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B-52 Bomber Radicalism | Jacobin
"The discursive world of urban design and planning will always be dominated by masturbatory fantasy until its inhabitants acknowledge that the real target of change must be the commodity form of land itself. Greater equity in urban space, including the basic right to remain in the city of one’s birth or choice, requires radical interference with rights of private property. Reforms — large-scale affordable housing, for example — that once seemed realistically achievable within electoral politics now demand an essentially revolutionary upheaval. Such has been the logic of Reaganite post-liberalism: to convert basic demands into what Trotsky called “transitional demands.”

Certainly, it was inspiring to see Occupiers reading the like of Slavoj Žižek and David Harvey inside their tents in Zuccotti Park, but the cause might have been better served if Progress and Poverty (1879) had been on the reading list as well. In 1890, Henry George, not Karl Marx, was far and away the most popular radical thinker in the English-speaking countries. His concept of a confiscatory tax on unearned increments of income from land ownership was as enthusiastically embraced by urban workers (he almost won the mayoralty of New York in 1886) as by Highland crofters and Irish tenants. Although Engels and Daniel De Leon rightly scourged the “Single Tax” as a universal panacea, George was no crank, especially in the application of his ideas about land reform to urban areas.

The great accomplishment of the Occupy movement — forcing national attention on economic inequality — became its ideological cul-de-sac to the extent that the movement was silent about economic power and the ownership of the commanding heights of the economy. Anyone can enlist in the vague cause of reducing income inequality, but actually attacking (or even acknowledging) the pyramid of economic power required a clarity that Occupy groups largely failed to achieve.

And yet, the historical moment offered the opportunity. After 2008, the American financial and residential real-estate industries were wards of the state, entirely dependent on public investment and government action. It was a prime moment for progressives to demand their conversion into de jure public utilities — nationalized and democratically managed.

An emphasis on public ownership would also have illuminated solutions immediately at hand, such as using the huge housing stock that defaulted to federal ownership to address the lack of shelter and affordable rents. Instead, the Obama administration followed the same path as Bush senior in the savings and loan crisis a generation ago: organizing a fire sale of homes and apartments to speculators.

Let’s be blunt: unregulated real-estate speculation and land inflation and deflation undermine any hope of a democratic urbanism. Land-use reforms in themselves are powerless to stop gentrification without more municipal ownership or at least “demarketization” of urban land.

The public city is engaged in a life-and-death struggle against the private city, and it’s time to identify large-scale private property as the disease. Bombs away."

[via: https://twitter.com/AlJavieera/status/570857618912059392 ]
2015  mikedavis  losangeles  urban  urbanism  urbandesign  architecture  property  capitalism  housing  cities  ownership  land  transitionaldemands  government  trotsky  zizek  davidharvey  occupywallstreet  ows  karlmarx  henrygeorge  danieldeleon  speculation  landinflation  democracy  demarketization 
5 days ago by robertogreco
21st Century Populism: A New Us Against Same Old Them
21st Century Populism: The New “Us” Against The Same Old “Them” by
(NEW On )
MyMPN  Podemos  austerity  OWS  from twitter
13 days ago by kitoconnell
OWS Protesters Score $142,500 Settlement From NYC: Gothamist
RT : protesters arrested for "displaying a banner" get $142,500 settlement from NYC via
OWS  from twitter
8 weeks ago by AramZS
The smartest cities rely on citizen cunning and unglamorous technology | Cities | The Guardian
"Ignore the futuristic visions of governments and developers, it’s humble urban communities who lead the way in showing how networked technologies can strengthen a city’s social fabric"

"We are lucky enough to live at a time in which a furious wave of innovation is breaking across the cities of the global south, spurred on both by the blistering pace of urbanisation, and by the rising popular demand for access to high-quality infrastructure that follows in its wake.

From Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting and the literally destratifying cable cars of Caracas, to Nairobi’s “digital matatus” and the repurposed bus-ferries of Manila, the communities of the south are responsible for an ever-lengthening parade of social and technical innovations that rival anything the developed world has to offer for ingenuity and practical utility.

Nor is India an exception to this tendency. Transparent Chennai’s participatory maps and the work of the Mumbai-based practices CRIT and URBZ are better-known globally, but it is the tactics of daily survival devised by the unheralded multitude that really inspire urbanists. These techniques maximise the transactive capacity of the urban fabric, wrest the very last increment of value from the energy invested in the production of manufactured goods, and allow millions to eke a living, however precarious, from the most unpromising of circumstances. At a time of vertiginously spiralling economic and environmental stress globally, these are insights many of us in the developed north would be well advised to attend to – and by no means merely the poorest among us.

But, for whatever reason, this is not the face of urban innovation official India wants to share with the world – perhaps small-scale projects or the tactics of the poor simply aren’t dramatic enough to convey the magnitude and force of national ambition. We hear, instead, of schemes like Palava City, a nominally futuristic vision of digital technology minutely interwoven into the texture of everday urban life. Headlines were made around the planet this year when Narendra Modi’s government announced it had committed to building no fewer than 100 similarly “smart” cities.

Because definitions of the smart city remain so vague, I think it’s worth thinking carefully about what this might mean – beyond, that is, the 7,000 billion rupees (£70bn) in financing that India’s high powered expert committee on urban infrastructure believes the scheme will require over the next 20 years. It is one thing, after all, to reinforce the basic infrastructures that undergird the quality of urban life everywhere; quite another to propose saddling India’s cities with expensive, untested technology at a time when reliable access to electricity, clean drinking water or safe sanitary facilities remain beyond reach for too many.

We can take it as read that our networked technologies will continue to play some fairly considerable role in shaping the circumstances and possibilities experienced by billions of city-dwellers worldwide. So it’s only appropriate to consider the ways in which these technologies might inform decisions about urban land use, mobility and governance.

However, especially at a time of such enthusiasm for the notion in India, I think it’s vital to point out that “the smart city” is not the only way of bringing advanced information technology to bear on these questions of urban life. It’s but one selection from a sheaf of available possibilities, and not anywhere near the most responsive, equitable or fructifying among them.

We can see this most easily by considering just who it is the smart city is intended for – by seeking to discover what model of urban subjectivity is inscribed in the scenarios offered by the multinational IT vendors that developed the smart city concept in the first place, and who are heavily involved in sites like Palava. When you examine their internal documentation, marketing materials and extant interventions, it becomes evident there is a pronounced way of thinking about the civic that is bound up in all of them, with rather grim implications for the politics of participation.

A close reading leaves little room for doubt that vendors like Microsoft, IBM, Siemens, Cisco and Hitachi construct the resident of the smart city as someone without agency; merely a passive consumer of municipal services – at best, perhaps, a generator of data that can later be aggregated, mined for relevant inference, and acted upon. Should he or she attempt to practise democracy in any form that spills on to the public way, the smart city has no way of accounting for this activity other than interpreting it as an untoward disruption to the orderly flow of circulation. (This is explicit in Palava’s marketing materials, as well.) All in all, it’s a brutally reductive conception of civic life, and one with little to offer those of us whose notions of citizenhood are more robust."

"The true enablers of participation turn out to be nothing more exciting than cheap commodity devices, reliable access to sufficiently high- bandwidth connectivity, and generic cloud services. These implications should be carefully mulled over by developers, those responsible for crafting municipal and national policy, and funding bodies in the philanthropic sector.

In both these cases, ordinary people used technologies of connection to help them steer their own affairs, not merely managing complex domains to a minimal threshold of competence, but outperforming the official bodies formally entrusted with their stewardship. This presents us with the intriguing prospect that more of the circumstances of everyday urban life might be managed this way, on a participatory basis, by autonomous neighbourhood groups networked with one another in something amounting to a city-wide federation.

In order to understand how we might get there from here, we need to invoke a notion drawn from the study of dynamic systems. Metastability is the idea that there are multiple stable configurations a system can assume within a larger possibility space; the shape that system takes at the moment may simply be one among many that are potentially available to it. Seen in this light, it’s clear that all the paraphernalia we regard as the sign and substance of government may in fact merely constitute what a dynamicist would think of as a “local maximum”. There remain available to us other possible states, in which we might connect to one another in different ways, giving rise to different implications, different conceptions of urban citizenship, and profoundly different outcomes.

The sociologist Bruno Latour warns us not to speak airily of “potential”, reminding us that we have to actually do the work of bringing some state of affairs into being before we can know whether it was indeed a possible future state of the system – and also that work is never accomplished without some cost. I nevertheless believe, given the very substantial benefits we know people and communities enjoy when afforded real control over the conditions of their being, that whatever the cost incurred in this exploration, it would be one well worth bearing.

The evidence before us strongly suggests that investment in the unglamorous technologies, frameworks and infrastructures that are already known to underwrite citizen participation would result in better outcomes for tens of millions of ordinary Indians – and would shoulder the state with far-less onerous a financial burden – than investment in the high-tech chimeras of centralised control. The wisest course would be to plan technological interventions to come on the understanding that the true intelligence of the Indian city will continue to reside where it always has: in the people who live and work in it, who animate it and give it a voice."

[See also: http://boingboing.net/2014/12/24/why-smart-cities-should-be.html ]
2014  adamgreenfield  urban  urbanism  collectivism  cities  innovation  smartcities  chennai  caracas  nairobi  portoalegre  digitalmatatus  manila  infrastructure  palavacity  technology  power  control  democracy  ows  occupywallstreet  urbz  crit  transparency  occupysandy  nyc  elcampodecebada  madrid  zuloark  zuloarkcollective  collectives  twitter  facebook  troughofdisallusionment  darkweather  networks  internetofpeople  brunolatour  grassroots  systems  systemsthinking  metastability  dynamicsystems 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco

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