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17.07.17.

Urban growth and state intervention

In the last 30 years, with the growth on the idea that the Washington consensus was to create better wellbeing for mankind, many government policies were pushed through very aggresively. Giving more strength to the wrongly understood as a purely liberal agenda, the fall of the Soviet Union, socially created the illusion that everything other than liberalisation/no-intervention economics was plain dumb. Although, as we have now seen, a considerable growth in terms of economic assets has been world over (it would be silly to deny this), yet are our societies closer to becoming those spaces where humanity can best express and live fuller life experiences? In short, on average, No.

I will not go into the discussion on how myself and many others realise that we are not better off. Instead I propose to show and walk you through three processes concentrated in the urban that are gravely under threat. My main argument is that liberty as we understand it now, comes from the Urban phenomenon, and therefore protecting cities and their wellbeing should be a global priority.

First, what are cities? The Urban nowadays is commonly understood as the territorial space a human agglomeration is seen. The common notion is that cities are something that is enclosed in land. Additionally, the urban and cities, have also a social interaction component as well as how these objects interact with other similar to them. Meaning on one hand you have people having certain types of dialogues, be them oral, corporal or group (mass) phenomenons, and on the other you have what all this mesh of determined space + social interaction as a whole then interact with other objects that are the same as them. In a sumup, the urban is comprised of space + local social interaction (animate and inanimate) + Global social Interaction.

Second, what do I mean by a city’s wellbeing? So as long as a city previous three components are able to remain unthreatened, cities themselves will be healthy. Focusing on the latter 2 components, these must be upheld. In the sense that interactions within the city are not to be hindered and at the same time encouraged in the varied and diverse levels of expression. Because it is through these diverse views and alternate reality conceptions that cities are able to create. Furthermore, global social interaction also makes it relevant for the core of cities to be able to communicate and exchange with other cores. What do they exchange? Visions, values, culture, identities, whatever it might be… as well as goods. These exchanges bring a wider overall diversity to the system and the ability to exchange and create is heightened. But that’s not all, it also enables for more diverse human experiences from those that interact in the system.

Yet in order for these items to work closely and to function properly, you need a basic framework of support: the state. The social forces that interact in these cities are sometimes mainly controlled by economic interests, and in the aggregate, human experience is way beyond this realm. In order for economic processes to happen and be able to operate, basic social interactions must take place, there needs to be a social cohesiveness. When you are in an economic subsistence situation, the social becomes secondary, for without income to provide basic needs there is no growth. But… then here is where it gets more interesting, what happens when the urban population has been able to secure its subsistence income and its participants can focus on other endeavours?

If a city is able to secure basic needs (what is understood as basic is open to discussion, I believe food, education, housing, health, safety) then its citizens in turn are able to create more. This might seem as a giant leap, yet these cities, and you can consult several indexes, are able to attract talent and make it possible for creation and fuller experiences to be consolidated.

Then on the other hand, what happens when a urban mesh is denied its global connectivity? The urban is reduced, because as we mentioned, the city is way beyond the space and the local interactions that happen. The urban also thrives through being able to interact, influence and adopt thoughts and patterns from other urban centres. The adoption of best ideas, practices, cultural thoughts and experiences are shared wealth between urban centres. The global does not exist without the spatial grounding that the urban provides. All of the thoughts, views, and traditions, are downloaded and uploaded to the global sphere, but do have an endpoint… those are cities, and certain objects in turn are more permanent than others. The permanence of these thought objects or even physical ones, is linked to the strength and usefulness of the idea/thing, but it relies as well on the vision or the particular extensiveness of the global social interaction dimension of the physical space that gave birth to it.

The only real player that can mediate between economic priorities and social ones is the state. The state as a platform not only for business creation but for a fairer human experience for all. State intervention is desirable, the idea that we can live in a society where there is less state intervention can be supported through more respect and support of the diversity within the urban. Therefore, the national state as well as the urban governments should focus on nourishing the urban in its three dimensions. Business can NOT do this, and markets will never do this, because by design… they are mean to create difference and inequality.

December 2019
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