Monday, August 06, 2007

Third World Countries

It seems that there will no longer be first world countries and third world countries, but rather that globalization will bring us all a chance to live in a third world country unless we are very rich. At least that is the opinion of William Gibson, (Author: Necromancer (1984), Mona Lisa Overdrive; coined the term "cyberspace") who expressed such a view in a recent interview published by Discover Magazine on the verge of publishing his most recent book, Spook Country.
To the extent that it’s an American novel of its time, I think it’s necessarily a novel of political paranoia. Cyberpunk’s got it right. In Neuromancer—although it’s never dated in the book, I always assumed it was happening around 2035—you glimpse the United States, and it’s not that great a place. There doesn’t seem to be any middle class. There’s nothing between these post-human superrich people and the Street, with a capital S. Nobody’s ever more than one door away from the Street. It’s quite grim and maybe it’s become a kind of cliché, but on the other hand, it’s exactly like Mexico City. It’s really similar to a lot of the Third World. And so I think that the cyberpunk future, if you want to generalize it, is a future in which globalization really does work both ways, and everybody—unless they’re very, very, very rich—winds up getting to be part of the Third World
I even find a similar position echoed by Colleen Kane, author and former editor of Playgirl magazine. In an interview published online at the gothamist, she talks about this in New York.
Given the opportunity, how would you change New York?

I resent that New York has become a playground for the super-rich. Not only to the typical extent of the rich having the biggest apartments and all that usual claptrap, but the rich are changing the skyline of the neighborhoods where they previously did not want to be, with these luxury condos that stand out like sore, rich jerkface thumbs. It seems like the regular slobs now have a harder time making it than usual, because the real-estate market is getting more and more out of hand, and the local arts community is suffering as a result. Just look at the recent closures of Tonic, Sin-e, Collective: Unconscious, etc. So what I would change is, POP! I’d burst that pesky real estate bubble. The meek shall inherit a loft in a desirable area for reasonable rent! I would also like to reroute all the traffic that will come to the planned Nets arena in Brooklyn to park on Bruce Ratner’s personal grounds.
If Colleen Kane can get it, it should be easy for the rest of us.

Most probably have a negative image of Tijuana, unless you are a male college student planning a holiday. However, Donald Trump has another image.

We need to be far more critical of those mega project which promise so much for our communities. Along with the required EIR's, there should possibly be an SIR. A Societal Impact Report. Greens support communities and communities support the people who live there and not just in economic terms. These mega-projects destroy communities and hasten the globalization of third world life that Gibson predicts. It may even be worth while to explore the collection of posts entitled Picketing Henry Ford. The author, Stuart Schrader uses the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn to work through some of the implications of destruction.
...the seductive architecture of Frank Gehry, who was enlisted for insidious purposes, comprises an impostrous culture, neither Jackie Robinson and spaldeens nor Walt Whitman and Biggie, but something wholly alien to us, except in its familiar, captious stench, of hot dollar bills pressed into an alligator-skin billfold tucked into the pocket of chinos sat on all day by a rich man—the arguments that Forest City Ratner, enabled by government largesse, cares about the community, well, they’re simply fallacious.
The may be no better place to work out the best solutions for livable communities than in the Coyote Valley, a "new town" approach to growing San Jose. So far, the environmental critique of the project has been strong enough to require major revisions to the EIR. I encourage a community critique of similar stature.


Orval Osborne said...

Thank you for continuing your blog. I loved Neuromancer, in large part for his evoking urban atmospheres. I am a big sci-fi fan. Check out Kim Stanly Robinson, perhaps the "Greenest" writer today. In his "Red Mars" trilogy he demonstrates green economics with worker-owned cooperatives, among other things.

Regarding urban development, this is a deep issue. New towns are an interesting idea. I think New Urbanism should be embraced by Green-thinkers. What is the alternative? Sprawl. I write sometimes about this on my blog.

Wes said...

I requested a copy of Gibson's Spook Country from my local library. It is not out yet, and I am 11th on the request list. I guess that I will read it next year.