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Tuesday
Apr072015

"Meet your Maker" theory seminar at The Berlage [Presentation]

Today I talked about industry, the Good Life, and Bata in the theory seminar "Meet your Maker: how an Industrial Renaissance can bring production back" held at The Berlage and conducted by Marta Relats, research director of the chair Design as Politics at the Faculty of Architecture and the Build Environment at TU Delft.

Thanks Marta for the invitation and the great discussion!

From the syllabus of the seminar:

The Good Life is about balance. Systems theory tells us that when all the parts of a system are equally developed and in balance, there is harmony and equilibrium, and a space in which to evolve. When one of the parts of a system has for some reason outgrown the others, firstly, it does so at the expense of the other parts being underdeveloped, and neglected and, secondly, it reaches quickly a point of degeneration. Generally that leads to the collapse of the system and its eventual disappearance, giving rise to a new system. This dynamic can be more or less explicit, more or less dramatic, more or less material. In the history of mentalities it is known as a change of paradigm, in economics it is a crisis (or a “crack”) followed by a recovery, in the natural world it is a natural disaster followed by a natural regrowth, and so on.

It is arguably the system of goods production among the ones with greater impact on the way we live. We will hypothesize that it is that way in the seminar, and we will examine the reasons why: productive life, jobs, determine for the majority of the active population where they live, how many hours a day they commute, where they are and what they do for the greater part of their time. The produced goods determine what people can afford: goods produced en masse are affordable and can reach many, small series are more expensive and therefore exclusive.

It is by the evolution of our productive system we label society: agrarian societies, industrial societies, information societies, knowledge society (the one we are supposedly in). 

Perhaps that last one has been labeled in a hurry: we are not quite there yet in the Star Trek utopian society where all material needs have been solved at a planetary scale and human beings can dedicate their lives to knowledge: this is not what our knowledge society means. What it means and why it is not true (why we are not there yet) we will elaborate on in the seminar.

In order for it to become true, among other things we would need to work on our productive system, which is far from ideal and far from balance. It is because of the malfunction of the economic system that there has been a recession (that they are in fact periodic), it is the most salient contributor to environmental degradation, and it is also the reason why many human capabilities are underdeveloped and deprived of nourishment. We will elaborate on each of these.

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