By Jerome Irwin,
What will every major urban center in the world look like in the next ten, fifty or hundred years, and how will the humans who occupy them similarly look? As the one becomes leaner, meaner and hungrier for ever more of everything, will the other take on the same look, as well? Or, as the one becomes ever-larger, more sprawling, corpulent and indulgent in all its excesses, will the other assume the same appearance, too; the one a mirror-image of the other? Demographic experts say the cities of the world will continue to morp, with future estimated population projections, such as: Mexico City’s 20 million, in 2015, becoming 25 million by 2050; Kigali, Rwanda’s 1 million becoming 5 million within the same span of time, and; Sydney, Australia’s 2.4 million turning into 7.4 million plus. The experts still are grasping to try to understand what the implications of all this may have on the human and natural worlds.
Whichever way the world will wend, it all has something to do with humanity’s endless mythic search for the so-called Good Life. But how is this never-ending, ethereal, unattainable search already most manifestly to be seen in 2018?
The first, most immediate clue one could point to would be the ever-growing multitudes of over-weight, drug and alcohol-ridden, mentally-anguished, stressed-out, unwell bodies of so many who live increasingly more self-indulgent lifestyles, oblivious to what their lifestyles in search of ‘the Good Life’ are doing to themselves and society itself. Another immediate clue, and possibly the chief source of so much individual angst in the world, could be attributed to the visibly-growing glut of the same dis-ease, at a societal level, of: so much out-of-control urban development and the sum total effects that high-density living environments already are having, compared to the way humans have previously lived for centuries.
A mass meltdown of human life and city-life is underway. Today’s more complex, modern lifestyles exacerbated and accelerated by the extreme pressures of insanely-dysfunctional and corrupt authoritarian, dictatorial, fascist processes, that have everywhere virtually replaced society’s one-time democratic decision-making ones. Such ruthless, corporate-based processes ignore the realities of such critical issues as: over-population; the heinous proliferation of constant world war, and the consequent massive numbers of migrants and refugees that are being loosed upon the world, disrupting so many of its once time-honoured cultural mores and values; in every instance, the one dysfunction becoming a gross mirrored image of the other.
But at a societal level, who will ultimately be the ones to finally put a stop to so many radical imbalances in today’s world? Will it be those often hatefully referred to, world-wide, as the so-called NIMBY’s (No In My Backyard), or will it be the always more favored YIMBY’S (Yes in my Backyard)? The NIMBY’s often the ones who are wrongly characterized as those who object to over-development occurring in their communities, while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere. When, in fact, it’s the YIMBY’s, or modern-day “YUPPY’s”, today’s pro-development advocates, who are instrumental in creating the kind of density that is currently over-stretching the sustainability and viability of urban/city life around the world.
Or, in more general terms, will it simply be: We, the people, or all ‘The Big Boys’ and ‘Thugs’ who will put a stop to so many imbalances occurring in the urban cities and human societies in today’s world? Which ones will ultimately prove to be society’s actual visionary healers or the perverse purveyors of yet more societal ills, distress and dis-ease?
To answer these many questions one must first ponder what will be the single-most dynamic that finally tips the battle one way or the other for or against humanity and Planet Earth’s survival before everything smacks, headlong, into that same unavoidable, insurmountable, fatal Supply & Demand Wall, that looms somewhere terribly near or not too distant on the horizon, where the supply will never be able to keep up with the demand?
Will the single-most critical, deciding factor of this fatal collision end up being a: lack of fresh, clean air, pure water or healthy, nutritious foods; the elimination of the last detached single family homes, neighborhoods, communities and disappearance of their surrounding open green spaces, replaced by ever more impacted, barren, high-rise, high-density environments? Will the deciding factor be: the lack of sunlight and views of nature’s beauty, blocked out by ugly, bland concrete structures that everywhere dominate the world’s skylines; the oppressive world-wide effects of constantly-mounting traffic congestion and gridlock that daily wears upon the populace’s sense of well-being; the unaffordable reality of never being able to buy one’s own home, or the accumulative effects of instead being forced to rent from money-hungry landlords who are allowed by ‘The Big Boys’ to keep raising the rent, forcing those who can’t pay their ‘pound of flesh’ to move on to wherever society cares not? Perhaps the deciding factor will end up simply being the ever-dwindling source of simple building materials – such as common, ordinary sand – that’s required to make the massive amounts of concrete needed to construct what some would like to see become one giant, sprawling ‘Hong Kong’ throughout the world? Maybe the answer is: All of The Above!
For over forty years, this writer has been traveling, to and from, Sydney, Australia, the hometown of his wife, and his own ‘hometowns’ of Vancouver, Canada and San Francisco, USA; observing and experiencing, first-hand, how each of these major urban centre’s either has consciously-chosen, or simply allowed themselves to drift into becoming radically changed in ways that many would argue aren’t for the better.
The conclusion arrived at by how much each place has deteriorated, from a humanistic perspective, is that if one were to use, as a metaphor, a barometer, to describe any one of them, but especially Sydney in 2018, and how it has chosen to take the same destructive path of even more unimaginably-insane, excessive over development, one would have to conclude that that barometer is continuing to plummet at such an alarming rate as to suggest the coming of some horrific, monstrously-violent storm of epic proportions, that one-day will not only engulf places like Sydney but all of human civilization to whatever nefarious, pitiful end.
Common sense should already be loudly-screaming at every citizen and leader in the world that the destructive, accumulative effects of all these dynamics upon the human body, mind and spirit – not to mention upon the infrastructure of every country that can but barely keep up with the needs of their own people, let alone the angry sea of unwanted newcomers – is causing a horrendous drain upon the earth’s natural, finite resources that continues to make everything so fragile and unsustainable to the point that it’s coming down to a basic matter of always trying to ‘Rob Peter to Pay Paul’. This should already be an absolute no-brainer.
In order to put this crisis of modern human civilization in yet another better way, perhaps using the metaphor of war rather than meteorology would make clearer the sheer madness of what all is going on. Sydney Australia, for one, is currently being ruthlessly ‘blitzkrieged’ by the world’s corporate generals who are morphing it at hyper-speed into yet another ‘New York’, on its way, no doubt, to one day becoming something the size of yet another ‘London’ and eventually probably even yet another ‘Mexico City’ or ‘Beijing’. On the up-side, Sydney no doubt will end up benefiting from the same richness and complexity to be found in all the arts, theatre and the like of these other megalopolis’s it seeks to ape, but the most obvious trade-off will be the downside of a less healthy and liveable way of life, from a human standpoint.
One only has to glance at the wealth of brilliant investigative articles that daily appear on the pages of local papers, like the Sydney Morning Herald, to realize the magnitude and intensity of the real, life-and-death ‘shooting war’ that is slugging it out for the survival or demise of Sydney as it now is. The many pounding salvos coming from all sides reflect the pitched battles everywhere underway between those seeking to either stop or step-up the overthrow of the once-upon-a-time traditional, time-honoured values and sensibilities of the Australian people; who mostly are aghast at what is being allowed to happen to their much-beloved Sydney, New South Wales and Australia as a whole by too many corrupt politicians, city officials and corporate robber barons they have no control over. “Not in Our Name!” is their common cry!
The constant roar of all their salvos, back and forth at one another, are the same as those being made about similar conflicts being waged ‘round the world in every other major urban centre, over: chaotic housing markets, driven more and more by offshore investors, speculators and hostile governments with an eye towards economic or actual physical invasion and takeover on their minds, or; the constant economic and physical warfare that’s causing the crunch and squeeze of human beings, caught in the no-man’s lands of the maelstrom, who are constantly being forced to flee to or flee from somewhere; searching anywhere for whatever harbour of safety or modicum of peace and stability can be found.
But, as each year passes, life increasingly seems as if nothing more than a bad, if not cruel, joke. The prevailing dishonest and dishonorable practices and policies of both Western and Eastern business, corporate, financial and political forces the same as those to wherever one tries to run; every outside interest somehow seeking to sink their claws ever-deeper into the body politic, sucking out the life-blood of wherever, whether it be Australia, Canada, the U.S. or every other place on the earth; sucking out the essence of what originally made each place the great and unique entity that so many people have long admired and sought to emulate.
In the perpetual war underway to win over the minds, hearts and pocketbooks of all the people to their way of thinking about life and reality, The Big Boys and Thugs, wherever they may be in the world, are constantly using whatever lofty platform they have at hand to brainwash the people to believe in their warped world view that somehow always is benignly cast under the simple guise of Supply & Demand.
The Big Boys and Thugs simply provide the constant wars and ensuing environmental crises that supply the endless numbers of immigrants, refugees and population growth to continue their devious Machiavellian plots for world domination. As the demand exponentially grows for everything: war armaments, housing, land, infrastructure; highways; airports, cruise ships, high-tech toys or whatever else, the Big Boys and Thugs simply supply whatever is needed; and, as a result, the rich get ever-richer at the expense of everyone else. The only problem is that this nefarious solution to create ‘The Good Life’ for a select few is that it will take many more planet earth’s than just the current one upon which we live to keep the whole scam going.
Yet because of a widely-held belief in the absurd concept of perpetual growth and expansion, that could otherwise be characterized as ‘a fervent religious belief’, as the sole answer to every human and societal problem and definition of what constitutes the Good Life, every major urban centre in the world is virtually kept under perpetual siege, forced to forever totally transform itself into something entirely different again than what it was, and never wanted to actually become; the same boundless ‘growth solutions’ destroying, in the process, what human beings everywhere are longing for, fighting for and yet losing every day as time goes by.
As one example, the Australian press is filled every day with one ‘leaked’ confidential file after another that uncovers yet another vile twist of how all the bastards – the Chinese Communist Government, for one – is obsessively and ruthlessly pouring obscene amounts of money into Australia’s own ever-greedier governmental coffers, through one proxy investor or dummy corporation after another, to eventually take over everything for themselves. In the end, history wlll eventually characterize those like Genghis Khan as ‘piker’s’ by comparison.
As is the case with similar entities in every country – be it manifested through their Reserve Banks, Corporate Think Tank Institutes, Business Councils or Chambers of Commerce, who all subscribe to the same world view of endless growth and expansion, and work diligently 24/7, 365 days of the year to promote it – each has their own platform in every mainstream corporate press. Their platforms constantly pound the people every which they turn with fake news and fake truths, without ever seeking the tacit consent and approval of the citizenry and its voting population, and more often than not even against their will, daily set priorities and make sweeping critical decisions about humankind’s future; a future they expect every government and their brainwashed minions to duly adhere to and obediently profess, as if they were preaching gospel to the sycophants, about such matters as: land values; housing speculation; zoning regulation recommendations; refugee-immigrant quotas and policies, and; infrastructure development, no matter how excessive or sweeping in scope.
This reality was recently made patently clear by two articles that appeared on the same day in the Sydney Morning Herald. Both articles typical of the times in which the world, as a whole, now lives and the kind of sweeping broadsides that are daily fired, as warnings and directives, across the bow of every ship of state, large or small, from the giant metropolis to the tiny city council, to dutifully toe the party-line and give no quarter to whatever entirely different world view of life to which NIMBY’s and their allies may ever dare to aspire.
One article in question, (“New homeowners locked out by zoning”, 9 March, 2018, SMH, Eryk Bagshaw), called attention to a so-called ‘research paper’ that was put out by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), that asserts it’s the development restrictions, created by recalcitrant city councils and the NIMBY’s who have banded together to try to slow down, say,: the allowed numbers of incoming immigrants and refugees; stop or reduce the unwanted effects of population explosion and consequent increased demand for ever more needless infrastructure projects, or; put a stop to the consequent ever-denser, more concretized, less green, neighbourhoods and communities that are already planned and set in stone for the future. It’s the same refrain to be heard uttered in the press in Vancouver, San Francisco or everwhere else.
According to the RBA’s so-called ‘research’, or ‘speil’, it’s these same ‘bad guys’ who are always interfering with ‘progress’, destroying the Big Boys Supply and Demand formula and, consequently, locking out many of those unfortunate ones who will never be able to afford to ever become a home owner and so contribute to the so-called prosperity of society.
A similar article with yet the same meta-message, line of gab, also came out in the Sydney Morning Herald that provided an analysis of a report put out, this time by Australia’s Grattan Institute, that gave a slightly different slant on the issue of affordability of housing in the greater Sydney region of New South Wales. It called attention to the long-standing battle that has traditionally pitted: NIMBY’s versus YIMBY’s; home owners versus home buyers, and; developers versus city councils; yet the same ‘YIMBY double speak’ of the Grattan Report was that its futile to resist what is inevitable because once the non-home owners and frustrated home buyers inevitably become the majority of the voting population they, and their development-minded allies, will ultimately win the battle and, thus, the last of the detached single family homes and neighbourhood hold-outs will be eliminated; to be duly replaced by medium density communities that, in turn, will be replaced by ever-higher, every-denser ‘Hong Kong-style’ developments; that will become the norm in the corporate-development community’s envisoned Brave New World scenario that lies ahead for the entire human race. (“Zoned Out, Sydney’s sprawl has reached breaking point”, 9 March, 2018, SMH, Chris Kohler).
Nothing much is ever made in the majority of the articles released in the corporate mainstream press about who the real culprits always are in this scenario and what is constantly being played out between all the: investors, speculators, politicians, developers, city planners, architects, schools of business and the real estate industry; who seldom consider in their massive urban projects the people’s own desire for yet a different way of life, say, with more affordable housing that’s smaller, more economical, and environmentally-sensitive, built solely with recycled materials that conserve the earth’s ever-receding finite natural resources. The same goes with those who manufacture ever bigger, more powerful automobiles and the complex, archaic, 60’s-style highway systems needed to convey them to and from these massive developments. But then this is what is part and parcel of the conspiratorial world view that forever continues to be the engine that drives everything ever-forward; while convincing the masses to believe in their vision of the future to the point where it gets impossible to know what came first: the Chicken or the Egg!
Sydney’s current, almost unimaginably-large, mega-urban development plan now underway – variously called the Giant West & North Connex Motorway, Sydney’s second International airport at Badgerys Creek, and a new ‘Tri-City Western suburbs’ project – already is creating a giant new highway system required to link all these projects together over the some 50-60 kilometres from Sydney’s inner CBD to the hinterlands in the West. This supra-metropolis in the making continues to destructively plow through Sydney’s historic neighbourhoods, demolishing one historic neighbourhood after another, in spite of the numbers of irate citizens, foaming-at-the-mouth, flinging their bodies in every which way in protest, attempting to stop all the devastation to the human and natural landscapes, but with little or no avail.
Once completed, the ensuing 45 billion dollar toll road scam of public funds for private gain, that will take some 40 years of taxpayers monies to pay off, will force even more people into cars, leading to even further air pollution and unwanted change. Future related mega-highway infrastructure projects – like the Rozelle Interchange, Iron Cove Tunnel & Western Harbour Tunnel – will end up further releasing even more toxic, cancer-causing materials throughout Sydney’s world-famous inner harbour; not to mention the round-the-clock dredging of cancerous toxic materials, and their removal by heavy trucks and trailers that, in the process, not only will rob for years the surrounding residents of their sleep, peace of mind and the tranquility of their communities, but will lead to even further compulsory acquisition and demolition of still more historic homes, businesses, community facilities and amenities.
The utter madness of such development projects will cause Sydney to one day end up becoming the size of yet another New York, London, Mexico City or Beijing; the once tiny city of Parramatta, on its western edges, will become a large, high-rise, sprawling urban center the size of a ‘second Sydney’; and yet a third massive complex of surrounding once rural townships, that formerly provided the market gardens that fed Sydney, will instead become one, vast, continuous urban complex the size of the current city of Adelaide that, in order to survive, will have to import all its food stuffs from elsewhere in the world. It’s what the YIMBY’s call ‘Progress’.
Clearly, the Big Boys and Thugs have already made the unilateral, undemocratic decision – independently and irrespective of whatever the dreams and will of the people may be – to explode the population and urban development in places on the earth like Sydney, New South Wales and Australia; and that’s simply that!
But the world’s silent, passive majority of YIMBY’s are culpable, as well. Similar insane, sweeping urban developments are being allowed to occur everywhere else on the globe because the world’s affluent masses have all Drunk the Spiked Cool-Aid that’s been carefully prepared and force-fed to them. The majority no longer believe in or care about the possibilities of such viable, alternative realities as smaller cities with more economical, smaller dwellings, and the low-key, more sustainable, stable-state lifestyles that go with them. They’re willing to constantly look the other way and accept the: impacted, inner-city living environments, massive congestion of automobiles; commuting long distances, on archaic 1960’s-style motorways; the on-going overthrow of former traditional ways of life, while; encouraging the glut of excessive lifestyles that go with their overthrow.
Ever-bigger and ever-flashier are the operative deregueur language of a civilization that has simply gone mad and no longer knows where it’s going. It’s a civilization that demands of all its followers an abiding belief in the madness of their leaders who demand ever-bigger everything, with more and more high-tech flash, and whatever violence is required to realize them.
So this is the on-going state of the so-called modern world that won’t do anything different other than what it has been doing, and where it has been heading, for centuries. The common, unified message of those like the Reserve Bank of Australia, Grattan Institute, and all their economic-financial-political counterparts throughout the world, to all those who may disagree with them is one and the same: it’s shut up, get out of the way, and allow us ‘Big Boys & Thugs’ to have our way, ostensibly for the benefit of all concerned. Which, of course, it won’t, but then this is always part and parcel of the colossal ruse of their conspiratorial world view.
For years, this writer has answered the challenge to confront this violent, dystopian view of life, drawn his own pen like a proverbial sword, as it were, and engaged in combat; authoring any number of companion articles, each of which attempts to present, as a foil, a diametrically-different world view that attempts to turn the NIMBY Vs. YIMBY argument completely on its head. Articles with such titles as: “The Madness of Unchecked Growth”; “Nimbys Vs Yimbys Battle Over Endless Development”, and; “Out-of-Control Yimby Development on Canada’s Shores”;. each have thrown out the same challenge to consider the critical importance of some kind of meaningful Reconciliation between what are two of the main, opposing, on-going world views that exist today between Western and Eastern governments and their aboriginal-indigenous peoples.
One of the basic arguments put forth in such a Reconciliation process is that the YIMBY’s are always the first who will object most loudly to allow in their own backyards what they’re always so readily prepared to dump into someone else’s backyard. These same YIMBY’s, if they happen to receive some windfall or win the lottery, are among the first to always opt for themselves and their family some bucolic, idyllic setting with the very qualities and aspects they’re so readily prepared to eliminate for untold others. They’re the same ones who also are never satisfied with a simpler lifestyle, but instead, whenever they get the chance, opt for, say, an ever-larger mortgage to step-up to an ever-larger, flashier dwelling and everything that make larger and larger footprints on the earth. It’s what they commonly refer to as “Making It”, while living out a fantasy of ‘the Good Life’, say, on some luxury European river cruise or South Pacific jaunt on an opulent cruise ship; imagining, for a brief moment, as if they are to be counted among the feted elite and royalty of the world.
Which Way Will the World Wend? No doubt it will head in the same direction as it always has been, UNTIL….? And so it goes in what appears to be an ever-deteriorating state of the human mind-body-spirit, civilization and Planet Earth in 2018 and beyond.