SOS! Gated Community! / SOS! ჩაკეტილი უბანი!

If someone thinks that the Washington Consensus is over, he or she is surely mistaken. Even if the leading countries of the world will tighten the economic regulations to stabilize the world crisis, the less-developed countries and particularly the post-Communist countries remain exposed and vulnerable for unfettered capitalism. Those who witnessed the fall of Communist dream would hardly accept the fall of another idol – an American dream, which they embraced with such a passion since the last two decades.

To understand this trend, it is not necessary to go in details of whatever kind of international, supranational and regional policies. It is enough to look at the typologies of spatial development that is the most crucial factor for the formation of the ideology of local communities. Spatial arrangement perfectly reflects the dynamics of the overall state development strategy, which is well wrapped in the glitter of populist image and which bends smoothly under the pressure of the investment flows. The typology of the spatial development is the most accurate indicator of community values and its identity. Therefore it can also serve as an early warning for degeneration and mutation of community. More specifically, I want to introduce you to one of the widespread products of such community degeneration process that is present in majority of the developing or less developed countries. WELCOME to the GATED COMMUNITY! This term may be very well known to someone from South Africa or Latin America. The main characteristic of this social, architectural and urban phenomenon is the fenced uniform “toothpaste” housing, in the best case equipped with security guard and cctv cameras. There are different types of such fenced housings for the different classes of the society. The upper class could enjoy having a park, sports facilities, clubs, cafes and restaurants, even a kindergarten and school included in the service within the fence. In other cases all these facilities could be available in the nearby shopping mall (most probably Wallmart, Carefour or Liverpool, or the like). The quality of the buildings and the service also varies from case to case. No matter the quality, the majority of those human species who live inside the fence think of it as a secure haven. Those on the other side of the wall associate the gated quarter with privilege and well-being or, at least, with security. There is a certain reason why I call such a divided society – a mutation or a degeneration of humanity. Ultimately it is the extreme and almost violent spatial pattern of class marginalization and polarization. The gated communities work like incubators. They produce “sterile”, isolated citizens programmed for the single mission – to consume! Unfortunately this layer of community is usually the privileged one, so their mode of life typically becomes desirable for the rest, or in other cases develops aggression. The “ideal” gated community isolates the society inside it and marginalizes the society outside.

It is important to know that there may be other forms of gated community. It may be the concentration of classes in compact spatial units, which are divided not by the fence, but by the power of money, which guarantees that the classes do not mess up together but stay in the specific spatial limits which is affordable for them.

All the above “benefits” of community segregation are yet to be implanted in Georgia. The first signs are already present. The vulgar development advertisements promote the paradise for secure, healthy lifestyle in Old Tbilisi or nearby the town center. With or without the fence, the main strategy of polarization of the society remains the same. The “dream” is almost in our hands! but we should remember that the long term consequences will be grave.