The Density Divide: Urbanization, Polarization, and Populist Backlash

  • 9 Replies
  • 194 Views

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

H

  • *
  • The Zero-Mod
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • The Honourable H
  • Posts: 2649
  • The Original No-God Apologist
    • View Profile
    • The Original No-God Apologist
« on: September 30, 2019, 03:56:24 pm »


Listened to a Podcast with the author, but have not gotten to read the paper yet, but it certainly seems interesting.

Quote
So the pull of urbanization has segregated us geographically on those traits, and it has done it so thoroughly that Democratic vote share now rises, and Republican vote share drops, in a remarkably linear fashion as population density rises. The relationship between density and party affiliation is, with few exceptions, similar everywhere — in “red states” and “blue states,” in sprawling metro regions and bucolic small towns — and majorities tend to flip at the density typical of a big city’s outer suburbs. I call this partisan polarization on population density the “density divide.”

When populations segregate geographically on traits relevant to ideology and party affiliation, political polarization is sure to follow. The increasing concentration of the economy in big cities, which is both a cause and effect of urbanization, amplifies this polarization. Rising prosperity reliably produces a liberalizing, tolerant, positive-sum mood. Material insecurity, in contrast, tends to elicit a grim, zero-sum, us-or-them mindset. Because the sunshine of prosperity has become increasingly focused on urban populations, lower density white populations — which, thanks to the sorting logic of urbanization, are already more conservative and ethnocentric — have been left with objectively darkening prospects and a mounting sense of anxiety that is, at once, economic and ethno-cultural.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasűrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5763
  • Do you remember the words?!
    • View Profile
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2019, 04:57:47 pm »
That's an interesting blurb, if not groundbreaking - the urban/rural divide has been around for quite some time.

I wonder if he offers any suggestions on how to reverse the increasing tension and lessen the divide.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

H

  • *
  • The Zero-Mod
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • The Honourable H
  • Posts: 2649
  • The Original No-God Apologist
    • View Profile
    • The Original No-God Apologist
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2019, 05:29:41 pm »
That's an interesting blurb, if not groundbreaking - the urban/rural divide has been around for quite some time.

I wonder if he offers any suggestions on how to reverse the increasing tension and lessen the divide.

I think it's more of a "think piece" (if that is the right term).

From the end of the paper:

Quote
Since these upheavals, urbanization has continued to change the human world, slowly and inexorably, beneath our feet.  Indeed, we have been changing it by voting with our feet - or not - for life in the city.  We've erred in the past by failing to grasp urbanization's logic, leaving ourselves without the intellectual and institutional tools needed to analyze and ameliorate the tumult and disorder it would produce.  We're better situated today, but the social and political disturbances of urbanization have crept up again, and the continued failure to comprehend the implications of the process that is reshaping our world has again left us ill-equipped either to foresee or avert another epoch of revolutionary turmoil.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasűrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

H

  • *
  • The Zero-Mod
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • The Honourable H
  • Posts: 2649
  • The Original No-God Apologist
    • View Profile
    • The Original No-God Apologist
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2019, 06:26:24 pm »
That's an interesting blurb, if not groundbreaking - the urban/rural divide has been around for quite some time.

I wonder if he offers any suggestions on how to reverse the increasing tension and lessen the divide.

Also, from the author on a Podcast I was listening to (SC is the host of the podcast, WW is the author of the above article):

Quote
SC: How should we fix things? How can we organize? Given the fact that technology is changing the world very rapidly, that urbanization is happening, How can we carve out space for economic and social success for people who just wanna live in rural environments and have a lifestyle more or less similar to what their families have had for the last couple of generations?

WW: Yeah, I think that’s an incredibly important question. One of the perverse things about the GOP currently is that it has very, very little interest in actually aiding its own base. I wrote a piece for the Times a couple of months ago which showed the relationship between economic stagnation and just Republican areas. The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution did a study on economic vitality, and so they have an economic vitality index. And the huge majority of counties in the United States that are way under water in terms of economic vitality are staunchly Republican places. They’re low density, rural, small town areas. But the Republican party’s ideology, it’s free market, anti-welfare state ideology, basically gets in the way of them doing anything at all to mitigate the slide that’s going on economically among their own voters, which does create big opportunity for Populist Democrats. I think both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have their fingers on the opportunity there, they really see what it is. And what needs to be done really is we need to improve our social insurance system, we need to make sure that people have access to healthcare. The United States is one of the only countries in the world in which there are some major populations… The white population has declining life expectancy. And there really is genuine desperate economic insecurity in a lot of places.

WW: The opioid epidemic, I think, reflects a lot of the self-medication around the anxiety of the loss of jobs, the loss of economic vitality in a lot of places where people live. So at Niskanen we have a project called The Struggling Regions Initiative, which is a whole slate of policies that are intended to help bolster largely lower density rural areas, not just rural areas but places that aren’t doing so well. Because it’s only until very, very recently that even the economics profession has got its head around the fact that inequality is increasingly a regional thing, that there’s a big geographic aspect to the way our economy’s changing, and that there’s not gonna be a way to just… We can’t reverse the trends, but we can mitigate the damage through just social assistance. But there’s also a lot of things that we can do to improve the atmosphere for development and growth in a lot of these more rural states that we aren’t currently doing.

WW: So there’s a lot of good ideas that can be pursued, but it’s just really hard. A lot of people are just gonna have to recognize the fact that a lot of small towns have no function, they don’t have a reason to be. The reason there are all of these small towns… Here in Iowa, they’re just peppered all throughout the countryside. And that has to do with the fact that agricultural employment required getting people into these fields all over the place. But agricultural employment has collapsed. And these little towns were hubs of education, where you could buy milk at a store, and housing, but nobody needs jobs in those places anymore. There are no jobs in these place anymore.

SC: Right, they’re leaving.

WW: There’s just automated combines plowing through the fields, there’s very little need for agricultural employment, so there’s really little need for these towns at all. And those populations, a lot of them we just have to recognize that we have to basically put them on life support. There are older people in these towns, they’re never coming back, and they just need help. We just need to help them and make the decline of these places as comfortable as we can, while at the same time trying to do our best to promote development in the places that the people from those small towns are moving to.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasűrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5763
  • Do you remember the words?!
    • View Profile
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2019, 07:13:56 pm »
Its pretty interesting that it lines up with what I've been feeling for quite some time, which is that the bare geographic size of the US is limiting our effectiveness at governing ourselves. Its fairly obvious that someone in the  heart of Arkansa farmland, for example, will want and need drastically different things than a person in the heart of NYC.

People like to say that technology has made the world small, but it has simultaneously made the world larger than life. People now have the ability to see, in real time, how dramatically different their fellow countryman are. There's very little solidarity to be had when you can now see up close and personal how unlike yourself the rest of the country looks and feels.

That solution seems pretty painful though (and I don't have an alternative). Putting "those people" in hospice and waiting for them to die seems... sad.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

H

  • *
  • The Zero-Mod
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • The Honourable H
  • Posts: 2649
  • The Original No-God Apologist
    • View Profile
    • The Original No-God Apologist
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2019, 08:13:50 pm »
That solution seems pretty painful though (and I don't have an alternative). Putting "those people" in hospice and waiting for them to die seems... sad.

Well, what is, broadly speaking, the pragmatic alternative?

Places that simply aren't economically viable, what should be done with them?  Forcing them to leave seems cruel.  Enforcing a welfare state puts an onus on the economic "bounty" of elsewhere to subsidize it's continuance.

I think his sort of solution is a "fair" middle ground.  Make a basic "life support" system for these places, say some sort of UBI and then incentivize the development of more economically viable places, so they have a reason to go there, if they want to.  Or, still have the option to stay put but subsist at a lower economic level.

It is an onus, a "tax" if you will, on more economically generative areas, but it is one that is likely "necessary" because, temperamentally, that is, personality-wise, not everyone wants to live in a city.  And the option to not do so, likely has "value" even if it isn't exactly demonstrably quantitative economic "value."
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasűrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5763
  • Do you remember the words?!
    • View Profile
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2019, 01:40:24 pm »
Yeah its not an unfair solution. Everything has a cost, and in cases with public money "someone else" is always going to pay for it.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

H

  • *
  • The Zero-Mod
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • The Honourable H
  • Posts: 2649
  • The Original No-God Apologist
    • View Profile
    • The Original No-God Apologist
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2019, 02:34:23 pm »
Yeah its not an unfair solution. Everything has a cost, and in cases with public money "someone else" is always going to pay for it.

In fact, I'd almost say, as a bad example, that it is like the Matrix movies.

While it's wasteful, from a generative "value" standpoint, the seeming "stability" of the whole system has value.  So, safety valves, of sorts, that is, ways out of the Urbanization-paradigm, likely have the value of keeping the system from being overly oppressive, since humans are not machines in the sense of comportment.  That is, that behavior is not exactly what we would call deterministic to the notion of economic value.

Humans tend to act in accordance with consideration to the notion of economic value, but not deterministically with respect to that value.  In fact, (as my twisted mind is apt to associate the two) it's seems almost like a sort of case of Hegelian "determinate negation."  That is, that the "value" (for a consciousness) of value outside economic value is exactly what gives both any actual meaning.

OK, I am likely off the rails, I'll leave it at that for now.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasűrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

Wilshire

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • Enshoiya
  • Posts: 5763
  • Do you remember the words?!
    • View Profile
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2019, 03:36:56 pm »
I think modern economic theory diverges from previous theory by realizing that humans do not act either rationally nor in their best interest. SO I think that supports your thought there.

I would think stability is, or at least should be, a viable measure of economic value. Things tend to not be great when people don't feel safe. Probably because our economies are built on spending money, when people feel unsafe they hoard it, which makes things even more unstable - downward spiral ensues.
One of the other conditions of possibility.

H

  • *
  • The Zero-Mod
  • Old Name
  • *****
  • The Honourable H
  • Posts: 2649
  • The Original No-God Apologist
    • View Profile
    • The Original No-God Apologist
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2019, 04:48:29 pm »
I think modern economic theory diverges from previous theory by realizing that humans do not act either rationally nor in their best interest. SO I think that supports your thought there.

I would think stability is, or at least should be, a viable measure of economic value. Things tend to not be great when people don't feel safe. Probably because our economies are built on spending money, when people feel unsafe they hoard it, which makes things even more unstable - downward spiral ensues.

Right.  In my line of thinking, the most "efficient" system is likely not the most stable.  It would tend to alienate far too many people, which, likely further alienates more people, for example through empathy, sympathy and other manner of consciousnesses considering other consciousnesses (and itself).

I think people do tend to act in their own best interest, but the key there is that this would be their perceived best interests, which, depending on numerous factors, might actually be the best interest as a fact, or only seemingly the best.
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasűrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira