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Re: <nettime> Obama and the dawn of the Fourth Republic
Michael H Goldhaber on Thu, 13 Nov 2008 22:56:38 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Obama and the dawn of the Fourth Republic

Hi Ted,

While it seems to me far too early to form the conclusions that many
on this list already have on what the Obama victory presages, I find
some of the theories at least interesting. You counter a a time-based
characterization with a space-based one, at least somewhat in the
spirit of such earlier works as Joel Garreau's "Nine Nations of North
America" (1981) and Ernest Callenbach's, 1970's "Ecotopia," among, I'm
sure, a long list of predecessors.

But surely, one of the important points about the 2004, 6, and 8
elections is the growing effect of Internet use in overriding regional
differences, at least to a degree. According to the NY Times, the
Obama campaign plans to keep active contact with the millions who
signed onto his campaign to get their help and perhaps input during
his Presidency. Obama has repeatedly urged that he cannot do much
alone but needs real commitment from others. Does this mean that a new
form of democratic involvement in decision-making is in the offing?
If so, how would it work? I'm not sure that the Obama campaign really
means that, or what the mechanisms in detail would be, but I think it
is quite premature to assume the contrary, as, e.g. Simon Critchley
does (see Nicholas's nettime post of today) based, in my view, on a
very strange hearing of Obama's victory speech.

A further problem with your regionalist views, while obviously based
on actual differences, is that large-scale economic developments have
ways of undercutting them. Certainly the effects on Silicon Valley,
say, will differ from those on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or on
the Detroit suburbs or the South Bronx, but the trend in all areas
will be similar: down and difficult. At this point I know of no one
with realistic answers that will work.

In this regard, let me offer a preliminary abstract of the projected
fifth part of a series on my blog http://www.goldhaber.org about the
sources of the crash from the viewpoint of the end of industrialism
and the rise of the Attention Economy.

Whereas in all previous epochs most people could do and had to do
routine tasks for most of their lives, this is no longer true or
need not be. Thus we need new paths to human fulfillment, to feeling
worthwhile and connected. I think it is useless to talk about jobs
very much anymore. Even in China, work is highly automated, and this
trend will continue as much as it is possible under whatever is left
of capitalism. But capitalism continues to depend on consumption,,
which cannot even continue at present levels without realignment of
wealth. A reasonable movement now is for a high and increasing floor
to living standards for all: housing, health care, adequate and decent
food, Internet connections, access to all knowledge, new educational
opportunities, access to tools for creativity, greening on a very wide
scale, etc. Once that floor is achieved, individual differences are
ok, but , ideally, only then.

Obama's entry into the Presidential race shows him to be audacious
and daring; his statements in the campaign, such as his Philadelphia
speech on race show him to be capable of rising to unexpected
occasions and reveal him to be unusually capable of new thought. On
the other hand, he is very careful and a bit too eager to embrace
old orthodoxies, and is too enwrapped in the Chicago economic school
for comfort. As the money-market-industrial semi-capitalist economy
continues its march over the cliff, will Obama and his administration
be capable of seeking new and good solutions? I don't think we know.
We ought to do more than just hope, however.


On Nov 12, 2008, at 10:21 PM, t byfield wrote:

> One problem (there are many) with this kind of periodization is that
> the emphasis on a temporal scheme reduces the question of space to,
> at most, an series of items in a sort of Chinese Encyclopedia entry.
> In a country whose history has been so deeply shaped by expansions
> and migrations, this is a huge mistake. For example:


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