17 January 2009

A parable and lesson for the whiteshirts

Duly noted: taxi uncles setting MPs on fire, foreign non-talent workers deprived of wages (not even their fair wages), a full third of Singaporeans expecting to be retrenched, raised tempers at the shambolic job fairs ill-matching jobs to about-to-be retrenched white collar workers, and the unsurprising revelation that Shatec's casino school in China will most probably end up training the (obviously foreign) managers and heads who will boss around the (obviously local) low level flunkies who studied in Shatec's casino school in Singapore.

Aki's non-shrill anthropologist lecturer in university made a cryptic remark in class years ago:

Despite modern man's penchant for self-congratulation, urbanisation was never a recent invention. Look at history - more precisely, look at the dustbin of prehistory - and you'll find the great cities of Mezo and South America, the Indus valley, the floodplains of Mesopotamia, the plains of China and the jungles of Indochina: all rising in wealth, power and population until, for some unknown reason, these cities are suddenly abandoned, often without violence, and almost always without a trace of their former occupants.

And then: silence, for a few hundred years. Until the next brilliant mind invents the city again. We observe from written history that cities necessarily mean the accumulation of wealth, the specialisation of labour, the creation of class and caste, and hence social and economic inequality and stratification. And we merely speculate that urbanisation and what it entails can sometimes be too unbearable, the compromises too cutting and unliveable, and upon realising it, the people just simply walk away. Or pull down the stones, then walk away.

Der Mittler zwischen Hirn und Händen muss das Herz sein!