vrijdag 29 oktober 2010

Bright lights, big city

Big cities will fill the democratic gap of nation states like the Netherlands, Belgium and the US, where ultra right radicals and conservatives make the scene and cause political instability.

by Frank van Empel

According to Wikipedia - a community creation, written by volunteers, and as such a typical new phenomenon - ‘democracy is a political form of government in which governing power is derived from the people, either by direct referendum (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy)’. The term comes from the Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) ‘rule of the people’. But in the US, as well as in the Netherlands and several other countries people don’t feel in control. A breed of professional politicians make the rules, the laws and the red tape to oppress ordinary civilians.

Get up, stand up
More and more people stand up for their rights and try to fight back, in court or on the street. In the Netherlands civilians and their organisations summoned to court rightwing radical Geert Wilders. They accused the white haired intriguer of discrimination. In vain. In the US individuals fight injustice and oppression by bureaucrats and managers of big companies, just to make a better world. Democracy is cracking. It’s under pressure. Once it was an ideal of upright civilians, but it doesn’t work anymore. The ideal needs new foundations. One way out of the political misery leads to the Citystate new style: a City Community of let’s say 2 million people who have a shared understanding of the questions and problems ahead. A City Community that has a modern approach to decisionmaking, more close to and even by the people who experience the consequences, and on basis of consent instead of majority voting.

Questioning the status quo
If you question the status quo, the status quo questions you. You bet! Nevertheless we pose some questions and try to answer them.
1. How urgent is the problem? Very urgent. Not only democracy, but the whole concept of the constitutional state is in danger. In the Netherlands since October we have a government of two parties that have 52 seats in a Parliament of 150. This minority government is ‘tolerated’ by the socalled Party for Freedom, the PVV, with 24 seats. The two ruling parties, VVD and CDA, have signed a ‘Tolerance Charter’ with the PVV to channel the Government into a stable pattern. The expected behavior of the Government is clearly defined. In other words: the Government is institutionalized and no longer Democratic.
2. If we study the alternative of a Citystate new style, one of the first questions is: what’s the best size for a City Community? I guess about two million people. Big enough for efficiency and small enough to be in touch with civilians.
3. Does the Constitution accept a city’s secession? Probably not. The nation state needs the money of the taxpayers to run their business and cover the costs. But if there is a 2/3 majority in Parliament to change the Constitution in the right direction, in the near future cities can write their own City Charter, introduce their own independent administration of justice, their own taxes and diplomacy. For collective services like defence, police, firebrigade, healthcare and education, cities can pay the nation state old style a vast amount of money, or a percentage of total income.
4. What’s the added value of a Citystate?
A Citystate, if organised in the right way, brings the power back to the people. People can decide themselves if they want to sympathise with immigrants whose biggest crime is that they are looking for some hospitality in a cruel world?
5. Most Dutch city are too small for such a concept, aren’t they? No problem. There already is an informal union of five southern Dutch cities, called Brabantstad. That’s a much better name for city marketing than Eindhoven, Tilburg or Breda. An alternative name is Brainport: the university cities Eindhoven and Tilburg plus the industrial belt around Eindhoven (Helmond, Roermond, Hasselt, Genk).

Let the brains come in
Brainport has an airport to fly in and out brains from all over the world. It has a tradition of research, design and development, of innovation, making things, of working hard and leisure, of visual art, dance, football, you name it. Everything that a smart guy, woman or company needs. The only problem is that most of them don’t know it yet. Brabantstad or Brainport first has to be formalised and then has to be communicated and marketed as a city you want to live in. In the US and several other countries likewise discussions take place. The windows are open, some fresh ideas are coming in. People are changing their brown suits and dresses for yellow and red. Optimism beats fear. The economy will follow.

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Op 11 april 2015 kwam 'Parkinson Hotel' uit. Een uitgave waarin Franky de dialoog aan gaat met Parkie. Zie: http://www.studiononfixe.nl/parkinson-hotel/ Deze blog is een aanvulling hierop. Doel is o.a. de bekendheid met de ziekte te vergroten, ook voor hen die net als ik een ongenode gemene gast herbergen en hun partners. Ik hoop mensen met de ziekte van Parkinson te inspireren om niet bij de pakken neer te zitten. Sinds de diagnose Parkinson’s Disease, voorjaar 2004, strijd ik tegen de ziekte, tegen toenemende medicatie en de bijwerkingen van pillen. Ooit zei een collega dat ik 'sneller typte dan God kon lezen'. Ik was politiek en economisch redacteur van o.a. NRC, Elsevier en Haagse Post (in omgekeerde volgorde). De ziekte van Parkinson staat bekend om haar progressiviteit, de symptomen worden met de tijd erger. Mijn verzet bestond en bestaat uit het trainen van hersenen en lichaam. Ik promoveerde in 2012, voetbal iedere zondag, doe aan Nordic Walking en andere sporten. Ik speel gitaar. En bovenal, ik blijf schrijven. Allemaal dingen die ik graag doe. Op 24 april 2015 onderga ik een 'deep brain stimulation' en schakel ik naar hogere frequenties van levensgenot.