Emily Badger talks about Michael Katz's provocative new book, Why Don't American Cities Burn?
The "good" news, as Badger points out, is that "previously marginalized groups that once felt they had no other outlet now have more voices in the political process."
White flight ceded whole cities – and their governments – to African Americans in the U.S. And this left neighborhood boundaries less contentious, Katz argues, eliminating one of the causes of urban friction. In the 1960s, by contrast, large numbers of African Americans were moving into the city at a time when whites had not yet left.
Minorities are also more incorporated into high-end jobs, universities and neighborhoods today. Katz adds, though, that this selective incorporation (which has benefited black women much more than men) has fractured minority communities, and eroded their potential for collective action. ...Badger, The Atlantic
The bad news is really bad. First of all, there has been an upward swing of citizen suppression.
Authorities have ramped up their surveillance and control tactics – along with the country's prison population – which puts a damper on organizing in the first place. ...Badger, The Atlantic
Surveillance and control are "security." Speaking out is, of course, "subversion."
Even worse: anomie. It comes in the form of "a general de-politicization in American life that undercuts communities' likelihood for civil action. It's not that our urban problems have gone away (while they remain in Athens, London and Paris). But some of the capacity to fight them has."
Scariest to many Americans is our increasing acceptance of corporate dominance in our lives.
Not the good life itself! It's clear that some of us can no longer tell the difference between the good life and the material life.
The extent to which the material life doesn't satisfy explains the extent to which so many drift into ersatz christianity, dramatic and self-centered forms of evangelism that assure people they deserve their "free market" advantages. People in this situation no longer value democracy or that quaint notion of "common good" in America. On the contrary they are given, by the leaders they choose, plenty of incentives to undermine both.
More from Michael Katz here.