Saturday, May 11, 2013

The city is your backyard

Bob Holman mentioned yesterday that "NO 7-Eleven" is not a NIMBY issue, unless our backyard is the entire city.

I've been thinking about how NO 7-Eleven is distinct from gentrifying or gentrified neighborhood groups. It's not just that it's a city-wide effort, not just that it's calling for community say in land use for all communities. I think it goes way deeper. Chain stores are an invasion from an inaccessible source. I think that's why I'm puzzled by critics who welcome chains on the ground that it's an expression of the free market. There's nothing "free" about corporate control from afar. 7-Eleven, Walmart, Walgreens, McDonalds -- the whole lot of them -- are the Persians at the Athenian walls, the body snatchers and Big Brother all in one.

We're New Yorkers -- an immigrant, diverse, crazyquilt of communities. We're not the corporate overlords from remote locations and they're not us.


joe said...

Aren't chains like 7-Eleven an unwelcome expression of a free market -- a market that is defined by freedom not on the side of communities but on the side of capital? It seems like an important point since the aim of groups like No 7-Eleven is to re-embed markets in society by giving communities a say in how local markets function. At the end of the day what capital wants are passive consumers rather than empowered communities whereas No 7-Eleven wants to empower community by tying the hands of capital.

rob said...

You've said it better than I could. It's the contradiction within libertariansim that absent government intervention the market leads to corporate control and loss of all freedom, the corporate giant determining all aspects of living and eventually controlling government itself and its essential functions, privatizing everything from schools and prisons to the military and warfare. At the global scale and on capital's side, the corporation also lacks freedom; driven by increasing overextended debt management, it cannot control its own crises, depending on central banks running a supra government choosing social policies for the sake of its financial preferences.