Monday, November 05, 2007


It is always interesting to read the comments in these stories. I sympathize with those who believe that Whites fled "danger" and disorganization cities back in the 50's, 60's and 70's. That is what we are told, but, of course, it is only a half-truth.

Let's start with that "truth." Yes, starting in the 50's, then especially for the next couple of decades, a massive de-industrialization of cities were taking place. Cities like New York, which had significant social safety nets thanks to the revenues of large industries, found themselves feeling and looking poorer and poorer as industry declined and people began moving (with the help of "suburban planning" and policy incentives) to the suburbs. So, yes, it is "true" that cities were in fairly bad shape, but this was not intrinsic to cities as a concept; this was a global economic process where jobs were shifted overseas. (This has been going on for a long time). Cities thus seemed to become the locales of joblessness rather than jobs. Meanwhile, new income, building and overall growth created an illusion that suburbs were a more viable economy, while they are actually much harder to sustain in terms of energy and social networking.

Yet while cities did suffer because of global and national economic policy shifts (think of G. Ford's comment "Ford to NY: Drop Dead"), it was rather quickly realized that suburbs were not all they were cracked up to be. The news industry, which ideologically springs from and targets both the wealthy elites (who never abandoned the city) and the various classes of suburban Whites, portrayed and continues to portray the suburbs as a sort of paradise even though just a little investigation shows this not to be true. Poll after poll shows that people who live in dense urban environments feel safer and HAPPIER than those who live in the suburbs. Anecdotally, we also know that almost all serial killers come from suburbs, not cities. Make Davis takes the example of the infamous Night Stalker in L.A. He seemed unstoppable and made his terrible reputation in rich gated communities. When he actually tried to kill someone in the poor, densely packed neighborhoods of East L.A., he was caught.

But let's also talk about rural vs. urban. The murder rate is much, much higher per capita in rural areas than it is in urban ones. It only seems the opposite because the concentration of media attention makes urban centers look less dangerous. Why is this? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but one of the main ones is that rural life ceased being rural. Sure, it takes place out in the country and in fields, but its reason for being is no longer rural. What do I mean? I mean that rural communities exist mostly to feed urban ones. Factory farms and giant shipping infrastructures are part of the rural landscape, but they are urban inventions. This is why farmers, on the whole, are far, far more stressed than their urban counterparts. They are at the bottom of the production cycle, and believe me, everyone I know who has a chicken business, for example, says they are not working for themselves but for Goldkist. Any wonder then that rural poverty and insecurity are plaguing our country and our countrysides? Of course, you won't find that in the media. Our rural areas have been taken over by CEO's. They are beginning to fight back, but it may be too late. Regardless, let's not hide the fact that much of what is taking place in the countryside now is actually an extension of urban markets and urban market ideologies into the farm belt. Changing cities (inner and suburban) for the better can only happen in concert with agricultural reforms.

We've got to overcome racism (white-black AND sub/urban-rural) to move ahead. This is both a raising of political and geographical consciousness.