remain off-limits to whites after dark. To restate the point more clearly, whites endure multi-hour commutes away from their families to earn money so that they can pay taxes that enable blacks to live in government-subsidized housing in Manhattan. This policy is shockingly anti-civilization and here is why.
In general, people with low time preference delay pregnancy until they are confident they can provide for their offspring. Subsiding high time preference blacks by taxing low time preference whites simultaneously increases the birth rate of blacks while lowering the birth rate of whites. A White family whose breadwinner lives in New York City faces the unbearable trilemma of choosing between the following three prototypical options: $5000/month for a 3 bedroom apartment in a white part of the city, $2,500/month for a 3 bedroom apartment in a predominantly black part of the city (such as Harlem), or $2,500/month for a 3 bedroom apartment in a white suburb with a 75 minute commute. If the main economic driver of gentrification is the combination of cheaper rent and a shorter commute, what are the barriers standing in the way of reconquest? The answers are the same is what caused White Flight in the first place: crime, terrible quality schools, and awful governance. To reclaim America’s cities, white settlers must wage total war, leveraging heretofore enemies to reclaim what used to be our ancestors. This is an economic, political, and social war.
Some readers might raise an eyebrow with the explicit use of the word “war” in the context of the American racial landscape, however, just to be clear, any white gentrifier who raises a fist or unholsters a gun must do so only in the context of righteous self-defense. With that clarified, what are the strategies and tactics that the forces of civilization must use to continue reconquer America’s urban areas? The answer that follows is not a simple “battle plan,” more accurately it is a “menu of tactics and strategies” to be applied depending on the particular neighborhood being attacked. Restated, the tactics that worked in West Oakland and Olde Towne East may be radically different.
Of the three primary problems associated with black cities, the most challenging to deal with in a liberal democracy is universally terrible governance. The reason is quite obvious; as H.L. Mencken stated crisply: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Our 144 year experiment with black suffrage has proven that when blacks rise to a majority in a region, blacks gain political power and soon thereafter civilization begins to fray at the seams. So it seems fitting that the first tactic that bears mentioning is the use of a “crisis” to move political power to a higher level. Two cities, Detroit and Harrisburg provide instructive examples. In both cases, the cities proved incapable of managing their own finances and ended up in municipal bankruptcy, thereby enabling the state governments to effectively take over the cities. In the case of Detroit, the appointed administrator was black, but Detroit’s numerous creditors and white governor kept him on a very short leash. Such a transfer of power will simplify and accelerate the other tactics, it is the decapitation strike of gentrification.
In addition to better governance, the two primary needs for white settlers are personal security for their families and educational opportunities for their children. Personal security is the single greatest driver of urban self-segregation in America. Given the startlingly high black murder rate, it should not come as a surprise that whites prefer not to live near blacks. Historically, whites could often tolerate the slow deterioration in personal security that came from a neighborhood that was becoming more black. In many occasions, however, a flashpoint occurred. On July 23rd, 1967, it was a raid of an illegal bar in the Near West Side neighborhood of Detroit. What followed was four days of widespread looting and rioting, 43 deaths and the destruction of over 400 buildings. The Detroit Police, National Guard, and Army completely failed to provide physical security to the hold-out whites in Detroit. The exodus that ensued resulted in Detroit moving from 50% white to less than 10% white. Such riots were common during the “civil rights” era.
Another underappreciated factor that accelerated the white retreat from urban areas was gun control. Early gun control was created by white politicians primarily to disarm freed blacks and later Irish immigrants. When black crime spiraled out of control in the 1960’s, whites in Chicago, Detroit, New York City, St. Louis, and other large cities were prevented from defending themselves by the very laws that they thought would keep them safe. What became rapidly apparent in the late 1980’s, with cities like Baltimore, Maryland becoming known as “Bodymore, Murderland,” laws banning the carrying of guns were ineffectively enforced, and thus the only people who obeyed them were law-abiding whites. This unilateral disarmament by whites was again, one of the causes of the white retreat from black inner cities. 1987, however, marked an important turning point.
Lead by Marion Hammer, Florida became the first major state to pass a law that granted every adult without a felony record the right to carry a concealed handgun. The law’s opponents predicted “blood on the streets,” but the results were slightly less exciting. The passage of the Florida law was a watershed moment; over the following 27 years, assisted by a few favorable Supreme Court rulings, every state in America moved to a very liberal concealed carry regime with the exception of six states (California, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island). Those holdouts are showing cracks at edges, with some counties in in California effectively moving to “shall-issue” in advance of a formal legislative victory. The proliferation of coverage of black mob attacks has proven that mere unarmed combat skills are not enough. Even Chuck Norris would have problems if set upon by a mob of rampaging “teens.” As Jeff Snyder put it so eloquently in A Nation of Cowards:
Fortunately, there is a weapon for preserving life and liberty that can be wielded effectively by almost anyone — the handgun. Small and light enough to be carried habitually, lethal, but unlike the knife or sword, not demanding great skill or strength, it truly is the “great equalizer.” Requiring only hand-eye coordination and a modicum of ability to remain cool under pressure, it can be used effectively by the old and the weak against the young and the strong, by the one against the many.
The handgun is thus an incredible (literal) weapon in the gentrifier’s arsenal. So-called “Stand Your Ground” laws, by removing the duty to retreat, also recognize the sacred nature of self-defense. Despite the improvement in the legislative landscape, individual provision of security not enough. Even if Brownsville was shall-issue, merely carrying a concealed handgun does nothing to protect you from a stray bullet fired during black gang warfare.
To bring the overall level of violence to levels that whites find acceptable, the gentrifiers’ battle plan should include a mixture of more effective policing and private security. New York City is often cited as the greatest urban turnaround story in U.S. history. The damage caused by the mayorships of Koch and Dinkins left a New York City wracked with murder, gang violence, widespread dependency on welfare, and economic stagnation. During his first term, Giuliani appointed Bill Bratton to be the city’s Police Commissioner. Bratton began to apply James Q. Wilson’s Broken Window Theory (BWT) to the problems facing New York City. BWT initially focused on quality of life violations, such as homeless men urinating in subways and vandalism. Because of the escalating nature of penalties on repeat offenders, black criminals with the lowest conformity to social norms will generally get picked up and repeatedly arrested for perceived minor crimes, serving progressively longer criminal sentences each time.
Several criminologists have pointed to the soaring incarceration rate of the 1980’s and 1990’s as a key driver of the decline in the general crime rate. “Stop-and-Frisk” was another NYPD program whose genesis was BWT. NYPD foot patrols would stop blacks and latinos and briefly question them. Then the officer would search them for guns or other contraband. By constantly shaking down young black men for guns and drugs, the NYPD moved the stable equilibrium from one in which almost all young black men involved in crime carried guns to one in which very few young black men carried guns, because the likelihood of getting searched on the street as a black was significantly higher than the likelihood of getting into a gun battle with an opposing black gang.
Although an unfavorable court ruling and new mayor have temporarily killed stop-and-frisk, its effectiveness as a tool for gentrification is beyond dispute. Stop-and-frisk was a tactic optimized for the battlefield of New York City. Lower density cities like St. Louis and Detroit cannot be effectively managed with foot patrols and stop-and-frisk. In such cities, the automotive equivalent of stop-and-frisk, “Driving While Black” or “DWB” can be used. DWB implies aggressively pursuing trivial crimes like broken tail lights, expired registration tags, or rolling stops is likely to furnish a treasure trove of actionable information such as suspended licenses, driving without insurance, outstanding arrest warrants, etc. More generally, it can make blacks with low conformity to social norms feel unwelcome without explicit racial discrimination. That being said, in other areas, selective enforcement of laws is a powerful tactic for gentrification.
Among the most effective Fallschirmjäger of gentrification are gays, hipsters/artists, and punks. Living on the margins of white society, those three groups will often be the first boots on the ground in occupied territories such as Olde Town East, Crown Heights, and West Oakland. As all three groups tend not to have children, enjoy the urban lifestyle, and tend to have imbibed the multikulti kool-aid, it is logical for them to be the tip of the spear in very black territory. Gays benefit from relaxed enforcement of zoning and obscenity laws against gay bars, and a surfeit of cheap, architectural masterpieces. Gays have invaded areas like Olde Towne East, OH and used historical preservation laws to oust neighbors unwilling or unable to play a role in the restoration of the neighborhood. Key to their success as early gentrifiers is the fact that gays almost never need “Good Schools.” Hipsters/artists, as a group tend to like drugs, so relaxing enforcement against soft drugs like cannabis and ecstasy in predominantly black neighborhoods can act as a catalyst for gentrification.
Tech-savvy gentrifiers are using bitcoin to buy weed on Silk Road 2.0 so they can get high while watching Adult Swim. Meanwhile, the poor blacks living next door are getting busted while buying $10 dollars worth of dope in front of the bodega. Such is the disparate impact of the War on Drugs. Tolerating zoning violations to facilitate loft conversions can accelerate the conversion of rundown warehouse districts into “hip” neighborhoods. Punks can benefit from a hands-off policy towards noise complaints, as they enjoy throwing warehouse parties. Areas in which public intoxication is tolerated can also foster gentrification. Relaxed drug enforcement to lure in punks should be taken as a given. Such tactics were very effective in West Oakland, California. Of course, after the Fallschirmjäger of gentrification have served their purpose in making the neighborhood safe enough, the Infanterie of gentrification, college students and young professionals can move in, drive up the rent, and force the Fallschirmjäger even deeper into black territory. Beyond the police, and selective enforcement, private security can be a vital tactic for gentrification.
In cities where blacks have ruled for decades, it would be foolish to count on the police for the simple reason that the police will likely be as corrupt and incompetent as the rest of the city government. While some cities such as Camden, NJ and Jennings, MO have had their police departments abolished and replaced with a county police force, that alone is generally is not enough to restore civilization in a city as far gone as Detroit. In situations where the police are unreliable, private security is an important tactic to offer gentrifiers physical security. One place where private security has proven invaluable is Downtown Detroit. Led by Dan Gilbert, founder of QuickenLoans and Detroit native, private security has helped whites carve out an enclave of order within the generally uninhabitable city of Detroit. Private security has long been stereotyped as work for overweight mall cops, but that idea is outdated. Private Military Contractors such as Constellis Holdings, MPRI, and DynCorp, have shown their mettle in places nearly as bad as Detroit, including Baghdad and Kabul. With America’s overseas occupations winding down, tens of thousands of ex-mercenaries would probably champ at the bit for a stable job defending civilization on American soil. Also, given their high levels of steroid usage, they are far more “The Terminator” than “Paul Blart.” Beyond mercenaries, many police officers work private security as a second job. As a private business, a security company can attempt to skim the cream of the police department, enabling them to recruit even from dysfunctional cities like Detroit.
In the 1950’s, private security was relatively costly, as it was very labor-intensive. Today however, with the falling cost of surveillance, one officer can monitor an array of pan-tilt-zoom cameras, only sending expensive officers when required. Back in the mid-90’s, Neal Stephenson suggested that the job of monitoring cameras could be outsourced via then novel technologies like webcams and IP Video to a “Global Neighborhood Watch.” His idea seems a bit dated today, but in the future, surveillance and security should fall in price even further. Quadcopters and four-legged robots (e.g. cheetah-bot) can offer continuous patrol, surveillance, and if necessary incapacitation of criminals using tasers. Facial recognition software combined with webcrawling sites like mugshots.com can be used to identify pedestrians who present higher than average security risks. Cities like Camden and Milwaukee have installed special microphones called gunshot detectors that attempt to pinpoint the source of a gunshot.
The technology, developed by a seismologist and later commercialized by ShotSpotter, can show officers gun shot locations within a relatively small area. The system is still vulnerable to false positives and echoes. Future systems may augment such systems with crowdsourced data. For example, gentrifiers could be asked to install an optional app that adds their smartphone to the sensor grid. Instead of a gunshot being picked up by three microphones (the fewest from which you could get a fix), a gunshot could be picked up by 15, enabling placement to an exact spot. Within a second, nearby cameras would be trained on the shooting, the shooter would be identified. Within 15 seconds, quadcopters could be on the scene delivering a non-lethal shock if the shooter failed to surrender. The deterrence value of such an immediate response would likely eliminate almost all street crime.
Next to physical security, the provision of educational opportunity is key to the battle plans of gentrifiers. Fortunately, education has gotten dramatically easier in the last twenty years with the rise of charter schools, vouchers, and technology-assisted home schooling. In the post-Plessy era, whites and blacks could live in the same city and send their kids to different schools. In the post-Brown era of court-ordered desegregation, whites were forced to either move away or pay out-of-pocket for private schools to ensure their children were not affected by the violence or educational breakdown that accompanies black-majority schools. The destruction of public education as a viable option in many cities nationwide has accelerated the movement towards alternative schooling systems. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, two groups almost diametrically opposed began to promote homeschooling as an alternative to public education: Left-Liberals and Christian Conservatives. Gradually, however, new technology like the iPad and forms of social organization like homeschooling cooperatives, has made homeschooling a viable option for parents that cannot afford to have one parent drop entirely out of the workforce.
Policy improvements like vouchers and charter schools have enabled parents to place their children in schools with competitive enrollment procedures that in practice, tend to keep blacks below 30% of the student body. Some charter schools operate on a simple lottery system based on geography. That can also work to promote gentrification. One example of charter school-based gentrification is City Garden Montessori, a charter school located in St. Louis City. whites have moved into Botanical Heights, the school’s majority-black neighborhood to increase their odds of getting access to the school. No Child Left Behind, a poorly constructed law lambasted by those on the Right and Left had one feature that fostered gentrification. The “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) construct sets a nearly insurmountable obstacle for majority-black schools, namely that they need to increase the standardized test scores of their students. Given that school systems like Newark, Camden, and Detroit sadly function as 8-hour per day prison camps for black children, demonstrating AYP has been a challenge. School districts that fail to demonstrate AYP for more than two years are required to offer children the chance to transfer to other, better schools. whites can now move into a “broken” school district and immediately set about creating charter schools for their children.
Just as individuals and the government have their roles to play, so do private corporations, non-profits, and wealthy entrepreneurs. Because of their vast financial resources and cozy relationship with governments, universities can change the entire character of a neighborhood for the better. They can become “anchor institutions” by doing three things: expanding their facilities into neighborhoods ready for gentrification, purchasing and recasting slum apartments as student housing, and subsidizing employee purchases within “transitional” neighborhoods. Two universities have exemplified this strategy, Washington University and Columbia. Washington University faced a shortage of on-campus housing and a rash of violence against students who attempted to live in nearby University City.
In response the school used its balance sheet to purchase numerous apartments in surrounding neighborhoods. The apartments were rehabbed and rented out as dorms. With thousands of Infantrie backed up by Washington University’s private security invading, civilization is reclaiming the neighborhood, one game of Beirut at a time. The transient nature of students makes them less effective than other occupying forces which is why Washington University and its related research hospital Barnes-Jewish created a program to encourage white settlement in “transitional” neighborhoods to purchase property and settle down. Now two areas, the Central West End and the Delmar Loop are fairly well “stabilized.” Another example of an anchor institution is the previously mentioned QuickenLoans, which has brought thousands of whites into Downtown Detroit.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s mass transportation was a battleground for racial integration. Mass transit in some parts of the country (most notably New York City) allowed whites to retreat to suburbs in Nassau and Westchester counties. In St. Louis, integrated street cars allowed carless blacks to move into north St. Louis. In the 1970’s and 1980’s New York City’s subway system became a literal battleground with vigilantes like Bernie Goetz trying to hold the line against “mobs” of “teens.” Today, however, in some cities, a combination of surveillance and zero-tolerance for criminals has allowed whites to once again ride mass transit. If a subway system is safe and functional, every subway stop in black ghettos is a beachhead for invading gentrifiers. Even in an appallingly violent neighborhood, as long as you do not stare at your iPhone while walking, the likelihood of a mugging during a 100 meter dash to the subway is very low.
Trying to reform the almost uniformly black inner city transit agencies is a bit like trying to fix the US Postal Service, impossible due to a toxic stew of bureaucracy, unions and racial politics. As a result, some private businesses have simply gone around them. Most famously, Google has created the eponymous Google Buses, private motorcoaches that pick up Google employees (who are almost entirely white, Indian, and Chinese) from neighborhoods outside of walking distance from BART/Caltrain stations. This has enabled Google’s Infantrie to penetrate deep into neighborhoods like West Oakland long seen as too remote for carless commuters. Unfortunately, some on the radical left understand the civilizing mission of these buses and have begun attacking them and their riders. Fortunately, Google employees are significantly smarter than the average protestor and Google owns the military robot maker Boston Dynamics, so this is, at worst, a temporary problem.
Given the incredibly mixed track record of Eminent Domain in the hands of bureaucrats, I am loath to suggest it as a tactic, but it has worked well in specific incidents, most notably Columbia University’s pacification of neighboring Manhattanville. When Columbia attempted to expand northwards, it did so primarily through negotiation with the owners of slums and decrepit warehouses, most likely through a shell entity to avoid tipping off owners to their plans. After acquiring the vast majority of the targeted sector, Columbia encountered holdouts who sought to squeeze the wealthy institution. Columbia enlisted the aid of the the reactionary Bloomberg regime to condemn and seize the last pieces. According to one left-wing urban planner, the Empire State Development Corporation and Columbia conspired to create the very “blight” that would enable condemnation and seizure under city law. Underhanded but effective. A walking tour of Manhattanville today demonstrates the project’s success.
Changes to housing policy are incredibly important to the organization of a city. As mentioned previously, “Urban Renewal” cleared slums and built ugly brutalist high-rises to contain the poor. Those objects universally became decrepit and crime-ridden. Some cities, like Chicago and St. Louis, have realized the doomed nature of a building whose sole purpose is to house thousands of the black underclass. They have finally torn down the “worst of the worst.” Other cities, such as New York City, are committed to preserving impediments to gentrification like the (ironically named) Lincoln Houses. No matter how civilized the neighborhood around it gets, the Lincoln Houses will continue to spawn, shelter, and periodically unleash hundreds of (mostly) black criminals. This population of holdouts ultimately means that the forces of civilization must stay ever vigilant to prevent the neighborhood from falling back into the hands of barbarians.
Rent Control and its various successors, Rent Stabilization, and Affordable Housing are another obstacle to gentrification. As neighborhoods move from uninhabitable to transitional and finally to civilized, rent increases faster than median income. This is good as it drives out the elements that previously depressed the quality of the neighborhood, thereby creating a virtuous circle. That virtuous circle can be interrupted to an extent if a class of holdouts is insulated from market prices. gentrifiers must make common cause with developers and landlords to abolish such policies. One strategy, implemented with success in Massachusetts, California, New York, was moving rent regulation from the local level (where socialists often reign) to the State level. Usually success has come in the form of “Vacancy Decontrol” rather than outright deregulation but any movements towards market forces is positive for civilization.
Although any tactics which improve personal security and education should be utilized first, total war strategy implies leveraging all potential assets to secure victory. “Business Improvement Districts,” “Conservation Districts,” “Historical Districts,” such designations can help adjust the terrain in favor of gentrifiers. Washington DC’s Business Improvement District has made great strides in driving the bums out of central DC. In downtown St. Louis, local businesses levied a small tax amongst themselves, the proceeds of which were used to fund a special detail of city cops whose primary purview was aggressive enforcement of quality of life issues such as panhandling, public defecation, and loitering. They also funded a special court with a similar mandate. Neighborhoods with historically significant architecture are susceptible to a 5th column attack. Municipal governments love to empower Conservation or Historical Districts to prevent gentrifiers from tearing down architecturally significant buildings and replacing them with McMansions. The effectiveness of the strategy in favor of gentrification becomes obvious when you analyze the type of person who would want to serve on a Historical Preservation Board with power to regulate the outer appearance of homes: mostly middle-aged, professional busybodies. Olde Towne East experienced an invasion of gays buying up classic Colonial Revival homes to restore them to their former glory. Then, having planted the flag of civilization, they attempted to consolidate their gains by creating a Conservation Board. The Board was empowered to harass and fine anyone lacking the resources or will to bring their hovel up to code. Many pre-gentrification residents chose to retreat rather than fight such an uphill battle.
Civilization is not a static goal or an end-point, but rather an endless struggle against barbarians who seek to either create the preconditions for a descent into barbarism or its destruction outright. As a civilizing force, gentrification should be applauded and supported by all neoreactionaries. Unfortunately, gentrification is not a one-way road. Simply laying the final brick of the Whole Foods and declaring victory is not enough. One astute editor of the radical left publication Jacobin fully understands that gentrification has always been a war raging between civilization and barbarians, he simply sides with the barbarians. He rightly points out, however, one of the advantages of the gentrifiers: putting liberals into direct contact with uneducated blacks causes them to start “noticing.” Perhaps the key to the success of gentrification, however, is in creating more whites with a vested interest in civilization. When whites own property, they care far more intensely about the civilizational decay around them and begin to agitate for policies that clamp down on corruption and criminality. Mueller’s words ring absolutely true:
Tying up your assets, your middle-class future, in home values does something to people. It alters their interests. It sutures a professional class, of liberal and even progressive beliefs, to the rapacious capitalist expansion into the city. The people who move to gentrifying areas tend to have liberal, tolerant, cosmopolitan sympathies. But they are aligned materially with reactionary and oppressive city restructuring, pushing them into antagonism with established residents, who do nothing for property values. Behind every Jane Jacobs comes Rudy Giuliani with his nightstick.
By laying out some of the history of American urbanism and the tactics and strategies to reclaim America’s cities, I hope more neoreactionaries will consider fighting the good fight. Buy that brownstone in need of a good gutting. Learn to carry a firearm and get a concealed carry permit. Establish a home-schooling cooperative that features Thomas Carlyle in the syllabus. Most importantly, when you see an unfamiliar white walking past you in Crown Heights, even one with piercings and a copy of Mother Jones, make eye-contact, nod your head and welcome a fellow shocktrooper of gentrification.
November 7, 2014 - 11:30:09
Congratulations. Nice article and links too. Gentrification is a mass movement that came out of nowhere. And is altering liberalism, for now.
Bars, restaurants, yoga centers, bike lanes, art galleries and Starbucks are also used as vanguard positions.
Reactionaries ought to hold their noses and jump in. The water’s fine.
November 8, 2014 - 16:18:30
Having spent the day in Williamsburg, I’m considering writing a retraction of my suggestion to ally with gay hipsters… just kidding. But seriously, Gavin McInnes, what hast thou wrought?
November 8, 2014 - 19:59:34
I lived there in the early 80s. No gays in Williamsburg then. Just Ricans, Hasidim and artsy-fartsy.
November 7, 2014 - 13:57:16
Excellent. Top notch NRx material here with broad applicability to solid right-wingers. I hope to see more solid empirical analysis and strategic thinking like this coming from the movement.
November 7, 2014 - 23:05:25
Then, having planted the flag of civilization, [homosexuals] attempted to consolidate their gains by creating a Conservation Board. The Board was empowered to harass and fine anyone lacking the resources or will to bring their hovel up to code. Many pre-gentrification residents chose to retreat rather than fight such an uphill battle.
Private government like this is the key. First, lobby to create a local law that permits neighborhoods to organize–in short, to create their own private government. Get your friends and neighbors together to establish a good set of rules. Have a vote. Impose the rules on everyone in the neighborhood. Most ghetto dwellers are disengaged and opportunistic, so they will not bother to vote. The new rules can require owners/residents to do almost anything.
This manufactured self-government process in an early form (100 years ago) led to the creation of racial covenants. If more than 60% of the neighborhood agreed, everyone’s property would become restricted by a racial covenant. Racial covenants won’t work anymore, however. But you can (for example) create rules against renting, or noise restrictions, or no-cars-on-the-street restrictions, no subdividing houses, no noise after 9 PM, no Section 8 renters, etc.
In short, if you have creeping crapification, you can nip it in the bud, or you can reverse it , like Times Square and the homosexuals in Olde Towne East. But having either state-wide or municipal enabling legislation is key.
Finally do NOT expect any assistance from the Left Intelligentsia or slumlords. They would just as soon you live in a violent cesspool as long as they have their protected communities. Do NOT expect any leftist NPR documentaries on how easy it is to do. You can get free Saul Alinsky training on how to destroy a neighborhood, but never any on how to save it.
Someone should write a book.
November 8, 2014 - 16:05:56
St. Louis actually has a long and storied history of private neighborhoods. Lafayette Square was one such neighborhood, profiled in the excellent book, The Voluntary City: Markets, Communities, and Urban Planning.
I would love to see a resurgence of such organizations.
November 7, 2014 - 23:28:21
The mind reels this is an excellent essay. I don’t want to lavish praise too heavily, but this is the first truly practical essay I’ve read in the neoreactionary blogosphere. Truly exemplary work.
November 8, 2014 - 04:03:10
This is an extremely well thought out and written article. I enjoyed reading a great deal. Thank you for writing it.
- See more at: http://www.socialmatter.net/2014/11/....6o8ySs6U.dpuf