Monday, January 26, 2004

The big municipal news in Barcelona has been, for the last two or three years, this big wingding they're going to have called the Forum of Cultures 2004. See, the plan was to get some big world event to come here, since the city's only notable worldwide success (and they'll never let you forget it) was putting on the 1992 Summer Olympics. The problem was that no other major world events, like, say, a World's Fair, wanted to come here. But the city fathers were desperate for another chance to impress the world and get into the international major leagues, so our none-too-original Mayor, Joan Clos, dug up an old idea that had been floating around.

See, what they're going to do is have a big old alterglobalization multicultural sustainable solidarious whooptedo, though nobody is really sure yet exactly what is going to happen--they've published an extremely vague program which uses lots of words like "neocolonialist capitalism" and "culture of peace". And the damned thing is scheduled to happen this summer. All we know is that there will be a bunch of conferences and workshops, and that the construction work isn't going to be anywhere near finished. The only thing which seems of any interest to me is that they're going to get some of the terracotta soldiers from that two-thousand-year-old emperor's tomb in Sian, China.

(Murph swears this is true: The blurb for the display of the Chinese warriors says that the exhibition shows how the Chinese developed first a culture of war and then from that a culture of peace. Somebody tell the Communist government, which possesses the largest army in the world, about that.)

What this reminds all of us about is the Millenium Dome in London and what a fiasco that was. Murph says there are four points of similarity: 1) The incumbent inherited it from his predecessor. 2) Neither ever had a clear concept of what it was supposed to be, unlike, say, the Olympics or the Mozart Festival or whatever. 3) The people running both are a group of strange bedfellows, public and private entities, left- and right-wing parties, various kinds of governmental agencies, and the local developers. 4) In the year before both events were scheduled to happen, when the deadline was looming, there was general chaos surrounded by firings of some of those responsible.

There is one important difference: In Barcelona, at least, there is a major development plan, involving a hotel and a convention center and a public park and apartment buildings, and at least that will be here after the fiasco has cost Clos his political life.

As a matter of fact, that aspect of the Forum--the fact that some builders and developers and promotors and real-estate people and the like are going to make a ton of money--and its multiculti progre foo-fooishness--peace and love and flowers and caring and sharing--don't seem to fit together very well at all.

This is why it's under attack from both left and right equally. The local powers that be belong to either the mildly left Socialists or mildly right Convergence and generally disagree on all the little things but agree on the big one, that there is money out there to be made, and they're the guys who are going to make some money off this one. It's the PP on the right, who think that this whole thing is a waste of taxpayers' money on a stupid cause, and the groups on the left, who don't like the land-developers and real-estate people, who are against the Forum.

Here's a piece of criticism of the Forum, apparently from the left. And here's the English version of the Forum's program. Click on several of the links. See if you can make any sense out of anything.

Oh, by the way, admittance is going to be astronomical, at least twenty euros for a one-day ticket, and there aren't even going to be any roller-coasters or anything cool.

No comments: