Hope and the world of tomorrow

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    ‘No mass testing, no substantial support for those who want to work. No relief in sight, no respite from the fools at the helm of the ship of state.’

    “THE futuristic city was comprised of 6 zones, each with a unique purpose and relationship to the others. Zone A, in the center, was appropriately called ‘Centerton,’ and was the location for business, higher education, and government. Zone B was ‘Pleasantville,’ which was made up of residential towns within 60 miles of Centerton, each with a population of about 10,000 people. Beyond that in Zone C was ‘Millville,’ the industrial towns, which service the people in Centerton and Pleasantville with products from its factories. Zone D was ‘Terminus,’ the transportation hub for Democracity. Zone E was comprised of the dam in the river which flowed through the city, a convenient source of electrical power for the entire region. Finally, Zone F contained farms, which provided agricultural products to all citizens.” [https://omeka.hofstra.edu/exhibits/show/new-york-worlds-fairs/-your-world-of-tomorrow—insi]

    Will this novel design work for a 21st century world choked by COVID-19? In any case, Democracity was simultaneously “a version of the future intended as a counter-statement to the regimes that had emerged in Russia and Germany.” [https://newcriterion.com/issues/2005/1/the-last-great-fair] The New York World’s Fair re-opened May 12, 1940 – the same day that the Battles of Sedan, Afsluitdijk, and Hannut were just beginning; France, Netherlands and Belgium were resisting the Nazi invasion. The European stage of the Anti-Fascist War had been ongoing since September 1939 and the Philippines (as a Commonwealth controlled by the United States) was neutral.

    Democracy (in the location of the city as well as the nation-state) was in a life-and-death struggle against fascism and only the Americans (it would seem at that time) had the luxury and the will to imagine the “Dawn of a New Day” in Democracity and similar pavilions of the New York World’s Fair. Halfway across the globe, the Philippines of that period had provincial governors and town mayors convening in Manila to adopt another resolution urging President Quezon’s re-election, the National Assembly passed an immigration bill in third reading, and the consul-generals of Japan and China sought meetings with the Chief Executive of the Commonwealth. “Japanese are understood to be against any immigration bill, while Chinese are asking for quota of 1000.” [https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1940/06/01/news-summary-philippine-magazine-april-18-may-14-1940/]

    Eight decades later, the Philippines is plagued by a virus that crossed the ocean and alien criminals undeterred by the quarantine. The latest: 265 Chinese nationals were arrested in Las Piñas City for violating community protocols. “You have no business being in our country, literally and figuratively speaking,” said Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) party-list Rep. Eric Yap, calling the groups “NOGOs” or Non-Registered Offshore Gaming Operations. [https://malaya.com.ph/index.php/news_news/solon-presses-tougher-crackdown-vs-illegal-pogos/] Instead of the utopian “city of the future” imagined 80 years ago, we have today the dystopian metropolis of Fu Manchu criminals and POGOs, bureaucrats and booty capitalists, and the starving jobless.

    More than 80 years ago, the Futurama exhibit at the New York World’s Fair showed what America might look like: “You see a network of parks and open spaces which have displaced the slums. You see streamlined buildings with flat roofs for autogyros, glass skyscrapers a quarter of a mile high, so spaced that the shadow of one never falls upon another… Planned cities, with traffic at last under control, slum-less, smokeless, open to air and sun.” [https://ia800302.us.archive.org/12/items/idlemoneyidlemen00chas/idlemoneyidlemen00chas_djvu.txt]

    “You can go to sleep and your car will be automatically held to its course by short wave impulses… a study of the Futurama and similar designs can give us hope, courage and the will to advance.” [Stuart Chase. Idle Money, Idle Men. NY: Hay Court, Brace and Company, 1940] An 80-year-old vision of the self-driving vehicles. Today we have Embark, Waymo, Otto, DARPA’s Urban Challenge. But no cure for elitism, no antidotes to traitorous collaborators of Han chauvinism/hegemonism, no panacea for lycanthropic wolf warrior aggression – and no vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. No mass testing, no substantial support for those who want to work. No relief in sight, no respite from the fools at the helm of the ship of state.

    “Poor people, poor people. They trust me, and I can give them nothing but disaster for quite a long time.” – Winston Churchill to General Ismay, c. May 1940

    What are the leaders waiting for? In the Sitzkrieg (Drôle de guerre, Phoney War), the Allies sat for months behind the Maginot Line (110 French and British divisions in the West completely inactive against 23 German divisions), unclear about Hitler’s next offensive, ceding momentum and initiative to the Nazis, as noted by the German military commander Alfred Jodl during the Nuremberg Trials. Some Western officials even dreamt of bombing the Soviet Union (Operation Pike) instead of decisively confronting the Hitlerites on the battlefield.

    With the focus lost, greater sacrifices were necessitated when the Nazi war machine resumed the blitzkrieg on 10 May 1940, this time against France, Belgium and Luxembourg. The incumbent UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had to resign and his replacement had to recover the people’s fighting spirit:

    “It would be foolish, however to disguise the gravity of the hour. It would be still more foolish to lose heart and courage…Is this not the appointed time for all to make the utmost exertions in their power? … In that supreme emergency we shall not hesitate to take every step, even the most drastic, to call forth from our people, the last ounce and the last inch of effort they are capable…one bond unites us all – to wage war until victory is won, and never to surrender ourselves to servitude and shame, whatever the cost and agony may be…to rescue not only Europe, but mankind from the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny.” [Speech, “Be Ye Men of Valour,” BBC broadcast, 19 May 1940, The Churchill Society London]

    It was The Unnecessary War; “There never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world.” [Winston Churchill, 1948] Same with World War C?

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