Cities breed cruelty

jefferson_davis-president_of_the_confederate_states_of_americaAmerican Civil War anniversaries are always grim times for me. I love my people, and I love this land, and to see it split always makes me slightly ill, much as the fratricidal world wars induce illness.

The American Civil War is better named the American Revolution II, and it has no bad guys. No, not the evil pro-slavery Southerners, and not even the north. At least, it has no party who was the evil. Like Satan as a concept, all evil takes the form of notions which become behaviors.

As the ancient Greeks might tell us, all evils in fact have a common origin in the notion of hubris, which is hard to translate but encompasses the kind of arrogance required to be a narcissistic or solipsist, assuming that the world exists for you and there is no value higher than your whim, pleasure or wealth.

In the case of the Civil War, the evil was the issue left unaddressed by the American Revolution. Are we a nation ruled by culture, as interpreted separately by the independent states, or are we a nation unified on a singular choice of values, on which the states are dependent?

The country and suburbs wanted the former, and the cities wanted the latter. This is because cities breed cruelty, and hubris, through their dual nature. In a city, the anonymous individual is the center of attention and all behavior is tolerated; however, this comes at the cost of having to support the same for others, which creates a vicious me-first culture of social climbing. Cities breed people to smile and betray.

Out in the country, however, the design of civilization is much less rigid. Where the city is essentially a flat hierarchy with a centralized power, in the country power is spread in a graceful tree and is distributed among many localities and essentially familiar authorities in each one. Each person has a role. Social climbing is minimized.

The cities hate that.

Individualists are drawn to cities because cities remove all obstructions to the individual’s pursuit of self-gratification, albeit at the cost of increasingly machine-like and often tedious jobs. But don’t mind that; look at all you can buy. How easy sex is, even to buy. How important you are, with a title and credit cards, maybe even official powers!

In the Civil War, the North needed a pretext for war. They chose slavery, knowing as well as the South did that slavery was on a worldwide level heading to the dustbin. This was for many reasons, but the biggest was technological. With the rise of machines, including steam machines and automatic crop sorting, it was clear that the old manpower-intensive order was technologically obsolete.

In addition, the other 99% of people in the South who did not own slaves felt it was time to let this ancient practice go. The English outlawed it, as had other European nations, and slavery had a distinctly negative aspect for most Southerners, which was that it created a mixed-race society. The thought was to let it quietly pass away. After all, the US had banned the importation of new slaves fifty years before.

But what the South did not want was for slavery to be banned immediately. This would have two consequences: first, it would bankrupt the South, since much of their money was sunk in their farms and the slaves who worked them; second, it would unleash a population upon the South with no way to economically support them, since the farms would be bankrupt. An economy bomb, basically.

All wars begin on a pretext that is often unrelated to the underlying cause. This doesn’t mean the cause isn’t there. For example, the Viet Nam war was supposedly about liberating Viet Nam from the ruthless Viet Cong, who really were bastards, but it was actually about checking Sino-Soviet power worldwide. Same with the Korean War. The Iraq War II, in theory about WMDs or freedom, was actually about protecting Israel from a leader who liked to lob Scuds at them. The first world war was about the re-arrangement of power after the monarchies had lost exclusive dominion and had to rely on democracies; WWII was about whether Europe would go Marxist, like Russia, or stay somewhere to the right of far-left. In the American Civil War, slavery was the pretext; the real war was a clash of civilizations between the suburbian-agrarian South and the industrial, egalitarian and individualist North.

The Northerners like to hide this knowledge behind a lot of moral talk about slavery, but that is essentially hogwash. Slavery was how the press whipped up the herd, but the real motivation was envy that someone somewhere was not living in tenements and working in factories. That there might be a better way of life in which, unlike the lottery of uniform individualism, people were not all equal. That there might be happiness outside the city, and thus (most importantly) that one’s rank in the pecking order of the city might not mean diddly-squat.

What’s scaring them lately is that people are drifting in their souls toward the Southern View. They don’t want to look at concrete and work in tedium for the Great Ideological Crusade of equality. They want to let nature sort of us, give everyone a fair place, and then resume the pursuit of a passionate life. One that can’t be lived in the self-hating and self-consuming city.

9 Comments

  1. NotTheDude says:

    I have never lived I a city, and have only been to one a handful of times, but they do feel dull and individualistic. Having said that, maybe cities can backtrack a bit to be a bit more like towns and not just connect with other cities and bring in lots of folk from the four corners of the earth and hope for a ‘community’ but connect more with their surrounding area and the culture to which they owe their making to.

  2. NotTheDude says:

    Aside from the obvious social injustice and unease there, I’ve tried to read between the lines with what I can tell about life in the South. It seems that most, both White and Black, think themselves pretty lucky to live in such a place and in such a way. Maybe that’s because I love my rural life and our rural heritage and love to think that others are enjoying the same thing but with better weather!

  3. 1349 says:

    Thanks for this and other essays. When there’s nothing to call in question, i usually have nothing to say.

    For many, posting in a blog is like fishing (maybe not for you): the comments one gets are the analog of fishes caught.

    Maybe these essays aren’t published here exclusively? Do you (have you tried to) write for a newspaper / news portal, like, say, Coulter and the like do?

  4. RiverC says:

    It reminds me a lot of the trial of George Zimmerman. While racism is the pretext here, i.e. suggesting George saw a black man and immediately assumed a criminal, the reality of what is going on is somewhat more sordid.

    As with the War Between the States, the pretext for the action is shaky. The State basically has no case against George; he acted appropriately and possibly the only thing that could have prevented the outcome would have been Trayvon behaving differently. Realistically, George could not have been expected to simply not do his neighborhood watch duty in order to avoid any possible conflict.

    However, the underlying issue is the sprawling underclass created by the policies throughout the 20th century; simmering, angry, looking for a reason for war – trying to prove that it has been systematically oppressed by someone, anyone. This show trial seems designed to try to somehow release some of that pressure, but all in all, it seems unlikely to do anything but begin a race war.

    In a society where actions had not been taken to supposedly ‘help’ black men who were indeed capable of helping themselves if they were allowed to fail, this situation would not exist, in my view. They would find the work they were good at and could succeed at; those with superior intellect would rise up like Clarence Thomas, and society would segregate itself in an organic way, not as ghettos and gated villas.

    The expiration date on that possible future, the one of either utopian diversity or sane organic division, has passed.

    Just under the surface for all Americans is bubbling a hot rage, a gland full of venom that must be released or the creature dies. Florida is stupid to have put on this trial. It cannot end well without being itself executed so illegally, so unethically as to be worthy of prosecution.

    1. RingerXs says:

      Reminds me of something someone said once, or twice.
      If said today, most folks would assume him a racist. Of course this is obviously do to today’s liberal social conditioning. Like Florida.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqiWFLsgVi4

      Happy BBQ day!

      1. NotTheDude says:

        I did read once that he had those views like most of us here, but you have to laugh and get a little mad when Parkinson tries to use that line that Liberals use to try and get out of a debate about race ‘I’m the same as you’! They can’t stand not having a hand in something that has been somewhat predetermined by God/Nature (whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t change what that power is or does), in this case biological race. Sure, race isn’t always a tick a box kind of deal but it still plainly exists, no matter how little it may seem to matter or may have changed over time. It seems that most sensible folk with that kind of outlook just want things to unfold naturally. Isn’t that what this Blog is about?

        1. RiverC says:

          As I always say to end all footsing around

          “Ask a forensic anthropologist.”

          There are three basic races of man and all others are variations / combinations of those three. Essentially, you’re either white, black or Asian – on some continuum of the distinct and clear properties by which each is defined (bone structure primarily.)

          Mixed folks have to decide what ‘race’ they identify with only because of those tick-boxes, and regardless of the real underlying characteristics, if you LOOK (read: skin color) most like some race, you’ll probably be given a hard time if you don’t ‘self identify’ as them.

          Or, like Obama, you could identify with the race most convenient to your quest for power. Few white men have the option to identify as black to hustle everyone. That is, other than Peter Griffin.

  5. RW says:

    Keep in mind the rodent overpopulation experiments.

  6. Jose says:

    Living and growing in a city i can tell you that its not great. People do not care for one another nor do they want to. To them its all about “Me” and to hell everyone else. Sure they tell you that living in a big city is better than living in the country. I for one have grown tired of living in the concrete jungle.

    Stress is a constant friend as well as overcrowding. It feels like you are practically living right on top of each other. Try riding the subway in NYC at rush hour and you will see what i mean. Every thing here is so expensive and you are constantly fighting to keep afloat. It sucks when you are paying 1,500 a month for an apartment that has a great view of a brick wall!

    I could never understand why people choose come to this hell. What you see on TV is a lot worse in real life.

    I find myself drifting and wishing that i could just get out and live in the country. Being a Northerner all my life i have to admit that i would not mind living in the South. Every time i go down there i feel less stressed and more positive. I feel that i can actually stretch out and not worry about bumping into someone.

    Individualism is what is destroying America unless we change our ways we will continue to fall down the black hole until we hit the end with a thud!

    great post!

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