essay at the always interesting Dark Ecologies blog about "retro-futures and the demise of progress in a progressive age" - here riffing off ex-CCRU-er Anna Greenspan's book Shanghai Future: Modernity Remade
"When one thinks back on the idea of progress and progressivism one realizes we’ve all come to the still point of the turning world (Eliot), a place in which life is no longer progressing at all but is rather stuck in some strange revolving door of ineptitude and delirium in which both political and economic leadership seems bent on utter destruction. "
on the crisis of authority - "We no longer trust our leaders, businessmen, or – and, I speak for myself: all those radical philosophers who have littered the world with book after book about how bad neoliberalism is, how its raped our planet, our children’s futures, our hope, etc. All these radical intellectuals have themselves become bankrupt and ineffectual, and have no real solutions to offer the populace, rather just more critical appraisal of a past that is now our doom. Most on the left offer nothing more than the “Courage of hopelessness.” " That's the West though: "So that while the rest of the planet seems to be slowly devolving into ruins, Shanghai has been reconstructing itself out of its past into something utterly new. A modernism remaking itself right before our eyes..... Why are they thriving and we are sinking? .... As Greenspan tells us in Shanghai we’re seeing a new form of time-consciousness:
Shanghai’s ambition— to emerge as the great metropolis of the twenty-first century— requires not only that it impact what is in the future but also, more fundamentally, that it transform the very idea of what the future might mean. (p. xv).
Stuff about how Beijing is set to "merge with nearby cities, which would turn the capital into a super-megacity" - " a giant urban corridor in northern China" - reminiscent of William Gibson's The Sprawl.