Joanna Kusiak and Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen
Socialization of Housing: A Practical Revolution!, 2021
When assembling our political vocabulary, we’re often drawn to the utopian language. But the most powerful words cannot be only utopian, they must also be practical. Words need to become tools with which we can practically change the world. There is such word within a German constitution: Vergesellschaftung [socialization].
When writing the German Constitution in 1949, progressive legislators conceptualized socialization (as included in Art.15) as a legal door that could allow Germany to radically transform its economy. Today, Berlin’s grassroots initiative Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen proposes to use Art. 15 to expropriate housing corporations drive our rents up through financial speculation. Socialization can help to manage Berlin’s housing in a democratic, equitable and ecologically sustainable way.
The balcony project plays with the German ethics of efficiency. The country’s most famous advertising slogan praises chocolate not as delicious but as practical: quadratisch, praktisch, gut [square, practical, good]. International in spirit nd German in form, Berlin’s housing revolution can be practical as well. For socialization is a practical revolution: it’s legal, it’s cheap, it’s good [gesetzmäßig, günstig, gut].
is a sociologist at the University of Cambridge and a Humboldt visiting fellow at Georg-Simmer-Center for Metropolitan Studies in Berlin. She is also an activist with Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen! Her academic work focuses on land, property, and the role that law plays in shaping our cities. She has lived in Prenzlauer Berg since 2007.
Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen!
is a citizens' initiative in Berlin that aims at expropriating stock-listed housing corporations and socialize (that is de-prvatize) ca. 250 000 apartments in Berlin. This would curb financially driven speculation in the Berlin housing market and tackle the housing crisis at its roots. The legal basis for this is Article 15 of the Basic Law [German Constitution].