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Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Politics of Air Conditioning

What was the world like before air conditioning?  I know it seems like blasphemy - especially in Phoenix - but this technology hasn't been with us all that long.  And most of the world still does without it for most of their lives.  Like all technologies, while it is sold to us as either neutral or a necessity, air conditioning in fact reflects the political interests of the capitalists, bureaucrats, professionals and politicians that developed, installed and proliferated it. And they have used it to remake our lives to their satisfaction, extracting increasing profits from us for longer periods of time.

So, that said, here is some interesting reading for these hot July days.  Stan Cox has written two provocative articles on the political nature of air conditioning and the role it plays in capitalist development and social control.  I recommend the first article more than the second, as the second article does delve a bit into some largely meaningless party politics, as if somehow the Democrats were any less wedded to industrial and technological capitalism than their kissing cousins in the GOP.  Nevertheless, both articles are quite interesting.  Check them out.

Air-conditioning: Our Cross to Bear (part one)
Those air-conditioners that keep things cool and comfortable inside are helping make the outside world even nastier.

America's Air-Conditioned Nightmare (part two)
Air-conditioning puts a chill on community spirit, aids the cause of anti-enviros, and just might have given us President George W. Bush.

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