Monday, January 20, 2014

Feral Cities

 There are all sorts of ways for civilization to end.  They need not be global, nor fast.

Feral Cities (pdf)
Richard Norton, Naval War College Review, 2003
Imagine a great metropolis covering hundreds of square miles. Once a vital component in a national economy, this sprawling urban environment is now a vast collection of blighted buildings, an immense petri dish of both ancient and new diseases, a territory where the rule of law has long been replaced by near anarchy in which the only security available is that which is attained through brute power.  Such cities have been routinely imagined in apocalyptic movies and in certain science-fiction genres, where they are often portrayed as gigantic versions of T. S. Eliot’s Rat’s Alley.. Yet this city would still be globally connected. It would possess at least a modicum of commercial linkages, and some of its inhabitants would have access to the worlds most modern communication and computing technologies. It would, in effect, be a feral city.
I saw this quote in David Kilcullen's Out of the Mountains.  As he notes, That this kind of city " has no essential services or social safety net. Human security becomes a matter of individual initiative-conflict entrepreneurs and community militias emerge, Mad Max style.

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