Sunday, December 09, 2007

Jane Jacobs quote

From an interview published in by Jim Kunstler

For Metropolis Magazine, March 2001

Extract:

JHK: Well, it's possible that my proposition is a fallacy. But what if it’s not?

JJ: I basically don't think that the way we do things is that dependent on one resource, such as oil. There can be different kinds of engines for cars. I think that solar heating, wind heating can substitute for a lot of uses for oil. I’d like to see those things happen because they are more sustainable in any case. But I do not think that running out of oil is not going to bother us that much. I think we have got to be rescued by something or we really are going down a slippery slope.

JHK: If its not petroleum then what is it that is putting us in peril?

JJ: I don’t think probably any one thing. Nothing is so clear in history that is it happens for any one thing. It seems that a lot of things come together to make great changes. And I think that one of the things is a reaction against Modernism in this case and everything associated with it

JHK: But we are stuck with all this stuff?

JJ: Yes now that’s the next thing. I do not think that we are to be saved by new developments done to New Urbanist principles. That’s all of the good and I am very glad that New Urbanists are educating America. I think that when this takes hold and when enough of the old regulations can be gotten out of the way—which is what is holding things up, that there is going to be some great period of infilling. And a lot of that will be make-shift and messy and it won’t measure up to New Urbanist ideas of design—but it will measure up to a lot of their other philosophy. And in fact if there isn’t a lot of this popular and make-shift infilling, the suburbs will never get corrected. It’s only going to happen that way. And I think that it will happen that way.

JHK: I have the greatest admiration for the New Urbanists. The hardest work for them to do is the urban infill.

JJ: But nobody is even thinking about now is the suburban infill.

JHK: Personally I think that a large percentage of the residential suburbs are going to be the slums of the future. Some of them will be rescued. Some of them won’t be. In your book The Cities and the Wealth of Nations you focused on quote "the master economic process called import replacement." The idea that a city and its region would only prosper if over time it started to furnish for itself many of the goods or services that it formerly imported. For instance, the rise of the U.S. as a great commercial nation in the late 19th century was a direct result of our cities starting to make the tools and machines and finished goods that we formerly got from Europe. With the latest model of the so-called global economy we are given to believe that import replacement is no longer significant. To the extraordinary degree that an overwhelming majority of the products sold in the U.S. are made elsewhere. Is this a dangerous situation?

JJ: (she chuckles) Well I think that it’s a more dangerous situation—the standardization of what is being produced or reproduced everywhere, where you can see it in the malls, in every city, the same chains, the same products are to be found. This goes even deeper with the trouble with import replacing because it means that new things are not being produced locally that can be improvements or anyway different. There is a sameness—this is one of the things that is boring people—this sameness. This sameness has economic implications. You don’t get new products and services out of sameness. Now the Americans haven’t gotten dumbed down all of the sudden so that only a few people who can decide on new products for change are the only ones with brains. But it means that somehow there isn’t opportunity for these thousands flowers to bloom anymore.

JHK: Well the million flowers are now blooming mostly in China. I don’t know about you—every product I pick up is made in China. I’m not against the Chinese. But it makes you wonder how long we go on having an advanced civilization without making anything anymore. Can we?

JJ: I don’t think so.

JHK: It seems to me that what we are doing is we are buying a lot of stuff from other people by basically running up tremendous unprecedented amounts of debt. That can only go on so long.

JJ: But you know we aren’t complete dolts in all of this. For example, we don’t manufacture our own computers. They are made mostly in Taiwan but they aren’t designed in Taiwan.

JHK: We hand them a set of blueprints and they make the stuff for them.

JJ: There are still an awful lot of intelligent, clever constructive Americans and they are still doing clever constructive things. Is it more necessary to be able to design computers or is more necessary to be able to manufacture computers. I think that it is necessary to do both. I think it is fatal to specialize. And all kinds of things show us that and that the more diverse we are in what we can do the better. But I don’t think that you can dispose of the constructive and inventive things that America is doing—and say oh we aren’t doing anything anymore and we are living off of what the poor Chinese do. It is more complicated than that. There is the example of Detroit which you noticed yourself was once a very prosperous and diverse city. And look what happened when it just specialized on automobiles. Look at Manchester when it specialized in those dark satanic mills, when it specialized in textiles. It was supposed to be the city of the future.

JHK: We have an awful lot of places in America that don’t specialize in anything anymore and don’t produce anything in particular anymore.

JJ: Well that’s better than specializing.

JHK: I am thinking about the region where I live which is a kind of a mini rust-belt of upstate New York—one town after another where the economy has completely vanished. There is no more Utica, New York, really. There is no more Amsterdam, New York, or Glen’s Falls or Hudson Falls. They are gone. And I am wondering, is the rest of America going to be like that.

JJ: Never underestimate the power of a city to regenerate.





Note: Years later, in a review of Garden Cities of Tomorrow in the New York Review of Books dated April 8, 1965, Mumford wrote:

". . . Jane Jacobs preposterous mass of historic misinformation and contemporary misinterpretation in her The Life and Death of Great American Cities exposed her ignorance of the whole planning movement."

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The referendum of Hugo Chávez

These are clearly all examples of foreign policy analysis of the issue. What if the people of Venezuela just did want to relinquish so much power to Chavez? What if the referendum was a set up for the possible successor? What if Chavez used it to suggest to the outside world that he will regain power again in the future but wants the Venezuelan people a space to develop its democratic culture.

I see the referendum's results as a positive outgrowth of democratic processes in Latin America. One that shows true strength for their future.

Comments to today's Miami Herald "Chávez's image, international ambitions take a blow"

http://www.miamiherald.com/

Sunday, December 02, 2007

"I Have a Dream" Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s
"I Have a Dream" Speech

Aug. 28, 1963


am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his 'I Have a Dream' speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. (photo: National Park Service)

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"






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