benjamin barber

benjamin barber bw

Benjamin R. Barber is an American political theorist and author perhaps best known for his 1996 bestseller, Jihad vs. McWorld. His latest book, Why Mayors Should Rule the World comes out nov 2013.

mayor (redefined)

gpm (global parliament of mayors)

He is a sr research scholar at cuny and president/founder of the interdependence movement (oh my.)

Why mayors should rule the world

TEDGlobal 2013

perhaps we change the subject, stop talking about nations/border states, and start talking about cities..

the venues in those public spaces that we come together to create democracy

the public spaces where we announce ourselves as citizens.. to write our own narratives

rather than man is a political animal – man is an urban animal

perhaps mayors – and the people of the city – should rule the world – perhaps they already do

mayors are where this is happening

how can we create a world in which mayors/citizens play a more prominent role

why are mayors are so different than prime ministers and presidents..

to be a prime minister/president – you have to have a theory

mayors are just the opposite – they are pragmatists/problem solvers

mayors could never get away with non-action…

the party label just gets in the way

they are also homies – part of the neighborhood – have a much higher trust level

18% of america approves of congress and what they do

75% of city trusts their mayor

cities are profoundly multi-cultural

bottom line – we still live politically in a world of borders.. but we know we live day to day in a world w/o borders: drs, war, ed, 

unless we find a way to globalized democracy or democratize globalization… we will remain unable to address global problems..

the road to democracy runs through cities

not a united nations, but a united cities, a global parliament of mayors.. the conversation is happening in many cities

a parliament of mayors is a parliament of citizens, which is a parliament of us



mar 2014:

Questions for a Resilient Future

3 min – we need to create a sustainable democracy

democracy of the commons…

perhaps that means letting go of democracy ness (the whole rep/consensus ness of it – public consensus/rep always oppresses someone(s))

common\ing begs we focus on curiosity over decision making

7 min – interdependence – problems challenge the whole problem at the same time… the solution has to be global… glocal..

9 min – interesting – that the immigrants the policy makers are righting policy for.. get globality and interdependency better than the policy makers

a) democracy doesn’t work very well – and when it does – only in smaller boxes

b) there is another way… change the subject… to cities/mayors.. 

uclg – already happening..


find/follow Benjamin:

link twitter

link facebook

wikipedia small

his site:

benjamin barber site


Benjamin on TED blog:

benjamin on ted blog


on challenges to democracy:

1. inequality

2. web

3. interdependence – citizens w/o borders

until we address these – we are perpetuating irrelevance



latest book:

if mayors ruled the world

book links to amazon – book out nov 2013

if mayors ruled the world kindle notes

image (above) links to shared notes and highlights… like..

participate locally and cooperate globally at the same time—a miracle of civic “glocality” promising pragmatism instead of politics, innovation rather than ideology, and solutions in place of sovereignty

hospitality en oikos.. ness..

Cosmopolitanism responds by imagining citizens—literally city dwellers—who are rooted in urban neighborhoods where participation and community are still possible,

hospitality oikos cosmo

the city was designed for insularity and safety rather than mobility and liberty. Yet though walled and built more often on castled hillsides or fortressed islands where water functioned as moat rather than connector, even medieval cities paid tribute to the sociability of the human species

Instead, they looked back to family and tribe and beyond, back to simpler forms of community life of the sort sociologists and anthropologists might recognize, in order to postulate an ur-original human habitat that looked like Eden with people.

Jane Jacobs wrote, “this is the most amazing event in the whole sorry tale: that finally people who sincerely wanted to strengthen great cities should adopt recipes frankly devised for undermining their economies and killing them.”

In such settings, women and men are so-to-speak self-conscious participants in a nature defined by the absence of consciousness.

the square 

The very diversity of the population and their need for cultural and economic exchanges create unpredictable spaces of freedom: the markets, restaurant kitchens, designated landmarks and parades that become both sites and sights of new collective identities.

naked streets ness

The journey forward to cosmopolis may demand of us a journey back to the polis, reconceived

The world is not being ruled by anyone, let alone democratically. It is pushed around by warring states and feuding tribes, dominated by rival multinational corporations and banks, and shaped by competing ideologies and religions that often deny each other’s core convictions

Like potholes seen from the viewpoint of urban drivers, mayors always loom large, personifying the traffic jam or the snowstorm and the imperative to address them.

Potholes are the gateway drug to civic engagement” #PDF14

Mayors are characters who often play roles they invent for themselves.

Italians remark that Italy is more impressively a country of cities than it is a country. Mayors have a lot to do with that, ameliorating the burdens of a chaotic and oppressive national political scene

Leoluca Orlando was not only an extraordinary mayor of Palermo but took on the Mafia in Sicily as no other elected local politician had done before. He gained a European-wide reputation without ever being able to translate his local heroics into national political authority.1

reelected mayor of Palermo in 2012. ..—Europe’s cities continue to network and collaborate, oblivious to brooding fears of German hegemony and the immigrant Muslim “other.”

Whether elected or appointed, whether abetted by city managers or left to govern alone, whether operating under democratic or autocratic state regimes, mayors face common challenges that can be addressed only with a set of common skills and competences adapted to the city. These turn out to look quite different from the skills and competences needed by politicians exercising power in sovereign and self-consciously independent central governments driven by national ideologies

Getting things done demands from mayors unique talents and personality traits not necessarily appropriate to other political offices.

The mayor is hardly everything, but pragmatism and a preoccupation with problem solving rather than posturing can make a crucial difference.

Spare me your sermons and I will fix your sewers” really is the common mantra of municipalities in distress, and sewers are more than metaphors. They act as digestive tracks to cities, and in the normal course of things are of no significance—until they stop working.

If elected mayors couldn’t deliver efficient governance, then Progressives would replace them with city managers, dispassionate organization-and-management specialists not necessarily even subject to the vote.

In reestablishing their legitimacy in subsequent years, mayors had to make themselves over into managers. Since then, the difference between city mayor and city manager has become hard to discern: managing simply is what mayors do when they govern

Fixing stuff and delivering solutions is the politics of urban life.

Nutter says that in the city “things happen on the ground. In Congress it’s about philosophy, it’s about ideology. . . . We don’t have time for those kinds of debates.”21 Solutions to problems are what citizens, living on top of one another, have to care about. Big issues are for big government and unfold at a distance. City politics slides up brownstone stoops and appears just down the street at the bodega (too many robberies?) or barbershop (a hotbed of urban gossip) or boulevard crossing (traffic light or no traffic light?)

 The politics of fear sometimes succeeds in a polarized national political climate, but it has little effect in governing the city

Lives are affected because the turf on which mayors play is relentlessly local—always a neighborhood or a complex of neighborhoods, never a territory or a domain.

In the telling words of an observer of New York City politics, “what [mayors] must do to get elected and re-elected are the very things that prevent them from ever moving on to higher office.

As a New Yorker might put it, politically speaking, you gotta come from where you wanna end up

National leaders rule over invented national abstractions..

The nation-state is an overweening “it.” Cities are us. No one wants some monumental “it” to rule the world. The “we” can and must do so. A parliament of mayors is really a parliament of us.

an ambitious avatar of city networks of the kind that increasingly define Europe’s most successful experiments in cooperation.

the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (Europe’s most important city network, of which Schuster has been president), Cities for Mobility (where he was chairman), Cities for Children (again, chairman) and—this is the kicker—United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the most important global association of cities, representing over three billion people.

Since Stuttgart still has a need for qualified workers, it can “help to bridge the gap with some of these cities. They can send their youngsters to us where they stay for some years, become more qualified and then go back.

wait what? so schooling the world ness? nah. we know too much to do that.

city-to-city intelligence cooperation is among the most important; and it is a testament to city leaders’ preference for working directly with one another rather than funneling their efforts through regional or national political authorities

p2p – flok

Russia—over forty cities in all, along with another dozen Kontore or nonmember Hansa trading posts. Not quite a European union, but a remarkable exercise in collaboration before there was a Europe. Most intriguingly for those seeking innovative modern forms of intercity consultation, the Hansa secured common policies and resolved differences by consensus, even when that meant punting a problem to an appointed group of representatives charged with reaching a consensual agreement for the entire league. Given the vast range of interests among members, and the often violent contestation between the new entities into which the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was being carved, the process was remarkably successful for nearly three hundred years.

As Hamburg’s Mayor Olaf Scholz told me, his city, along with Lübeck and Bremen, take seriously the traditional label “free Hanseatic city,” and literally refuse to bow

When the German emperor Wilhelm II visited Hamburg in 1895 for the opening of the Kiel Canal, the protocol required that the first mayor welcome the emperor as he dismounted the royal steed. The Hamburg Senate, however, argued that a first mayor of a free Hanseatic city should never play stable boy to the emperor. The first mayor met his guest on the landing of the first floor, only after the emperor ascended the staircase—as subsequent mayors have insisted on ever since.1 Even during the Nazi era the precedent was honored. The league’s founding city and capital, Lübeck, became famous for refusing to let Hitler speak during his election campaign, after the Nazis, with the Greater Hamburg Act, had canceled the free city privileges of Lübeck and the other Hansa cities. Hitler was forced to campaign in the suburban village Bad Schwartau nearby. The fascists understood too well that Hansa cities meant free cities resistant to authoritarianism, and hence annulled their historical status, in this case to no avail.

What the Nazis and later tyrants fail to understand is that cities can be occupied and sacked, but their liberties cannot be annulled as long as their citizens breathe

In the eighteenth century, Schiller celebrated Switzerland with the mantra “auf den Bergen, Freiheit!” (in the mountains: freedom!); by the nineteenth century, Tocqueville recognized that in America, liberty was local—municipal. In the twenty-first century, we might say it has become nearly redundant to say cities are free. All cities are now Hansa cities

are they though?

It is a very old story. Dial back two millennia before the Hansa, to the epoch preceding the Christian era, and it turns out that in a Mediterranean world we generally associate with the economic autarky of city-states such as ancient Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Carthage, Rome, and Alexandria, political constitutions and economic life were also shaped by alliances, leagues, and guilds of free polises whose cooperative commercial and trade networks were as critical to the success of the growing web of cities as the proud autonomy of the polis

Participation and engagement are the life and promise of the city.

This short list suggests how cities have benefited from cooperating across the territorial borders intended to keep them apart, borders laid down by “superior” authorities with little sympathy for local democracy or global comity.

It is not so surprising that when, quite recently, Europe’s North Sea coastal cities again reconstituted their ancient league to work to “fulfill their role as homes of living democracy,” they had already established a host of other far more active intercity associations. Or that in 2004, with little fanfare, the largest assembly of mayors and elected city officials ever seen gathered in Paris and formed United Cities and Local Governments. The gathering integrated scores of local government associations,

The UCLG is the world’s largest and most influential organization nobody has ever heard of


The U.N.? WTO? IMF? Any kid poring over middle school homework anywhere in the world knows that these state-based entities, more recognized than successful, have something to do with international relations and the global economy—or maybe with mucking them up. But the UCLG? Yet it represents half the world’s population.

represents 1/2 the world’s population? but no one has ever heard of it.. how does that work?

With 300 delegates from cities in more than 100 countries having participated in its 2010 World Congress, it may be in a better position to nurture global cooperation, and with a far greater claim to represent ordinary citizens, than state-based and money-dominated Bretton Woods institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund ever will be

Cities can and do govern globally because they are organisms in which local urban nodes naturally assimilate and integrate via global synapses into glocal networks defined by their local needs and global interests. The urban synapse is not just a connector; it is an outgrowth of the city node itself. Node and synapse grow together, part of one organism

ni – interdependence ness – 2 needs.. ness

This metaphor stretches ordinary understanding, for unlike the individual organisms they emulate, which are integral wholes whose nodes cannot stand alone, social organisms are often visible only as they manifest themselves in their nodes. Their synapses are often out of sight. It is easier to think of cities structurally, in terms of walls and portals, than infrastructurally, in terms of functions and shared interests. We see Gdansk, Hamburg, Kaliningrad, and Copenhagen before we see (if ever we do) the Hanseatic League. We “get” Europe and can’t forget its constituent states, but we are less mindful of what might be its most successful and enduring manifestation, its networked cities.

Naturally Networked Appearances notwithstanding, however, cities are defined as much by the networks they comprise as by the essential urban characteristics they incarnate. The organism is real. Cities are ineluctably interdependent and naturally relational, not just in the modern context of global interdependence but by virtue of what makes them cities.

Ed… people… natural ni

They define themselves more through “bridging capital,” hooking them up with domains outside their boundaries, than through “bonding capital,” unifying them internally. The glue that bonds a community makes it sticky with respect to other communities. It is not clear that a community can exist in the absence of other communities: no Robinson Crusoe communities, no unique one-only neighborhoods, no singular social cells not folded into larger social organisms. Isolation is simply not an urban state of being. Because cities are sticky, they do not slide or bounce off one another the way states do.

the glue. the sync. the sustainability ness…. is natural..

States collide because their common frontiers define where one ends and another begins. This necessarily turns territorial quarrels into zero-sum games

Not so cities, which are separated physically and hence touch only metaphorically and virtually, in ways that do not take up space or put one another at risk.

if one city’s exterior wall were another city’s interior wall, they might also be fated to compete and collide rather than network. To network is to cross nonurban (and hence “uninhabited”) spaces, leaving room for virtual ties, synapses, and linking tissue

silence ness – the need for nonurban (detox, self-talk,…) in the individual.. those spaces … those naked streets..

Trade is a crucial piece of the puzzle of integration. To speak of “trading cities” is nearly redundant, since trade is at the heart of how cities originate and are constituted. Communities gather so that people can live in proximity and harvest the fruits of commonality, but they gather where they do so they can reap the rewards of interdependence with other communities.

trade is the foot dealing with the arm.. in one ness

Or today, Dubai, which has used international flight routes to capture a position in world trade, commerce, and communication

today – each individual is dubai. international/interdependent flight routes… as home

Their interdependence gives cities a distinct advantage over nation-states. Too often, internal bonding capital of the kind prized by states is built on exclusion and fear, a national identity, and pride in sovereign independence that can overwhelm bridging capital.

not scarcity/exclusion…. none of us if one of us

Like autonomous individuals, so-called rights-bearing persons (legally and psychologically distinct beings), states do not in theory need one another. That is why, although we might imagine a world state, the actual nation-states of the world seem unlikely ever to be likely to establish one. State-based nationalist patriotism affords integral unity only by diminishing or nullifying the “other” or the “stranger” just the other side of the common border. Consider the United States and Mexico, France and England, Germany and Poland (or Russia and Poland), China and Japan—hostile and anxious because common borders offer neighboring states little in common.

Those who exclaim, “We’re Number One!” as fretful Americans often do, are not claiming just an ordinal ranking in which contending number twos and threes are seen as nearly as good. They are promulgating a cardinal ranking in which number one is unique, exceptional, virtuous, and worthy in ways others are not. Nor is it just the Americans who boast of an immodest exceptionalism.


But in cities, where flags and anthems are less useful than tourist promotions and love songs, it is bridging capital, not bonding capital, that is paramount.5 Cosmopolitanism trumps patriotism

New York certainly sees itself as a world-class city, yet celebrates itself with the slogan “I love New York,” not “we’re number one.” Moreover, “I love New York” works for inhabitants and visitors alike, promoting solidarity and tourism in the same breath. “We’re Number One,” on the other hand, hardly signals to French or Egyptian or Japanese tourists that the United States is their country too!

It’s not enough to say it’s their job if the job isn’t being done.

passing the buck ness

The New York Police Department has “fifty thousand employees and a budget of some 3.8 billion” and it was now “going where no local government agency had gone before.” Dickey observes that large immigrant populations, an apparent security liability for cities, actually make them safer; immigrants are often hugely patriotic and frequently out the terrorists who choose to hide among them.1

cities embody a political force few civic NGOs can claim.

The Internet allows them to report on and encourage sustainable urban agendas and provide a common virtual space for concerned citizens and groups to meet, communicate, and organize. They put on vivid display the power of voluntary action by individuals and civic organizations that, when taken together, constitute a kind of participatory urban decision making that is as potent in its reach and impact as formal city networks or governmental organizations.

Bike-sharing and dedicated above-ground bus lanes are examples of innovation that spreads by common communication rather than common legislation. Such individual actions, taken voluntarily by cities acting in common, are a significant part of how cities may in time “govern the world” without ever possessing top-down executive authority or the ability to legislate for all cities, without even necessarily constituting themselves into formal government-to-government networks.

Innovative programs often spread virally rather than legislatively, via civic buy-in, enacted public opinion, and mayoral leadership rather than collective executive fiat. This kind of governance is crucial in changing actual human behavior and reflects the kind of bottom-up urban-based governance likely to make our world modestly less unruly. Cities don’t have to wait for states; they can act to achieve a measure of security or a degree of sustainability whether nations are dysfunctional or not. Civil society doesn’t have to wait for city government; it can take action of its own even when mayors hesitate. Citizens don’t have to wait for civil society; they can work with one another and impel civil society and leaders to act. Moreover, the web stands ready as a newly ubiquitous tool, bypassing traditional forms of political association; it is an informal global network in waiting that can be as formal over time as we choose to make it

It is a most remarkable political conundrum that the unique power held by sovereign states actually disempowers them from cross-border cooperation, while the corresponding powerlessness of cities facilitates such cooperation

The question becomes how far cities can go together to solve problems that have proved intractable when confronted by individual competing states.

voluntary bottom-up civic cooperation and consensual intercity networking, limited as they may seem legally and institutionally, can lead to quite extraordinary feats of common action, solving real problems urban and global.

Leadership has always been Singapore’s strong point. It is especially crucial in cities, because real problems demand real solutions, which are possible only with the collaboration of a welter of public, civic, and private stakeholders. Not an easy task to bring together such a group

In my interview with Dr. Tan in Singapore in 2012, the mayor was a modest presence who seemed immersed in the responsibilities of governing both as mayor and president and was more than willing to call on advisers and counselors from around the world. Although he refused to see Singapore as a “model” for others, he acknowledged that “the lessons we have learned might be useful for others”

This commercialization notwithstanding, Mayor Tan’s largest problem remains Singapore’s enduring reputation as a sometime authoritarian regime whose one-party government and paternalistic, nanny-state inclinations to regulate private life belie its claim to being a modern democracy. The legacy of Lee’s paternalism certainly endures in policies like the ban on chewing gum and the government’s aversion to genuine multiparty government (though it is now technically permitted).

Ed. and parenting via Krishnamurti – that raised eyebrow ness..

There is something deeply hypocritical about the Western tendency to judge new democracies by standards no Western democracy can live up to.

After President Obama was thwarted by Congress in his effort to fund a port improvement, Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles in effect began conducting his own foreign policy with China to improve the Los Angeles port installation. Cities around the world are finding ways to do together what nation-states can’t.

The Uses of Powerlessness

interesting reading this alongside – the entrepreneurial state.. the combo is screaming/whispering.. none of us if one of us.. so all of us..

Cities need states, but states also need cities. Cross-border collaboration among cities can be a way for states to elude the limitations of sovereignty

There is then a powerful irony in the city’s lack of sovereignty and the state’s defining sovereign character—in the state’s power and the city’s relative powerlessness. The very sovereign power on which nation-states rely is precisely what renders them ineffective when they seek to regulate or legislate in common.

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, the old sovereign-state global order (never very orderly) is in jeopardy. Sovereignty is not in decline, but its exercise on the global scene is increasingly counterproductive.3 States are not necessarily dysfunctional as national political systems (though some are), but they are dysfunctional in their inability to cooperate across borders

w/o borders

Here then is the paradox: sovereignty, the state’s defining essence and greatest virtue, is impressively impervious to encroachment, resistant to pooling, and defiant in the face of the brute facts of our new century’s interdependence. Never before has sovereign power been used so effectively to impede and thwart collective action. In the world of independence, sovereignty works; in the world of interdependence, it is dysfunctional.

As nations fall prey to rivalry and dysfunction, cities are rising and find themselves in the ironic position of being empowered globally by their lack of sovereignty nationally. Their interdependence makes them likely building blocks for a viable global order


We know the city as a carnival of interaction, as a thriving seat of networks and economic nexuses, and as a practical way of living. But it is also evolving into a transnational political force: a surrogate for states in forging soft forms of global governance and pushing democratic decision making across borders

Cities may be acquiring new capacities for soft global governance, but states are hardly disappearing. While the nation-state has not itself been very successful at cooperating across borders, it can and often does try to prevent cities from doing so. Unless this dilemma can be overcome, the question will be whether a natural urban aptitude for piecemeal and episodic collaboration can be translated into a sustained strategy for achieving democratic global cooperation.

ni – all of us ness

who concur with drilling firms that they shouldn’t have “to get a different driver’s license in every town.”5 The irony is that cities are effectively seeking a “different license” for each town so they can act in accord with common policies across the globe.

These jurisdictional disputes ultimately go to the courts and, in the United States, become ongoing items in the continuing war over American federalism and the appropriate vertical distribution of power. Ironically, in an earlier epoch, the federal government was often the “good” power enforcing rights universally against the parochial efforts of states and localities to thwart them in the name of narrow local standards; but nowadays, when it comes to issues of global cooperation among cities, the federal authorities have sometimes acted to impede universal outcomes

Cities seem to speak for the cosmopolitan while nations speak for parochialism and special interests. The irony reminds us that, however weak sovereignty is as a forger of global cooperation, it remains a trump card in regulating the collaborative global strategies that cities are trying to pursue

the entrepreneurial state ness

Similar jurisdictional battles are being fought around the world, both in federal systems like India, Canada, and Germany, where (as in the United States) localities have significant autonomy, and in centrist and unitary regimes like France, England, and Japan, where there is little vertical separation of powers, and mayors may even be appointed from above—leaving cities with little freedom to act on their own

A great deal of informal and uncontested progress toward cross-border cooperation can be made in the shadowed ambiguities of the law and the distractions of national governments too busy to object to or even notice what cities are doing

It is precisely the absence of power as a dominant construct that compels cities to cooperate in developing common strategies:

If dealing with the region is hard for cities, dealing with other cities at a greater distance is easier

Because cooperation among cities simply isn’t about power per se, because there is no preoccupation with boundaries, no yearning for a monopoly on decision making, no prideful insistence on exclusive jurisdiction, cities can do things together.

We need an account of how cities can treat with power without losing that political innocence that protects them from the rivalry, conflict, isolation, and hubris typical of states

can it be shown that even where states try to stand in their path, cities can find a road around them and manage to achieve a semblance of global governance, either through successful legal strategies, quiet common action, or even a kind of urban insurrection (s

In sum: are nation-states really incapable of cross-border governance? Are cities actually capable of doing what stymied nation-states can’t? And why would states allow cities to do what they themselves cannot?

Empires had become proxies for global governance but left little room for democracy. Yet the early modern nation-state, though it rescued democracy, was from the start too large for the purposes of participation and neighborliness, but too small to address the developing realities of interdependent power that have today become paramount in our own globalized market world

Democratic states rarely make war on one another, but nondemocratic nations facing democratic states do, and war has been a fixture of the state system for four hundred years

As the scale of national societies once outgrew the polis, today the scale of global problems is outgrowing the nation-state. The state had a good run. It was an adaptive institution that combined a new sense of national identity with a focus on legislative sovereignty that overcame religious divisiveness and imposed secular unity following the Peace of Westphalia (1648). It prospered for centuries afterward. With the help of a social contract theory that presupposed an act of original consent justifying the state’s power, it allowed democracy to prosper as well. But the radical interdependence of the globalized twenty-first-century world has now outrun it and pushed cities back into the limelight. Nation-state sovereignty has become an obstacle to solving problems. At the same time, the real victories the democratic nation-state once won for liberty now have calcified into a parochialism that stands in the way of democracy’s next stage. Democracy seems trapped within the institutions that first permitted its modern flowering, trapped inside a commodious but parochial nation-state box

Let me unpack the box: the transition from networked cities to independent nation-states was eventful but successful and did much to conserve democracy (though only by rendering it less participatory). But the challenge of a needed transition from democratic nation-states to some form of supranational democratic governance suitable to the challenges of interdependence has proven much more problematic. The primary obstacles to democratic global governance by sovereign national states turn out, ironically enough, to be nationality and sovereignty themselves

need for ni chip ness – mechanism to let each person be the platform.. the zoom dance.. ness

Nationality was the artificial creation of early moderns seeking a new home for identity during the period of transition from small city-states and principalities to new and abstract national states in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries

Although in time nationality took on the compellingly worn contours of tradition and history (what Eric Hobsbawn would call an invented tradition), it was always a contrived product

This nation, as portrayed by Shakespeare’s historical melodramas set in the Wars of the Roses, arose out of spectacular hubris, frequent civic miscarriage, and unrelenting carnage.

In swallowing up clan, tribe, principality, and province, the newly invented national identities coalesced around new political associations smaller than empires but much larger than towns and shires—large enough to establish suzerainty across large swathes of land and people


approaching the limit ness

over time, the monoculture of nationality became a comfortable identity that could host the kinds of large-scale community on which modern democracy depended for its claims to popular sovereignty. A resident population in the thousands, bound together by common tribal ties—the demes revealed in the word democracy’s etymology referred to Athens’ tribes—was enough to legitimate polis democracy. But for a people numbering in the millions to be free and self-governing in any meaningful sense required new political ideas associated with the nation-state and its founding theory: the idea of original consent (the social contract) and the notion of representation (even a king, Thomas Hobbes would insist, might be the “people’s sovereign representative”). In the last century, we have managed to substitute multicultural for monocultural identity within states in countries such as India, Brazil, Canada, and the United States that are too large and encompassing to be monocultural

limit as a person – too large to be mono as well – ni ness

The novel and largely fictional notion of a people (gens or Volk) made it possible to legitimate new territorial entities that incorporated disparate tribes and clans, cities and regions, counties and duchies—previously often at war—into an artificial and integrated society.1

words sound good – but the very use of definition kills the alive us..

Democratic revolutions still depend on commitment by an individual nation to its freedom. Revolutions may cross borders virally as they did in 1789 and 1848 in Europe or in 2011 in North Africa and the Middle East, but success is achieved, if at all, one nation at a time

or individ person.. ni.. none of us if one of us ness

Declarations of sovereign independence are no longer enough to set nations free, but nations seem unable to conceive of liberty in their absence.

our century can belong to no one nation; that this will be the world’s century in common, or belong to no one people at all

Never has a nation—Kagan is correct—possessed the powers that belong today to the United States of America. Never have such powers been so irrelevant to governing an interdependent world.

In the space between eroding national power and the growing challenges of an interdependent world, rising cities may find their voice and manage together to leverage change. Lacking sovereignty, cities care little about its attrition.

Whether we call it global governance or simply cosmopolitanism as praxis and whether or not it is underwritten by a parliament of mayors or some other global association, cities will play an increasingly crucial role in taking decisions across borders on behalf of humanity. For planet earth, an entity that nation-states always seem to have thought they were obligated to carve up, remains in the eyes of cosmopolitans a global commons that is sustainable only if cities and citizens make it their common cause

Class remains a key feature of American life, shaping everything from our politics to our health and happiness. Overcoming these divides requires nothing less than a new set of institutions and a wholly new social compact. Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited

Instead of cities of light soaring toward heaven much of the twenty-first-century urban world squats in squalor, surrounded by pollution, excrement, and decay. Indeed, the one billion city dwellers who inhabit postmodern slums might well look back with envy at the ruins of the sturdy mud home of Catal Huyuk in Anatolia, erected at the very dawn of city life nine thousand years ago. Mike Davis, Planet of Slums

There is some contestation about what exactly comprises a slum, and close observers have even suggested the term is too pejorative for neighborhoods that are more appropriately viewed as part of the “Kinetic City—a kind of city in motion,” constantly being recycled, modified, and reinvented.6 Suketu Mehta notes that in Mumbai, residents speak of basti or “communities” rather than slums

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (U.N.-Habitat) focuses on the material, and defines a slum household simply as a “group of individuals living under the same roof in an urban area who lack one or more of the following:” durable housing, sufficient living space (not more than three per room), easy access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and security of tenure (no forced evictions). By these measures, China has 37.7 percent of its urban population living in slums, India 55.5 percent, and Brazil 36.6 percent. Far worse are Pakistan with 73.6 percent, Nigeria with 79.2 percent, Bangladesh with 84.7 percent, Tanzania with 92.1 percent, and Ethiopia with 99.4 percent. More or less the entire urban population of Ethiopia lives under slum conditions, while sub-Saharan Africa is home to more of the world’s worst slums than any other region.

The New York Times reported recently that since Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty fifty years ago, “despite the expenditure of more than $16 trillion on means-tested programs . . . the portion of Americans living beneath the poverty line, 15%, is higher than in the Johnson administration.

As sanguine an observer of cities as Richard Florida recognized recently that the fortunes of the “creative class” he celebrated a decade ago are now imperiled by class divisions.

As urban development produces a divided world and the massification of slums, it also generates not just creativity and culture but the routinization of creativity as business and the trivialization of culture as commerce, resulting in a new form of urban living I have elsewhere called McWorld.

The inequality we see around the world is more than a function of difference: it is deeply unjust—irrational and thus inexplicable other than as a function of private interest, along with greed, narcissism, and exploitation. Redressing inequality may sometimes compromise liberty, but the redressing of injustice is liberty’s very condition

Formal equality is unlikely to yield equal opportunity unless people can live, ride, work, learn, and play together in cities whose neighborhoods are voluntary communities rather than walled ghettos


“by dividing the city into physically separate racial zones, urban segregationists interpose four things—physical distance, physical obstacles, legal obstacles and people empowered to enforce the legal obstacles.”

Only with innovation and imagination is inequality likely to be touched. Only if we are willing to look at the informal as well as the formal economy, and ignore the common wisdom about corruption and squatting and hidden capital, are we likely to find some partial answers to the burdens under which the most progressive and prosperous cities labor. Only if the underlying and intransigent realities of urban segregation in all its forms can be addressed are we likely to instigate mitigation successfully

If you fix cities, you kind of fix the world. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

if we can find in democracy itself a key to addressing the defects of democracy

If revolution is undesirable or impossible and if cities are to act democratically in seeking solutions to inequality from within, then there are two realistic urban strategies: make the city’s core urban traits sources for addressing its inequalities; and ask democracy to overcome its deficiencies democratically. To the city and democracy alike, the demand must be cure thyself! But how to do that?

self-organizingbaan ness

Instead of wrestling in the political mud, I want to explore pragmatic best practices that can affect segregation and inequality, and perhaps even ameliorate market fundamentalism down the line

best practices…? what if what we need has not yet been tried?

The abstract idea of “glocality” (a paradoxical fusion of the global and the local)

only w/in manmade construct of language… no…?

p. 257 ish – perhaps missing potential of tech/web as communication – ie: hangouts and focusing more on tech/web as market device – even toward voting. what if voting no longer exists. also – what if tech/web can help us slow down.. slow down and converse more.. so that voting isn’t how we do democracy anymore. or – voting 24/7 by our communications.. ness

cities make economic sense and can be reformed through economic policy, but in no small part because they make civic, social, cultural and political sense.

The jobs are there, the job seekers are there, economic modernization is there: the question is how to ensure they find each other, and do so equitably and justly across class, race, and segregated neighborhoods.

app – because even if jobs are there and job seekers are there.. are they really.. the right match up.. for eudaimonia ness..?

When Americans talk derisively about big government, they are actually indicting themselves as failed citizens caught up in large-scale bureaucracies with which they feel little affinity. When citizens assail taxation, they deny their common citizens’ right to pool resources to do things together that cannot be done alone.

Participation on behalf of equality is always locked in a struggle with power in defense of privilege

The debate is not about the goal but the means.39

city as school as means.. why grit (authentic energy); how sync (dance of people, spaces/resources, tech); what ecosystem (in the city. as the day.)

as Lee Siegel has argued, democratizing information can mean empowering disinformation.45

indeed – why sync matters… to shorten lag/wait time. every day/hour – people want to do good. just needs to be good that matters to them.

Technological implementation of participatory ideals among cities remains aspiration. And for good reason. It is generally acknowledged that online communities are rarely invented on line but are initiated in the real world and then pursued and sustained virtually.

perhaps acknowledged by people who have determined to acknowledge that..?

Yet it is not so much the application that is missing as the civic desire to develop and support it.

perhaps to develop/support politics as is. perhaps it’s happening & we can’t hear it because:agenda – mockingjay ness. youth craving civic action.. but not buying into electoral vote, consumerism, war, …et al, that we are offering them as civic action

Beth Noveck

It is for this reason that a true intercity civic commons online—a “citizster” civic file-sharing program—will likely have to follow rather than precede a civic campaign to establish intercity governance and the establishment of a parliament of mayors. Indeed, the fashioning of such a digital commons might even become a high purpose of a global cities secretariat.

perhaps they beg to emerge together.. @BenjaminRBarber

Some even insist that to speak of art and the city is redundant. Quite simply, art is the city


Inasmuch as the city is borderless and interdependent, it mimics art in its aspiration to the cosmopolitan and the universal—to a world without boundaries in which what binds people together outweighs what keeps them apart. “The whole world,” says cellist Yo-Yo Ma, “is in our neighborhood.

three specific contexts for urbanity that help mediate art and the city: the idea of the public, the idea of democracy, and the idea of interdependence. These mediating ideas provide a context that helps render the abstract practical, the invisible transparent. In the words of Peter Brook, these contexts give to the “holy” in art an invigorating dose of the profane.

The three contextualizing ideas, briefly elaborated, are these:

The Idea of the Public, which points to the “us” of art—to communication, community, common space, and shared ground, and hence to a richer conception of audience;

The Idea of Democracy, which points to the ideals of equality, participation, and justice, and identifies in imagination a fundamental affinity between the arts and democratic life;

The Idea of Interdependence, which points to the cosmopolitan and the universal, a world without boundaries or border that demands to be recognized but has been largely neglected, even denied, by the parochial and insular for whom walls are a form of security

public, democracy, interdependency,

artcommunication, cosmopolitanism

Our times are hostile to the idea of a “public”—to community and common goods. They are equally hostile, for some of the same reasons, to democracy and equality. And they resist the looming idea of interdependence with a stubborn parochialism that prefers competition to cooperation and takes comfort in the shadows of once-mighty urban walls rather than the hope of much-needed urban bridges—above all in the United States, but increasingly in other parts of the world that ape American market practices.


American audiences are not themselves enemies of the arts. On the contrary. But the forces dominating American society, because they are hostile to community and democracy as well as to interdependence, are inhospitable to art

Cities flourish where art thrives because the arts help create the public space cities need

The arts can be compromised in a privatized arena because, when construed as a commodity in a commercial market, like education, religion, and recreation when they are reduced to commerce, they need to make a profit to survive. Commodification poses a puzzle to artists: art, even when it is critical of commerce, is often driven by it

The artist’s temptation to buy in by selling out is the danger associated with very persuasive arguments about the economic benefits of what are today (regrettably) called cultural workers.

It is perfectly true and more than important to recognize that the arts help create and sustain communities, and they pay back to cities far more than cities pay to support them.

As Carey Perloff, the artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, has observed, “we have come to rely on metrics that measure success according to the cost per person of producing a given play or mounting a given art exhibition” rather than trying to “nurture and cultivate that which may have lasting value.”10 For the long-term good of the city, the commercial ground is not where the arts should be

the need for Bucky ness.. for dropping the notion of earning a living..

Russell Bishop poses a question intended to be rhetorical but that is quite real in an essay showing how economically valuable culture actually is. “Are We Wasting Money on the Arts?” he asks. The prudent answer is “no, we are not!” but the better answer is “I certainly hope so!” Because if we are actually earning money off the arts and regarding that as its raison d’etre, it may not be art that is purveyed or culture that is served. ..

..What we value, we spend money on; what we cherish, we must be willing to “waste” money on, since money will never be its measure.

Demanding that artists “prove” their value to the city in commercial terms can only be counterproductive. It means treating the public space that culture sustains as private commercial space, which corrupts art and robs the city of its defining commons. Art loses, but we lose more

Ed – in need of spaces of permission with nothing to prove.. – so ed as vehicle of social change..  7 bill people in public ed ness

Citizens (real citizens, not consumers or clients of government services) have in common with artists a capacity to envision: to look beyond apparent borders, to see beneath appearances, to apprehend commonality where others perceive only difference. They are seers of the common, adept at finding what humans share

Training warriors requires first of all the erasure of imagination—that spring of empathy that sees in supposed enemies not “others” but beings like ourselves

i know you – danger of a single story – none of us if one of us

it is not just talk but silence that defines democratic life. For imagination’s most precious tool is listening, apprehending what can be gleaned from stillness

still, quiet enough

Would that we elected listeners who took their place in “audioments.”

anechoic chamber ness – like we each need to w/ourselves.. perhaps mayor ish group does for city, for globe..

To become neighbors, individuals living in proximity must listen intently to one another and envision what they may share

see more

It is a democracy that responds to terror fearlessly by refusing to yield its liberties to security or sacrifice equality in the name of surveillance and profiling

you cannot oppress

Like John Dewey, who insisted democracy was not a form of government but a way of life,


Whitman embraced a democracy that could contain multitudes. This was the special gift of the city: its pluralism. Yet it is today imperiled by the spirit of our age: the shrunken, greedy animus of the imperious corporate banker or the grasping consumer with whom the citizen is too often confounded.

discrimination as equity

ensure culture also means multiculture in global cities everywhere and that cultural relations also entail personal relations among artists.

Yo-Yo Ma has spoken explicitly about the power of interdependence musically and civically. He insists that, first of all, “Music is one of the best ways human beings have invented to code their lives, and one of the values musicians practice is that we are always working toward something bigger than ourselves.”17 “This connectivity of the intimate and the worldly goes to the heart of culture, helping to give Yo-Yo Ma his universal appeal

In the words of David Baile, ISPA’s executive director (CEO), cities are “hubs of cultural activity” so that art is “urban-centric.

art and the city, if not exactly synonyms, reflect a common creativity, a shared attachment to openness and transparency and a core commitment to play and playfulness—in short, reflect the creative commons that is the fruit of their collaboration and intersection.

As his deputy mayor would later remark, Mockus soon saw the whole city as his classroom

city as school

Pursuing the etymology linking city and citizen, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was already focused in the eighteenth century on the city as the home citizens build for themselves and the community that defines their primary civic life


As political theorist Seyla Benhabib has wisely noted, “the neglect of social movements as actors of social transformation . . . has led to a naive faith in legal experts, international lawyers and judges as agents of democratic change. . . . But surely democratization without political actors who seek to empower themselves by creating new subjectivities in the public sphere, new vocabularies of claim making, and new forms of togetherness is neither conceivable nor desirable

2 conversations

patience and tolerance and could (memories of the 1960s with their marathon participatory meetings) lead to more debate and deliberation than action—which could lead to the delegation of decision making to committees

so we shorten that time by getting better at listening. leap frogging committee/ representation ness

80 percent of carbon emissions are produced by cities. And cities can do more than lobby and advocate; they can directly affect carbon use within their domains through reforms in transportation, housing, parks, port facilities, and vehicles entirely under their control. More importantly, they can work through city networks such as ICLEI and the C40 to foster cooperation around common approaches and best practices that, when subjected to the multiplier effect of many cities doing the same thing, can actually lower carbon emissions.

imagine 7 billion people taking care of their city. every day. ness.

The capacity for real action forestalls despondency and pessimism and gives urban citizens a sense of empowerment that voters waiting for action by their elected national representatives can only envy

Meanwhile, the United Nations process aimed at updating Kyoto has initiated an endless round of good-willed but futile meetings that have resulted only in frustration and despair

rework. voting.

Cities are well endowed with creativity, productivity, and other resources that make them the source of a large portion of a nation’s collective wealth. They also are home to a majority of the world population. Yet the legal and fiscal jurisdiction of states over municipalities means that it is the state and not the municipality that determines how these urban resources are taxed and how revenues are distributed.

Ed – currently tons of money and tons of people.. and leaving us with tons of people in debt – and unable to think for themselves… so why not take these people.. and try something different

The city may be a primary source of state revenues, but it is not the primary decision maker with respect to their use and disbursement. Although it provides the fiscal vehicles that drive the nation, the city is hardly in the driver’s seat

and now we have tech that can let people listen/vote 24/7 by their self-talk, gatherings, action…

if cities can more than care for themselves with their own resources and over the long term hold the demographic potential to be a majority (in the West, 78 percent of the population are urban citizens), then democracy and demographics alike favor the eventual fiscal self-sufficiency (if not quite autarky) of the city.

indeed – jumpstart with upcycling ed resourcesibp ness

as a consequence of interdependence, the reality is that cities have a legitimacy they once lacked and dysfunctional states may find themselves prudently acknowledging them—if for no other reason than that cities may solve problems states cannot.

and people (set free) may solve problems classes/cities can’t

Today, when national governments are so vulnerable to money and so remote from the public interests of their citizens, municipalities have taken on the defense of public goods and the promotion of a sustainable future.

The new confederalism, and the ability of cities to cooperate across borders to pursue their common goods, is creating a new global landscape whose full implications for civil rights and public goods have yet to be revealed

nationality: human

Substituting the word “cities” for “states,” Article IV would thus read:

and keep iterating in. to individual. no?

the legitimacy of sovereignty depends on the power to safeguard the security, interests, and rights of the governed.

Sovereign power carries within it its own revolutionary teaching: that the failure of power to protect spells the end of power’s legitimacy to govern

Long term, cities pay out on average (if not in every case) far more than they receive from higher authorities and thus, in theory, possess the means of their own solvency

a people experiment cc @BenjaminRBarber

a gentle but firm revolutionary pragmatism

a quiet revolution

a parliament of mayors as a kind of “Audiament”—a chamber of listeners, where to hear is more important than to speak and where, in the absence of command, persuasion reigns; where participating cities and the people they represent act by opting into policies they agree with rather than being subject to mandates on high from which they may dissent

or act by creating own policies.. which may be non policies

The aim is not just to “invite everyone to talk” and to put “a lot of opinions on the table” while “the bureaucracy decides what to do,” but to develop new forms of cooperation that empower the many different “levels of responsibility and competence.

The ultimate safety limit on any global assembly envisioned here, whether urban or regional, is its voluntary and consensual character.


in an imperfect political world where democracy within nations is at risk and democracy among nations nonexistent, a parliament of mayors convened by global public trustees whose decisions are voluntary and nonmandatory seems like a very good place to start

might include such developed Western world cities as New York, Los Angeles, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Vienna, and London (whose mayors have long embraced outreach and global cooperation and many of whom have already spoken out on the idea of a parliament of mayors), as well as cities such as Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Kinshasa, and Mumbai, whose size and influence make their participation vital and whose role in the developing world, where inequality is so prevalent, makes their participation mandatory.

already networked mayors of smaller developed-world cities such as Stuttgart, Bogotá, Palermo, Wrocław, Gdansk, Tijuana

The city is “blue”—progressive, experimental, risk-taking—and the future demands open, experimental, and progressive programs and policies.

We can at last recover participatory politics by securing in the anarchic world of globalization a place for the democratic neighborhood writ large.


while reading/tweeting imrw

.@monk51295 See also David de Ugarte/Las Indias work on phyles & John Robb’s Economies as a Social Software Service. The module-platform…
via kevincarson1
@monk51295 …architecture seems to be having its “Steam Engine Time.”


two more of his many books:

jihad vs mcworld    consumed

books link to amazon


city ness


june 2016 – an antidote to brexit

A week later, BREXIT is a catastrophe twice over. Nation States and politicians offer no remedy, but cities can.


It demands more democracy rather than higher walls, not separation but a just and balanced integration that neither favors immigrants over locals nor locals over immigrants.


Peoples are more and more commingled, and can never be “sorted” back into pure racial fragments or nationalist enclaves.


The worst mistake those who reject BREXIT could make would be to vilify its supporters as mere racists and reactionaries, although there are plenty of racists and reactionaries who voted LEAVE and respond to Trump for all these wrong reasons. Yet there were also many citizens simply frustrated with a remote cadre of smug Washington pols or self-appointed Brussels bureaucrats telling them what to do without ever asking them what they think


Well here is the good news: there is a solution for those asking for more democracy rather than higher walls, for all those offended less by immigrants than oligarchs. It lies in the world’s networked cities, whose courageous and pragmatic mayors are already moving forward in the cosmopolitan spirit of diversity, pragmatism and transactional cooperation.


The question is not how to run away from but how to democratize interdependence and globalization.

Cities can do this. They are doing it already.

let’s go beyond cities even..

then we get the benefit of the individual and community dance.. ie: host 7 bill life bits.. as the day..

a nother way


“Can #Cities Counter the Power of President-Elect Donald Trump?” Read my full article here @thenation

Original Tweet:

The role of cities rests on right: the obligation under the Social Contract to uphold the life, liberty, and sustainability of their citizens, something nation states have shown themselves increasingly incapable of doing. Once upon a time, nations aspired to universality, and local jurisdictions were parochial and particularistic. Today the valence is reversed, and cities speak to global *common goods—marriage rights, minimum wage, climate action, creative culture, refuge for immigrants—while nations have grown parochial and xenophobic. Urbanity is a global virtue associated with diversity and multiculturalism; nationalism has a parochial character upheld by walls.

going ginorm small er than cities.. (ie:host 7 bn life bits ) would make these *common goods – irrelevant.. ie: rights for marriage..?; money for work..?; climate; creativity; refuge;.. claiming/saying all these would become unnecessary.. irrelevant.. and we could focus on what matters most..


Today it is America’s cities that can confront President Trump, asserting, “You are our president, but you are not the *representative of our principles.”

rep ing ness is not deep enough..

today.. we can do better.. go deeper/smaller.. ginorm small


They will remind us that, in order to hear the voice of England after Brexit, we must listen to the voice of Marvin Rees, a newly elected biracial mayor of Bristol, and Sadiq Kahn, the son of a Pakistani bus driver who is now the mayor of London.

yeah.. but more so.. to the non-majority voices.. ie: snowden private in public law

ie: ‘we should never be asked as society to pick between one/other. build institutions that don’t think about candidate’ – @Snowden

‘privacy not intended for major..if you disagree w/major you are one privacy is for’- @Snowden public consensus always oppresses someone


The road to prosperity, no less than the road to global democracy, *runs not through states but through cities. Cities are now the guardians of the future, the bastions of diversity.

*go small/deep er


Benjamin fb share:

.there is hope for both civic democracy and global action in the right and power of cities to act together across borders in our ever more interdependent world.

The inaugural weekend agenda manifested what will be a critical function of the GPM: addressing policy issues national governments have been unable to deal with very effectively. ..

The first was climate change and the urban role in combating it, ..

The second issue was immigration and refugees, ..

A third focus of the inaugural meeting was more generic and reflexive, but of key importance: the challenges facing intercity and global urban governance, both as theory and practice. ..along with the adoption of a strategy for the development and expansion of membership. A plan to develop a remote or virtual platform for the GPM was also introduced, ..

let’s go deeper


The GPM is no longer just a prospect or a promise: it is real, and up and running, promoting interdependence, cosmopolitanism and justice in the face of the victories of reactionary populism in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

agree.. you are doing something.. and it’s good.. no doubt..

however.. if we went deeper.. than climate, refugees, organizing memborship to gpm, et al.. i think we would have global impact by now.. ie: if all the energies you have spent in conferences.. talks.. gatherings.. went to modeling another way.. that 7 bn people could leap to…

there’s a nother way.. ie: hosting-life-bits via self-talk as data



Ben understood the value of time. He lost patience with the needless delays that we often use as an excuse for fearing failure. Life is a series of acts, and Ben directed his own and those that he touched with a finesse that stirred passions and more importantly, action.