Tue 1 July 08 at The Blue Mugge Pub
Notes based on BBC radio 4 Thinking Allowed, 26 Sept 07, with Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums and Mike Davis’ essay Fear and Money in Dubai, New Left Review, 41 (Sep/Oct 06).
”For the first time in the earth’s history more people live in cities than the countryside”
What images do we have of ‘the country’ and ‘the city’? Consider ‘country bumpkin’; ‘the idiocy of rural life’ (K. Marx) and the City as centre of power, sophistication and culture with ‘towers, domes, theatres and temples’; the phrase: ‘inner-city‘….
Definitions and comments. And where does a town like Leek fit in all this?
“The Persian Gulf City of Dubai (pop. 1.5 million) and after Shanghai, the world’s biggest building site… has plans for its forest of 600 skyscrapers… and shopping malls …(to) attract 15 million overseas visitors by 2010, three times as many as New York City“… “Attractions will include mega-projects like the artificial ‘island world’; the earth’s tallest building; …and an under-water luxury hotel.“ … “The biggest project, Dubailand… will be more than twice the size of Disney World. Its 45 major world-class projects will include replicas of the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal’‘ …“The Brits, led by David Beckham (who owns a beach) and Rod Stewart (who owns an island) are probably the biggest cheer-leaders for… this paradise”. Discuss “Dubai’s economy is built upon the oil industry”… “but if the current mega-project blitzkrieg succeeds Dubai will derive all its GDP from non-oil activities like tourism and finance by 2010.“ … “Under the enlightened despotism of multi-billionaire Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum (Sheikh Mo) Dubai has become the new global icon of imagineered urbanism”. Discuss On the other hand:
* “Evidence since 9/11 of Dubai’s role… “the financial hub for Islamic militant groups esp. Al Qaida and the Taliban’… The argument ‘that Fear is a gift to oil producers“... Hence, “Dubai has gained immensely from the war on terror”
* “Dubai is the apotheosis of neo-liberal values of contemporary capitalism - an oasis of free-enterprise without income-taxes, trade unions or opposition parties (there are no elections)… In a country that only abolished slavery in 1963... 99 per cent of the private-sector work-force are immediately deportable non-citizens”. Discuss * Linked point, but more generally (from the radio programme) “the world’s urban labour force has doubled since 1980... More than 1 billion people are living in City slums (definitions?) in the Southern hemisphere”. What can be done? Some ideas, from Thinking Allowed…and The Blue Mugge…Discuss