Forwarded from Nestor (gates)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 17 10:34:53 MDT 2003


Les Schaeffer:

"i live near an area where a number of these gated communities
   are arising. i see these stupid gatehouses at the entrance and have
   been thinking about the whole thing for a while. i think Mark Jones
   said once that you'll now when the revolution is about to start when
   you see gates w/ heavily armed guards go up around the upper class
   homes. or something like that."

Material compartimentation of urban space is a clear sign of stress in 
class relationships, but it may simply mean that these class 
relationships have become more unequal.  Mark´s remark was completely 
accurate, only that sometimes gated communities are the result of a 
defeat for the workers rather than of an impending victory.  It should 
be taken, I think, in the sense that higher class tensions must 
eventually arrive at some kind of revolutionary outcome.  When one lives 
in a relatively "peaceful" class war environment, it is always 
encouraging that signs of enhanced social conflict begin to dot the 
landscape.

So far as I know, gated communities in the Southern half of South 
America begun in Santiago, Chile, years after the Pinochet coup. 
Sarcastically enough, the first of these were built by relatively 
well-to-do progressive minded petty bourgeoisie who lusted for fresh air 
up in the mountains as against the poisonous atmosphere of contaminated 
downtown Santiago, and also as a haven for a more sane life than that 
which could be afforded by Pinochet era Santiago.

In a sense, they were falansteries of a kind. Many UNCTAD personnel and 
people of related professions populated those first gated communities.

In Argentina they were quite uncommon until the 1976 regime, and it took 
them a long couple of decades to come to the fore as _the place for 
"people like ourselves" to live in_.  In fact, the gated communities 
don´t harbor the high class but what is known here as the "medio pelo", 
the mass of nouveaux riches, uppity petty bourgeois (lawyers, 
economists, sociologists, even high officials in the banks, etc.) and 
decaying oligarchs who lie immediately beneath the oligarchy proper.

Most gated communities  are known here as "country clubs", because 
originally they were a cheap, cooperative, approach to the "quinta 
(farm, week-end home) in the outskirts" that any self-respecting 
bourgeois had to buy as soon as she or he made some money (that is the 
oligarchic ethics in action!).  If one enters Buenos Aires through the 
Northwest branch of the Panamerican Route, one traverses the "country 
club area"  of Pilar, with one of the most reactionary town halls in the 
Greater Buenos Aires area.  Silent, shy, and ellusive, the gated 
communities line one after the other along the freeway, which is dotted 
by all the service areas that gather around the necessities of its 
inhabitants.  Further away, and completely unnoticeable by the driver 
(though not by the gates and walls), massive shantytowns expand, 
encircling the citadels of wealth, and providing them with the everyday 
personnel that keep the communities neat, tidy and shining (much neater 
and tidier than their dwellers' minds and souls, BTW, as some news on 
the crime pages of our newspapers have highlighted recently).

That is the Large Money gated community. But lower income areas of the 
city have also gated themselves, in a way.  Perhaps one of the most 
striking differences between the Buenos Aires of today and that of 1973 
is the pervasive expansion of gated windows, gated doors, gated gardens 
in all and every house and even ground zero appartments. This is a sad 
sight, but a true one, of the way Buenos Aires has been forced into Hell 
by 30 years of reaction.

Perhaps the December 2001 events were written in the gates. Yes, Mark 
was right.
-- 

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