“In almost everything we now hear about economic disadvantage, there is the same belief, embodied in such government schemes as the Work Programme, that 40-plus years of deindustrialisation matters not, and to be one of the economy’s losers isn’t about being a victim of forces beyond your control, but character failings.”

John Harris, The Guardian, 7th January 2013

Photographs from Blisner, Ill © Daniel Shea.

Fury Builds Over Blackouts Caused By De-Industrialization Of America

Fury Builds Over Blackouts Caused By De-Industrialization Of America

Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
February 4, 2011

Fury is building over rolling nationwide blackouts triggered by the Obama administration’s deliberate agenda to block the construction of new coal-fired plants, as local energy companies struggle to meet Americans’ power demands amidst some of the coldest weather seen in decades.

- As we reported yesterday, four hospitals in Texas reacted furiously after they were hit with planned outages despite being promised they would be spared even as power to Super Bowl venues remains uninterrupted.

- Thousands in New Mexico have been left without natural gas as Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday declared a state of emergency. “Due to statewide natural gas shortages, I have ordered all government agencies that do not provide essential services to shut down and all nonessential employees to stay home” on Friday, Martinez said after meeting with public safety personnel in Albuquerque,” reports the Associated Press.

- Borderland residents have been asked to limit their use of natural gas as the Texas Gas Service asks that larger commercial facilities voluntarily close their doors to save supplies.

- People in Tucson have been asked to limit their use of hot water and moderate their thermostat levels to save on energy.

- Shortages of natural gas in San Diego County has forced utility companies to “cut or reduce the gas supplied to some of their largest commercial and industrial customers,” reports North County Times.

- In El Paso, “Hundreds of thousands of electricity customers continue to face periodic blackouts, and nearly 900 gas customers still have no heat,” reports the El Paso Times, with El Paso Electric resorting to using generators in a struggle to meet demand while still having to implement forced outages.

Coal-fired power plants are used to convert coal to synthetic natural gas. The Obama administration’s efforts to block the construction of new clean-burning coal plants has massively exacerbated this week’s outages.

Mexico has now announced that it will suspend supplying power to southern US states, underscoring how America has been left completely dependent and desperate as a result of the Obama administration’s war on the coal industry.

Cold weather is not the primary culprit behind the power outages that have hit many areas of the country this week. The real blame lies with the Obama administration’s deliberate war against the efforts of local power companies to meet America’s energy needs by building new plants, the vast majority of which have been blocked by judges, governors and the EPA over the last four years at the behest of the Obama administration in the name of preventing global warming.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

State authorities in Texas have been engaged in a long-running battle with the EPA as the feds attempt to block the construction of new plants by enforcing adherence to new clean air permit regulations that cripple smaller companies’ ability to afford desperately needed new energy centers and plants. Twelve states are mounting a legal challenge against EPA restrictions that threaten to bankrupt the entire industry.

But it’s not just in Texas where the federal government has embarked on an all out siege against energy independence.

- Back in July 2008, a Superior Court judge in Fulton County blocked the construction of a coal plant in Georgia, citing global warming concerns and the need to limit CO2 emissions.

- In January 2009, the Obama EPA blocked approval for a coal-fired power plant in South Dakota, claiming the state, “didn’t meet requirements under the Clean Air Act in part of its proposed permit for the plant.”

- As Governor of Kansas, Obama’s current Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius slapped a de facto ban on the construction of all new coal-fired plants across the state.

- Last month, Senators in Obama’s home state of Illinois blocked the construction of a clean-burning coal gasification and power generating plant.

- As a result of the EPA’s recent remand of air permits, Shell Oil announced yesterday that it has “dropped plans to drill in the Arctic waters of the Beaufort Sea this year,” ensuring more shortages and higher energy prices for Americans already laboring under soaring food costs.

The federal government’s siege against independent power companies’ efforts to build coal-fired plants is part of the unfolding agenda to de-industrialize the United States even as China and Mexico build new power plants at ever accelerating speeds.

Global warming alarmists have consistently gone on record to openly voice their agenda to de-industrialize the United States in the name of saving the planet.

In his new book, author and environmentalist Keith Farnish called for acts of sabotage and environmental terrorism in blowing up dams and demolishing cities in order to return the planet to pre-industrial society. Prominent NASA global warming alarmist and Al Gore ally Dr. James Hansen endorsed Farnish’s book.

The global elite resolved to exploit contrived fears about climate change to de-industrialize the United States back in 1991 when the Club of Rome, a powerful globalist NGO committed to limiting growth and ushering in a post-industrial society, said in their report, The First Global Revolution, “In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill…. All these dangers are caused by human intervention… The real enemy, then, is humanity itself.”

In 1969, Dr. Richard Day, the National Medical Director of the Rockefeller-sponsored “Planned Parenthood,” asserted that a move towards a “unified global system” would necessitate the sabotage of American industry.

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“Each part of the world will have a specialty and thus become inter-dependent, he said. The US will remain a center for agriculture, high tech, communications, and education but heavy industry would be “transported out,” Day stated.

In 2008 Obama openly stated his plan to bankrupt the coal industry.

The large currents of the past generation – deindustrialisation, the flattening of average wages, the financialisation of the economy, income inequality, the growth of information technology, the flood of money into Washington, the rise of the political right – all had their origins in the late 70s. The US became more entrepreneurial and less bureaucratic, more individualistic and less communitarian, more free and less equal, more tolerant and less fair.
—  George Packer, ‘The Unwinding’
Watch on

Gil Scott HeronWe Almost Lost Detroit (1977)

“The forces that produced Detroit—the combination of bitter racism and single-industry failure—are anomalous, but the general recipe of deindustrialization, depopulation, and resource depletion will likely touch almost all the regions of the global north in the next century or two. Dresden was rebuilt, and so was Hiroshima, and so were the cities destroyed by natural forces—San Francisco and Mexico City and Tangshan—but Detroit will never be rebuilt as it was. It will be the first of many cities forced to become altogether something else.” —Rebecca Solnit, “Detroit Arcadia” in Harper’s magazine, 2004 


Capitalising on Decay

Moving on from last week we developed the complexity of the twinning system to consider the route of decay. So many cities today are undergoing a transformation through deindustrialisation and a changing economy. The hives of industry from one century are the scars on the urban landscape the next. How can a decayed city be gentrified but retain its (if any) nostalgic links to the past.

Antoine Picone’s Anxious Landscapes: From Ruin to Rust highlights the city landscape as saturated by man’s technological endeavours. He identifies between technological and natural landscapes and how they are justified physically and psychologically.  The modern city shares no links with nature, only its variable skies, and imprisons its inhabitants through the need of development. Architecture, designed by man and like any other constructed physical object wears itself out to a point of obsolescence, constricting man in the middle of his productions.

Picone discusses the work of Auguste Perret who expresses the importance of character and style. Whilst the two words seem synonymous they articulate two different meanings, ‘Character is the manner in which the work responds to its destination… the relationship between the object and its end. Style is the art of using materials…’ The locomotive and the Parthenon are used to explain this; the locomotive is undeniably attentive to character whilst the Parthenon has character and style. In a few years the most advance locomotive will become scrap metal whilst the grandeur of the Parthenon will be preserved. One rusts whilst the other ruins. The ruin returns man to nature whilst rust confines him to the city landscape.

This concept can be applied to heritage or perhaps heritage is just another name for ‘ruin’. Structures relating to their context and crafted from materials reflecting their purpose resemble items that should be preserved. Structures lacking in style are left to become obsolete, leaving a blemish on the urban fabric where they once stood, and ultimately being consumed by the city to make way for yet another urban fix. 

I can conclude that ruins have both character and style enabling them to develop into areas or spaces of heritage whereas rust becomes redundant, leaving brownfield sites and derelict buildings.

Tim Edensor writes in The ghosts of industrial ruins: ordering and disordering memory in excessive space about the importance of ruins within memory. Through the political and social process of memory, a realm of contestation and controversy, decayed or decaying buildings reveal the story of their history. As memory adapts to the changing context, shifting histories of structures peel away revealing layers of years gone by. These realms of ruins are often located on marginal site and are littered throughout an increasing amount of post industrialised cities. These layers, however they are revealed, reiterate the importance of character to a structure allowing for a metamorphosis to heritage. Without a historic background a structure can evoke no memories of a by gone era, have no ties to the past, and provide no sense of nostalgic value to a site; something essential for forming heritage. 

The texts within ‘Shrinking Cities’ investigate cities around the world that are deemed to be shrinking and the effects this implies. The texts identify Manchester, Liverpool and Detroit as exemplar shrinking cities. Through the process of deindustrialisation these urban environments have started to decay; in the case of Manchester, this was with the removal of the cotton industries at the end of ‘Cottonopolis’ in the 1950’s.  With shrinkage comes wastage and derelict buildings and empty spaces emerge, providing the raw materials for renaissance. It is clear that brown field sites and disused buildings will play an important part in a city’s rise from decay, which should be incorporated into the new twinning system to allow waste to be capitalised. 

The research has indicated the importance of decay and the twinning model has been updated to reflect this. Shrinking cities may become future heritage cities and it is recommended that brownfield sites of obsolete objects be used for future city growth. During the textile industry Stockport was at its peak. It has since declined, along with the textile industry and has failed to re-establish itself despite numerous efforts from the local authorities. Stockport is positioned within a state of further decay and needs to act appropriately to rejuvenate and capitalise on its past. 

Picone, Antoine. Anxious Landscapes: From Ruin to Rust. Translated by Karen Bates. Unknown: Unknown, 2000.

Edensor, Tim. Industrial Ruins: spaces, aesthetics and materiality. Oxford: Berg, 2005.

Edensort, Tim. The Ghosts of industrial ruins: ordering and disordering memory in excessive space. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23(6) 829-849

Nature and Causes of Inner City Decline, Despair and Deprivation

Nature and characteristics:

  • High out-migration flows
  • Boarded up shops –> due to the outflow of economic activity
  • Many empty and derelict properties 
  • Closure of schools (especially primary schools) 
  • Low levels of aspiration and educational attainment 
  • High unemployment
  • High incidence of crime e.g. vandalism, theft, graffiti, violence especially those stemming from political discontentment 
  • Low levels of participation in local democracy –> few people left in the area in decline + those who remain have low educational attainment & are less politically engaged/aware 


  • Economic decline AKA deindustrialisation 
    • 1950s: rapid movemnet of employment awy from the inner city into smaller urban areas and rural areas. The decline happened predominantly in the traditional manufacturing industries –> steam, coal and railways. 
    • 1960s-1981: further unemployment and jobs continued to move out into the rural areas –> 1.6 million manufacturing jobs were lost in major urban areas in the UK
    • Growth of the service sector, while the manufacturing industry underwent decline. However, the growth did not compensate for the job losses as service sector is generally less labour-intensive & structural unemployment prevailed due to the different skill requirements of service-related jobs 
    • Reasons for economic decline
      • Globalisation: declining profits and increased competition necessitated restructuring of production methods and labour requirements + acquisition of new companies + technological development + geographical movement of plants to new areas in the UK or overseas –> factories in inner cities are mostly old plants with outdated and highly inefficient production techniques, making them very unproductive and uncompetitive. Inner cities are also highly unionised, making labour reforms geared towards enhancing economic competitiveness hard to push through/implement. Hence, deindustrialisation hit inner city areas the most severely 
      • Changing levels of technology and spatial requirements of factories: shortage of suitable land for industries in the inner city, causing them to move out to other urban locations or even rural locations 
    • 1994: Inner cities of Britain’s former industrial regions e.g. Sheffield, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle-upon-Tyne had unemployment rates 50% higher than the rest of the country 
  • Social decline and population loss:
    • Out-migration 
      • Push-factor: Many moved out to look for better employment opportunities 
    • Growth of small towns around large conurbations + significant number of people moving from the urban areas to rural areas –> counter-urbanisation 
      • Changing residential preferences [push]
      • Job growth in out of town and rural areas [pull]
      • Improved accessibility of rural areas [pull]
      • Poor image of the inner city, driven by economic decline [push]
    • Those who move out are usually the young, skilled and more affluent vs those who remained in the inner city are usually the old, low-skilled/possessing skills incompatible with the evolving economy and poor –> from this, it can be said that economic decline LED to social decline 
  • Poor physical environment
    • Presence/The sight of poor, low quality housing, vacant factories and empty, derelict properties + high levels of vandalism, graffiti and messy, untethered flyposting 
    • The lack of basic amenities e.g. parks, open spaces and play areas
    • Victorian terraced housing –> uniform, boring and unsightly facades + high-density public housing that rehoused evicted people since the last slum clearance (though many have been demolished, those that remain are unpopular and difficult living environments)
    • Lack of aesthetic appeal and quality, a very placid, bland and derelict city image
  • Political problems 
    • Political marginalisation and ostracisation
    • Frequent political clashes between the local-city government and the central government
    • People living in the inner cities have the LOWEST election turnout rate IN THE UK, possibly reflecting the extent to which people felt rejected 
    • Also, inner city voters tend to vote for far-right political parties (extreme political disregard for egalitarianism and equality) in an attempt to draw attention to the political and economic plight