Re “Does Building Luxury Condos Create More Affordable Housing?,” by Brian Hanlon, Tara Raghuveer, Ned Resnikoff, and John Washington [July 25/Aug. 1]: Los Angeles is a perfect example of the folly of trying to solve a worsening housing crisis through the construction of market-rate housing. Most of the new housing is expensive and depends on zoning waivers for building permits. It also pulls up the price of nearby housing, pushing even more people out. The final result is that those neighborhoods with the most new market-rate housing also have large and growing homeless encampments—today’s Hoovervilles. Faced with the consequences of their failed supply-side housing policies and strong pushback from local residents upset at the encampments, officials have turned to the police to push the homeless to other streets.
A Tale of Two Nations
I recently received The Nation’s announcement about its upcoming trip to Cuba. It looks great—and bears absolutely no resemblance to the Nation article on Cuba in the July 25/Aug. 1 issue [“Cuba 12 Months On,” by William M. LeoGrande]. Nowhere does that piece mention the disastrous impact of US sanctions on Cuba or the role of the US government, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Cuban exile community in Miami in stirring up the “opposition” in Cuba on July 11, 2021. The Nation has been having a serious identity crisis for some time now. Along with David Klion’s feature on China some months back [“What Should the Left Do About China?,” Jan. 24/31] and others, this article is one more example of the rightward pull of the magazine.
Protest in a New Era
Vanessa Williamson and Dana R. Fisher’s essay “Disruptive Politics” [June 27/July 4] calls on progressives to adopt “confrontational activism and civil disobedience” to bring about change. It is true that such tactics worked in the 1960s, helping to end the Vietnam War and pass the Civil Rights Act. But there are reasons to believe that protest and civil disobedience will be less effective in our current era. Activists who want the government to address climate change or militarism are likely to be outmaneuvered by powerful corporate and government actors committed to protecting their interests; that’s why protests against the 2003 invasion of Iraq were ineffective. The Black Lives Matter protests were overwhelmingly peaceful, but due to dishonest media coverage, many Americans believe that BLM and antifa are violent extremist movements. Furthermore, protesters are likely to be met by a large number of heavily armed right-wing counterprotesters. Unlike in the ’60s, when groups such as the KKK that opposed civil rights were marginalized, the dominant faction of the Republican Party is now aligned with Donald Trump and other white supremacists. This is not a call for surrender; it’s a wake-up call.
Donald A. Smith