Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Childless Liberal City

On the one hand liberals believe in creativity. On the other hand they don't believe in having children. Not much.

On the one hand cities are crucibles of creative innovation. On the other hand cities are not that good for children.

On the one hand women are good little girls that suck up the Zeitgeist and believe what they are told to believe. On the other hand women want to live in a leafy suburb when they raise their children.

So here comes urbanist Joel Kotkin writing about families and cities. Cities, he writes, have been all about family.
What is a city for? Ever since cities first emerged thousands of years ago, they have been places where families could congregate and flourish... As for modern European cities, the historian Philippe Ari├Ęs argued that the contemporary “concept of the family” itself originated in the urbanizing northern Europe shown in Rembrandt’s paintings of bourgeois life. Another historian, Simon Schama, described the seventeenth-century Dutch city as “the Republic of Children.”
And if you want a cheap look at that, go watch The Admiral, about the very bourgeois Admiral Michiel de Ruyter of the Dutch Republic in the 17th century. The movie-makers go to a lot of trouble to show de Ruyter, who beat the Brits in several sea battles, as a man that just wants to go home and live with his wife and children in the Dutch city.

But today the city is not very family-friendly. I suppose we have urbanist Jane Jacobs and her Death and Life of American Cities to thank for that. Jacobs, who came to adulthood during World War II and whose husband bought a building at 555 Hudson Street in Greenwich Village, championed a Village kind of life with stores and sidewalks and vibrant street life. And activism. Jacobs had three children.

But most women don't want to raise children in the hurly-burly of the city. That is why women (and not eevil auto companies and oil companies) have driven the move to the suburbs. Women like fluffy nests and back yards and flowers and greenery. And 80 percent of people want to live in a detached single-family house.

But educated women are a bit different. It takes time for them to slough off their good-little-girl education and discover that they want what other women want. Also, they probably could never have afforded to buy 555 Hudson Street, even right after World War II.

Why do liberals insist on turning cities into hipster-friendly places that families don't like and can't afford? And why do they continue to make war on the suburbs?

I like to think it is because of their identity as People of the Creative Self. Liberals believe in living a creative life, but they do not think that creating children is creative. So they believe in making cities comfortable for creative people like them, people that dream in their twenties of getting into writing or activism, or "something creative."

And they believe in using political power to force other people to conform to their People of the Creative Self culture and to force them away from more traditional middle-class life style and culture.

Just like Jane Jacobs. Only she put three children on the ground as well.

Meanwhile things are going to get worse before they get better because anybody who is anybody instinctively supports the liberal densification agenda that wants to put everyone into dense cities even as people are fleeing the dense cities for the suburbs.

As even The Daily Beast recognizes.

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