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Posts from 28 April 2009

Hoverbikes

In a comment over at Roderick’s place, William Gillis has this to say by of encapsulating his worries about (his reading of) Kevin Carson’s emphasis on economic localism:

To clarfiy, my doubts regarding what’s often addressed (not entirely correctly, I agree) as the interrelating two-sided work of you and Kevin is really just my distaste for Localism and Rights-based ethics.

And I’m sorry you caught the backdraft of my annoyance with what is clearly primarily Kevin’s contribution re: Localism. (Note: I don’t mean local sufficiency or DIY tech, but the focus on stable regional communities, as opposed to a gleaming interconnected mass society on hoverbikes.)

— William Gillis, comments @ Austro-Athenian Empire, 27 April 2009 2:50am

That’s beautiful, and it deserves a response in kind. So here’s my attempt to put down my own view on the matter. When I have my hoverbike, I’ll use it for a lot of things, and one of the things I hope to be able to do is to fly through uncountable different neighborhoods within the gleaming metropolis. Don’t forget that even New Tokyo will have neighborhoods, or at least I hope it will, because a city with no neighborhoods isn’t worth a damn. The always-ready hyperlocal holographic social networking mapping mash-up that shimmers into existence over my hoverbike dash will help me find landmarks and fascinating holes-in-the-wall and the good old hang-outs and the hot new things, with help from the interwoven knowledge of friends, visitors, and longtime locals. Some of the neighborhoods may be glass and steel; others may be orchards and wheat fields and villages; others campus gothic spires, grassy quads and libraries; others may be permaculture cities of green roofs and hanging gardens. They will speak many different languages; some will be young and others old; some will be slow and stable over time, and others will be frenetic and constantly changing. Some may be stable in structure while constantly changing in population (think of a University campus), and others may be exactly the reverse (think of an indie rock scene). Which ones are the best to visit, or to live in, will depend on the circumstances of life for each of us. (What you want by way of stability or surroundings when you’re 50 may be different from what you want when you’re 19. What I want at 27 may be different from what you want at 27. What I want in the summer may be different from what I want in the fall.) And that’s what’s beautiful about it. It’s the neighborhoods that makes the city glorious. But without the city, and the hoverbikes to fly through it, there wouldn’t be the neighborhoods, either. There would only be warehouses, deserts, and fortresses.

Which is another way of saying that I don’t think the issue here is really, or at least ought to be, one of (stable) localism versus (dynamic) globalism, or cosmopolitanism, or what have you. There is, I think (oh Lord) a dialectical solution. It has to do with the extent to which the local and the global are allowed to evolve and flourish together, or, on the other hand, are mediated, battered, and fortified, by rigidifed political fabrications (like Nations, States, Law-and-Order, Smart Growth planning committees, Stupid Growth planning committees, Development fetishes, Tradition fetishes, bigots, bashers, macho squads, and all the other forms of structured power-over that would bulldoze and blockade and wall off ghettoes rather than letting neighborhoods grow).

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