Media Review: The Housing Monster

Submitted by Admin on Fri, 04/12/2013 - 03:25

A vibrantly illustrated essay by the folks at, The Housing Monster explores the realities of housing under capitalism, and sheds light on the social relations surrounding it. Beautifully assembled and easy to read, The Housing Monster provides an excellent introduction of the political economy of housing. Acknowledging that a house is so much than four walls and a roof, the essay explores the design, production, sale, use, resale, and eventual demolition of the house as a tangible expression of class conflict. Beginning with an examination of the construction site, the birthplace of the house, the essay outlines the processes through which a house is built and given value—through the living and dead labour of exploited workers. In addition to outlining the physical construction of housing, considerations of the construction site provide a foundation for the essay to engage in questions related to ideology, gender roles, and the limits of identity politics. Moving on from the construction site, the essay then turns to reflections on the neighbourhood—the private ownership of land, incessant development and decay, the decimation of real community, and the market forces that propel it all. A pivotal component of this section includes an exploration of gentrification, its speculative and material manifestations, and warns against anti-gentrification sentiment being used as a reactionary tool to divide and turn working class people against each other. Leaving behind questions solely related to housing, the essay concludes with a scathing critique of capitalism itself, and discusses the possibilities and challenges of contemporary class struggle. For the authors of The Housing Monster, the task at hand is to build a force capable of meaningfully challenging capitalism. In their words: “It’s about developing our everyday struggles to the point where we’re in a position to break capitalist social relationships once and for all. We need decisive ideas and elegant actions.”