A compelling portrait of descent into madness. I only live in a mid-rise myself, but compared with rowhouse/ground-level dwelling, it's not hard to seA compelling portrait of descent into madness. I only live in a mid-rise myself, but compared with rowhouse/ground-level dwelling, it's not hard to see where typical societal conventions could break down, especially given the clear Corbusian isolation in which this building's inhabitants find themselves. Simultaneously condemns, if not intentionally, both isolated and self-contained density as well as typical council housing. But that brings us back to the usual square one: is it design/architecture, or is it the land use itself? Make the wrong choices and chaos will ensue....more
Really fascinating look at the spatial relationships and world existing outside normal dimensional boundaries within Hong Kong. It is truly a city devReally fascinating look at the spatial relationships and world existing outside normal dimensional boundaries within Hong Kong. It is truly a city devoid of immediate geographic reference points, existing in a plain of its own and with only tangential connections to the land on which it exists. By necessity, this book is lacking immediate context; however, that makes it all the more valuable.
Not entirely sure how useful this will be throughout our upcoming trip, but I definitely plan to seek out some of the spots and moments described in this book....more
In some ways, I wish I'd been able to finish this and reach the denouement of the George McGovern campaign well before our own sorry timeline did withIn some ways, I wish I'd been able to finish this and reach the denouement of the George McGovern campaign well before our own sorry timeline did with its own election. But in other ways, having had the time to process the devastating result of a Trump presidency made me savor the postmorten both Thompson and McGovern himself are able to conduct. Leaving my book on an airplane was, in that sense, a saving grace. But it would have been nice to prepare myself for the end in advance.
Similar forces are at work in both election cycles, but unlike the Democratic Party in 1972 - when it was a single party that was home both to its idealist (McGovern) and demagogue (George Wallace) - 2016's Democrats had neither, depending on how you count Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump played the role of information age Wallace for the Republican Party. It certainly says something that a self-proclaimed "big tent" party could host both views a generation ago; nowadays anyone straying from a certain strain market-friendly orthodoxy is best-positioned by running as an independent, or at the very least decrying what their own party has done. Hunter Thompson's own analysis is insightful: "What was once the natural kind of constituency for that kind person—the Stevenson constituency, the traditional liberal—has lost faith, I think, in everything that Liberalism was supposed to stand for. Liberalism itself has failed, and for a pretty good reason. It has been too often compromised by the people who represented it. "
The difference between 1972 and 2016 is that the Muskies and the Humphreys of today captured the party and the presidential nomination in their entirety, leaving a dispirited, demoralized base only left further disappointed by the choice of human tuna fish sandwich Tim Kaine as a vice president. Was Kaine as bad a misstep as Thomas Eagleton, whose nomination McGovern and much of his staff identify as the moment they lost any chance they'd had of defeating Nixon? Perhaps not. But whereas McGovern's loss was overdetermined due to its sheer lopsidedness - in other words, everything would have had to go right - the Hillary Clinton campaign lost so narrowly and so technically that almost anything it had done better could have well made the difference.
McGovern's aides refer to a depressed "hidden vote" that failed to turn out, one that believed in McGovern, liked him, and like what he stood for, but which never materialized due to a perceived incompetence on the part of the candidate. Once he had been nominated, too, he was no longer quite such a reformist outsider, but rather at least somewhat coopted by the establishment, particularly when he began making overtures to the Muskie/Humphrey wing of the party that he had just defeated. In addition to Eagleton's other issues, he was a representative of that bloc, and his nomination was seen by a number of McGovern supporters as another blow to what they'd thought McGovern had stood for in the first place. And that includes the sorts of Wallace supporters who were willing to consider McGovern as a different, more honest sort of politicians.
One of the more interesting components of that hidden vote are the Democratic voters who had voted for Wallace in the primary but rather liked McGovern, too. As Hunter Thompson told it to McGovern himself, "I went out there [to a rally during the primary] to talk to those people and I was really amazed to find that you and Wallace were the two people they were… kind of muttering and mumbling about who to vote for. Humphrey and Muskie were pretty well excluded. " In large part, though, those voters ended up either voting Nixon or staying home when Election Day actually rolled around. To what extent could McGovern had kept them in the general? Could he have done so without compromising key themes of equality and non-discrimination? That debate is still roiling the Democratic Party, but the fact alone that voters would consider voting for a very liberal Democrat in lieu of a racist demagogue - without the former having to modulate or adapt to racism in any way - certainly resembles the Trump voters who would have voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016.
If there's a positive side to this, it's the discrediting of the triangulation wing of the Democratic Party. The failure of people to show up for McGovern - rather than to defect to Nixon en masse - demonstrated the country might have more of an appetite for leftist policies, provided they can be packaged in the right form. But at the same time, in the wake of McGovern's defeat, right-leaning forces took over at the Democratic National Committee and throughout the ranks of its members and officeholders, leading to decades of compromise on economic, labor, justice, and other critical policies. Since Trump's startling victory, the opposite forces have been at work, seeking to dethrone the entrenched powers in the party that have presided over defeat after defeat and left the party in the most weakened national state it may have seen since 1861. There remains a tension between the old guard who continue to run the congressional caucuses, and newcomers seeking to bring about change from within, at the DNC. If history is any lesson, change is going to have to come for the party to remain relevant - and extent - into the future, and if it is to mount serious challenges to the Trump presidency.
Despite the elusive promise of a better time ahead, the same grim forces are gathering that celebrated in the wake of Nixon's reelection. As Thompson foresaw:
If he wins in November, he will finally be free to do whatever he wants… or maybe 'wants' is too strong a word for right now. It conjures up images of Papa Doc, Batista, Somoza; jails full of bewildered 'political prisoners' and the constant cold-sweat fear of jackboots suddenly kicking your door off its hinges at four A.M. There is no point in kidding ourselves about what Richard Nixon really wants for America. When he stands at his White House window and looks out on an anti-war demonstration, he doesn’t see 'dissenters,' he sees criminals. Dangerous parasites, preparing to strike at the heart of the Great American System that put him where he is today.
Unlike Nixon, there's no Watergate to bring down Trump and seemingly no scandal that will finally be the one to cause shame, self-reflection, or consequences. If the Democratic Party cannot learn from history and reconstitute itself in time to be an electoral force at all levels of government in 2017, 2018, and beyond, the whole country will soon be repeating not only the Nixon years, but an earlier, far darker time indeed....more