The Plague of Development

2013 October 28
by Ando Arike

Kent Avenue bike path detour to hell

With the long-awaited demolition of the Domino Sugar Plant now getting underway, one begins to feel the noose of Kapital grabbing tightly around Williamsburg’s neck. The developers’ dreams of glass luxury towers sprouting along the East River from the Navy Yard to Long Island City now seems increasingly, horrifyingly plausible, while in the meantime, all the derelict, do-it-yourself spaces in the neighborhood—the very places that fifteen years ago made it so welcoming and interesting (not to mention, cheap)—are rapidly being swept into the corporate dragnet and rehabilitated to fully maximize profit.Ten more years of this will produce a vertical suburbia as sterile as a brand-new shopping mall, a designer utopia for the transnational upper classes, replete with every chain store under the sun. Like Soho and Tribeca before it, Williamsburg has transcended “trendy” and will soon be yet another well-policed bourgeois enclave, a sterile convenience mart for “lifestyle options” and conspicuous consumption. But, of course, that is what “they” want.

The usual term is “gentrification”—but this doesn’t do justice to the coercive, parasitic processes involved. A better term would be “internal colonization”—the Corporate State reaching its blood-sucking tentacles ever deeper into the flesh of its citizenry—and yet even better would be “Capitalist Vampirism”—the undead ghouls with dollar signs glowing in their green eyes gathering to leech and strip-mine and otherwise extract every iota of value and vitality, picking the corpses of living communities clean. Then, in the final insult, replacing the cultural tissues that bind people together with cheap plastic facsimiles that gesture vaguely towards happiness.

How is it that the places we once called home can turn so foreign and inhospitable? That multicultural Brooklyn can become a whitebread vertical suburbia, its inhabitants worker-bees of Empire? Below are my thoughts from three years ago:

“As the American imperial climax—the twenty-year global triumph of our capitalist ruling class—ends with the crash of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, what is rising in Williamsburg reflects the terminal sterility of a socio-economic system that has exhausted all its rationales for existence—even, perhaps, that of individual self-interest. Allow me to venture a prophecy—what we see here is the architecture of nihilism, omen of the final descent of liberal democratic capitalism into corporate feudalism and a conformity and anonymity so monotonous as to induce vertigo.”

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.