An interesting little example of how short human memory can be. Anyone going to Berlin in 1989 and looking east from the Brandenburg Gate would have muttered something about perhaps government ownership of everything being not quite the very bestest of ideas. As someone who then lived in Russian housing of the time I would concur.
So, what are they shouting about now?
Support is growing for a referendum on whether to ban large landlords from the German capital and turn their property into social housing stock When Berliners take to the streets on Saturday to protest against rising rents, 77-year-old Barbara von Boroviczeny will be right at the front. As crowds of marchers set out from Alexanderplatz, the activist will be using a van with a megaphone to encourage people to sign up to nothing less than a housing revolution: a vote on banning large landlords from operating in the city and expropriating their property into social housing stock.
The proposed referendum, which could take place as soon as the middle of 2020 if activists manage to gather 20,000 signatures within the next six months and a further 170,000 by February, would set a legal precedent in establishing housing as a human right, and affect real estate companies as far away as London.
Any compare and contrast in 1989 would have shown that those parts of the city where private property rights existed and thrived had rather better housing than the other half of the city where they didn’t. And yet the call now is to nationalise the housing to make it better?
Either there are more idiots around than we thought or human collective memory is really very short indeed.