Posts Tagged ‘suburbs’

Martin Luther King, Jr., Hero of the Suburbs

Monday, January 19th, 2015


Why would anyone ever say, especially in a pained voice, “Can’t we all just get along?”

All of us getting along means acceptance of whatever. It means that there is no evolution, no searching for a better answer. In practice, it means that we all retreat to our homes and ignore each other as well as ignoring what happens to our society. If it gets worse, that is not our fault.

People who ask why we cannot all get along are seeking this kind of bourgeois individualism. They want the freedom to ignore the consequences of their actions and their inaction, so that if they contribute to mass destruction of society, they can look back and say “But I was fair to everyone, and I guaranteed that we all had rights.” Yes, rights to ignore that our fate is bound together and that what determines this is not the freedom of individuals, but the health of societies.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is a hero to many and is taught in every school, government office, and corporate diversity lecture. He is regarded as the origin of profundity on this matter. The reason he is praised is that he took the complex issue of national identity and boiled it down to “Just treat everyone equally,” which fits with the leftist narrative which has been gaining momentum over the past few hundred years. Leftism is popular not because it works, because obviously it brings decay wherever it goes, but because it gives people permission and justification to reduce their lives to uninterrupted self-expression.

In his view, we do not need to look deeply into the health of society as a whole. We do not need to consult the validity of its design or whether its values are good. We just need to be, like good hipsters at a craft beer bar, “nice” to each other. Treat everyone equally and let everyone be part of society. Do not impose standards on them. In fact, impose the anti-standard that says that any inclusive rule is acceptable, and any rule that can make anyone look bad is bad.

This appealed to people in the suburbs. They could keep doing what they were doing and stop thinking. They had only to treat everyone equally and society would magically turn out just fine. Shopping would not be interrupted, nor would meaningless but profitable jobs, nor would the pursuit of individual drama in the evenings and on the weekends. Their egos faced no impediment from Martin Luther King, Jr., who in fact gave them a new way to feel superior to others. Instead of being holier than thou they could be “nicer than thou” and achieve praise for upholding the dogma of our time.

Like the “Je Suis Charlie” trend after the Charlie Hebdo shootings, the King cult is based upon easy answers. Everyone just follow this one rule. Like equality, rules are applied universally to all and are easily understood. They break society apart from being an organic whole into a mass herd of individuals who have nothing but self-interest in mind, and thus form a collective to enforce that self-interest. And no one is thinking about the future of society as a whole, or the question of its design, merely assuming that it will always keep on being what it was in perpetuity as we wish it would so our egos have a blank canvas upon which to paint.

This is the Dunning-Kruger effect as policy: what people understand the most easily becomes the highest value of the land. It is what one might expect from mob rule or democracy. Those who insist this system can work generally do so in the belief that they can manipulate it to their ends, with consideration of the effect on the health of the society itself as a distant secondary if not absent consideration. Martin Luther King, Jr. just gives it validity and lets the suburban empty heads go back to oblivion with a minor modification, instead of questioning their direction and how a change might impact the uninterrupted pursuit of self-expression.


Monday, June 19th, 2006


The suburbs, if we read history, are not a new phenomena. Anywhere civilization has expanded dwellings of their nature have arisen and for the same reason: the newly-wealthy merchant class, the last to arise because merchants unlike farmers or artisans have no direct connection to the production of goods or services but are resellers and marketers by nature, wish to be like the rich and have houses in the city, but as in all cities land is at a super-premium, cannot and so settle for outer rings of houses paradoxically away from both rich and poor.

Interestingly, this is not the foundations of the middle class; the middle class arises from those who perform functional jobs in some leadership capacity but are not rapacious enough to be profiteers. The merchants are a hybrid between middle-class and profiteers; where the middle class traditionally is familiar with wealth, and thus avoids get-rich-quick marketing scams, those who are new to wealth rise by becoming merchants, resellers, advertisers, spammers, etc. The middle class is entrenched in professional function, but the merchant class are basically unspecialized labor with an inclination toward profit.

Of course, over time the suburbs become accepted, and thus since most people want to buy a house in the suburbs they crowd out other markets and soon if you are between poverty and riches you buy a suburban house. Thus the middle class gets blamed for the suburbs, and for the “bourgeois” mentality following, when really, it’s a consequence of newly-enfranchised people seeking to assert their wealth. Unfortunately, the bourgeois rapidly develop political opinions as well: at first they are conservative, because they are self-congratulatory about their new wealth and wish to assert social darwinist rhetoric (conservativism is a liberalized adoption of the ideas presented by aristotle, and as such has no legitimacy to a philosopher).

Think about life from the perspective of the new generation, those who have grown up in and know no other reality than the suburbs: everyone you see is about of the same ability, and is making a living in fields that are “easy” because they do not involve physical work; they’re desk jockey jobs. As a consequence of having nothing substantive to do, a process which only gets worse as the number of desk jobs proliferates and thus competition equalizes them to a lowest common denominator, the suburbans have a unique morality: they believe that all people are equal because to them all functions are equal, performed equally by those of mediate ability but not exception or decreased faculties, and in their boredom they assume everyone is like them (boredom, paradoxically, gives itself to less in-depth study of a problem, as to be bored is to be accustomed to unsatisfying distraction, thus one gives every idea a singular glance and moves on).

The suburbs thus invent their own morality not out of any special purity of the heart or mind, but out of the kind of boredom that comes from utilitarian, interchangeable tasks. Further, they treat all problems like those encountered at suburban jobs, namely ones where a change in method can produce better results. How many movies/books from the 1900-1950s rise of the new merchant middle class in America featured a hero who found a new method of separating corn, or of knitting socks by machine? The merchant middle class approaches morality the same way: everyone I see is of equal ability in equality simplistic jobs, therefore we must all be equal.

Note that the honest worker revolts do not embrace equality until some college-educated suburbanite slips among the darker, dirty-shirted forms at a meeting and begins speaking in that clear accent… “I lower myself to your level to help you, because it’s the right thing to do” — but inevitably that suburbanite has had a failed marriage, is impotent, is perverse, is addicted to drugs, and is thus not raising the lower so much as raising its own lowered self. They are fallen angels making themselves feel better by “helping” others. But the normal worker revolts have a simple demand: they are being mistreated, and they want better working conditions and more money. “Equality” to the worker makes as little sense as depending on angelic aid, because they are aware of their own failings and limitations. It’s only when some suburbanite descends and makes itself feel like an angel by raising their expectations that they get the notion of “equality” at all.

Suburbanites embrace equality because they assume that method will make us all function the same. Surrounded by wealth, they look at the poor as a question of our method of dealing with them, and by that very “us” and “them” dichotomy designate the poor as non-autonomous, something we the “us” — with power, good graces and wealth — must act upon because they cannot act for themselves. Suburbanites embrace equality, in other words, because it affirms their power and leadership. Equally importance in their embrace of this illusory idea is that surroundings in which it is created: suburbanites work in jobs that involve manipulating other people, socialize in unrealistic circumstances centered around money, and have goals that are entirely realized externally to the individual but internally to the socialized mentality of the individual, e.g. society at large. This unreality created the suburbs, and the people who adapt to the suburbs thus in turn pass it on.

Think about what people, black and white and yellow and red, have done when they’ve gotten into the suburbs. They buy a house, and immediately become interested in defending their own interests against those of all others, because to have something in this world is to immediately become a target for parasites. After fighting off the scam artists, the realtors, the tax men and the school board, they’re sick of the goddamn world and assume it is always wrong and they are always right. And why wouldn’t they? Next, they cluster in social groups where the goal is never to offend, because these social groups exist to perpetuate advantages at the job or in the business. So they talk about things that are horrifying but cannot be fixed.

Soon the paranoid suburbanite is buying insurance and scrambling for more wealth. Since they talk about wealth anyway, and pass on opportunities to one another as a means of socializing, this rapidly translates into a fixation on wealth at the expense of others. However, this is far away from home, and thus whether both partners work or not, they begin to view the world differently, from home: with pity. They see their own wealth and the poverty of most, and because they exclusively watch and listen to and read emotionally-wrenching material from Disney movies to newspaper exposes to books about death, they feel a leaden guilt… so they make a sacrifice to that guilt, and give away not more than one-tenth of their income.

Do they give it to effective causes, like finding a saner path for humanity? Heck, no. They’re doing this to make themselves feel better, so they give to visible charities with heart-wrenching causes, like disabled orphans or African-American Republicans. In doing so, they usually make the world worse off, because these charities are parasitic; their goal is to perpetuate themselves, which does not involve solving the problem. And so on — on and on, South of Heaven (and east of the Beltway).

The suburbs, like other examples, show us that modern society is a mindset more than a tangible entity. Thanks to our wealth based on the inventions and struggles of the past, and the passive imperialism of world capitalism, we can live in luxury in exchange for working most of our free time on jobs where most of our work is not only not essential but devoid of actual, Realistic value. It is simply pushing papers around and “generating” wealth. Recognizing our uselessness, and feeling guilt, we diverge further from reality.

If we had to summarize this process, whether modernity or the suburbs, we would say that convenience and socialization obscured realism while technology equalized the lowest with the highest, and the result was a civilization without leadership that rapidly consumed its resources and sank to a third-world level. The suburban mentality, like modern society, is a method of control dependent on this unreality subsidized by technological equalization, and like all illusory things, leads to eventual destruction. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves, and you can bet it won’t be mentioned in the suburbs until it’s too late.

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