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Mountain of Paradise

Reflections on the Emergence of Greater California as a World Civilization


Josef Chytry

Mountain of Paradise challenges conventional taxonomies of world civilizations by introducing a new and formidable candidate: the civilization of Greater California presently incubating as the evolution of California into a veritable «nation-state» or «world commonwealth» according to contemporary commentators and scholars. Through a series of reflective essays it clarifies the momentous implications of this claim by a thorough account of the genealogical origins of «California», permutation into its speculative moment of self-identity thanks to prolonged creative interchange with European thought and philosophy, advancement to status of a socio-economic powerhouse by the 1950s and 1960s, invention of distinctly Californian variants of political economy by the 1970s and 1980s, and present domination over regions formerly classified as «Greater California». In its range and originality Mountain of Paradise constitutes a robust contribution to current political, social, economic and global thematics.


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Chapter 1. Beyond the United States of America? California as a World Civilization


17 Chapter 1 Beyond the United States of America? California as a World Civilization1 Around the turn of the millennium an economic fact occurred that is worth recording. Passing the Republic of France, the U.S. state of California became the fifth economic power in the world. Admittedly, as of the date of this chapter, that same Californian economy has undergone more challenging convolutions that only recently have shown signs of letup, and the most recent estimates place Cali- fornia somewhere between the eighth and ninth ranks (see Table 1). Still, granted that Britain, France and Italy remain within range, and that Germany is not all that significantly ahead, nor that Japan is entirely beyond reach, a few more great surges of the Californian economy, comparable to the last burst of the dotcom 1990s, could conceivably lift California right back into the top five. Naturally it could be argued that such surges, quite apart from the usual con- troversy over the validity of the indices used, whether GNP, GDP, GSP, or PPP, are ephemeral. However, excepting the steady advance of another new eco- nomic power, China, into the Valhalla of economic preeminence, it is difficult to imagine future expansion by California’s immediate rivals on a scale that would match California’s own constantly increasing wealth, crucial Pacific location, strategic position in all the distinctly postmodern economic sectors from high tech and media to agribusiness, university research, and green tech- nology, possibly important new sources of oil, not to speak of the growth...

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