Developers want to treat Australia as their backyard, and they want you to shut up. "Residents of the affluent east and north of Greater Sydney have strongly resisted housing development in their suburbs. This NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) resistance has led to urban sprawl in areas of Western Sydney with a well-documented lack of services, infrastructure and jobs," say Awais Piracha and George Greiss, two urban-planning professionals with academic and political positions.
This article from The Conversation is an amazing study in using convoluted illogic to stigmatise a class of people. It supposes that people who resist subdivision may be racist because to house new immigrants, whom it qualifies as mostly non-white, would require the older wealthier 'whiter' suburbs to subdivide. But, it says, the residents of those suburbs are highly organised against subdivision. (Good on them! It’s called self-determination in civilised countries.)
The writers call this NIMBYism and imply that it is racist.
So, if it is racist, goes the implication, it cannot be valid self-determination, so it would be okay to overrule all that democratic social organisation by the people who inhabit those suburbs.
In fact, if there had not been developer-lobbied overpopulation in Sydney, there would be no need for urban sprawl or for high rise. How can what the developers did for their own profit be blamed on the 'residents of the affluent east and north of Greater Sydney,' who rightly resist this bullying?
‘Development’ or bullying by developers and planners
“Recent research showed affluent Sydney communities closer to the city centre are highly influential and organised in resisting development in their neighbourhoods. The result has been a socioeconomically divided city,” write Pracha and Greiss.
What Pracha and Greiss leave out is that these are longer-established suburbs with relative population viscosity, which is to say, they are composed of generations that have built solid roots and historically and politically informed networks in the area and in their communities. Through the associated socio-political cohesion, they have successfully resisted something that has been forced upon Sydney suburbs that historically lacked this cohesion. (For a study of population viscosity, self-determination, and population numbers see Sheila Newman, Land Tenure and the Revolution in Democracy and Birth Control in France (2023) or reviews here.)
Those less politically organised suburbs were the original sprawling suburbs that arose from the 1960s and subsequent excessive mass immigration and development waves orchestrated by those in power.
They were new suburbs, largely populated by people who came from many different places and initially had nothing historically in common with each other or the area, in an ironic perpetuation of what had been imposed on the First Nations.
Although those suburbs gradually developed community networks, they had started late and were less able to resist the austerity measures of the post oil-shock 1970s, with their declining salaries, increasing living and housing costs and debt, and the atomising forces of commuting, more divorce, insufficient and insecure employment etc. They were thus nearly defenceless against the well-organised and politically connected developer-finance industry and its friends in planning.
Those disempowering austerity pressures only escalated from the 1990s with the Howard Government's disproportionate immigration increases that overtook natural population growth in Australia, whilst Howard and the states also decreased worker protection and wage regulation. The states, which are in charge of land and water, outsourced planning to developer corporations and reduced local government powers and resident planning rights. Property sales became the leading investment-growth industry in Australia and banks much preferred real-estate lending than to farmers and other industries which, like democracy, could not compete with Australia's property bubble. Albanese has since taken immigration numbers to extreme levels.
Prejudicial and pernicious
Piracha and Greiss say that the new Premier of NSW wants to subdivide those so-called NIMBYist suburbs to accommodate new immigrants.
If their kind of desperate argument - that people trying to preserve their environment - built, relatively green, spacious, socially and politically organised - are doing something racist, is taken seriously, then all acts of self-determination by viscous communities can be overruled.
Disorganised communities full of new migrants and displaced old residents are easier to push around. And that's the kind of dictatorship that would result from the arguments of the urban planners and developers who have unfortunately come to dominate our universities and political institutions.
These anti-democratic pro-subdivision arguments benefit power-shifts to the kinds of people who are designing so-called 'smart cities,' where there will be no public land or streets or buildings or shops, and where your movements will be entirely dependent on their permission. In those 'smart cities' residents will be electronically connected but so demographically atomised and disconnected that there will be no more nonsense about self-determination at all. Humans as a self-replacing battery animal to be harvested for rent will have been perfected.
Dehumanising humans as NIMBYs:
Piracha and Greiss conclude, with a kind of sinister positivism:
"There is a need for further research on the relationship between ethnic segregation and our decisions on what to build and where. We need to better understand NIMBYs’ motivations for opposing all development in their areas and the systemic racism resulting from this resistance."
So now people who would stand up against the overwhelming power of the development and planning lobby and its machinery have been subspecified, not as citizens with human, democratic, and property rights, but as NIMBYs: Non-humans who resist the power of property developers and planners to drastically disempower them for profit by population engineering.
And this dehumanising is gratuitous and cynical because everyone knows why people resist overdevelopment. They do it because they don't like it or want it and it does not benefit them or include them. Instinctively, they realise that it divides and disempowers them, while it bulldozes everything dear to them, impoverishing nature and natural amenity, to enrich a new rising elite sociopathic few.
The NIMBY slur complements the ageist stigma that blames housing unaffordability on elderly people because more of them own houses (or mortgages) than younger people. Both rely on ignoring top-down population engineering for growth through mass migration and the developer-finance lobby that benefits from it and promotes it and also invents these stigmas to silence democratic objection and to remove opposition to their destructive agendas.
Australian democracy and economy have been corrupted for the benefit of people in an industry that has managed to get control of the origins of wealth that lie in land, through dominating planning, and to engineer the flow of finance for these into their own pockets. Unfortunately, the establishment media with its property dot coms is a major beneficiary of this land speculation system as are modern Australian political parties, and the industry has managed to dominate our parliaments which write the laws that benefit the industry and diminish our fundamental rights.
Tragically, chasing the dollar via overpopulation and overdevelopment is a zero-sum game. The growth-lobby developer-financiers are the worst of gamblers. For the excitement of putting money on big projects for unpredictable payoffs, they will beggar not just their families, but their countries.