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EDITORIAL: Private homeownership now on the progressive hit list

The Nation is the country’s oldest weekly magazine, dating to the end of the Civil War. For the better part of the past century, it has provided reliable cover to leftist totalitarians, offering praise to Stalin, opening its pages to communist apologists and acting during the Cold War as a leading voice of “moral equivalence,” which held that America was no better, and likely worse, than the USSR.

In 2016, the publication endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-professed socialist, for president.

Four years later, Sen. Sanders is again mounting a lively campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported he raised $34.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, more than front-runner Joe Biden. His campaign’s financial health makes him a formidable contender in the crowded field.

No doubt Sen. Sanders doesn’t agree with everything that appears in The Nation. But the magazine’s devotion to progressive authoritarianism and its animus toward capitalism offers moderate voters a preview of the kind of thinking that might gain significant currency in a Sanders administration.

Consider a Dec. 23 essay by Kian Goh, a UCLA assistant professor of urban planning, published in The Nation under the subhead “If we want to keep cities safe in the face of climate changes, we need to seriously question the ideal of private homeownership.” The piece offers a mother lode for those mining insights into the left’s radical agenda.

Focusing on California’s wildfires, Ms. Goh writes that “cheap energy is untenable in the face of climate emergency” essentially because it allows people to more freely settle where they choose and encourages consumption. In addition, “individual homeownership should be seriously questioned.”

Ms. Goh envisions a future in which the state curtails property rights in favor of “new or reconstituted forms of cooperative housing” and “community land trusts.” The author applauds the “resurgent interest in government-planned and -built public housing.” A greater emphasis on “rental housing” is also on Ms. Goh’s wish list, “although we should be wary of perpetuating the power of landlords.” It’s a wonder she doesn’t advocate for the mass collectivization of U.S. agricultural interests.

If being forced out of their homes and herded into communes and “the projects” might not appeal to many Americans, they’re contributing to “further marginalizing oppressed groups of people” and are part of the problem.

Defenders of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also a Bernie backer, derided critics of her Green New Deal when they claimed that progressives hope to ban airplanes and eliminate cows. But now that Ms. Goh has added private homeownership to the endless list of modern conveniences in the left’s crosshairs, perhaps such worries shouldn’t seem so far-fetched.

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