06-02-05 // POLITICAL URBANISM
“Call for Submissions”- Poster for MONU #3, July 2005
By Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Söhl
The red state – blue state phenomenon became commonplace even in Europe in the last years: Democrats have the upper hand in the coastal states and republicans in the rest of the country. But not only the US have a particular map when it comes to politics – traditionally the two most southern states of Germany have also been the most conservative ones. In Bavaria the conservative party had a hold on executive and legislative for almost 60 years now and achieved that state and the party are virtually synonymous in perception; the political party as a brand for an entire state.
NY Times columnist David Brooks conceptualized exurbia as a place that houses a certain value-system and political convictions. Exurbs are communities that are both spatially and functionally virtually completely detached from urban centers. And they are as Brooks argues, communities of conservative, family value oriented households. In the 2004 presidential election, while Democrats generally did well in urban regions – George Bush and the Republicans generally won overwhelmingly in those new communities on the fringes of urban life.
New urban typologies such as shopping malls, office parks and gated communities or new urbanism towns create their own political microclimate. Classical democratic principles as invented in the polis and developed in democratic cities and regions over centuries seem to be suspended in these environments. In a mall you buy your right to existence with your identity as a consumer and the security guards are enforcing house rules that have been drawn up in corporate boardrooms. The inhabitants of gated communities or other post-modern residential typologies together with the purchase contract generally also sign away part of their civil liberties. Given that these and similar kinds of typologies are becoming more and more parts of our urban environment what are the larger consequences of these perforations of the democratic process and the civic space?