Emma makes her triumphant return to MR! She is joined by Matthew Soules, associate professor of architecture at the University of British Columbia, to discuss his recent book Icebergs, Zombies, and the Ultra-Thin: Architecture and Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century.
First, Emma walks updates us on her week in quarantine, before diving into the GOP’s ongoing fight to release the affidavit for the raid on Mar-a-Lago as Dan Crenshaw pleads with Jake Tapper that Donald Trump was actually super nice and cooperative with the DOJ. Then Emma is joined by Matthew Soules as he gets right into what makes the 21st Century brand of capitalism different from that of the 1900s, that difference being neoliberalism’s mode of finance capitalism becoming hegemonic in the world of wealth accumulation. Expanding on this, Matthew walks through the social role of architecture and how that changed with neoliberalism’s hyper-financialization, going from primarily practical structures of shelter with some cultural and wealth signifiers to becoming largely a unit of investment capital and speculation thus practically a financial asset, not a shelter. Next, Soule and Vigeland take on the role of the financialization of architecture in the 2008 financial crisis, central in the creation of Irish ghost estates, Spanish housing vacancies, and the housing crises in the South West United States. This brings Matthew to the integral and identifiable features of finance capitalism’s architecture, first looking at how it creates spaces of crisis, with housing – acting as assets – more tied to the rise and fall of the economy as representations of wealth speculation, and therefore not focused on actually housing people, but rather creating MORE investments for MORE speculation, resulting in spaces across the globe becoming grounds for huge construction projects with simultaneous mass vacancies – and their antithesis of mass-populated slums across urban spaces. After a brief discussion on the more practical effects of this shift in architecture – from the crippling of public spaces to the mass construction of condominiums that actively seek to distance themselves from the locales they look down upon, Matthew and Emma parse through the specifics of how these elites employ housing as a form of speculative wealth storage, with the “great wall of money” (aka elite wealth) building up in the wake of the 1980s, infecting the sector of real estate and physically mutating how it manifests itself over the next four decades, seeing the construction of “iceberg,” ultra-thin, and other standardized but architecturally “unique” (aka utilizing iconography) to create a facade of liquidity, detached from the ground below them, able to change with the economy. To wrap up, Emma and Matthew look at the development of Property Technology (such as Zillow and AirBnB) in bolstering these systems, providing direct evaluations of liquid assets AND a way to ensure passive income from these investments, bolstering the constant housing crises prevalent in today’s capitalism. And in the Fun Half: Emma talks with Kory from Indianapolis on fundamentalist Christianity infiltrating the US courts, Matt dives into the conservative exterminationist perspective versus the liberal “cultural genocide” one, Ron Johnson proclaims that he HARDLY had anything to do with 1/6, and Andy Barr complains to Chuck Todd about the “politicization of the finance of oil,” – you know, that one massive profiteering scheme that’s driving inflation. Kenny from Berkeley touches on the PMC and academic exploitation, Bolsonairo loses his temper, and Ben Shaprio salivates at the thought of licking billionaire boots. Plus, your calls and IMs!
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