Socialist Action’s Connecticut branch is hosting a three-stop book tour for Sam Stein, whose most recent book, Capital Cities: Gentrification and the Rise of the Real Estate State, rips apart the idea that urban development under capitalism brings benefits to working people. By raising rent and incentivizing speculation, landlords and the capitalist state have come together to push workers out of their homes. The human costs of this destructive tendency of capital can be seen most vividly through the growing epidemic of homelessness even for people with jobs in the United States.
A related factor which has developed alongside working people being generally unable to afford to pay rent has been the rise of the prison system as one of the most stable forms of public housing. Over 2 million Americans are behind bars on any given day. Appropriately, the flyers Socialist Action members have been handing out carry a quote from a major historian on the rise of the prison-industrial complex Ruth Gilmore Wilson. The quote reads in part: “All who struggle for the right to the city should read [Sam Stein’s Capital Cities].” A compelling recommendation from one of the major Marxist historians in the U.S.!
Socialist Action members and supporters have been handing out thousands of flyers in Stamford; Hartford; Storrs; New London; New Haven; Willimantic; and Purchase, New York! The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people have expressed seeing themselves or their neighbors pushed out of their community due to gentrification. Stamford and Hartford, two of the stops on the book tour, are experiencing the processes described in Steins’ book. Socialist Action members recently also participated in a modest anti-gentrification rally in Stamford attended by trade unionists concerned about gentrification.
Stamford, West Hartford, and University of Connecticut Storrs are the three stops on the tour. Stein will be joined on the panels with Socialist Action member and PhD student in urban economics, Osman Khan.