Note — Jun 21, 2020

Racial Capitalism, The Stack and the Green New Deal

Fantastic essay by Damian White, copiously linked to many many external references, it’s one of those “I’ll have to come back to this” pieces. White looks at what design used to be able to do (be more systemic), how the pandemic has affected people unequally along race and age, at ecologies and agriculture, and at the management of space through architecture. He also analyzes three imaginaries: “Design and planning for a Green New Deal,” “The Stack, terraforming and digital design,” and “Decolonial and design justice.” Very interesting and if you only read one thing this week that should be the one, my main takeaway is when White contrasts the three and shows that the decolonial and design justice imaginary “force[s] us to acknowledge that the Green New Deal and the Stack are projects that emanate out of the Global North.” Which means the third, decolonization, is pretty much essential to the other two.

All three imaginaries connect and weave together with many of the articles I’ve shared over the last couple of months, this piece is of course not written for that purpose, but ends up being a good synthesis of those preceding articles.

Wallace argues such forms of animal husbandry and land use change, coming together with the land grabs, expulsions, the ongoing dispossession of peasant and indigenous people and the undercutting of rural smallholder production is bringing together animal agriculture and wildlife in novel and dangerous ways. […]

We have seen a resurgence of interest in mutual aid, neighborhood support, talk of the virtues of victory gardens, WWI style and the like. If this contributes to a broader sense of communal possibility, it could be beneficial. If it merely re-enforces the default of the last few decades into more localist, small is beautiful, anarcho-radical interventions though, an opportunity will be lost. […]

[I]n order for designs for post carbon energy transition to obtain any kind of public support, they need to be linked to broader hopes and aspirations for better jobs, affordable healthcare, sustainable urban worlds, viable and regenerative rural worlds. […]

The Green New Deal and the need to build effective systems of governance, coordination and transparency around the rise of planetary scale computing clearly is going to require a revalidation of planning, of competent and trustworthy public expertise, and the need for public agencies that actually function in the public interest and which are staffed by civil servants who can do their job. […]

The more thoughtful iterations of a design politics for the Green New Deal are important for their attempt to re-ground the state as a terrain of popular struggle and their desire to assert public power through a renewal and reconstruction of public agencies that can be in genuine dialogue with popular pressure from below.

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