Thursday, April 27, 2017

It's not elites vs. populists. It's cities vs. the countryside.


Across the West, from the U.K.'s Brexit to the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S., societies are dividing along similar fault lines. But we can't quite agree on how to describe it: Neoliberal centrists vs. antiliberal extremists? Elites vs. populists? Globalists vs. nationalists? The establishment vs. the working class?

Each of those dichotomies captures something about our present moment, but none of them gets at the fundamentals — the sociological core of what we're all living through, which is a growing socio-cultural chasm pitting the city and the countryside against each other.

In an important essay for The Washington Post, Will Wilkinson recently examined President Trump's consistent rhetorical hostility to cities and noted the salience of the urban-rural divide for understanding the outcome of the 2016 election. "The bigger, denser, and more diverse the city, the better Hillary Clinton did in November. But Trump prevailed everywhere else — in small cities, suburbs, exurbs, and beyond."

More @ The Week


  1. Someone was telling me in a debate that Jefferson considered we should maybe prevent cities from arising. And Aristotle warned how large cities are bad.

    And the UK has used "green zones" to protect its country side.


    I'd told you my vision: A booming Charleston, SC, and maybe other areas (Perhaps there's an argument for having 2 or 3 cities rather than only 1, in case of a bad hurricane or such.)

    But then keep everything else rural. So the economy develops in the centres but strict laws keep the rest rural.

    North Carolina had a county which limited individual lots to some huge size. I forget the details, but that would sure keep things rural.


    Libertarians say government shouldn't get involved, but we need to keep develop under control somewhat. So, very limited government involvement can be beneficial.

    Also, we should protect old churches and the like. It's good to keep a bit of history. Economic advancement isn't everything.

    1. Certainly and I couldn't find the county with a search, but it reminded me of my great grandfather who "divided land into smaller than normal size lots and sold them at reduced rates to enable the poor to be become homeowners."

    2. You're right. The poor would suffer. But there could be camp grounds, parks. And city housing can hold people. Cities have small lots.

      Charleston, SC, built some nice public housing:

      I guess whether "green zones" and the like are positive or negative depends on the situation. If something isn't done, SC is going to be one giant NYC before long. Or maybe it'll become more like Atlanta: Urban sprawl. Too many people!

      Things have a way of working out. I'm being overly dramatic. Everything has changed beyond my expectations, for the better, thanks to Trump. So, there's cause for a bit more hope... finally, I believe.

      Many people are repeating civic nationalist arguments now. If Trump went full Buchanan, the world would really wake up.

    3. Thanks.


      If Trump went full Buchanan, the world would really wake up.