Urban Authoritarian Impulses?

The idea began gnawing at me after watching some news stories while in Germany. Why did the younger generation so long for “someone” to step in and give orders? And why communo-environmentalism? What was the attraction for so many younger people in Europe? And the US for that matter, when you start to think about things.

Could it be in part the lack of property and space?

Not entirely, no, but what happens when you have two generations that grow up in rented apartments and houses without the possibility of owning their own piece of ground? Always living in cities, occasionally going to visit parks and other open areas, but returning to spend most of their time in the cities. Combine that with the absence of a sense of past, and could it affect how they view the world? Or what about a warped sense of the past, being pounded almost daily that their people were uniquely guilty for horrible deeds? Eventually a reaction would come, and seems to be coming.

It would certainly make it easier for those with an environmentalist-fundamentalist “calling” to encourage the younger urban generations to “save” or “preserve” an environment they’ve never really seen. They see the city. They are told over and over that Nature is endangered and choked with pollution. Animals in remote areas are dying horrible deaths because of humanity’s over-expansion and over-abundance of amenities. The fact that large swaths of “nature” are not built-over, plowed-under, or festooned with tattered plastic bags would never occur to them, because they’ve never seen anything like that. They see the city, and pollution. Of course the world needs to be saved from urban blight. Of course the polar bears are starving, and the birds have disappeared, and trees are endangered. Experts tell the younger people that, and it fits what they see. It becomes easy to agree that the planet needs saving, and to vote for legislation and politicians who promise to save everything that is “out there,” even though people happen to depend on that same landscape for food, fuel, and shelter.

If you live in a world of rented property and leases, does it make vandalism easier to justify? I’d think that it might, because “the man” owns the building or the store, not a person that you know. Why not tag it to show the Establishment just what you think of social injustice? Why not shatter windows and burn cars belonging to “the rich” or evil, rich international businesses? You have nothing to lose, and the faceless power that is “a greedy capitalist” suffers, not a real person.

Looking farther, does living in a smaller world make it easier to deny things to others? “I don’t need a 2000 square-foot house on an acre of ground. I don’t need a car, so no one else does. I don’t need a big truck, and they destroy the environment, so no one else should have big trucks. Private property is theft.” They do not see the possibility for ever owning a home or even an apartment in a co-op, and so they deny that privilege to the rest of society. They’ve never had to care for property, to be responsible for everything. That’s what the super is for, or the land lord, or the government.

I’m over-simplifying. That’s a given. But I wonder how many farm kids and teens or young adults from more rural parts of Europe took place in the Hamburg car-b-ques this past summer? As with Occupy Wall Street, which did not seem to catch on too easily between the Sierra Nevadas and Appalachian Mountains outside of Chicago and possibly Kansas City. Urban life does not cause people to become left-progressive political activists. But it seems to encourage that tendency, or at least to make it more apparent. There are left-progressive radicals in the rural parts of the world. I’ve met several. They tend to be hard-working and well-meaning, and several tutted at OWS’s more extreme moments.

Historically, cities have always been more radical than the countryside. Medieval Europe certainly provides multiple examples, as do Early Modern Europe and modern Europe and the US and Canada. Large urban populations imply sufficient resources that at least part of the population does not spend every waking hour worrying about doing enough labor to keep themselves fed on the farm. That is especially true today. But until the advent of the internal combustion engine and transportation that did not require horses and oxen, the city and the country remained fairly closely tied together. Now a mental-moat seems to be developing between residents of the large urban agglomerations and the less densely peopled areas.

I’ve read articles arguing that people find it harder to connect with other people once cities reach a certain population density. The crowding and constant interaction lead people to shut themselves away from neighbors. Also, they tend to become more dependent on government for certain things, in part because there’s no choice. You don’t know enough people to ask them for assistance, and they don’t know you well enough to consider offering it. And so on.

A single strong leader, a mayor, or a president-for-life, a Dear Leader, a First Secretary, doesn’t seem that much farther to jump. Authoritarians impose order, or so those who prefer them believe. And we seem to have a large swath of younger people who are desperately confused and looking for order. Their world is under threat of environmental and racial destruction, or so they have been persuaded. Haters are out to get them and their friends, people who want to re-enslave visible minorities, or to put homosexuals into camps, or who don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change and who refuse to see how that plastic grocery bag is destroying the planet. A strong leader is needed to put things to rights, to organize the forces of good so that they can defeat the forces of evil.

I’m not certain what the solution is. The media and major entertainment outlets, and swaths of the education industry have so inculcated their preferred story that some days I wonder how on Earth or any other planet to get through to the younger activist set that no, the entire world is not like that, and that in some cases, they have been horribly misled and lied to. Some days it takes a lot of effort to remind myself that despair is a sin. Fortunately those days are rare, but I watch the media, especially from outside the US, and really wonder.

13 thoughts on “Urban Authoritarian Impulses?

  1. My 16 year old son and his friends have responded by rejecting everything the media tells them. If the media and their teachers push it, the kids automatically assume that the truth is the opposite. Most of the time, the kids are right. The pendulum, it has started to swing back, and the kids are hitting it with hammers to help it along. Not all the kids, of course, but more every month. They’re waking up to the lies and hypocrisy. They know they’re on the front lines of a cultural war. They’re looking for leaders and flags to follow.

    The problem is, this is a decentralized, grass roots movement. There aren’t any real leaders. That’s a strength, too, but the kids are having to invent their own philosophies. I’m helping my son, who spreads the thoughts to the others. I never imagined how important understanding the philosophy of almost everything would be. I have spent a lot of time learning over the past few years, just to try to keep a month or so ahead of him. The kids have also learned that the democrats are their enemy, and the republicans are neutral parties at best, when not actively allied with the democrats.

    There is no single red pill – they have to be taken in small, incremental doses. 50 shades of red, as it were. Just like progressivism/communism aren’t taught in one dose, but insinuated in all facets of media, entertainment, and public education. The kids are firmly alt-right, which is itself an incoherent group of ideologies. The young are so idealistic – I’m trying to keep the boys from going full bore right wing death squad. Without keeping them from preparing for the eventual need, if and when it comes. (We can’t start the fighting, but we will by Ghu finish it.) I’m also trying to keep them focused on Christianity, because all people have a religion-shaped hole in their heads, and our culture is a Christian culture. It’s the base of everything else. It’s hard, because all the churches are converged, and I’ve never been religious. Faithful, yes, but not religious. Something else I have to study so I can teach it.

    A point of light in the process – the boys have started to talk to girls. They’re making slow headway with converting a couple of them to their side. It’s also teaching them how to talk to girls – and other girls respond well to the boys’ self confidence. I’m waiting for the backlash from the “cool kids” to the girls paying more attention to my son and his friends.

    Of course, we live in a small town in the country, not the city. I was raised being told that cities were hives of scum and villainy, and I’ve never seen anything to contradict that.

    • Living in a large urban center I can attest to it being a hive of scum and villainy. In fact i am aiming to move to a smaller town in about a year or less. Had it up to the eyeballs with the idiocy in big cities. Mind you small towns/cities have pockets of their own idiocy.

  2. ” There are left-progressive radicals in the rural parts of the world. I’ve met several.”

    So have I, but they tend to be first generation rural, I have never met one who was more than second generation.

    • I met a third generation, but they were Kansas Progressives of the Richard Alan White school, small business owners who were pro-union, pro-regulation because it “levels the playing field” and very generous to charities. And a few academics in the family as well. Nice folks, but Odd in a Midwestern Progressive way.

  3. “They do not see the possibility for ever owning a home or even an apartment in a co-op, and so they deny that privilege to the rest of society.” This is, to me, the key point. They have been inculcated that they don’t ‘deserve’ to own anything major, nor can they afford it, since many don’t work/work menial jobs, while prolonging their education.
    I am reminded of one of my classmates in college in 1969, he was from Harlem and had never seen a real cow. We took him over to the Ag school and he wanted to PET a thousand pound Brahma bull! He thought, because he’d seen cartoons, that bulls were like dogs… OBTW, he is now a nuclear physicist… 🙂

    • I would have paid to see that. Tell me you did introduce him to the bull, and let him pet it? And did you get it on camera, for later generations to enjoy on YouTube?


    • Well, that makes perfect sense.

      Assume the dog is a perfect sphere. Now, write a departure function to account for legs, head and tail. Dog to bull is easy, just apply a scaling factor of 50. Wait, WHAT horns?!

      • Must be a scientist doing that – engineers know that practical is an entirely different thing than theoretical!

        • Oh, yes. I’m thinking of a physicist I was required to collaborate with on a program that involved a lot of spatial information. A reasonably competent engineer (ahem) would of course describe terrain and parts of the globe with WGS-84 model of the Earth, and even find existing code for the job. The physicist ignored repeated polite requests and pointed reminders. He HAD to assume the Earth started as a perfect sphere, and write all the code from scratch. After that, I essentially demanded to work on anything else but without the physicist involved. Maybe someone would hand him a glass of cold water to drink. That, combined with his next “brilliant” idea, probably would kill him.

          Well, that’s the other reason that engineers brew beer.

          • There’s a wet-behind-ears physicist I know who is just the opposite. At his Air Force internship, they assigned him to write code to simulate certain stuff with weapons, and he just assumed they would also like some optional features to simulate the effects of other real world stuff upon the weapons. So when he announced he was done, and they wanted him to add a few things — they were already there! Plus more!

            His bosses were pretty happy with him… and he now has a dream job out in California at Livermore, doing more physics stuff. He’ll be there within the next few weeks, while the rest of us shiver. (So yeah, if you know any Odd girls out there, preferably Catholic, not all the good ones are already taken!)

            He’s a really good guy. Good gardener, brilliant at lots of things. And yet, for most of his elementary and junior high career, his school system assumed that, since he has some speech problems, he must be slow.

  4. > Of course the world needs to be saved from urban blight.

    What I keep running into are people who think that cities are so wonderful that everyone should be forced to live in them. Usually coupled with a frothing hatred for the suburbs.

    Exactly why they’d *want* me for a neighbor remains a mystery, what with the noisy machine tools, smoke and fire from the foudry, and occasional unmuffled racing engines.

    • Now, see, that’s why I’d prefer to live in the country (though I have gotten used to decent network speeds in town). If my neighbor is up to this or that, generally said neighbor is far enough away I don’t care. And far enough away that when I get up to that or this, he doesn’t care.

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