I think that, quite in the same way you say that both you and Gates are right, you are both right and wrong. I’d like to try to espose two useless thoughts of mine, my two… dimes, limited to the wrong side; hoping this will also show you how much I appreciated your article. I hope you’ll pardon my clumsy english, too.
We are a product of nature — both in the highest and lowest sense — and I truly believe we are given no more and no less than other beings. We are given a planet, and sunlight, and, basically, that’s all. That makes us most fortunate (or just lucky), but have you ever thought of what lead to this? At least three mass extinctions, followed by unprecedented evolutionary expansions.
You are a peximist when you cite Moby (and Thank you for that), you are an optimist when you imagine man — not in the sense of mankind, but as an individual — as able to fuck *or* unfuck this world. Both these possibilities are way beyond his or her reach, and it’s not a matter of impact. The impact of an individual may be huge, but then… termodynamics and evolution come in. With power comes responsability? Well, in a sense, in the short term, locally, but in the long run individual lives are immaterial, and so are the consequences. It’s an illusion which is very peculiar of us humans, to believe that our lives are “ours”, that we live like in a creation of ours, in a novel at times, in a… narration. We live in nature, in evolution. And the subject of this process is not the individual, maybe not even a single species.
That said, the local domain of our course of action can be still enough for anyone in sight. Here comes my second useless thought. I am not a sociologist, but I think that a *responsive* (if I got right your vision) kind of settlement seems to be a good idea, but it’s also something which sounds dangerous. A higher speed of change comes at a cost, and that would be a cost of death. Cells die and are replaced by new ones, even blood vessels are being continually moved in a living body, by destruction and repair, not to think of neuronal links. But I think conscience of man comes out of the box in a different way (and that is a very silly way of saying that ☺). Montaigne’s essays represent a very unexpected and marvelous monument to the individual. A house of mirrors in which a single conscience is reflected upon so many times “myself now, and a moment ago, we are different” (I cite by heart). And, still, after printing the first two volumes, in the second edition Montaigne adds a third and *additions* to the first two. The most responsive kind of writing (a description of one’s self, not a prescription for others) called for an expansion, not for a substitution of tissues. I therefore fear the lack of stability in its consequences on the self.
Of course my conservative stance is just an aspect, and a city is not an individual. But, surely, being not an individual, its laws are not bound to will. Again, termodynamics and evolution come in.
Bauman was maybe right when he described modern society as “liquid”, but his was a description, and just a page to be added to an evolutionary history of our culture, better than a mere prescription. As a matter of fact, I believe the aspect described by B. is a consequence of the wrongs of our society, in which mobility of factors, adaptive behaviours and efficiency are bound to cultivate inequalities.
So, a “final” warning: all this could be part of the solution, but not without understanding it is also part of the problem.