Saskia Sassen compares the impact of two kinds of socio-technical formations on the public sphere: electronic capitalist elites concentrated in global cities and globally networked, local social activist movements. Both have the power to transform existing political and economic systems.
“The liberal state has been hijacked for neoliberal agendas,” says Saskia Sassen in interview, and in some cases even for “very modern despotisms”. It is necessary to repossess the state apparatus for genuine liberal democracy, and ideally to create a “denationalized state”.
When Columbian soldiers were threatening to kill her, Saskia Sassen desperately hung on to her American passport. She acted then as an unquestioning member of a world order she usually criticises, one in which some passports provide freedom of access and others do not. Edda Manga has been talking with Saskia Sassen about “cheap politics” and the deconstruction of patriotism.
Urbanizing non-urban economies
Far more than in the past, urban space today registers the profitability of non-urban economies – the economy of the port, the mine, the plantation. Why and how? The key is the rise of intermediate services for firms: all firms today need more lawyers, accountants, insurance, and financial and consulting services than they did even 30 years ago. Thus a dynamic port will feed the growth of a very urbane professional class in whatever the major city servicing the port. Clearly, urban economies – professional services, design industries – also contribute to reshape urban space.