Lives in a shop

A couple of days ago I happened to see a series I knew nothing about on Filmin: ‘The Architect’ (2023), a Norwegian work of four short episodes directed by Keren Lumar-Klabers, which was presented at the Berlin festival. Great series

It is set in the immediate future, in Oslo, where capitalism has reached such a barbaric degree that young people, even with education and permanent or near-permanent employment, do not have enough to pay the rent. The mortgage for the apartment you own is very low. Does this sound like the future to you?

Indeed, the story we are told is happening here and now, perhaps not yet in cities or medium-sized cities, but those who are forced to live in large capitals or places conquered by tourists know that it is already happening. , there are many people who have to continue to live with their parents or share an apartment with someone over thirty because they cannot afford a place to live independently. Also, this is not an issue that only affects the youth; There are many people who can no longer pay the rent and, if necessary, have no choice but to leave their home when they reach retirement age and often lose their life partner. Properties, they are often forced to sell to a large construction company and leave the neighborhood to live in a shared apartment with another pensioner.

One of the current news is a protest by a group of activists in Barcelona against real estate speculation at The District Fair. Big investors buy buildings in central areas, evict their residents and force them to live in the suburbs, rebuild or renovate the buildings, divide them into smaller apartments and sell or rent them by changing the words that define them. Even with a fixed income one can afford.

Not long ago, in Paris, in the window of a real estate agency, in the sixth arrondissement, in the heart of the center, I was surprised to see a housing offer for 140,000 euros, I went to read it: the floor of an eight-story building without an elevator above, six square meters -six!–, without a bathroom, of course, A window, a plug and a water connection. We are now not far from what the Norwegian series proposed, where young professionals are reduced to renting space in an underground garage separated by curtains from their neighbors. And what’s interesting is that if you look online, on many pages this series – very painful, in my opinion, how accurate it is – is considered a “comedy”.

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Who can laugh at the future we are fast approaching, where roofs, bathrooms, and kitchens are luxuries not available to everyone?

I’ve always been a sci-fi reader, a lover of sci-fi in cinema, and I’ve been writing stories and some sci-fi novels and other genres and other genres all my life. I know how important it is to draw the public’s attention and warn us of what will happen to us if we continue down the path we are on, but I’m starting to get the feeling that we either don’t want to see it – we call something so terrible a joke – or we think there’s nothing we can do, that we’ve entered a path of no return. .

Naturally, as I said before, the advertising of big companies is based on covering a terrifying reality with nice words. It’s an attempt to convince young people that living with a couple of strangers at thirty-five is a great way to meet people, be alone, expand your circle of friends, share, and spend less money on the basics. Like electricity, water or the most essential food. If they call you living together It is very modern and sound Cold Rather than calling it “suffering”. as well as Side jobs For entrepreneurs who cannot afford to rent a premises for the small business they want to set up and can make a profit.

Twenty years ago, an acquaintance told me that in New York, when he went to train for eight months, they told him – to live! – Tried to rent a forklift in an abandoned warehouse. It was huge, about twenty square meters, he told me, and although logically it had no bathroom or kitchen, there was a toilet and shower at the back of the ship and plenty of space for a microwave for cooking. . The realtor called him floor And in the future, he promised, the New York experience, staying in a freight elevator, in the heart of an industrial area, dark at night, would be something that all his friends and colleagues would envy. A great person. He didn’t rent it, but at least he had plenty of space and didn’t have to share it with anyone.

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In this context, the thing that attracts attention is that as soon as you walk around any furniture store, precisely because now apartments are getting smaller, sofas are becoming increasingly small, big, like televisions, that is, in big cities, after spending at least an hour on public transport, because houses in the center have become precious. , we are going upside down to a society where life works. With their meager salaries, they can lie down on the enormous shared sofa and blindly watch anything that happens on the screen. For me, all of this – perhaps due to my sci-fi bias – brings back echoes of ‘Fahrenheit 451’, Ray Bradbury’s groundbreaking novel adapted into a film by Francois Truffaut in 1966. From 1984, by George Orwell, one of the most essential novels written in the history of literature, but fortunately and for now, the screen in our home is only a means, does not observe us or communicate with us… or does it? Or are all those “smart” TVs that practically none of us understand are watching us all the time and storing all of our privacy to use against us when needed? But that’s another topic.

I have always thought that any civilized society should provide a dignified life to the individuals that make it up; A government must meet certain basic needs of its citizens, none more urgent than housing, education and health. Everyone should have the right to live in a place where personal privacy is guaranteed and minimum services are available. Everyone should train for free and then do their work for the community. Everyone can visit a professional medical center that meets their health needs free of charge. Is it so difficult to understand that only in this way we can live in a peaceful society, people can be happy and thanks to this, the well-being of all can be improved?

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In other countries, for example, in the big cities of Brazil like Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, I have seen bars and barriers and private security in the windows of all buildings in the city, bars up to the third floor and in all villa developments. and semi detached. That is, when people who are not rich have no place to live, they sneak in and steal. And homeowners must devote a portion of their income to protecting their property, so tensions rise and become dangerous and society becomes divided and radicalized between the haves and the have-nots, not to mention the fear some have of others. .

Why do we vote for parties that promote laws that only benefit the few, allow the rich to continue to get richer at the expense of others, and those who own more pay less tax? Honestly, many decent people cast their votes for right-wing parties who only work for those who already own everything, are dedicated to privatizing public services to enrich the few, and turn a blind eye to such realities. Lack of affordable housing.

If a person in a society who is trained, trades, and works a job (sometimes two), can’t afford decent housing, we are doing something wrong, and the solution is not to build increasingly smaller and more expensive apartments. Few companies – many of them foreign, too – can offer better dividends to their shareholders.

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