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Re: Conservatives' Vision of an America Without Cities

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  • dawie_coetzee
    The article mentions in passing the critical point, namely that a who/whose issue is being made of what ought properly to be what/how issue. The consequent
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 18, 2006
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      The article mentions in passing the critical point, namely that a
      who/whose issue is being made of what ought properly to be what/how
      issue. The consequent Us-Them distinction results in an ultimatum that
      is in large measure a false ultimatum. We are told that, to enjoy the
      benefits of true urbanity, we have to forfeit the desire for autonomy
      and personal sovereignty that, however illusorily, generates the great
      appeal of suburban land-ownership. We are told that we must choose
      between living on our own terms and living in urban relationships with
      our neighbours. We are told to choose between using a car daily and not
      possessing a car at all. We are told to choose between economic
      irrelevance in dormitory suburbs and intrusive overregulation in the
      city. We are told that the price of the city is our unreserved
      obedience, because reserving the right to withhold our obedience is
      something that belongs to the countryside - and that simply does not
      follow.

      We are moreover tempted hereby to go on, much in the vein of the
      Marxian notion of 'false consciousness', about 'territoriality' as some
      sort of despicable bourgeois deviance, which attitude is anathema to
      one so territorial as myself. For in many senses I am both Us and Them;
      and it seems probable to me that more are thus than otherwise. And as
      such I resent the ultimatum.

      Is the challenge not precisely to generate urban forms that satisfy
      valid desires for 'rural' autonomy in a tight, walkable form?

      Dawie


      --- In carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com, Claude Willey <claudewilley@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > http://www.alternet.org/story/45389/?
      comments=view&cID=388973&pID=388965
      >
      > Conservatives' Vision of an America Without Cities
      >
      > By Jeremy Adam Smith, Public Eye. Posted December 12, 2006.
      >
    • Jym Dyer
      =v= Thanks for articulating some of the either/or criticisms I had of the original article. =v= I will add that the conservative/liberal divide in the U.S.
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 18, 2006
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        =v= Thanks for articulating some of the either/or criticisms I
        had of the original article.

        =v= I will add that the conservative/liberal divide in the U.S.
        (such as it is) doesn't really split into geographic divisions,
        and that the real demographic situation has to do with the
        topic of this list. While it has certainly been a conservative
        (and cryptoracist) meme to demonize the cities as hotbeds of
        liberal decadence, there's a lot of wealth in the cities and
        no shortage of conservative urbanites. Further, the American
        countryside has a long, strong history of progressivism.

        =v= The crucial story in the U.S. is what demographers call the
        swing vote, what sociologists call anomie, and what I call the
        mushy middle. This is a vast slice of the populace, largely
        suburban, who stand for nothing and fall for anything. National
        politics in recent decades has been about courting this vote, a
        process that has little to do with political positions and much
        to do with focus groups and marketing research (and, of course,
        strategic voting fraud).

        =v= When the balance of this vote tipped to Bush, we were fed
        nonsense about a unified "Red America" voting its "values."
        When, previously, the very same demographic supported Clinton,
        we were fed nonsense about tender-hearted "soccer moms."

        =v= American suburbia is extremely dependent on cars, so some
        have looked at the voting this century and speculated that
        this demographic voted its interests by voting for the oilmen
        and -women. I know of no research that really supports this,
        and again, the 1990s and 2006 votes suggest otherwise. The
        real story, I think, is that car-dependent land-use patterns
        promote anomie and create the malleable demographic. People
        living this way are compartmentalized inside their cars and
        are more likely to experience others through a TV screen than
        in person, and the closest thing to public space is a shopping
        mall. Without the back-and-forth of unmediated experience,
        this population has fewer opportunities to think critically
        and consider alternatives. Which is a boon for politicians
        of any stripe.
        <_Jym_>
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