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“Reclaiming Gotham” Juan González on Cities Leading the Revolt Against Trumpism & Neoliberal Policies

September 7, 2017

Amy Goodman and Juan González : democracynow – excerpt (video and audio included)

From climate change to sanctuary cities to police accountability to affordable housing, cities are increasingly pushing a far more progressive agenda than their counterparts in Washington. This is a central theme in a new book by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González titled “Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities.”…

The book examines how de Blasio and other progressive city leaders are leading a nationwide revolt against corporate-oriented, neoliberal policies that have dominated urban America for decades…

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The urban growth machine is not a term that I coined. It’s been around now for decades. Scholars Molotch and Logan, in their famous book, Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place, talked about the urban growth machine. And it is basically a theory of how cities are managed, and that basically that capital seeks to get the maximum possible profit from land, because in a city, the land is the most important commodity in terms of how you can get profit, and so that there’s—that the urban growth machine seeks always to see the land of cities, the streets, the parks, the housing, for the highest possible exchange value. And so, we have seen in American cities now, for more than a hundred years, the elites of these cities—the bankers, the real estate developers, the politicians funded by them—always seeking maximum possible profit from the land, through commercial development, through luxury housing, any possible way to increase profit from the land.

But the residents of a city see the land of that city in a different way. They see it in its use and how it can better their lives. And so there’s a constant conflict between those who have power and wealth in urban America and those who are the working class and live in these cities, over how the land of the cities will be used. And the urban growth machine has always seen that cities grow through economic development and through the highest possible use. Working people see that cities grow when they service the people of the cities.

So, I think that the urban growth machine has dominated urban policy, first in its conservative phase, in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, when it was really—overt racism dominated land use policy in the United States. Then it went into a more liberal phase with the urban renewal programs of the ’50s and ’60s, and then into a neoliberalism, neoliberalism of the last 30 years, which privatizes government—seeks to privatize government, which seeks to drive down wages, which seeks to push the poor out from the cities into the suburbs, really, along the European model. And so, the urban growth machine has had these different stages…(more)

The author has a rather lengthy discussion about political party affiliations that may interest some people, but does not fit into this format, so read the entire two parts if you want to learn more about how party affiliations effect independents.

What happened in beginning—after the Great Recession and after Occupy is that a whole new host of leaders came to office who seek a different way of governing cities. ….

This is an international movement of cities, of which the American cities have now become a key and important part…

This is not one politician here, another politician there. This is the reflection of the grassroots movement that has been building in America for years now and is now beginning to capture local power. The question is, though, when you capture local power, there are always problems with governing…

how to create more affordable housing while also promoting economic development,” or even the issue of the sharing economy. Some of the progressives were behind Uber and others in the sharing economy, while others opposed it. So there are things that have begun to fray the alliance and divide the alliance, but you cannot mistake that there is an alliance. There is an urban alliance in America…

Well, I think the key issue that this new movement is looking at is, one, building sustainable cities. They’re all—all of the progressives are very much into sustainable development in the cities…

There’s still a long way to go. But they all are committed to building more affordable housing, and also raising the income levels of the lowest sectors of the society. And I think the—all of the reforms, whether it’s a $15-an-hour wage or whether it’s paid sick time, whether it’s family leave—all of these things are improving the situation of the lowest rung of city dwellers, and therefore raising the city as a whole… (more)

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