Are America’s big cities ungovernable? And if they are, do those of us who don’t live in them give a shit? SHOULD we? If so, WHY, exactly?
In the wake of the failure of failure Lori Lightfoot to gain admission to the Chicago mayoral runoff, The Atlantic, a left-inclined publication, has decided to salve her wound, though not the wound her mayoralty has inflicted upon Chicago, with an article proclaiming that “Big Cities Are Ungovernable…”
If that thesis were put to a for / against debate among scholars of urban history and dynamics, how do you think the discussion would go? Myself, I expect the participants would squabble endlessly over the definitions of “big,” “cities,” and “ungovernable.” (That would consume them so completely that they’d have nothing left for “are.”) Thus they could evade all discussion of the actual proposition until the last of the audience had drifted away.
Robert A. Heinlein was no fan of the big city:
“As a thumb rule, one can say that any time a planet starts developing cities of more than one million people, it is approaching critical mass. In a century or two it won’t be fit to live on.”
And so my own preference is clear, though it might have a Mae West feel, I shall add this: I’ve been a country dweller and I’ve been a city dweller, and honey, the country is better. But that’s all to the side.
It’s hardly a state secret that America’s largest cities are in bad shape today. They’re overrun with social pathologies, consistently underperform at “public services,” and cost a fortune to live in. Yet that was not always the case. Indeed, during the mayoralty of Rudy Giuliani, New York City returned from an abyss of squalor to a quality and livability it hadn’t known since Fiorello La Guardia. The Di Blasio and Adams mayoralties have dissipated that. Los Angeles during Ronald Reagan’s governorship over California was equally a beautiful, highly livable place. It’s not enough to say sic transit gloria mundi and pass on. We must discover the reasons for the changes and what “governability” or the lack thereof has to do with them.
Large numbers of people cannot be “governed,” in the original sense of the word, by a discrete “government.” (If that statement mystifies you, look up the function and operation of a steam engine’s governor.) They must ultimately “govern” themselves, which destroys the usual interpretation of governable and governability. Moreover, the “large number” doesn’t need to be in the millions, as The Atlantic would have it.
Today, sufficient fractions of the populaces of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and other major cities simply refuse to be governed. They do as they please, aware of the potential consequences but willing to risk them. That has rendered those cities ungovernable, in the sense generally understood by private citizens. But clearly it was not always thus.
The residents of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York City, Chicago, and other homeless capitals have elected to tolerate the public degradation that their homeless populations impose upon them. Conditions there have made them resemble “closed systems” de facto where homelessness is concerned. They would rather tolerate huge homeless camps and what comes with them than strict code enforcement. The homeless find the results congenial to their filthy and dissolute preferences. What the city governments could do, they will not, for fear of electoral backlash.
And day by day, their entropy increases.
Is this a verdict on whether “Big Cities Are Ungovernable?” I don’t think so. History speaks to the opposite effect. But it does cast an interesting light on whether large groups of left-liberals are governable.
Well, I think the answer to that ever-more-pressing question has been made plain enough by recent history; anyone still in doubt is encouraged to take themselves a nice, long stroll around downtown Detroit late at night for further education, if they dare. Wear full Class-III body armor with ceramic plates, that’s my advice.
Governable or not, the libtards can damned sure be suppressed. Nobody seems much interested in talking about that option right now, even sotto voce. Nevertheless, it’s a conversation we’re going to need to get started on sooner rather than later.