Dan Wang on 6 Dec 2000 07:16:37 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Fw: Enemies of the Future

Wow, a nettimer from Flint? I grew up in Saginaw, just up the freeway, 
another Midwestern post-industrial heap of a city, up in rust after a
glorious two and a half decades of General Motors fueled growth. . . I
have a hard time explaining to people not from Michigan what it was
like there in the late seventies and early eighties, how the bottom
fell out so quickly for so many, after thinking they might live phat
and good forever.

What really blows me away, though, is how a lot of the folks who
witnessed and perhaps even experienced the layoffs from that time and
place still do not think in terms of historical patterns and lessons,
hardly even on a basic level as in your analogy. It makes me think
that there is something fundamentally cultural and peculiarly American
about the absence of historical consciousness, that a lot of Americans
just aren't interested in and/or haven't been taught to consider
social and economic systems over time. Even an informed quasi-lefty
like famous Flint guy Michael Moore, who does more than his share of
educating the public, almost never puts the downturn he lived through
in any kind of historical context beyond the Reagan years. It is a
remarkable and unfortunate blockage in the realm of public discourse.

Without people being willing and able to think through these patterns
and cycles from even recent decades (without Moore, just think how
many more Americans would simply forget the Eighties, or just never
think of that period as being relevant to the economics of today?), we
can hardly expect such cycles to end, and should probably anticipate
an increasing extremity of social trauma with each downturn--the
response to which, of course, will likely be increased
authoritarianisms. In his new book One Market Under God, the review of
which stared this whole thread, Tom Frank pushes the history angle
pretty well for being a (self-identified) journalist. For that reason
alone, this is a noteworthy book.

dan w.

>From: Eric Miller <eric@OAKTREE.com>
>To: nettime-l@bbs.thing.net
>Subject: RE: <nettime> Fw: Enemies of the Future
>Date: Tue, Dec 5, 2000, 12:14 PM

> the analogy I keep coming back to is that of the auto manufacturers and the
> postwar "car society" in the US.
> --highways = networks (obvious)
> --rest stops, cloverleafs,  = servers, routers, and hubs (obvious, again)
> --"Nobly building our future" ca 1950 = "nobly building our future" ca 2000
> --Manifest Destiny of empowerment via transportation = Manifest Destiny of
> empowerment via information
> --a shared sense of infallibility
> --avoidance of corresponding social questions. (read a copy of Business 2.0
> lately? it's frightening how naturally they can avoid any recognition or
> discussion of the social impact of the businesses they discuss.)
> --workers believing that it's their ticket to everlasting prosperity
> --advertising extolling the mechanical virtues of the product and implying
> that the Joneses will leave you behind if you don't buy a new machine
> --segmentation of society based on access
>  cars + whites + 1950 = flight to suburbs, urban decay left behind
>  computers + education + 2000 = high-paying info economy jobs for
> some, low-wage service industry jobs for the rest
> --witch hunting those who would subvert what is good and ethical for the US
>  1950: communists
>  2000: monopolists
> --busy building a future that doesn't take into account human nature and
> social needs
>  1950: the American Dream resulted in class stratification,
> large-scale waste as we built temporary housing/public works, and isolated
> individuals in mass-produced boxes (read: suburban tract housing)
>  2000: the American Dream doesn't take into account that we are
> social creatures.  we need interaction, not facimilies of interaction.
> again, we are being isolated in mass-produced boxes in the name of a
> brighter future.  this time the box is just beige plastic instead of 2x4s
> and drywall.
> thought I'd throw it out there.  I just remember growing up in Flint, and
> seeing the same sunny optimism back then that we've had recently in the
> Information Age.  any thoughts?
> Eric
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