Super Cities Vs Global Unification: will either replace Nation States?

Super City: a large metropolitan area comprised of, at least, 8 million people, undergoing rapid growth in population and urbanisation.

A priori, this sounds a rather interesting concept, but in truth it is one that masks a series of social and economic problems; that in the long run, may reveal to be catastrophic.

The first impact of mass migrations (to the megalopolis) is chaotic: usually these cities are not prepared to receive such a huge number of people, which could result in illicit “urbanisation” (ex: the “favelas” in the São Paulo metropolitan area, and the “barracas” in the Lisbon metropolitan area, during the 80’s), thus causing environmental pollution (due to poor, or no, sewage system); high rates of unemployment (since there may not be enough jobs for all) that will lead to low human development, which in turn will result in high crime rates.


("Favela" in São Paulo)

If we think of it from the city management point of view, more chaos could be generated; for imagine that most of the population is fully employed (in a perfect scenario), thus having favourable living standards: if they all own cars and the majority drives to work (due to lack of proper public transportation planning) the super city will suffer from consistent congested traffic; air pollution; it will have to invest a lot in the maintenance of the heavily used pavements; focus in the potholes and other asphalt defects.
Super cities may help decrease life expectancy.


("Barraca" of Lisbon, in the 80's)

Now think with me...even if a genius comes up with a way to surpass these disturbing issues and actually organise the super city in a way that its environmental and common health impacts are favourable to us all (thus rendering the megapolis huge economic and political power); there are nations that will never be able to form super cities (ex: Portugal, Israel, Belgian, Luxemburg, the Netherlands etc) so, where would they stand in the new political scenario?
Moreover: would the present alliances (EU, Arab League, Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation, AU etc) end, so that new ones (based on the super cities) would emerge?

There is the danger that these powerful megalopolis may, in the long run, aim at replacing state nations (due to their organisational autonomy), which could lead to civil wars all over again.
However global unification (despite its imperativeness to development) can never substitute state nations because of one crucial factor: cultural identity.

The culture of any nation, and its traditions, is part of a people’s identity, which is what glues them together, to fight for the national common good and interests.

Small cities are easier to administrate (in every sense), they are environmentally healthier and generate sane individuals.
Super cities promote estrangement, lack of sense of community, loneliness, depression, suicide.
Global unification should foment cultural exchange (which incites understanding, mutual respect and tolerance) and not acculturation.
Nations states are more than monetary fortitude and political strength; they are the land, the people, their history, identity, values and sense of belonging.


For further reading on this fascinating subject, please beam over to LS' realm: Here.

Comments

  1. I lived in Beijing, China for two years. The city, and surrounding suburbs house over 13 million people. The result is an over polluted, over crowded chaos. When you get in an elevator, you are literally plastered chest to back and side to side to each other. When you go to McDonalds, you push your way through a thronging crowd just to get to the cashier. You wave your money in hopes that she will choose to take your order next. You stand in a "line" (and I use the term loosely) that is three people across just to pick up a package from the post office. And then again, you wave your claim ticket in the air in hopes that the person at the window will pick you next. These are just a few small examples, but suffice it to say, big city living means crowded living.

    You made the comment, "...even if a genius comes up with a way to surpass these disturbing issues and actually organise the super city in a way that its environmental and common health impacts are favourable to us all...". China has tried to do this, but what has come of it is that the government controls where people live, and they determine how much space one person needs. The result is that often a family of 5 (husband, wife, child, grandmother, grandfather) share a one room apartment. In order to "control" the population, they resorted to communist principles. The only way a government could "control" a megacity, is to take away the freedom of the people to decide how they live. I simply don't see how it could be done fairly. If we let nature take it's course, then we have one section of the city that is made up entirely of slums that are substandard and dangerous. The only way a mega city could work is if the government tightly controls how people are allowed to live. And then we lose our freedom. One of the things I missed most in Beijing was having a back yard. In these huge metropolises, there simply isn't room for yards.

    Another problem in a city of this sort is safety. How do you police a city with 13 million people? The Chinese government uses the army in addition to the regular police. In fact, the two are pretty much one in the same in China.

    Having lived in such a city, I would vote to NOT be part of such a megatropolis. The quality of life is very low.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Max!

    Part 1

    I am excited to find out what you did with this topic!

    I am curious as to where you found this definition of a “super city”…

    “A priori, this sounds a rather interesting concept, but in truth it is one that masks a series of social and economic problems; that in the long run, may reveal to be catastrophic.”

    - While this is true does this also not make possible certain positive factor’s such as economic growth if things are done properly?

    “The first impact of mass migrations (to the megalopolis) is chaotic…which could result in illicit “urbanisation”…thus causing environmental pollution….high rates of unemployment…that will lead to low human development, which in turn will result in high crime rates.”

    - Excellent points! One of the problems even successful cities have is that the building of infrastructure takes time. If you have a large influx of people and if they are capable of paying sustainable taxes that tax money still takes time to infuse the infrastructure with the needed development…this is why careful civil planning is definitely needed. I would also suggest that the economic possibilities of Super Cities are manifold if they are oriented properly. China has for example made some catastrophic errors in the development of its large cities but some are better than others. How livable are they? Well I talk about that in my article… ;)

    Ahhhh Sao Paulo I can see the football in the streets…does one needs anything else? ;)

    “If we think of it from the city management point of view, more chaos could be generated; for imagine that most of the population is fully employed (in a perfect scenario), thus having favourable living standards:”

    - Hmmm what about Tokyo, it has a massive population but its standards are high. Why would you say that the people of Tokyo have been at least modestly successful (I would suggest very successful) and Mexico City is so poor in comparison? Both are huge cities…

    “if they all own cars and the majority drives to work (due to lack of proper public transportation planning) the super city will suffer from consistent congested traffic; air pollution;”

    - Transit and also building neighbourhood that provide work potential without necessitating long commutes are very important. Some cities do this better than others. Geography comes to play in this as well as psychological and cultural views on success and lifestyles. It seems most major cites are now realizing that the environment is important but what part will population play in maintaining this along with the wealth factor.

    “Super cities may help decrease life expectancy.”

    - One could also argue that large metropolitan centers also provide greater educational and health access. However I see you are primarily looking at poorer cites/nations so perhaps this is an overriding factor?

    “Now think with me...”

    - Alright! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  3. Max…

    Part 2

    “even if a genius comes up with a way to surpass these disturbing issues and actually organise the super city in a way that its environmental and common health impacts are favourable to us all (thus rendering the megapolis huge economic and political power); there are nations that will never be able to form super cities (ex: Portugal, Israel, Belgian, Luxemburg, the Netherlands etc) so, where would they stand in the new political scenario?

    - I think that the negatives you are reflecting upon are also true of many nations. Many nations have problems but why do some overcome while other struggle? Would Singapore be a super city? Hong Kong?

    “Moreover: would the present alliances (EU, Arab League, Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation, AU etc) end, so that new ones (based on the super cities) would emerge?”

    - Perhaps super cities would simply supersede these nations and/or alliances. Over time such things do happen. Who would have thought of the Berlin Wall coming down the way it did? Everything changed…look at the current economic meltdown, we still do not know what things are going to look like for the next while…

    “There is the danger that these powerful megalopolis may, in the long run, aim at replacing state nations (due to their organisational autonomy), which could lead to civil wars all over again.”

    - Entirely possible…or there could simply be a gentle emergence?

    “However global unification (despite its imperativeness to development) can never substitute state nations because of one crucial factor: cultural identity.”

    - Massive factor which I also speak about in my article. What about the EU? What does its existence teach us about this? What about human identity? Why would cultural diversity need to end for success? I would suggest it could be enriching…however I agree that it seems to be insurmountable.

    “The culture of any nation, and its traditions, is part of a people’s identity, which is what glues them together, to fight for the national common good and interests.”

    - :) Culture can also be bad. Does one culture feel others are a threat out of hate, fear or envy for example. Perhaps humanity should be more of a glue? Global common good and interests are perhaps of greater significance? Why have cultural identities that are intolerant?

    “Small cities are easier to administrate (in every sense), they are environmentally healthier and generate sane individuals.”

    - :) You will find my list of most liveable cities to be interesting. However there are positive things that super cities can provide such as wealth and creativity.

    “Super cities promote estrangement, lack of sense of community, loneliness, depression, suicide.”

    - Interesting view…are New York, London, Tokyo or Hong Kong like that?

    “Global unification should foment cultural exchange (which incites understanding, mutual respect and tolerance) and not acculturation.”

    - If people from a vast array of cultures can live in a city why have borders? Vancouver has people form every country on the planet and in general there is liveability that is very good. Are all cultures equal or do some deserve to be absorbed and mitigated?

    “Nations states are more than monetary fortitude and political strength; they are the land, the people, their history, identity, values and sense of belonging.”

    - All of these are factors that can also been seen as very negative influences. Sense of belonging can take place in many ways and does not need to be harnessed by a nation state. One nation pushes around another over land or racism, past historical outcomes/envy, some see themselves as superior in history and formulate this into aggression, values can be bad in a nation state, a sense of belonging to a greater purpose, that of a unified humanity could be seen as good.

    Understand that I am not pushing for one position or the other etc…just examining them all.

    Great post MAX!!!! I am so pleased that our articles speak to one another but we cover the topic very differently.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Max,

    The notion of super cities as a trend is frightening for despite the architectural advance, city organisation and management, we haven't progressed that much in comparison with the XIII century cities. For example: the demographic explosion then and now is caused by migration to the city; the reason why people look for cities is still the same (big money), the problems are more of the same (war - today is terrorism in the cities), famine and pandemic diseases (of all sorts; flu, HIV, STD, hepatitis etc); even the prayer is the same like in the good old days "a bello, fame et peste libera nos Domine".

    Globablisation can be a good thing if and far most the countries and companies trade fairly.
    Nothing should ever replace a nation's government for diversity is a plus and each and every citizen is entitled to a safety zone (i.e. its own democratic and civil country for there is nothing like home).

    Super article, Max :-)!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  5. Max:

    I absolutely agree with your conclusion at the end of your post. However, I’m going to take a stab at acculturation. But please forgive me for putting this comment in two parts. It’s too long for a single comment.

    When you speak of Nations preserving their cultural and historical identity, I have to point out that those are the very things that also promote separateness. If I want my cultural and my historical attachments to remain intact, then I believe, by definition, I must exclude outside influences on my cultural, or at least subjugate them to the identities of the culture at large. I know that's a big mouthful, but here's what I mean.

    Take a country like the United States as an example. We're known as the big melting pot. Our gates are open to all. Illegal immigrants, terrorists and religious fanatics, HIV victims, even if you hate America but just need a good job---no problem---if you can walk, crawl, swim or fly, come right on over. We love everybody.

    That’s all fine and dandy, but the truth is that our come one, come all immigration policy is actually killing our own culture. Tens of millions of immigrants have flooded our borders. They bring their own ways and practice their own traditions. And they could care less about our ways or our culture. As a result, historic American culture has eroded to the point that it is now almost unrecognizable. It has been replaced by several subcultures: Korean American, Japanese American, Chinese Americans, Philippine American, Mexican American---you name it. Nobody wants to be just an American. Everybody wants to have a separate identity. It's not enough just to be proud of where one came from, and maintain respect for one's heritage. No. They want to be separate cultures---without respecting the traditions and history of the larger culture. Forget the fact that many immigrants are ignorant about their own history, or culture. In fact, many are illiterate. No problem. We teach it to them in our universities---free!. And if they don’t like our traditional celebrations of Christmas, Halloween, George Washington’s Birthday, etc., that’s no problem either. We’ll cancel our holidays out of respect for their culture. After all, we don’t want to offend anybody. As a result of all of this, our traditional holidays are ignored, our identity has dissipated into thin air and patriotism is non-existent. We don't salute our flag, our founding fathers have been disgracefully denounced, and no one on the streets even knows our national anthem. I am a veteran, but I have to endure standing next to people who refused to salute our flag. Yet they openly bask in the secure freedom that veterans have provided. Blood has been shed. And I’m expected to be tolerant? But it’s not only here, it the same thing around the globe.

    Just look at the problems in France, Germany, the Netherlands---anyplace. There is a mass immigration towards the so-called western nations. But too many people entering those countries too fast, without assimilating into the dominate culture, has not only overwhelmed the distribution of essential public services in those countries, it also stands in the way of acculturation---the very thing I believe you are promoting in your blog post. Unfortunately, what it really does is to promote separatism. To be continued . . .

    ReplyDelete
  6. Max:

    Now for the rest of the story.

    Now, as to super cities, I completely agree with your position. After all, one only has to look at Mumbai, Calcutta, Rio de Janeiro and a host of other “super cities” around the world to see the disgust and heartache of unrestrained growth. In fact, many of our cities right her in the US are quickly approaching super city status, at least in the number of permanent residents. Fortunately, however, we still have the economic and industrial infrastructure to support them. But that could soon collapse as the new liberal administration in Washington bankrupts Uncle Sam’s coffers and moves farther away from capitalism towards the false utopia of economic socialism. Socialism has never worked. That won’t work. In my opinion, free-market competition is the only economic model that is capable of sustaining unlimited growth. And I believe this is also true in a global unification scenario. The playing field is never going to be absolutely equal, but educate your citizens and allow them to work hard and keep what they earn, lower taxes on business, and take home pay, reduce confining regulations, provide an economic incentive for the development of environmental friendly goods and services, and let the people rise to their individual level of competence. From window cleaner to Wall Street trader, only a self-promoting work ethic fueled by capitalistic principles will save all of us from the holocaust of economic ruin.

    Finally, how would I promote a more healthy integration of a multicultural society? I know it’s a complicated question, but besides promoting free market competition, and beefing up the educational system, I believe the simplest solution would be a strict immigration policy. Limit the number of incoming immigrants and require them to assimilate into the dominant culture before allowing more to come in. Sort of like a metering system at a freeway on ramp. The cars slowly blend in with the freeway traffic without causing congestion. In a nutshell, if you want the benefits of living in America, France, Germany, Portugal, etc., then you must become an American, French, German, Portuguese first---everything else second. In other words, instead of Portuguese American, it would be American, period!

    Max, it’s only my two cents.

    Happy trails.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi D!

    :D

    "These are just a few small examples, but suffice it to say, big city living means crowded living."

    You just gave us a pretty good example of how a super city can be chaotic, hell no *nodding*.

    "You made the comment, "...even if a genius comes up with a way to surpass these disturbing issues and actually organise the super city in a way that its environmental and common health impacts are favourable to us all...". China has tried to do this, but what has come of it is that the government controls where people live, and they determine how much space one person needs."

    I hear you. There is always the danger of despotic actions from the government, true.

    "The result is that often a family of 5 (husband, wife, child, grandmother, grandfather) share a one room apartment."

    *nodding*...

    "In order to "control" the population, they resorted to communist principles."

    You took the words right out of my mouth...exactly.

    "The only way a government could "control" a megacity, is to take away the freedom of the people to decide how they live."

    True.

    "I simply don't see how it could be done fairly. If we let nature take it's course, then we have one section of the city that is made up entirely of slums that are substandard and dangerous."

    Like the slums (favelas) in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro etc...

    "The only way a mega city could work is if the government tightly controls how people are allowed to live. And then we lose our freedom. One of the things I missed most in Beijing was having a back yard. In these huge metropolises, there simply isn't room for yards."

    I couldn't agree more with you.

    "Having lived in such a city, I would vote to NOT be part of such a megatropolis. The quality of life is very low."

    I'm with you, girl.

    D, thank you ever so much for your incredible comment: it conveyed the right image of a super city...I loved it :D!

    Cheers

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  8. Hello LS :D!

    Part I

    "I am excited to find out what you did with this topic!"

    Why, thank you *bowing*. Were you expecting something different?

    "I am curious as to where you found this definition of a “super city”…"

    This definition is a paraphrase of a small article I read about the Supercities Conference done by the Universities of San Francisco and California.

    "- While this is true does this also not make possible certain positive factor’s such as economic growth if things are done properly?"

    Like I said; a genius could come up with a brilliant idea to do things properly (only for a while), but in the long run it wouldn't work because eventually the city would have to be expanded in such a way (in a chaotic fashion) that in the end we would end up by forming another nation all over again, in the same territory - what would've been the purpose then?

    "- Excellent points! One of the problems even successful cities have is that the building of infrastructure takes time."

    Thank you *bowing*. So true.

    "I would also suggest that the economic possibilities of Super Cities are manifold if they are oriented properly. China has for example made some catastrophic errors in the development of its large cities but some are better than others. How livable are they? Well I talk about that in my article… ;)"

    *nodding in agreement*...well, from what D says, it is not that liveable.
    Yes, you do :).

    "Ahhhh Sao Paulo I can see the football in the streets…does one needs anything else? ;)"

    LOL football *nodding*....
    São Paulo is a very cultural super city (+/- 20 million people) with a lot of problems...nevertheless it is a highly interesting megapolis.

    "- Hmmm what about Tokyo, it has a massive population but its standards are high. Why would you say that the people of Tokyo have been at least modestly successful (I would suggest very successful) and Mexico City is so poor in comparison? Both are huge cities…"

    +/- 35 million people...*nodding*. Mexico City was not properly planned (on the social level) and Tokyo was. The Japanese have planned things within perfection (or almost within perfection): their public transportation system is in total synch (within itself) so that the population can commute with no problems (from what I read and saw on Documentaries), their culture and values promote utter organisation and effective implementation and so everything is intertwined in a way that things flow...
    The Latin (including Latin America and Latin Europe) culture is (how can I put this without harming susceptibilities) not centred enough.

    "(...) It seems most major cites are now realizing that the environment is important but what part will population play in maintaining this along with the wealth factor."

    This is an important point: as people get wealthier they tend to overlook the environment (in their quest to flaunt the proceeds of their recently acquired wealth - and in this case I speak of cars). Wealth and environment are related.

    "- One could also argue that large metropolitan centers also provide greater educational and health access. However I see you are primarily looking at poorer cites/nations so perhaps this is an overriding factor?"

    On paper they do, but in reality...they don't always do it, LS. When I speak I include everybody, I speak not of the middle class (and the rich) only. An unhappy middle class and a continually disrespect poor population can create problems in such a way that can lead a city/nation to regression for a long time.

    "['Now think with me'] - Alright! LOL"

    LOL LOL....

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  9. LS,

    Part II

    "- Many nations have problems but why do some overcome while other struggle? Would Singapore be a super city? Hong Kong?"

    As I have said before, some thrive others do not because of organisation, a common project for the nation (which is related to national pride), values, culture but mainly history. For example; African countries will take a lot longer to thrive than, let's say, a country that was never under the kind of colonialism they were in (it will take them at least 30 years more to cleanse the scars of colonialism - that told them that they were nothing without white people, which is something they are obviously convinced of. In summa, they need to regroup and take pride in their nations - of course for this to happen, there must be a high investment in education and in health, because people must know how others thrived, they must know that other countries also went through famine, diseases, lack of education, corruption, persecutions etc and yet they survived and made something out of themselves).
    Singapore could never be a super city (if we assume that to be a super city, a city must have at least 8 million people; and Singapore only has 4.8 million). Neither could Hong Kong.

    "- Perhaps super cities would simply supersede these nations and/or alliances. Over time such things do happen. Who would have thought of the Berlin Wall coming down the way it did? Everything changed…look at the current economic meltdown, we still do not know what things are going to look like for the next while…"

    The fall of the Berlin wall was important to shape what it is today the EU. Now you asked who would have thought the wall would be coming down? With Perestroika it was not difficult to guess that the wall would eventually fall.
    Things change, true...but the concept of super cities is not the change we should hope for - no matter what a few scholars may say.

    "- Entirely possible…or there could simply be a gentle emergence?"

    LS, gentle emergence would be the desirable effect, however when the poor (and middle class) are discontent...nothing is gentle. And what is the way to discontent the poor and the middle class? The incapacity to provide jobs for all and decent living standards (recall all the huge revolutions, and the backbone of the WWII).

    "- Massive factor which I also speak about in my article. What about the EU? What does its existence teach us about this? What about human identity? Why would cultural diversity need to end for success? I would suggest it could be enriching…however I agree that it seems to be insurmountable."

    European countries have a lot in common, yet they maintain their "individual" cultural identity which enriches our European identity. Nevertheless, ask an Italian if he'd accept to have its culture and identity obliterated, in the name of common enrichment...he'd say no. Neither would a Portuguese, a Spanish or a French...we are not willing to give up our cultural peculiarities, yet we identify ourselves as Europeans...know what I'm saying?
    We have a EU but we keep our nations' identity intact.

    "- :) Culture can also be bad. Does one culture feel others are a threat out of hate, fear or envy for example. Perhaps humanity should be more of a glue? Global common good and interests are perhaps of greater significance? Why have cultural identities that are intolerant?"

    No, behaviours can be bad; not culture. Besides, in your opinion which culture has the right to say that the other is better or less than itself? In my opinion none can do this.
    I reiterate, behaviours can be bad not culture per se.

    ReplyDelete
  10. LS,

    Part III (Blogger is bugging me)


    "However there are positive things that super cities can provide such as wealth and creativity."

    I do not think they can...call me Supercity-skeptic.

    "- Interesting view…are New York, London, Tokyo or Hong Kong like that?"

    I do not know about the rates by city but, at least the countries these cities represent have higher suicide rates than...let's say...Portugal, Israel, Jamaica (for example). Suicide is preceded by depression, loneliness, estrangement, yes?
    And these are a result of pressures to succeed more and more and more...

    "- If people from a vast array of cultures can live in a city why have borders? Vancouver has people form every country on the planet and in general there is liveability that is very good. Are all cultures equal or do some deserve to be absorbed and mitigated?"

    The question is: do these "vast array of cultures" feel "local" in their heart? Or do they feel from somewhere else? People naturally impose borders on themselves, they need borders.
    I do not believe in acculturation, LS.

    "Great post MAX!!!! I am so pleased that our articles speak to one another but we cover the topic very differently."

    Thanks, LS...you are very kind *bowing*! They do, they really do :D!

    LS, thanks so much for this amazing conversation: it is always a true pleasure to exchange thoughts with you :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Circulus Ciceronis :D!

    "The notion of super cities as a trend is frightening for despite the architectural advance, city organisation and management, we haven't progressed that much in comparison with the XIII century cities. For example: the demographic explosion then and now is caused by migration to the city; the reason why people look for cities is still the same (big money), the problems are more of the same (war - today is terrorism in the cities), famine and pandemic diseases (of all sorts; flu, HIV, STD, hepatitis etc); even the prayer is the same like in the good old days "a bello, fame et peste libera nos Domine"."

    Questo è veríssimo!! You have added a vital point to the article, thanks :D!
    For those who do not read Latin, let me translate this prayer for you "a bello, fame et peste libera nos Domine" = "Oh Lord, free us from war, famine and plague!".

    "Globablisation can be a good thing if and far most the countries and companies trade fairly."

    Exactly, but we all know that this is not the case. So far, Globalisation has strangled many so-called "Third World" countries.

    "Nothing should ever replace a nation's government for diversity is a plus and each and every citizen is entitled to a safety zone (i.e. its own democratic and civil country for there is nothing like home)."

    I agree.

    "Super article, Max :-)!"

    Thank you so much :D!

    C.C, thank you ever so much for this amazing comment (you have added crucial elements to the debate): I loved it :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Swu :D!

    Part I

    "However, I’m going to take a stab at acculturation."

    Please stab away lol.

    "When you speak of Nations preserving their cultural and historical identity, I have to point out that those are the very things that also promote separateness. If I want my cultural and my historical attachments to remain intact, then I believe, by definition, I must exclude outside influences on my cultural, or at least subjugate them to the identities of the culture at large."

    I disagree. I can be enriched by other cultures yet I do not have to give up the history of my country to be enriched. I do not have to obliterate the little things that identify me as being (also) Portuguese in the name of acculturation: I do not wish my countrymen to stop taking the "Bica" (espresso) simply because Starbucks thinks we should all drink coffee from a mug (and that is why Starbucks ,in Portugal, is not being successful so far; because our culture is to drink the espresso - and from what I have seen at Starbucks, in my neighbourhood, they now offer espressos because their shop was always empty); I do not wish the American to stop being competitive and success-oriented simply because Europeans think they shouldn't; I do not wish the Chinese to stop paying respect to their "manes" (ancestors) simply because we (Westerners) do not see the purpose of it or do not see it as being cool; I do not want the Brazilians to stop going to the beach with their thongs simply because the Muslims think it to be indecent...come on.

    "Tens of millions of immigrants have flooded our borders. They bring their own ways and practice their own traditions. And they could care less about our ways or our culture."

    You see, that is the kind of thing that we do not want here in Europe. We respect people, we respect other cultures but we do not want our history to be obliterated in the name of the so-called respect for other cultures, no...
    If I go to your country and work there, you bet I will do my uttmost to respect your culture, speak your language, integrate myself in your ways; and I expect the same from you (and others) when coming to my country.

    "It's not enough just to be proud of where one came from, and maintain respect for one's heritage. No. They want to be separate cultures---without respecting the traditions and history of the larger culture."

    In my opinion, this is wrong. Like you said, one can be proud of where one came from, but one must integrate itself in the society where it is presently inserted and respect its history, the efforts of the forefathers of that nation to build a country that is open for all (because if it open for all it is because blood was shed in order to reach that state).

    "We’ll cancel our holidays out of respect for their culture."

    This is why I love Europe: we refuse to do that.
    The host country is not to be acculturated by the guests, the same way the guests are not to be acculturated by us (they are simply to be integrated)....

    "We don't salute our flag, our founding fathers have been disgracefully denounced, and no one on the streets even knows our national anthem."

    You see...that is an absurd. A judge, in Portugal, refused to grant nationality to an East-Indian woman because she didn't know our national anthem.

    The Netherlands now have a policy for immigrants: before being granted a permission to enter the nation you have to learn the language, the culture, the history, do a test and watch a video about cultural peculiarities to see if they shock you. If they do, you won't be granted permission to work or live there.

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  13. Swu,

    Part II

    ""Socialism has never worked. That won’t work."

    Socialism is a plague; however I do not think that the US is experiencing socialism. I don't think you guys will ever see its face.
    Europe knows well socialism, we have seen its face under many shapes and colours and it is a plague, I tell you. Portugal should know: it has potential to be so much more than what it is and look at us, we are the laughing stock of Europe.

    "In my opinion, free-market competition is the only economic model that is capable of sustaining unlimited growth."

    I agree; however this free-market must be re-designed. Free-market is not the same as Free-to-abuse-market; it must ally itself to ethical economical rules (for example, agricultural subsidies strangle nations who depend entirely on agriculture...is this ethical? No).

    "From window cleaner to Wall Street trader, only a self-promoting work ethic fueled by capitalistic principles will save all of us from the holocaust of economic ruin."

    This is a beautiful sentence, Swu!

    "Finally, how would I promote a more healthy integration of a multicultural society? I know it’s a complicated question, but besides promoting free market competition, and beefing up the educational system, I believe the simplest solution would be a strict immigration policy. Limit the number of incoming immigrants and require them to assimilate into the dominant culture before allowing more to come in. Sort of like a metering system at a freeway on ramp."

    I hear you...

    "The cars slowly blend in with the freeway traffic without causing congestion. In a nutshell, if you want the benefits of living in America, France, Germany, Portugal, etc., then you must become an American, French, German, Portuguese first---everything else second. In other words, instead of Portuguese American, it would be American, period!"

    You are supporting the ideas I transmitted in part II...

    Swu, outstanding discussion...man, you are spoiling me! I may get used to this :D! Thank you a million times *bowing*!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ciao Max,

    Are the super cities an anachronism?
    Has the middle class consolidated its political, social and economic urban revolution?
    Do people still believe, like in the XIII century, that the air in the city sets one free (stadtluft macht frei)?
    Should one believe in globalization and its gifts?

    Max, what do you think?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Max:

    Yes, we think alike. I knew when I read your second comment that you would see that we agree as you read further into my comment.

    Keep up the good work.

    Happy trails

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Max,

    OMG. What has LS mad you do now? He is gaining control over your mind.

    You know I was going to make a longer and profound comment, however this library computer is very temperamental, it edits what i doesn't like and I have to start from scratch.

    I don't know the exact numbers, but Los Angeles has a HUGE population that is growing by leaps and bounds. I celebrate our cultural diversity and at the same time wonder if our system will completely break. California is out of money; the government, civil services, schools, libraries, etc. don't have enough to operate because we have so many people draining the system. I think it will become a bigger problem if we don't start practicing tough love.

    Great post. Lots of food for thought my dear.

    City Of Angels Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Timely post and comments for me as I will be in Beijing in just a couple of weeks, should be interesting.

    I lived in Calgary for my first 24 years and although it isn't huge huge I saw major differences when I moved to Moose Jaw Saskatchewan.

    First we were able to get into the housing market right away making me and my wife very happy and proud to be associated with this type of lifestyle.

    The people were way friendlier making us more friendly and happier to be a part of the community.

    Sent our kids through school and feeling good about it since the school was across the street.

    There are just so many pluses to a small community, if you want to reach the higher places in companies or like the night life you will have to go to a larger centre, pluses and minuses for both ways of life.

    We did finally after 10 years move to a larger centre, Saskatoon a good combination of small and a medium size community.

    I was offered a good position in Toronto early in my career with Sears, I turned it down because of the problems I saw with the larger community, two of my good friends took higher positions in Toronto, both are now divorced, a large part due to financial and commuting stress.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is very much like Manila, and I thought we were the only city with houses so close together. lol

    Thank you so much sweetie for the warm wishes. Take care. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Max, I lived in the Osaka/Kansai area of Japan for 3 years which has a population of 18+ million. In many ways I liked it very much, because so much was conveniently located to my apartment and I could walk everywhere, hiring a taxi in rare cases. Surrounding the city were countless mountains with trail heads so that I could enjoy my rural isolation with a short train ride. It is possible to make a mega-city work well, have little pollution, and a reasonable quality of life.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Ciao Dux :D!

    "Are the super cities an anachronism?"

    Well, despite my being a supercity-skeptic, my answer is...no, they are not an anachronism, because there are already some supercities.

    "Has the middle class consolidated its political, social and economic urban revolution?"

    Not yet.

    "Do people still believe, like in the XIII century, that the air in the city sets one free (stadtluft macht frei)?"

    They do, Dux. They still see the city as the salvation to all their problems...which can be an illusion. The air in the city (specially if big) "macht frei nicht".

    "Should one believe in globalization and its gifts?"

    The spirit of Globalisation is good; but it is not being properly done, is it? The spirit of such endeavour is too engage all countries in commercial trading but this is only occurring to one end (ex: the European subsidies allow the European agriculturists to produce cheaper produces and then sell them to the so-called "third world" countries by lower prices than the locally grown products - thus, strangling the agriculturists in those nations...this is highly unethical, yet the world seems ok with it - shame on us all). Globalisation must be re-planned, re-implemented and controlled.

    Dux Probus, thank you ever so much for your questions...they made me think :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  21. Swu,

    "Yes, we think alike. I knew when I read your second comment that you would see that we agree as you read further into my comment."

    LOL Swu, I had realised it in the first part of your comment...but I wished to show you that we thought alike.

    "Keep up the good work."

    Thanks, man!! *bowing*!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Lady A :D!

    "OMG. What has LS mad you do now? He is gaining control over your mind."

    LOL LOL no, no, no...this time he is innocent....
    LOL well, he is a brilliant man...so if he'd take over my mind I'd learn a lot lol.... ;).

    "You know I was going to make a longer and profound comment, however this library computer is very temperamental, it edits what i doesn't like and I have to start from scratch."

    LOL it edits what it doesn't like? LOL LOL A computer with its own mind...dangerous...

    "I don't know the exact numbers, but Los Angeles has a HUGE population that is growing by leaps and bounds. I celebrate our cultural diversity and at the same time wonder if our system will completely break. California is out of money; the government, civil services, schools, libraries, etc. don't have enough to operate because we have so many people draining the system. I think it will become a bigger problem if we don't start practicing tough love."

    While researching for this article I found out that L.A. has a population of about 13 million beings - that is a lot (yet, smaller than São Paulo, which has +/- 21 million people). Yes, I heard that your state (Cali) is broke...I wonder how could that have happened, since California alone would be the 10th economy in the world (if it were a country). I am worried about it.
    Being tough and assertive is also part of loving. Love means not to be lenient all the time (and that is the beauty of it)...

    "Great post. Lots of food for thought my dear."

    Thanks, girl :D!

    And thanks for your fantastic Computer-edit-Free comment ;)! I loved it!

    Los Angeles Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hey Bob :D!

    "Timely post and comments for me as I will be in Beijing in just a couple of weeks, should be interesting."

    I know...! You let us know your impressions of that huge city when you get back :D!

    "First we were able to get into the housing market right away making me and my wife very happy and proud to be associated with this type of lifestyle. The people were way friendlier making us more friendly and happier to be a part of the community. Sent our kids through school and feeling good about it since the school was across the street."

    These are the advantages of living in a smaller city - they are good examples of what I was trying to convey.

    "There are just so many pluses to a small community, if you want to reach the higher places in companies or like the night life you will have to go to a larger centre, pluses and minuses for both ways of life."

    I hear you.

    "I was offered a good position in Toronto early in my career with Sears, I turned it down because of the problems I saw with the larger community, two of my good friends took higher positions in Toronto, both are now divorced, a large part due to financial and commuting stress."

    Ah, Toronto...such a beautiful town!! I am sorry to hear about your friend :(...
    But yeah, I know what you mean.

    Lord of the Astrostuff, thank ever so much for your great example (very useful indeed) :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Liza :D!

    "This is very much like Manila, and I thought we were the only city with houses so close together. lol"

    No, there are much more cities in the world in similar conditions...

    "Thank you so much sweetie for the warm wishes. Take care. :)"

    You are most welcome, darling :D!

    Hug and cheers

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hey Looney :D!

    "Max, I lived in the Osaka/Kansai area of Japan for 3 years which has a population of 18+ million. In many ways I liked it very much, because so much was conveniently located to my apartment and I could walk everywhere, hiring a taxi in rare cases. Surrounding the city were countless mountains with trail heads so that I could enjoy my rural isolation with a short train ride. It is possible to make a mega-city work well, have little pollution, and a reasonable quality of life."

    That is what LS and I were discussing yesterday: Japan is a successful example because their are organised by default. Their planning is effective and since they have always had this respect for nature, they've always managed to integrate (and complement) development and nature very well. But why do they achieve in doing so? Because of their culture and values.

    Looney, thank you so much for having shared your experience with us :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  26. I understand Delirious... Beijing is crazy! It's just huge...

    That said, I still like this city. It is developing and yes, it will have problems on the long term, but it's safe and getting around is quite easy.

    Now, Sao Paolo is another story... a small anecdote. In 2002, we stopped there on our way to Rio de Janeiro, for the carnival. I'm sure you know most cities in Latin America are organized around a "zocalo", a central square (or a landmark, such as a cathedral).

    So anyway, we arrived in Sao Paolo, checked in a shady hotel and started to walk around, hoping to find the "zocalo" and getting a glimpse of some carnival celebrations.

    We walked around all day... well, I guess walking around is the wrong term. We walk, back and forth. There was no downtown! Just a bunch streets, avenues, skyscrapers and choppers above our heads. A gigantic suburb.

    We laughed about it later but I felt lost in that city. Not to mention all the safety problems...

    To our levels in Canada, cities are not huge population-wise, but very very spread out. Ottawa only has 1 million inhabitants, but the city spreads over 75 km. 75 km!!!! That would be at least three other towns in Europe.

    I'm old fashioned when it comes to city. I like downtowns, city center and the feeling I'm going somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Max,
    Long time no see!

    Just cross by, to comment
    that i've been thinking in this matter.
    Well, this uncontroled growth leads to what? What is the limit? Is this a rational thing to do?
    Its my deep believe that we're heading to an hudge concrete based society that dont allow to see each others soul. Hence lack values .... sincerily i've got too tired of this. And also i hope that we can take care of the rest of the citys and villages that are almost raw (where we can really fill our lungs with air); At the end we are just trying to fit in some evolution....

    ReplyDelete
  28. As people in the western world retire, or shift gears, they often decide they would like to get out of the city and rat race into slower-paced living in the countryside. There is always the possibility humanity will revert to telecommuting and rural living.

    ReplyDelete
  29. This tendencies scares me, really!

    The more I live and see all this frighten, commercialised and consumer misbehaviour, the more I want to go in the nature and into the roots of the meaning of life.

    I even feel sad when I see children play with industry made toys and think of how much more fun it is to go into the forest and make your own.

    Btw: That's why I hate shopping malls too :-)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Zhu :D!

    "Now, Sao Paolo is another story... a small anecdote. In 2002, we stopped there on our way to Rio de Janeiro, for the carnival. I'm sure you know most cities in Latin America are organized around a "zocalo", a central square (or a landmark, such as a cathedral). "

    Yes, cities in Latin America are almost a copy of how the European cities were organised in the beginning: church, the "pelourinho" and the rest of it built around these.

    "We walked around all day... well, I guess walking around is the wrong term. We walk, back and forth. There was no downtown! Just a bunch streets, avenues, skyscrapers and choppers above our heads. A gigantic suburb."

    LOL LOL it must have driven you crazy!! São Paulo has some urban-organisational issues, it is true.

    "We laughed about it later but I felt lost in that city. Not to mention all the safety problems..."

    Indeed, safety is an issue...but I read that the crime rates have decreased by 36% in the last 3 years...

    "To our levels in Canada, cities are not huge population-wise, but very very spread out. Ottawa only has 1 million inhabitants, but the city spreads over 75 km. 75 km!!!! That would be at least three other towns in Europe."

    So true, darling! We can't even imagine (for ourselves) a city of 75 km...

    "I'm old fashioned when it comes to city. I like downtowns, city center and the feeling I'm going somewhere."

    Me too, me too...

    Zhu, thanks a million for this incredible comment :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ciao Gallardo :D!

    "Long time no see!"

    So true! You were missed :).

    "Just cross by, to comment that i've been thinking in this matter."

    The timing is perfect then :D...

    "Well, this uncontroled growth leads to what? What is the limit? Is this a rational thing to do?"

    In my opinion it is not a rational thing to do at all...

    "Its my deep believe that we're heading to an hudge concrete based society that dont allow to see each others soul. Hence lack values .... sincerily i've got too tired of this."

    I concur with you, G! I am a bit fatigued of it as well, to tell you the truth...

    "And also i hope that we can take care of the rest of the citys and villages that are almost raw (where we can really fill our lungs with air); At the end we are just trying to fit in some evolution...."

    And as we know, Portugal has neglected its villages (in the interior regions) and we must focus on taking care of them. I don't like this concept of super-cities.... il est étouffant!!

    Gallardo, thank you so much for having shared your point of view with us: you were missed :)!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Liara :D!

    "As people in the western world retire, or shift gears, they often decide they would like to get out of the city and rat race into slower-paced living in the countryside. There is always the possibility humanity will revert to telecommuting and rural living."

    You are right, that seems to be the tendency...
    From your ears to God's lips, darling.

    Liara, thanks a million for having shared your thoughts with us :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Renny :D!

    "This tendencies scares me, really!"

    They scare me too...

    "The more I live and see all this frighten, commercialised and consumer misbehaviour, the more I want to go in the nature and into the roots of the meaning of life."

    I hear you...

    "I even feel sad when I see children play with industry made toys and think of how much more fun it is to go into the forest and make your own."

    And many times those industrialised toys harm them; which makes me think if it wouldn't be better to go back to the beginning (when we used to make our own - like you said) *nodding*.
    And what about these city kids who do not know that a chicken drum comes from a chicken, a living being? That shocks me!!

    "Btw: That's why I hate shopping malls too :-)"

    Oooh, I hate them too...they give me the headaches!! I prefer the good old stores (downtown)...

    Renny, thank you so much for your input :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  34. In the future, if peace lends a hand, I see a world without boundaries or borders, as the world’s population will be so immense by then, that there will be very little point on trying to keep illegals from entering a country.

    Gone will be the days of singular identity, with countries made up of all races living in peace and equality.

    If this fails, I see a world made up of warring tribes as in the distant past when the only weapons were clubs and spears and we were so few.

    War, indifference, injustices of all kinds and ethnic protectionism will be to blame.

    Only when we all stand together, with equality for all, will this dream of a united and peaceful world come to fruition.

    But knowing mankind’s history, do we really stand a chance against ourselves?

    Take Care,
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  35. Max excellent read! BTW are you back yet. I missed you. I know I have not been here, but I missed you. Hope all is well. Love your new pic, are these your smiling lips? lol. Anna :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. That São Paulo favela image is very sad. It's the price people pay when they try to change their lives living in a big city. There's no enough job, enough houses, poverty and violence increase a lot!
    Solution? There're not any at the moment.

    Please come back!!! I miss you :o)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi Cidão :D!

    I am back, darling!!

    I know it is a sad image - it saddens me too *nodding*.

    Thanks for having dropped by in my absence, Gato :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hey Anna,

    I am back, girl!! :D

    LOL yes, those are my smiling lips (and I am glad you liked the new image) :D!

    Anna, my girl, thanks for having dropped by and left such kind words...I am your fan, as you know :D!

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
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