March 11, 2005

Urban Politics

Joel Kotkin deserves some props, having written both for The Weekly Standard and The New Republic in the space of a couple of months.

I blogged before about his "Cities of Aspiration."

His TNR piece is about the LA Elections. While I didn't pay them much attention, it dovetails into his urban projections. He says it's not about who won, it's about who lost.

The problem? Middle-class residents here may no longer have large enough ranks to elect one of their own to citywide office. This may have turned the famously energetic Hertzberg into the little engine that could not climb the demographic hill. Whatever the merits of the candidates in this particular election, one thing is clear: The underlying demographic factors that doomed Hertzberg's campaign spell bad news for Los Angeles, and for the American city in general.
Across the country, major cities are continuing to lose middle-class residents as they flock either to the surrounding suburbs or to less congested, more affordable, and more business-friendly smaller cities, particularly in places like Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. The group that is leaving--upwardly mobile people in their thirties and forties--represents a particularly important part of the urban mix. Historically, when this strata has abandoned cities, urban society has shifted toward a more bifurcated makeup: the wealthy few residing among a growing underclass. This occurred in late imperial Rome, in seventeenth-century Venice, in eighteenth-century Amsterdam--and has become a common prelude to urban disaster in American cities during the past half-century.

I'd have little to pay attention to a mayoral election, but I think Kotkin's point is well taken here. Is this an inexorable, self-propogating demographic shift?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at March 11, 2005 10:42 AM

A recent History Channel program about the unpublished "second book" of Adolph Hitler (after Mein Kampf) claimed that Hitler observed this same phenomenon, the flight of the ambitious creator class from areas of social collectivism, in post-war (WW I) Germany. In that case it was ambitious Germans leaving increasingly socialist Germany for the greener pastures of America. The "second book" apparently includes his solution to this "problem." He intended to invade and colonize the USA to reclaim not only the "cream of the aryan race" but the tremendous natural resources of the US.

The moral of the story is that ambitious individuals will not subject themselves to the looting of a socialist society willingly. Such subjection must be done by force.

In answer to your rhetorical questions, self-propagating - yes; inexorable - yes, except by force.

Posted by: johngalt at March 12, 2005 10:30 AM | What do you think? [1]