Phase-Out Gentrification Now!

Other cities would love to have a problem like this. Berlin takes in 20 million tourist overnight stays a year, and the number keeps rising. Investors and property owners keep rolling into the Stadt like, well, investors and property owners.

But for many Berliners, this is a crisis or something. This means that their city is in the process of becoming something called bürgerlich (a German cuss word meaning middle-class or bourgeois). Berlin is becoming gentrified (meaning upgraded, by the way), which is absolutely unacceptable because, well, many Berliners don’t want to upgraded, thank you.

You see, bourgeois gentrification ist deshalb (is on these grounds) unacceptable because it is a sign of economic dynamism in a city that has long been thought not to have any. Gentrification means that money is coming into town, that Berlin is becoming more attractive for that tasteless middle-class ambience so dreaded here, that the self-contained and highly subsidized island of Berlin is suddenly becoming a place of social mobility where middle-class lifestyle visions (which none of you out there share) are now apparently easier to realize here than elsewhere in the country.

German Gentrification is bad for Berlin, in other words. It has to be phased-out, just like German nuclear energy was. And don’t get them wrong or anything, it’s not because these Berliners are being intolerant here or anything. It’s just that they are being intolerant here – and acting more bourgeois than the bourgeoisie they despise.

Wer hätte sich träumen lassen, dass ausgerechnet das arme Berlin einmal ein Gentrifizierungsproblem haben würde? Es könnte schlimmere Nachrichten geben.

2 responses

  1. Last time I was in Berlin I bought a couple of Wladimir Kaminer’s books on Berlin, “Russendisko” and “Ich bin kein Berliner: Ein Reisefuehrer fuer faule Touristen.” I love his humor and light touch as he talks about living in Berlin. Of course, it helps that Kaminer was not born a German, but a Jew in Moscow, so that he can side-step all the usual PC-Ernst stuff and grill the locals over a low flame.

    *

    • Yeah, he’s funny. He marvels at the life here just like every other “newcomer,” although his perspective (from the mystical East) is particularly interesting. As fate would have it, I just stumbled across this link of an interview he gave about the elections in Berlin – from five years ago – where he ran for mayor, sort of, and says “Wowereit suits the city well, but ten years in office has been long enough.”

      http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/leute/0,1518,444052,00.html

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