A Global Agora vs Gated City Regions
The official futurist of the European Union, Riccardo Petrella is head of the Futures Assessment in Science and Technology (FAST) program at the European Union headquarters in Brussels.

By Riccardo Petrella

It is possible to imagine two mental maps of the world system in the times ahead. One map is that of a world dominated by a hierarchy of 30 city-regions linked more to each other than to the territorial hinterlands to which the nation state once bound them. This wealthy archipelago of city regions - with manageable populations of 8 -12 million - will be run by an alliance between the global merchant class and metropolitan governments whose chief function is supporting the competitiveness of the global firms to which they are host. These disassociated islands will be surrounded by an impoverished lumpenplanet where peasants have been uprooted from the land by global free trade and try to eke out an existence in violence ridden mega-urban settlements with populations of 15 - 20 million or more. Of the eight billion people expected to populate the earth by 2020, five billion will live in Asia, and of this one billion will reside in 50 cities with more than 20 million inhabitants each.

Excluded from the contest for wealth, these megasettlements will be the source of criminilization of the world economy. Its residents, not unlike the marginalized outerclass that resides in the core city regions, will make a living from smuggling drugs, children, human organs for transplant, illegal immigrants and weapons.

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