Middellandman

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3 Comments

  1. Beste Nico Haasbroek,
    Wat een mooi initiatief. Ik ga je berichtgeving over Middelland volgen! Ik hoop ook op bijeenkomsten op een andere avond dan dinsdag of donderdag, dan kan ik er ook bij zijn. Veel plezier op deze ontdekkingstocht in eigen achtertuin.
    Hartelijke groet, Floor de Haas

  2. Dear Nico Haasbroek,

    My friend and ex-AKI media-art colleague Jacqueline Hoogeveen sent me a copy of the book “Handel Dapper” which I have read with great interest.

    Your chapter on the Schilderswijk was particularly interesting for me because it is one of the few times that the concept of “culture” seems to enter any socio-economic or political discussion by activists or other social practitioners.

    But, if “culture” is the missing link -what do we mean by the term, and what are the implications?

    My definition for culture is: The use of locally available conceptual and physical tools to enable collective survival within a local environment.

    On page 193 of the book, Sociologist Schinkel says that freedom means having alternatives. I can agree with that. Indeed, it is within that context that I see the value of cultural diversity.

    So perhaps we should ask “How free are people to practice and develop their own local cultures (and communities)?

    How tolerant can individuals and society be towards cultural beliefs and practices that are
    contrary to our own?

    This is not only relevant regarding our reactions to female mutilation under immigrants -but also our attitudes to drunkenness, wife beating and rioting withing our own indigenous culture (and perhaps personal background).

    So, small scale self-organizing communities cooperating (or not) on a larger scale may well be an ideal -but why? What is the social and intellectual value/aim of such a bottom up system? How wide is the range of options open to them? Also, how do projects ever get realized on a larger scale -or are projects that transcend local community boundaries always undesirable?

    Is it even possible to limit community boundaries within a (media based) globalized system of trade and propaganda -in which there are no truly local environments any more?

    After all, modifying the environment forces the organisms withing it to adapt to the new conditions -or else die. So social engineering (modifying cultural values and beliefs) works most effectively on an environmental level.

    On the other hand, perhaps true cultural diversity (regarding practices and beliefs) may well provide the intellectual diversity we desperately need to solve so many global problems. Perhaps intellectual and cultural diversity is as important to our collective survival as much as bio-diversity.

    However, any attempt to harvest that diversity appears to reduce it -as the various individual systems get integrated into a single homogeneous global culture.

    So can modern society permit alternatives (that cannot be commercially exploited by the “market”)?

    Can one really compete against and provide alternatives to global corporations (a clever form of commercial communism)?

    Perhaps the real reason that politicians are scared to allow a true dialogue is simply because they cannot afford to have any suggestions that might undermine the current investments that sustain the system that supports them -even if that means destroying the rest of us.

    On my website there are links to the following texts:

    Only Yesterday (The introduction of consumerism to America in the 1920’s)

    Between Tears and Laughter (A prediction from 1943 regarding the nature of post-war global society: “Give the Hottentots soap and everybody finds that a noble idea -but the idea of giving them freedom is totally abhorrent”)

    The New Industrial State (Describes how the introduction of new products to the market is so expensive that some kind of (government coordinated) social engineering is essential to avoid undue risk to essential investments)

    The Age of Automation (Notes on how successful social use of automatisation involves strategies directly opposed to the ones that were actually implemented. Public knowledge of how the systems work is essential).

    Personally, I find these four texts provide the basis for an essential understanding of the problems we are currently facing. Particularly interesting, in my view, is the way Galbraith’s strategies for withstanding the system have now been incorporated into the system -expanding the ancient Military-Industrial complex into the modern Military-Industrial-Infotainment Complex, by the addition of the “knowledge” and “tourist” industries.

    Of course Beelaerts van Blockland is correct in his analysis of the success of Deventer.

    However, it also seems to me that the panel missed the main point (raised by the public) -that the social culture has changed (and is perhaps always changing): That the problem is not motivating people to action -but understanding the forces of consumerism that create the lack of knowledge, focus and social interest in the first place.

    “Rioting”, it seems, is no longer an essential part of Dutch working class culture -so why is that ..and is that a loss or a gain (and for whom)?

    Perhaps the activist model is just as out of date as the Social Democracy……

    Maybe the interaction between economy and culture (on the very deep levels of energy use and the availablity and use of resources) needs to be understood much better if one is truly to develop alternatives to what we have now.

    The current state of the global system seems to suggest that an alternative to global social engineering (lead by the supposed production and marketing needs of the global commercial giants and backed up by governments locally and internationally) is sorely needed -before we all end up committing collective suicide.

    Time to wake up to the fact that the “knowledge economy” is primarily a propaganda system -based on the myth that “information” is something real that has an objective meaning and value.

    If the Norderbergkwartier or the Schilderswijk were examples of potential paradises for the inhabitants -then where I live now is a potential rural paradise.

    Personally, I see little value in rousing the peasants -until one can answer exactly how and why these potential paradises are under threat…..

    In my belief system: “Right thinking leads to right actions”….. One has to get beyond the ideology (as you seemed to do with your “project journalism”) and understand the dynamics of the processes involved. Then, as in Deventer, a small intervention (in the right place at the right time) can often work wonders…..

    Anyhow, China will probably soon be the new top-dog and the situation will change again.

    Perhaps there are no permanent solutions: Only complex interactions of responses to a changing situation based on different cultural aesthetics.

    Best wishes,
    trevor batten

    • Dear Trevor,
      Thanks for your response.
      I would first like to ask where you live. If nearby, I may be able to invite you to my talkshow. All the best.
      Nico.

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