This is the online of an academic paper I am writing
This is where i am thinking of going. Not referenced but I have plenty of reading to back it all up.
“from feudal serf to spender/this wonderful world of purchase power”
Manic Street Preachers
I am analysing the phenomenon of ‘smart cities’ with specific reference to Tokyo and the 2020/2021 Olumpics. Much has been made of the fact that Tokyo 2020 will be histories most sustainable games and this is being achieved largely through developments in architecture, smart urban planning, big data and AI. In fact Tokyo as a whole is touted as one of the most advanced cities in terms of smart technology. This gives benefits in terms of the allocation of resources, flows of people and information and security. It also has potential huge downsides and civil liberties implications. Residents face living in a total survelliance environment remiscent of the city at the centre of I Zamyatin’s novel ‘We’. Japan has recent history of fascism and a culture of conformism. There are examples of totalitarian systems in nearby North Korea and China with its social merit system.
The planners risk creating a Brave New World style scenario which horrifies western liberal values. But maybe in the context of East Asia people are willing to accept state intrusion into their lives. There is no eastern history of luddism. Maybe this represents the ultimate in social harmony.
I place myself in the romantic school of early 20th century anthropologists such as Alfred Kroeber. I firmly reject Marxism and identity politics as intellectual dead ends and dead ends for humanity.
I am moved by the ideals of the European enlightenment as represented by figures such as Locke. Though these have to be modified somewhat there should not be a complete capitulation to post modernism particularly as represented by the post modern gibberish of the French academy. (see Chomsky On Anarchism)
I am interested in romantic thinkers like William Blake who warned of man’s self created ‘mind forgd manacles’ and was a stern critic of Newton and soul-less technological expansion. I am interested in writers such as Wendell Berry who advocate a back to the earth conservatism and rejection of novel technology for its own sake. I am something of a luddite and feel technology has gone too far.
I am also influenced by Jung and Taoism. Though I would reject much of the west coast of America mysticism. Jung was influential in helping me think through certain things but I would say I am post-jungian and post-taoist.
If anything I am interested in Discordianism the pan like sense that the universe can throw up anything at anytime and usually will. I am equally influenced by stoicism and buddhism. Buddhism from the writings of Pema Chodron and others in the Tibetan tradition. Stoicism in the sense that we have to take personal responsibility and life is often hard and requires courage. This is through my own experience of mental ill health.
When I think of Tokyo I think of a gleaming metropolis in the East. Maybe like one of the fabled cities that Marco Polo would find along the silk road. One of the stereotypes of Tokyo is its high tech culture. For me the concept of the smart city takes the high tech metropolis and pushes further along a path of being fully wired, fully linked up, surveilled, and monitored. Ziaduin Sardar writes about various futures. Tokyo 1964 represented one future. Tokyo 2021 represents a re-boot of that future.
The civil liberties downsides of the smart city have been almost as well publicised as smart cities themselves. An experiment in smart cities in Toronto had to be abandoned after residents became concerned about privacy issues.
The project of the smart city promises to create a ‘total’ environment where everything is regulated, monitored, measured and controlled. How do human beings live in such an environment? What is Japanese subjectivity (Dorrine Kondo – Crafting Selves).
It is another well know cliché that East Asians are early adopters of digital technology with early roll out of cable tv, broadband and 5G mobile phone networks. An apathetic apolitical generation that has been brought up at the teat of Nintendo and other consumer technology combined with a highly conformist confucian consumer culture threaten to lead Tokyo and Japan into the abyss of a total surveillance state.