World Game Board

Daydreams Regarding Asylum Cities

Kirby Urner


Rather deeply buried in American history is the story of Old Man River City. The daring design, available in blueprint form, has been shelved, in part because its one of these colossal mega projects, of a kind we don’t favor in our “small is beautiful” era — unless maybe we’re in China, in which case the practice of rapid city building is still being perfected.

One reason to build a city in a hurry is to create an asylum, yet something more permanent than a refugee camp. We will always have emergency conditions somewhere, and people needing refuge. Even if the current refugees succeed in their search for better circumstances for themselves, we will need to plan for a next influx.

Given our present day capacity to move hundreds of thousands, even millions of people if need be (cite Ukraine, before the shelling began in earnest), getting large numbers of civilians out of harms way in a crisis has become more of a science. Emergency management is indeed a professional endeavor, related to planning, logistics and operations.

We saw our collective management capabilities taxed to the the limit in the case of Hurricane Katrina, with the people of New Orleans crowding into a sports stadium to escape the flooding and to find food and shelter. The evacuation was ad hoc and FEMA came under a lot of criticism, both during and after the crisis. The evacuations of Vietnam and Afghanistan, necessary for humanitarian reasons, these respective disasters human-caused, provide important examples of messy real world operations with plenty of room for improvements.

Old Man River City is stadium shaped, but vastly bigger in scale compared to any currently existing stadium. The design was originally proposed for the Mississippi region known as East St. Louis (St. Louis is home to the Climatron, traceable to the same architect, R. Buckminster Fuller).

So here we are faced with the situation in Gaza and refugees seeking to flee. Emergency management on a world scale is what’s called for. The United Nations has been given the task, but that just means more coordination among its member nations and their respective citizen cheerleaders.

Even if one is adamant about one’s rights as a Palestinian, to eventually return to confiscated lands, there’s another freedom at stake: the right to move about the planet, and to assemble peacefully. Where might a Gazan diaspora find refuge? The kids need places to go to school. Gazan tourists need the right to travel, including to holy places, tourist destinations, far from base.

A first assumption to question is whether we’re somehow confined to the Middle East when it comes to siting our newfangled Asylum Cities. Gazans might be among the first to take advantage of the new infrastructure, a way station, a gateway to other situations, but there’s no reason to suppose they’ll be the last. We’ll have natural disasters if not man made ones.

When whole city blocks are turned to rubble (say by an earthquake), the goal is to give the people assisted safe passage to alternative circumstances, either close by, or perhaps in a whole different continent. The recent history of the planet has involved mass migrations, as refugees escaped to “the new world” i.e. the western hemisphere (already partially occupied, as was the case in Palestine).

Even if one supports the Zionist goal of having a permanent network nation in the Middle East designed primarily for Jews (and many Jews are not Zionists, lets remember), that should not preclude Palestinians from having their own network nation, complete with campus facilities, farms and factories.

Why not have a model state that’s more like a global corporation, with population concentrations here and there but no well-defined boundary around some single contiguous landmass? We already have some virtual nations like this. Tibet comes to mind.

A supranational corporation enjoys its many campuses, high rises, off shore drilling rigs, assembly plants, and supertankers around the world, without having all of them physically connected into a contiguous landmass.

Likewise, US military bases dot the globe, connected by tele-communications and partially overlapping tours of duty. They don’t collectively define a national border or contiguous perimeter. The idea of a networked nation is nothing new.

Perhaps its time to trade up and repurpose a few rickety old bases (e.g. a Guantanamo in Cuba) for some new refugee-friendly high tech experimental prototypes (e.g. a New Gaza).

The Cubans would need to be on board, as well as other Americans, as co-administrators, along with the refugees themselves.

Ditto regarding bases in the Philippines. Should we use them as new construction sites for our cities of tomorrow, helping civilians escape dead end circumstances? This question makes a lot of sense today, as we see what’s in store for us if we persist with the current mentality.

This one base in Cuba (much bigger than the notorious detention center) serves as a capital for R&R, not unlike Okinawa, Guam and other bases in the Philippines. Inns and suites. A bowling alley.

To keep them relevant and funded, the Pentagon casts these facilities as potentially strategic in the coming Great Wars. Indeed, a sense of Great Wars to come is what gives base personnel their sense of job security.

Civilians were merely extras according to the old school military theater directors, a part of the backdrop, collateral damage. In the newer thinking, how civilians get treated is more of a core concern, as the meek begin to inherit their Spaceship Earth. Stay tuned.