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You are here: Platypus /Housing Crisis Or Capitalist Crisis: Anti-Gentrification And The Left - 4th Annual European Conference (London)

Housing Crisis Or Capitalist Crisis: Anti-Gentrification And The Left - 4th Annual European Conference (London)

Held 17 February 2018 from 11:00-13:00 in RHB 137a of Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of the fourth annual Platypus European Conference, 50 Years After '68: Does Socialism Have a Future? The discussion was moderated by David Mountain.

Please note: The audio quality for the first few minutes is poor. This improves a couple of minutes into Simon's initial remarks.

Event Speakers:

Simon Elmer (Architects for Social Housing)
Matthew Lee (Stop the Elephant Development; UCL Cut the Rent)
Austin Williams (Future Cities Project; author, ‘China's Urban Revolution’)

Panel Description

In recent years, a significant current of Left activists and thinkers has sought to mobilise around issues relating to urban change, most notably housing provision. Much activity has involved resisting gentrification--the economic displacement of marginalised communities--and lobbying established political parties, such as Labour, for investment in social housing or for rent controls. Since Engels wrote about the housing condition of the English working class in the 1840s, political changes in capitalism have seen different forms of state management of the housing issue, yet it remains a symptom of the crisis of capitalism. How have these political struggles of the past--for better housing, more equitable planning, against neoliberalism and against gentrification--responded or related to the struggle for socialism and the pursuit of freedom? How could they advance the struggle for socialism and the pursuit of freedom in the present?

Questions for panelists:

  1. What is gentrification? How do you understand this term?
  2. What significance has it had and should it have for the Left?
  3. How do housing struggles in the present relate those of the past?
  4. Why does capitalism appear to produce a housing crisis? Can it be solved in capitalism? 
  5. How has the housing problem changed in the history of capitalism? How has the left changed in relation this history?
  6. In what way was the post-war provision of social housing and urban renewal--planning issues of slum clearance etc.--considered socialist?
  7. How and why did the New Left in the '60s and '70s take up urban geography and housing?
  8. How do campaigns around housing relate to the struggle for socialism? How does this task the Left today?

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