Denmark’s Shameful Ghetto Plan

www.jacobinmag.com/2019/12/denmark-ghetto-plan-social-democrats-mette-frederiksen

Racism and welfare can never get along.

di BURNING COAL

A predictable outcome. The anti-immigrant policy of Mette Fredriksen’s Danish Social Democrats was not aimed at defending welfare but at continuing to dismantle it (and win elections by exploiting fear for immigrants).

Some people justify this policy of progressive liberalisation and privatisation of public property with the argument that ethnic segregation is to be prevented. Preventing ethnic segregation with public housing privatization policies? This is simply a paradox or rather a tautology. Where will the poor (mostly foreigners) who lose their homes end up? In detention centers for immigrants? Will they be left on the street? Confined to an island? These are the policies of the neo-liberal and extreme right in every part of the world.

No, this is not the right way to proceed.

First question. The privatization of social housing. The authors of the article affirm that there is a privatization policy in progress in this sector in continuity with the policies implemented by previous governments. Assuming that this privatization policy is currently in progress, is it compatible with the things said by the Social Democrats in the campaign for the June’s elections? Is this privatization plan compatible with a leftist policy?

Second, there is a harsh line on immigration in Denmark even before the June’s elections. The new Social Democratic majority government has continued along these lines and indeed argued that such a line would favour the maintenance of high levels of welfare.

What is the ghetto plan? The two authors define certain areas “as ‘ghetto’ based on the rates of “non-Western immigrants,” unemployment, and crime. For residents of these areas, the plan spells a regime of arbitrary rules and punishments – a disciplining process that will likely end in eviction and the privatization of their homes.”

The authors on this point are very clear: the new Social Democratic majority government has adopted this agenda. An agenda that in my opinion is completely incompatible with a left-wing orientation. To speak of “harsh line” in cases like this means to use a euphemism that hides the true reality of the facts: behind the Danish legislation of the “ghetto plan” or the Italian legislation of the “security decrees” is nothing more than the racism, once again rampant throughout the West.

But let’s come to what I think is the most important point: how can this line of the Danish government favour welfare? Let me remind that this was exactly what the Social Democrats promised in the campaign for the June’s elections: with the hard line on immigrants, danish welfare would certainly have gained from it. That is like saying that social rights can only be maintained at the expense of the civil and political rights of certain minorities.

The privatization of the public real estate sector testifies that this is not the case. “In this context, racism continues to be a potent force in helping to privatize and liberalize the housing market” conclude the authors.

What does this privatization have to do with with the maintenance of high levels of welfare?

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