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Responses to My Article “Beyond Separative Modern Urbanism: Looking for the Connective Design that’s Already ‘Out There’”

7 responses to “Beyond separative modern urbanism: looking for the connective design that’s already ‘out there”. The original version of the essay is to be found here.

  1. Patrick S Says:
    I find Holmstad’s direction of disapproval at the Welfare State, particularly of the Scandinavian variety, very strange and misplaced.
    The whole point of a Social democratic society is that it protects people from the worst excesses of the capitalist market and seemingly inevitable sharp inequalities which result – but leaves very considerable room for self-expression and liberty.
    That is, whilst they are very much free to develop their own multiple local communities, they are required to recognise the larger society-wide community and a sense of both obligation towards others but also social rights – something which neoliberalism tried to stamp out.
    Yes, no doubt there are unfortunate instances of the welfare state being combined with a technocratic expert driven worldview in the mid-late 20th C producing unfortunate results.
    But in my view, social democracies are much better positioned to creatively balance the personal with communal goods in an uncertain future – taking in ideas around the Commons and P2P in the process.
  2. Michel Bauwens Says:
    I agree with you. P2P societies require the achievements of the welfare states as their basis. But they also go beyond it by maximally deburocratising the state. On to the communification of state and public-commons partnerships in the context of a Partner State model which enables and empowers direct social production by its citizens.
  3. Øyvind Holmstad Says:
    “free to develop their own multiple local communities”
    @Patric, I can ensure you we don’t have this freedom. If you just want to change your window, to make your house more pleasant to live in, you have to pay several thousand kroners for permission from a bureaucratic servant.
    The fact is that the Scandinavian welfare state is a terrible example of a society created within system -B, and within the context of system -B human interactions and deeper forms of human life cannot thrive. Just think about the isolation of children in kindergartens and old people in old people’s homes. I have a daughter, and the state gives me two options; either to isolate her in a kindergarten without being part of a larger society. Or to isolate her in suburbia without being part of a larger society.
    I’ll recommend you to read Alexander’s latest book: The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle Between Two World-Systems:
    The strange thing is that neither the liberal market nor the Scandinavian social democratic models are able to come up with anything else than system -B. This is because they are in their essence expressions of the same thing, a mechanical world-view.
    I also want to remind about that the Norwegian welfare state is a HUGE energy consumer, with a tube straight down to the oil and gas-fields of the Norwegian coast. Here you still get 100% salary from first day sick, while in Sweden you don’t get paid the two first days and after that you only receive 80% of your salary. Probably we have enough
    oil, gas, hydropower, coal, thorium, and so on, to keep it running the old way until the ecosystems collapse globally.
    What I aim for is to replace the welfare state with a far more energy-sparse model, called Integrative Ecosocial Design:
    It will be a completely different model, although you might find fragments of the DNA of the “welfare state” within it.
  4. Øyvind Holmstad Says:
    I too want to stress that when the old patterns of interactions, both physical and traditional, are destroyed, replaced by an ALL-EMBRACING technocratic welfare state, and when we run out of energy and recourses simultaneously as these old patterns are destroyed, we’ll be left with NO hope!
  5. Øyvind Holmstad Says:
    “But, by contrast, in the early phases of industrial society which we have experienced recently, the pattern languages die.
    Instead of being widely shared, the pattern languages which determine how a town gets made become specialized and private. Roads are built by highway engineers; buildings by architects; parks by planners; hospitals by hospital consultants; schools by educational specialists; gardens by gardeners; tract housing by developers.
    The people of the town themselves know hardly any of the languages which these specialists use. And if they want to find out what these languages contain, they can’t, because it is considered professional expertise. The professionals guard their language jealously to make themselves indispensable.
    Even within any profession, professional jealousy keeps people from sharing their pattern languages. Architects, like chefs, jealously guard their recipes, so that they can maintain unique style to sell.
    The languages start out to being specialized and hidden from the people; and then within the specialties, the languages become more private still, and hidden from another, and fragmented.” – Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building,Page 231-232.
  6. Øyvind Holmstad Says:
    For those who look to Norway as a pride example to follow for the world, please remember that our welfare-state floats in energy. Last year we discovered several oil fields outside our coast, the biggest comparable with the first findings decades ago. And we still have not started drilling in the north and in our arctic waters. We produce more electricity from hydro-power than what we use in average. We have the third largest reserves of thorium after Greenland and India. And we have significant reserves of coal at Svalbard.
    Even the very word welfare gives me a bad taste, as it at least here more and more has come to mean comfort. And again, comfort, like culture, more and more has come to mean being separated from nature.
    In a way the welfare state flattens inequalities, but personally I believe much more in incorporating a diversion of scales. I outlined this in a former comment elsewhere:
    “Personally I come from the small minority on the right that is positive to environmentalism, as I’m a nature conservative.
    I’m sorry to inform you that you have misunderstood completely. It’s not small that is beautiful, it’s scale that is beautiful. Yes, I understand that you are obligated to your hero Le Corbusier to hate scale, and especially the small scales, as he was a mega-maniac. But scale is, in spite of modernist ideology, a natural law that is fundamental for the universe. This is why Christopher Alexander has set “Levels of Scale” as the first and most fundamental property of wholeness:
    I find your misunderstanding so serious that I’m determined to write an article called “The Beauty of Scale”.”
    A positive side effect of a diversion of scales is that it will do away with mass production, which is not consistent with morphogenesis, the way we have to produce to live sustainable.
    Another way to do away with inequalities is by introducing flat income. Flat taxes have been discussed sometimes, but flat income is a much better idea.
    Still, what I believe in most is to combine the pattern technology of Alexander with the handicap principle. The handicap principle is a very strong force. While capitalism utilizes the dark side of the handicap principle, we need to grow the bright side of this force. I outlined this in a former comment elsewhere:
    “I really look forward to that! Personally I find it immensely promising to combine the good forces of the handicap principle discovered by Amotz Zahavi, with the pattern technology developed by Christopher Alexander. To mix these two are in my eyes dynamite, and can be a major contribution for a more human society.
    Unfortunately I know of no others that share my enthusiasm for this idea, I don’t think neither Alexander or Bongard has seen its full potential.
    As I see it there is a close relationship between Alexander’s A Pattern Language and Bongard’s The Biological Human. It’s like Alexander’s pattern-technology is made for utilizing the good forces of the handicap principle. I really don’t understand why I’ve not yet met any others that share my enthusiasm for these possibilities?”
  7. Øyvind Holmstad Says:
    I just came above this:
    “The next twenty to forty years will see an enormous political battle, not about the survival of capitalism (which has exhausted its possibilities as a system) but about what kind of system we shall collectively “choose” to replace it – an authoritarian model that imposes continued (and expanded) polarization or one that is relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian.”:
    What is for sure is that a relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian system for the future cannot be depending upon energy, recourse and ecosystem abuse.


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