When a Community Disintegrates

From an essay at Michael Paul’s Recivilization website:

For those spared the worst, there was still the melancholy caused by the relentless destruction of so many beloved and familiar things: For New Yorkers the list started with Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds, Pennsylvania Station and the Beaux-Arts Singer Building, the theatres of a Times Square that was rapidly filling up with porn parlors. In every city, it included the little shops on the corner and grand old department stores downtown, the ones with the beloved Christmas displays in their windows; the ornate downtown movie palace and the modest neighborhood cinema, the public markets, ballparks, trolleys, newspapers, schools, and eventually, entire neighborhoods.

In the 70’s, a plague of aggressive-looking graffiti started to stain the walls of the east coast cities. It appeared first on the abandoned buildings, then on the subways, symbols of a public sphere that seemed to be in dissolution, and finally on everything else: the banks, the public buildings and the expensive city-center apartments. All of Philadelphia seemed to be covered in it-like a bathtub ring, rising as high on the buildings as a kid with a spray can could reach. Norman Mailer wrote an essay celebrating it as a new art form, and flattered the vandals who created it as Promethian rebels against an oppressive and unfair world; such was the spirit of the time. Mailer likened the tags to abstract expressionism, and in the sense that the only thing our society seemed capable of expressing was cultural incoherence and the breakdown of public order, he was correct. The tags made a fitting decoration for every sort of rotten urban regime, whether the gangster-populist Frank Rizzo’s Philadelphia or liberal Lindsay’s New York.

When a community disintegrates, what happens to the people in it? The collapse of industry reverberated dolorously through local economies; for the first time, the battered neighborhoods found themselves holding a large class of people, trained largely for semi-skilled work and now without any evident economic function. Instead of retraining them or employing them to a public purpose, the federal government chose to subsidize and perpetuate their destitution. The Depression-era model of federal relief, always understood as temporary, now was institutionalized as a permanent way of life. In the new social service economy of the late 70’s, one in seven New Yorkers was on welfare. Everywhere, women became chained to ADC (now AFDC), as the only means of gaining income, health care and a place to live.

Full essay >>

I disagree with Paul that “No one would deny that ending segregation was — and remains — a civic necessity.” I deny it. It is that totalitarian leftist urge to force the races together which caused most of the “civil rights” problems in the first place. If you are not free to disassociate with a foreign ethnic group and protect the integrity of your own group, then you are not free. Left on their own, people naturally segregate themselves. This is perfectly natural and healthy. Forcing different peoples together destroys both of them. It is evil. Liberal and leftists in their drive for Utopia and uniformity created the very problem they decry. Let us rather say, Freedom of association and exclusion was — and remains — a civic necessity.


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