Saturday, February 2, 2019

Mid-Sized Meditations #18: Growth, Sustainability, and the Possibility of Illiberal Urbanisms

For your possible enjoyment, or not: the first truly academic fruits of my research project, maybe. I am sharing here a draft paper which begins with the arguments which political theorist Benjamin Barber made towards the end of his like which presented the possibility of a global consortium of urban democracies as crucial to the fight against climate change. His thesis, in my view, never wrestled with the liberal presumptions about growth and mobility which are inextricably connected to the social imaginaries of the global cities upon which he placed his greatest hopes. This paper criticizes Barber's thesis, but suggests that he was not so much wrong as that he had the wrong focus: the kind of urban democracy that could truly sustain, as opposed to undermine, those actions necessary to fight global warming, is one that arises in conjunction with an entirely different vision of urbanism, an "illiberal" and perhaps even "conservative" one, of the sort which one might at least theoretically see arising in (you guessed it!) smaller or mid-sized cities. So, there you go. Let's see what happens with it, shall we?