Crisis, what crisis?

Read in The Economist of 7 November 2015:


Yesterday evening I had to give a short presentation in Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam, on ‘Growing cities, shrinking regions’ (Groeiende steden, krimpende regio’s). The meeting was organized by the journalist Floor Milikowski of De Groene Amsterdammer on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, celebrating its ‘Space Year 2015’ (Jaar van de Ruimte). My opponent was Pieter Tordoir, an economic geographer, who showed his elaborate work on recent mobility- and migration patterns in the Netherlands. His slides showed familiar, reassuring images, his policy advise was affirmative for those in power. My contribution on the other hand, was on the future and was far more alarming. My speculative research I based on globalization, fractal patterns of spatial localization, long-term trends, disruptions. The reaction of the audience on my presentation was rather negative. I think people still do not understand. So I tried to explain what globalization means: complexity, extreme interdependence, modern information technology making everything transparant, all resulting in extreme spatial concentration on the one hand, brutal expulsions on the other.

To clarify I told about the chaotic Facebook riots in Haren, a sleepy suburb of Groningen, in September 2012: thousands of young people gathering one night after viral messages on Facebook, announcing a great party, all started to drink and fight with the police. It was breaking news all over the world. The other example was the exponential growth of Airbnb in Amsterdam, while in the rest of the Netherlands nothing happens. The third I wanted to give but didn’t because of lack of time, is on the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. In The Economist of 7 November, Charlemagne wrote about the late French decision to put on a show of European solidarity. “French bureaucrats, armed with Arabic translators and loudspeakers, chartered three coaches and set off for the German city of Munich. The idea was to fill the vehicles with refugees and drive them over the Rhine to France, thus easing Germany’s load.” What happened? No one wanted to climb on board. The refugees from the Middle East and Africa were too well informed. They only use Paris as a transit to the far stronger London economy. Most prefer to stay in Munich. Just have a look at the interactive map of Lucify on those thousands of migrants flooding Europe, searching for great cities to live in (picture). It’s the rise of the network society!






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