Not the way to fight gentrification

Submitted by Matthew on 30 September, 2015 - 11:03 Author: Gemma Short

The protest against and attack on the “Cereal Killer” café in Shoreditch, East London, on Saturday 26 September would be funny in its ridiculousness if it weren’t so politically misleading.

“Cereal Killer” sells breakfast cereal — but at upwards of £3.50 a bowl. No doubt the owners are pretentious and middle-class.

No doubt they were only able to open such a café due to the changing nature of the area bringing in a clientele with large disposable incomes.

No doubt the launderettes, greengrocers and corner shops that used to provide for a working-class community have been replaced. However none of that justifies the tactics used by Class War and others in their attack against “gentrification”.

The idea or process of gentrification cannot be “personified” or embodied by a single shop. Why this shop, and not any of the other pubs, restaurants, cafes, bars or “pop-ups” across London who may have moved in on working-class areas and charge ludicrous prices?

Because it won’t stop gentrification.

Campaigns against evictions, for rent caps, organising rent strikes, organising to stop the selling off of social housing and campaigning for the extension of social housing will stop gentrification.

We don’t want to live in ghettoised working class communities. Fetishising the “working-class street” of a greasy spoon and a betting shop is reactionary. The problem with pop-up shops, “hipster cafes”, vintage shops, and “Cereal Killer” is not that they are new, creative, odd, or even that they are socially unnecessary or not fulfilling an immediate working class need.

Working-class people should be able to enjoy whatever they want to enjoy. The problem with a lot of these middle class things is that they are often too expensive.

The other problem is that soaring rents have driven out “working class shops” and the new shops are part of a process that is driving working class people out of their communities.

Be angry at gentrification, yes. But being angry, swearing a lot and throwing things will not change the world.

Get organised, using direct action if neccesary, to fight the root causes of gentrification, and for a world where anyone can run a café serving nice food if they want.

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