Benjamin Geer on Thu, 23 Mar 2006 21:42:39 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City

On 23/03/06, Rana Dasgupta <> wrote:

I think you have a point about Westerners' changing perceptions, but
perhaps you ought to have mentioned the vast gulf between those
commodified images and the ways many who live in third-world
megacities perceive their own environment: not as a vibrant,
irrepressible source of unlimited creativity, but as a prison to which
they resign themselves or from which they long to escape.  The lack of
clear rules and the labyrinth of informal, parallel economic and
political systems, with their merciless logic of nepotism and bribery,
ruling over masses of disposable people, tend to breed Kafkaesque
despair rather than the thrill of unfettered, improvised ingenuity.=20
Perhaps this helps explain why, in those countries where popular
movements have been most successful, as in Bolivia's recent elections,
they seem to have relied heavily on the mobilisation of rural

Also, Western tourists and consumers are not perhaps the only ones who
admire the third world: is Silvio Berlusconi, in gaining personal
control of the media and the economy, consciously imitating certain
third-world autocrats?  As Western elites search for a political
formula that maintains the trappings of democracy while staving off
the spectre of egalitarianism, might they (such as those who arranged
for George W. Bush to follow in his father's footsteps) not find
inspiration in the rigged elections, media homogeneity, trompe-l'oeil
political parties and dynastic regimes that are a fixture of politics
in many countries further South?


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