Powerfully (Precariously) Positioned Planning Proposition

In a certain sense, looking at the beyond is something that we cannot do today, other than from the vantage point of a beyond the 'beyond'. Looking at the connections between progressive political movements and planning/building practices in modernity and their ways of departing into ever new 'beyonds', beyond the boundaries of historically given urban and social formations – today, we are certainly beyond these dynamics. And it is not so much postmodernism that needs to be invoked here, but rather two reflections on politics, planning/building related and otherwise, that are bound for the beyond. One reflection concerns how progressive, modernist, avant-garde politics, even at their height, were compromised by, or even complicit in, affinities with paternalistic, top-down governance (Red Vienna) or even with totalitarian rule (fascism). The second reflection, more pertinent to our present moment, concerns the extent to which the dynamics of going beyond have, since the late 1970s, shifted to a regime of (self-)government and accumulation which is addressed and theorized under labels such as neoliberalism, Post-Fordism or new spirit of capitalism. Today, much of beyond-bound dynamics seem to have been taken over, or at least compromised, by neoliberalism. This especially goes for the willfully planned erosion of frameworks and positionings – e.g., of differentiations between times and places of work and of leisure, or of the possibility of finding large parts of individual and social experience outside of the reach of capitalization. Posing as 'deregulation', but really being about administering the enforcement of rule changes to the advantage of capital, neoliberal governmentality has far extended imperatives of expenditure, of going beyond your limits, of becoming flexible in a self-entrepreneurial way. In the context of urban planning, the ever new 'reaching beyond' of neoliberal capital has turned cities into playgrounds for investors and has often made innovation synonymous with the gentrification and commercialization of urban spaces.

Donaukanalwiese (Photo: Donaucanale für Alle)

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Powerfully (Precariously) Positioned Planning Proposition Gabu Heindl in: Volume 50 – Beyond Beyond: Today’s dilemmas in architectural education and practice. Archis, 2017