Archive for October, 2016

Airports as a Preview of the Future

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

I’ve been toying with the idea that airports offer a view into what the U.S.  could look like in the future. There are a lot of trends that have emerged in this country that I believe are in full force in airports. This is a list of what I’ve been thinking.

  • A security apparatus, justified by the constant threat of terrorism.
    • Very tight controls on who comes in, and what you can possess.
    • Clearly biased against minorities
    • Constant presence of military (travel in uniform, priority boarding for those in active duty)
    • Constant reminder of the threats the country faces (CNN on every screen)
  • Social stratifications (passengers, first class, business class, fast food restaurant employees, janitors, security)
    • Passengers are divided by class (boarding order, rewards membership, first class, economy class)
    • Visible class and race division between passengers and airport/shops/restaurant employees
  • Lack of options, favors large corporations (food, stores, wifi)
    • Limited space, high barrier of entry for vendors (I think, would like to look into this more)
    • One or two WiFi providers (who also profit off your data)
    • Ok, this one requires more thought, but I think I’m onto something here
  • Constant surveillance
    • By video with cameras, and your data from WiFi providers
    • ID required at different checkpoints
  • Only airport (state) approved behavior
    • Low tolerance of misbehavior, breaking of rules
    • No protests, no space for dissent, no civil disobedience

Much of this is aided by the use of technology. There is an entire chapter devoted to airports as “coded spaces” in “Code/Space” by Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge. The chapter is meant to illustrate how software transforms and often defines a space, but it also provides a good list of ways in which technology affords more control over people and objects in an airport. Control of the type which any state would love to have.

Consent Without Consent

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

I recently read an essay by Noam Chomsky titled “Consent Without Consent” where he explains how one of the ways the US has justified its involvement in other countries (to put it mildly) is through the term of the same name as the title. The concept of “consent without consent”, as coined by Franklin Henry Giddings, is that “if in later years [the colonized] see and admit that the disputed relation was for the highest of interest, it may be reasonably held that authority has been imposed with the consent of the governed.” The example Giddings uses is the liberation of the Phillippines. By liberation, he means “‘slaughtering the natives in an English fashion’ so that ‘misguided creatures’ who resist us will at least ‘respect our arms’ and later come to recognize that we wish them ‘liberty’ and ‘happiness,’ at least those who survive the ‘wholesale killing’ they are forcing us to undertake.”

It’s easy to see how this excuse can be applied to many of the actions taken by those in power. Often the elite think they know what is best for the rest, and they act with the best of intentions, thinking that the initial suffering of the few will eventually be for the good of the many. I don’t know under what conditions a thought like this is justified and when it is not. But it’s definitely worth thinking about.