Letting go of my panglossian love for Traditional America in favor of regionalism

To summarize briefly, “traditional America” is anti-social, anti-traditional, anti-authoritarian, feminist, egalitarian, individualist and money-obsessed.  Its successes at maintaining functional social structures were always in spite of its traditions, not because of its traditions.

Even the very designs of the cities before cars were anti-social and anti-human, being wildly out of scale and out of step with natural human impulses and feelings.  The cities were always alienating, always atomic, always unreal.  In a handful of select regions, the exceptions merely tested the rule and found it unassailable.

So much of American desire is to achieve a Jeffersonian agrarian ideal of an isolated nuclear-family home surrounded by a self-sufficient homestead acreage.  This desire is not conscious, so it leads to weirdly stupid concepts like “urban farming” and “Transition Towns” at its worst and most leftist and suburbia/sprawl at its worst on the right-hand side of the aisle.  This isn’t to say that some people living that truly agrarian way on a few acres is wrong and no-one should do it, only that it can’t possibly be the only way to live and understanding how deeply rooted this desire is to urban planning, home buying and general life choices in America is key to finding some of those other good ways to live in natural, normal settings.

This is being done as a static page because I want to work out this Very Big Idea in one spot rather than strung across blog posts.  So it’ll evolve a bit over the next little while.  I need to also cover the desire to not live near poor people and the general feeling that living densely is only for poor people because that’s the ancestral memory operating.  That aspect also plays into the inhuman living arrangements of so much of America.

Also, bikability vs. walkability.  The former is anti-poor because it discourages density, while the latter isn’t, because it can accomodate biking, which is not true the other direction.

3 thoughts on “Letting go of my panglossian love for Traditional America in favor of regionalism

  1. So-called reactionaries and trads are complicit in this problem, too. I’m constantly reading around how people tout driving to their church or to work from their traditional space is a badge of honor. I believe in doing what you’ve got to do, but there comes a time where people need to step back and critically assess the situation. It’s not much of a community if your church is hours away and nothing is within walking distance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is interesting stuff and I hope to see you work through it some more. I think there is a personality component that drives as well. Not sure how much of the variance is accounted for by it.

    For example, in my case, I am a “non-shy introvert.” I can go for several days alone and not even notice that I have not seen a person. I joke sometimes that the opening scene of the film “I am Legend” where he is driving around a deserted NYC after the worlds populations is decimated is like heaven to me.

    To the extent that this is “anti-social” I’m not sure. But specific to me and what I do for a living, it is a loaded, clinical term.

    I recognize that once we get settled in a couple of years, we will be very isolated geographically, but I also keep inviting others to buy up the land around us. In fact, I have offered to let others build on my land and use an acre or two of it if need be. Everyone, down to the individual has passed.

    The big gamble I am taking, over everything else? I am playing a giant game of musical chairs. I want to be physically located in the state/region that I think most accurately reflects my families values when the music stops.


    • I am doing a series on demographic trends. Where you plan to move is not exactly a hotbed of family formation. Thursday I’ll have the marginal chloropleths up, of third births.

      I’ve also found, I think, the overall solution, and will be developing the policy approaches over the coming weeks and months.

      As to your specific situation, what you are offering to people usually doesn’t work. There are lots of memoirs about how disastrous it usually ends up. It can kind of work if you are moving with some friends and they own the land next door or down the road outright, but that tends to involve complicated land deals that fewer lawyers are willing to draw up.

      What I have seen to be reasonably “Benedict Option” or “civically natalist” is people buying into a neighborhood individually. Mormons do this a lot, as do immigrants. They don’t take up the whole place, but they do have critical mass where you can always send your kids over to a sympathetic/supportive house to play and court and etc.

      Also when I wrote this, I was captivated by the small town, walkable cities thing, and I still think it’s important, but I really have come to appreciate that they were overegging the pudding to suit their own preferred city-ideal. Japan comes up a lot for them, which is nice, but, well, it’s Japan and people who populated this nation, core Americans, are very much not Japanese.


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