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Return to ‘The Unheavenly City’

The late senator, statesman, sociologist, and New Yorker Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously observed that, “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” Moynihan balanced one truth with another, in part to show that neither side enjoyed a monopoly on wisdom. Had he offered these competing visions of politics and culture without describing one as “conservative” and the other as “liberal,” however, it would have admitted the possibility that one was more accurate than the other. And whether or not that is in fact the case matters—not merely for philosophical reasons but for political and social reasons, too.

In 1970, American political scientist Edward Banfield had explored this apparently innocuous question in a monograph entitled The Unheavenly City: The Nature and the Future of Our Urban Crisis. The book proved to be so divisive that a slightly revised version appeared just four years later entitled The Unheavenly City Revisited (the edition reviewed here), in which Banfield sought to address the complaints of his critics. Nevertheless, Banfield’s work drew great praise as well as opprobrium, and it has arguably dated better than the preferred theories of its critics. In 2008, Edward Glaeser, an urban affairs expert and professor of economics at Harvard, described it as “one of the most contentious, interesting, and insightful books ever written on urban policy.” On the 50th anniversary of its first edition, it deserves a reconsideration.

Banfield was a former New Dealer who had worked on anti-poverty projects for the Department of Agriculture during the 1930s and as an adviser to Republican presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan in the 1970s and ’80s. In 1958, he wrote The Moral Basis of a Backward Society, in which he examined the family-centric culture of an impoverished town in Southern Italy. Banfield subsequently became a renowned dissident scholar at Harvard, where he developed a reputation as a brilliant thinker and sharp critic of liberal shibboleths. The principle source of controversy provoked by The Unheavenly City, he wrote in …Revisited, is that my main points are deeply subversive of opinions and beliefs to which many highly intelligent and well-informed people are wedded, and without which the world would perhaps be unendurable for them.”

Written at the height of New York’s decline under the mayoralty of liberal reformer and Republican-cum-Democrat John Lindsay, the book’s preface warned that what followed would be provocative: “This book will probably strike many readers as the work of an ill-tempered and mean-spirited fellow,” Banfield explained, “but facts are facts, however, unpleasant, and they have to be faced unblinkingly by anyone who really wants to improve matters in the cities.” He then set forth an indictment of the New Deal/Great Society social services superstructure and a counterintuitive case that conditions had greatly improved in American cities despite the narrative that then prevailed of “urban crisis.”

Nomenclature, Banfield argued, is important, as is perspective and awareness of limitations. The problems comprising urban crisis—congestion, sprawl, commuting, suburban flight, and the decline of commercial activity—were really about “comfort, convenience, amenity, and business advantage, all of which are important.” But, he went on, “they do not affect either the essential welfare of individuals or what may be called the good health of society.” What is injurious to individual wellbeing and societal health is “crime, poverty, ignorance, and racial (and other) injustices.” These pathologies, though mitigated (some more than others), persist because, as a practical matter, there are no solutions to them—certainly none that a constitutional republic would countenance. In this view, Banfield found himself in the company of Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, the Federalists, and Friedrich Hayek. All these thinkers shared what Banfield’s former student Thomas Sowell would later call the “constrained vision” of human affairs, that “sees the evils of the world as deriving from the limited and unhappy choices available, given the inherent moral and intellectual limitations of human beings.”

Edward C Banfield (1916–1999) Pic: Foundation for Constitutional Government

Banfield’s great public service was the examination of these limitations in the cultural context of the American class system. Traditionally (and presently), social class is defined by similarities in position, status, education, income, habits, and tastes. American sociologist Dennis Gilbert observed that those who concluded that “there is as much art as science in the study of social stratification” were “probably right” because “broader statements about the class system run up against inherent inconsistencies of social reality.” Characteristically, Banfield took an entirely different approach to the topic. To analyze “social problems from a policy standpoint,” he wrote, “the most promising principle seems to be that of psychological orientation toward the future.” As political scientist James Q. Wilson later explained in the introduction to Banfield’s book Political Influence: “The longer a person’s time-horizon, the greater his willingness to defer present pleasures for future benefits, the more convinced he is that his own behavior will determine what the future will bring, and so the higher his (or her) class position.”

Banfield divided American society into the upper class, the middle class, the working class, and the lower class. The upper class individual occupies the farthest end of the future-oriented spectrum; he conducts himself and his affairs with an eye toward his heirs and family name. He is reared in a milieu that “teaches the individual that he would be cheating himself if he allowed gratification of his impulses (for example, for sex or violence) to interfere with his provision for the future.” Less future-oriented, the middle class man plans to get ahead and does what is necessary to improve his lot in life and to ensure his children achieve more than he did. Not “heavily” invested in the future, the working class individual is generally unconcerned with self-improvement. Rather, he focuses his attention on job security, his immediate family, and inculcating his children with the ethos of manual labor: “neatness and cleanliness, honesty, obedience, and respect for external authority.”

Concerned primarily with the crime, injustice, and poverty that plagued American cities at the end of the 1960s, Banfield devoted considerable time to analyzing the lower class individual “at the present-oriented end of the scale” who “lives from moment to moment”:

If he has any awareness of a future, it is of something fixed, fated, beyond his control: things happen to him, he does not make them happen. Impulse governs his behavior, either because he cannot discipline himself to sacrifice a present for future satisfaction or because he has no sense of the future.

Moral agency is alien to him. He takes “no interest in his work,” if he works at all. He suffers from “a feeble, attenuated sense of self.” His relationships are devoid of trust, “aggressive yet dependent.” He often does not marry, resents authority, and nurses grievance. Lower class men frequently abandon any sense of responsibility for their offspring, leaving the mother (or her mother) to head the household. And this poverty of values is inter-generationally transmitted: “once children have passed babyhood they are likely to be neglected or abused, and at best they never know what to expect.” Deprived of a stable household and responsible father, the lower class teenager will likely “join a corner gang of other such boys and to learn from the gang the ‘tough’ style of the lower-class man.” Ultimately, these deleterious influences create a person predisposed to the degeneracies of the slum: “a game, a fight, a tense confrontation with the police; feeling that something exciting is about to happen is highly congenial to people who live for the present and for whom the present is often empty.”

From this analysis, Banfield concluded that the dysfunctional elements of city life are not the fault of external forces that demand amelioration by federal or local authorities, such as misallocated economic and material resources, political disenfranchisement, or race-based discrimination. Although he acknowledged the obvious existence of racism, he found that “overemphasis on prejudice” encourages people to define all “troubles in racial terms,” which leads to “the adoption of futile and even destructive policies and to the non-adaptation of others that might do great good.” To the extent there was an American urban crisis in 1970, Banfield perceived it to be a crisis of personal responsibility.

Today, Banfield’s description of the lower class—not to be confused with poor people but, rather, poor people who behave in a particular manner—would more properly be characterized as the underclass. Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal had already introduced this term in his 1963 book Challenge to Affluence, and it refers to a cohort that political and social scientist Charles Murray has studied extensively. David Green, a British think tanker who wrote the foreword to an essay Murray wrote about the British underclass, provided a succinct working definition of the present-oriented class: “Those distinguished by their undesirable behavior, including drug-taking, crime, illegitimacy, failure to hold down a job, truancy from school, and casual violence.”

Part of the controversy that engulfed the initial publication of The Unheavenly City was the charge that Banfield’s definition of the lower class was racist. In the …Revisited edition, Banfield took pains to correct ambiguities and re-emphasize that his focus was on orientation and behavior and that those intangibles respect no racial identity. In a thought experiment, Banfield asked the reader to consider what would happen if black Americans became white overnight (“New Whites”):

[I]t must be said that many New Whites would suffer indignities and humiliations not so different from those to which the Negro is now subject. The treatment that the lower class white receives is in many ways like that of the victim of racial prejudice—and a larger proportion of New Whites would be lower class. In one respect their new (class) status might be harder to bear than their former (racial) one; for the victim of race prejudice can take some comfort, however small, in the knowledge that he is being treated unjustly.

Much of what appears (especially to Negroes) as race prejudice is really class prejudice or, at any rate, class antipathy. Similarly, much of what appears (especially to whites) as “Negro” behavior is really lower class behavior. The lower class is relatively large among Negroes; it appears even larger than it is to those whites who fail to distinguish a Negro who exhibits outward signs—lack of skill, low income, slum housing, and so on—which in a white would mark him as lower class, from one whose culture is working, middle, or even upper class but whose opportunities have been limited by discrimination and whose income is low.

Writing in the late-’60s and early ’70s, Banfield focused on contemporary major cities and the underclass contingencies within them. He examined them as he found them and his analysis was unambiguously cultural, not racial. Indeed, Banfield surveyed lower class culture in a variety of ethnic groups, including 19th century Americans of English ancestry who “lived from hand to mouth, worked only when they had to, drank and fought prodigiously, felt no tie to the community, and left their women and children behind to fend for themselves or to be looked after at public expense once they have moved on.” Unassimilated Catholic immigrants from the “peasant cultures” of Europe, we learn, normalized “present-oriented” behavior, and in South Boston, in 1832, “‘to see anything like indigence or idleness,’ a visitor to New England from abroad wrote a few years later, ‘we must penetrate into the purlieus in the seaport towns, occupied by the Irish laboring population.’”

Banfield nevertheless anticipated that “some readers may suspect that when the author uses the words ‘lower class’ what he has in the back of his mind is ‘Negro.’” A dissident intellectual accustomed to accusation, Banfield responded matter-of-factly that there is:

…no arguing with a reader who is determined to mistake one’s meaning. All the author can do is repeat once more that there are lower-class people, as defined here, in all ethnic groups, including the Anglo-Saxon white Protestant one, and to point to the obvious fact that most Negroes are not improvident, do not live in squalor and violence, and therefore are plainly not lower class.

The “highly intelligent and well-informed” liberal academics and poverty bureaucrats, who found Banfield’s disquisition “deeply subversive” of an ideology to which they were wedded, were not especially concerned with whether or not its author was racist—the fair-minded reader will find that the text is as humane as it is honest. Banfield acknowledged without qualification the grotesque racial injustice to which black Americans had historically been subjected. His critics did resolve, however, that he had to be decisively discredited. After all, if policymakers were to accept Banfield’s assumptions about class, then many a professional social helper, petty central planner, welfare administrator, and non-profit organization would find themselves redundant. And as Upton Sinclair once remarked, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Banfield was reluctant to offer policy prescriptions. In the book’s penultimate chapter entitled “What Can Be Done?” he argued that any measures that might address the pathologies of cities are neither feasible nor acceptable because “no one knows how to change the culture of any part of the population—the lower class or the upper, whites or Negroes, pupils or teachers, policemen or criminals.” By definition, then, some proposals would entail morally and constitutionally repugnant statist activities, “such as taking infants from their parents at birth” or incarcerating people “who in the opinion of a court are extremely likely to commit violent crimes.” Other solutions are impracticable, he wrote, because the essence of the problem invalidates the response: “giving lower class persons ‘really good’ jobs is not a feasible way of inducing them to change their style of life, because that very style of life makes it impossible to give them ‘really good’ jobs.” At bottom, all one can reasonably hope for is a time-horizon treatment best characterized as “benign neglect,” where the passage of time gradually improves the underclass worldview.

Today, however, one proposal stands out as remarkably prescient, and it no doubt influenced Banfield’s student James Q. Wilson, who went on to devise the “broken windows” theory of policing with George L. Kelling. To alleviate the harassment of law-abiding people who reside in lower-income communities and to control crime generally, Banfield advised city leaders to “intensify police patrols in high-crime areas; permit the police to ‘stop and frisk’ and to make misdemeanor arrests on probable cause.” The miracle of broken windows policing needs no defense among informed citizens, but Wilson’s debt to his former teacher surely informed this praise: “Edward Banfield’s life is an example of that old saying about a prophet without honor in his own country—or at least in his own times.”

Banfield’s principle insights on the link between deferment of gratification and the attainment of a “normal” life are as relevant today as they were when The Unheavenly City was first published 50 years ago. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and his progressive fellow travelers in large cities have doubled down on a politics of intention against reality, where raising more taxes, expanding social programs, multicultural curricula, encumbering police, releasing recidivists, and shaming the productive is supposed to address underclass failure.

Other than a proactive and just law enforcement and prosecutorial regime to respond to crime and quality of life issues, social policy—no matter how well intended—cannot meaningfully address urban sickness where the motivations of the underclass are informed by “the existence of an outlook and style of life which is radically present-oriented and which therefore attaches no value to work, sacrifice, self-improvement, or service to family, friends, or community.” When what matters is now—right now—dispensing Mets tickets before a Rikers Island farewell, automatic recognizance release from arraignment, job training, increased wages, longer school days, domestic Marshall Plan fantasies, intersectional esteem exercises, and community policing are insufficient inducements to upright, morally dignified conduct conducive to future success.

The Unheavenly City leaves the reader in little doubt that only one of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s two “truths” is actually correct. Culture—the habits of mind, conduct, beliefs, and values—“determines the success of a society,” and that politics is far too limited an enterprise to change the deeply ingrained cultural orientation of those who comprise it. That is a lesson it is never too late to learn.


Craig Trainor is a criminal defense and civil rights attorney in New York City. His writing has appeared in National ReviewCity Journal, the Washington Examiner, the American Conservative, and the late Weekly Standard. You can follow him on Twitter @TrainorLaw.

Featured image: New York subway car, 1973 (US National Archives, Flickr).


  1. Great article. I’ve been thinking along these lines for time- is much of society’s remaining racism, actually classism in disguise? Americans will point out that upper middle class neighbourhoods will welcome self-made individuals with open arms- but this ignores the fact that the social benefits of upward social mobility only accrue after an individual has made it. This article details how a recent study shows that class is vital in hiring.

    And class matters in policing as well. Stanford has run experiments to determine whether listeners can tell the race of someone interacting with a police officer, solely by the tone and speech of the police officer (the person’s own speech is blanked out). The study was highly predictive. But this ignores the fact that speech patterns and gait are often used by police officers to pinpoint the neighbourhood and class of a potential suspect, in order to determine potential gang involvement or gang affiliation. This observational approach is vital in tackling the urban crime phenomena, to which African Americans are disproportionately subject to, and participants in.

    A good example of this is demonstrated by the Met Police in London, in dealing with the recent knife crime epidemic. At face value, it might appear as though there is racial bias in policing, because of the higher rate of Stop and Search stops for Black individuals, who are stopped 8 to 10 times as often as Whites. However, drilling down into the numbers one finds that their hit rate for finding contraband is around 30%, regardless of whether the individual stopped is Black or White. This only serves to highlight that policing done well, relies on observational training which most citizens would find surprisingly predictive, and race is only a peripheral issue at best and one of many factors, beyond the initial observation.

    But perhaps the most interesting, amusing and alarming story I’ve in relation to why class matters more than race, relates to something I heard about a Black British Guardian journalist pulled over by police in America, in a routine traffic stop. By all accounts, when the Police Officer began to ask questions, only to have them met with a polished British Middle Class tone and inflection, the Police Officer couldn’t help himself:

    He exclaimed “But you’re not Black, You’re British!”

    A sad indictment of just how much class matters, when discussing matters of race.

  2. Great article.

    I’m wondering if schools could address this at an early age with future-oriented projects. This could involve biology, economics, biopics of actual Horatio Alger types. But hands on would be best.

  3. Conservatives tend to want to identify personal attributes as the cause for failure. Liberals tend to want to identify structural/external reasons as the cause for failure. The theory that, in fact, it is culture neatly bridges that gap.

    This belief has its adherents today, but is rejected by the left primarily. And as was noted, there is a “poverty” industrial complex that is built around the current approach, despite the fact that it has met limited or no success. So it goes. Ideology always trumps facts. Vested interests always trumps actually helping people.

  4. The Horatio Alger stories, along with rest of the cultural indoctrination based upon the protestant ethic in the primary and secondary schools, were the first things to be formally deconstructed in the US.

    That happened immediately after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The deconstruction was contemporaneous with the debate about the Great Society and Banfield’s book; which is alluded to in the article. The thought was that the old culture was too saturated in racism and bigotry of one kind or another to be retained.

    This came as a great surprise to the enormous group of Americans, perhaps a third of the population, whose parents and grandparents had arrived between 1890 and 1921. The old myths had worked for them and they soon became Nixon’s silent majority and Reagan Democrats.

    When Kennedy was elected in 1960 he recalled to our collective attention the anti-fascist “Crusade in Europe” propaganda of the late 1940s and called the nation to a second crusade against global communism which was ultimately aimed at the establishment of an American empire of goodness. The greatest weakness of the American culture of the time was that people actually believed the nationalist propaganda of the Wilson, Roosevelt and Eisenhower administrations because the schools had been teaching it as the objective truth since 1917 and most people believed its underlying truth had been confirmed by the experience of the Second World War.

    The cultural and moral indoctrination based upon protestant ethic was different. It was much, much older. It dated back to the founding of the Boston Latin School in 1634 and it had been validated by time and experience ever since. However, the Supreme Court had already began undermining that in the 1940s on First Amendment grounds.

    After the Vietnam War the national myth, which was pure propaganda, was untenable amongst the younger members of the middle and upper classes. It was rejected along with all of its cultural props, like the Horatio Alger stories; although these clearly retained a good deal of validity. As Charles Murray has repeatedly observed, the protestant ethic is now confined exclusively to upper class.

    The US changed enormously after 1970. Nevertheless, the nationalist myth of American cultural and moral goodness and superiority was nostalgically and recklessly resurrected by Reagan.

    The call to a third crusade against evil in general, now without any hint of the old protestant ethic or any sincere belief in American goodness, was raised by the Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump administrations with disastrous results.

    In hindsight the errors and lies seem very clear but back then they didn’t seem like errors and lies at all.

  5. Part of the controversy that engulfed the initial publication of The Unheavenly City was the charge that Banfield’s definition of the lower class was racist. In the …Revisited edition, Banfield took pains to correct ambiguities and re-emphasize that his focus was on orientation and behavior and that those intangibles respect no racial identity.

    Isn’t it sad that even in the ‘good old days’ fifty years ago it was not enough to write a book full of well-researched facts and intriguing explanations for social phenomena, but that even then a great deal of effort had to be made to ensure that the nitpickers of the petty PC police saw no reason to get triggered and go batsh*t crazy over imaginary offenses? A quarter of a century later, Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve was similarly attacked for alleged racism by petty mind dictators, most of whom had not even read the book, let alone understood it.

    And where do we stand today in comparison? It got even worse. The plague of political correctness has spread further and has penetrated more and more areas of our lives. But resistance to it has also grown, and the culture wars have now reached such proportions that they can decide entire elections. It seems unlikely that this can continue for another quarter of a century without tearing our societies apart. How long will it be before we see a return to normality, where books are just books instead of political affairs?

  6. Black people from Britain, the Caribbean, and - amusingly - Africa, are usually afforded greater courtesy from white Americans, from the first moment they open their mouths and speak. Particularly, if they are dressed in the same or similar styles of clothing.

    Yes, there is a bias there, but one borne of the personal life experiences of each white American who reacts in this way.

  7. What is elided in most discussions of Moynihan’s quote is the question of whether politics can change culture for the better. politics can certainly change culture but only very rarely for the better and even then primarily by example. Moynihan’s famous 1965 Report regarding the effect of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) found it was rapidly turning black families into single-mothered ones and so have very deleterious effects. He was right, these continued and has certainly changed the culture, distinctly for the worse in a particularly tragic irony, inculcating a culture of single motherhood which hadn’t existed previously. If you pay people to avoid marriage a whole lot of them will. So politics’ ability to change culture shouldn’t be the primary debate here but whether the likelihood of it doing so positively is high enough to take the risk of it doing so negatively. Conservatively typically say no and liberals typically say yes.

    This is the same debate raging now concerning lockdowns, their severity, duration and any punishments for breaking them. Some see it as a way to improve culture bis strong government action, already have extended the measures, changed the objective of them from flattening the curve to preventing infections and want to extend them almost indefinitely. Others see them as at best a heavy-handed method perhaps justifiable in certain regions for a very limited time and certainly by now a treatment far worse than the disease. Again, the crux is not whether politics is affecting the culture but whether it’s doing so positively. The former is a distraction but the latter gets at the heart of it.

    Unfortunately, answering that question requires honest appraisal of the results of political actions and Moynihan was reviled in many quarters for doing just that. It’s generally easier to double down than to admit a mistake especially when one can slice the statistics to fit your narrative and ignore the fact that the long-term effects of something might be very different from the short-term ones. Perhaps a 2-week lockdown in high-density urban areas would have been worth the economic cost of those two weeks while less-dense areas didn’t need it.

    But we can’t judge the positive or negative effects without looking at the numbers dispassionately and that seems remote not just right now but in general. Included in the reticence of using politics to affect culture is the suspicion that temporary ameliorations will become permanent so that any initial positive effects they might have will soon be heavily outweighed by unintended negative ones.

    In other words, changing culture is extra dangerous because of how hard it is to change back to what was before; budgets and laws work that way but culture doesn’t, once the genie’s out if the bottle it won’t go back in. Perhaps a lot of black kids were indeed saved from grinding poverty in the beginning of AFDC but once it became clear over time that getting married would lose you half your stipend, then social opprobrium regarding single motherhood ebbed (culture changed) producing widespread and grave negative effects and won’t change back simply by removing that stipend. Politics changed culture for the worse but can’t as easily change it back.

    I can easily change the running of my engine with a screwdriver but it’s waaaay easier to make it run worse than better.

  8. I agree. The Declaration of Independence is the most radically republican document in the national archives.

    Jefferson is an interesting character. He was a product of the landed gentry of Virginia, a colony where local government was controlled by the parish vestrymen of the Anglican Church. But Virginia was far from Canterbury and the CoE in Virginia was rather corrupt, some said uneducated as well, and under the control of the royal governor. Historically, Virginia had made a practice of vigorously prosecuting unlicensed Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Quaker ministers.

    Jefferson, like Madison, was educated at an early age by a Scots Presbyterian tutor and he clearly had no love for the Church of England. Both Jefferson and Madison seem to have picked up most of their republicanism and anti-clericalisim from their tutors. Jefferson was also very much impressed by the quality of local government in New England.

    The height of English republicanism was between 1630 and 1660, the time when both New England and Virginia were first settled. English liberal Whiggism emerged after 1688 as sort of a synthesis of republicanism and monarchism. In those days, the Independents (Congregationalists) were the republicans, the Anglicans were the monarchists and the Presbyterians where the constitutional monarchists (Whigs). These factional tensions continued to simmer in the American colonies long after they were suppressed in England during the Restoration.

    As the Whigs, who might want to retain an aristocracy, could not fully endorse the idea that all men are both created equal and should, therefore, be equal before the law, Jefferson likely just left it at created equal.

    I think the same is true of the subsequent statement about the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Independents would have interpreted “happiness” in the stoic sense of virtue and the Whigs would have interpreted “happiness” in their sense that the summum bonum in life is property.

    Jefferson knew he was writing for two audiences; the more republican freeholders and the more Whiggish members of his class, the gentlemen of trade and the professions. So there is intentional and latent ambiguity many of the important terms he used.

  9. Interesting you should use that phrase. It originated with Martin Luther and his reliance on the covenant of grace as the vehicle for salvation. The whole thought is God calls to us as individuals and we answer as individuals. It asserts that God’s laws are written on our hearts at birth, memorialized in the Ten Commandments and further expanded upon in the Bible.

    Subsequently, the more reformed churches in Geneva, Zurich, the Dutch Republic and England gave it more importance than did Luther himself after 1525.

    It is closely associated with the idea of a priesthood of all believers and both have always been used as arguments for the separation of church and state made by the Levellers, Independents, Presbyterians, Baptists and Quakers.

    Taken alone, the idea may seem abstract but the revolutions of the 17th Century infused this idea with a good deal of secular political meaning that Jefferson was well aware of.

  10. I know many leftists, although a good percentage are shunning me, now that I post links to articles like this one! One thing that unites many leftists, is the belief that ‘culture’ does not exist, that the underclass stays the underclass due to external forces. In particular, the black underclass is the way it is because of racism, this racism can only be defeated by showering black people with unearned praise and gifts from ‘white saviors’ this includes populating schools and institutes of higher education, with teachers and administrators who believe the same things they do, I call it ‘Marx not Marks’.
    I work with several middle eastern, and North African men, who have the high levels of pigment that warms leftist hearts. They see opportunity for work, and the advancement of their families, even in these covid-19 days. One young man from Yemen is married and eager to start a family, he’s trying to get an apprenticeship as a bricklayer, a respectable job in his view. I told him how a friend of mine use to go to Detroit to bring back loads of reclaimed brick. He knew about Detroit. He thought people there were lazy and not worth feeding, as they were only providing “Jobs for homosexuals”! This kind of thinking isn’t popular with leftists, and with the majority of ‘pigmented people’ coming from these regions, the left is in for a lot of grief.

  11. No matter how I look at this problem I see a vested interest in stoking the flames of claiming racism everywhere by the left. This stoking is the expedient by which the left garners votes and maintains power.

    Expecting help from public schools, at least in the U.S. is a waste of time.

  12. Protest signs in front of a NYC’s liberal house, in chronolocial order (paraphrasing MAD magazine):

    Cops are racist
    Stop racist gentrification
    Poverty is not a crime
    Mental illness is a myth
    Stop the war on non-voilent drug users
    House for sale

    I lived in New York during the Guiliani years. The city was clean, safe, and prosperous - and overcame events like 9/11 and massive blackouts with great solidatiry. Except for that racist Guiliani and his evil war on the poor, there was nothing wrong with NYC at the time, really. Thank God NYC now has a progressive mayor who follows all the right policies. Sure, graffiti and crime are back, but we all have to make some sacrifices.

    I just can’t figure it out. NYC now has a mayor who loves the homeless and the criminal, just like he’s supposed to, and yet, for some mysterious reason, NYC gets more and more of them now! It’s a total mystery, how could this be?

  13. The people of New York City (with some exceptions) did not want their city to be clean, safe and prosperous.

    We know this because they elected politicians who promised to put a stop to it all.

    The people of NYC asked for this, and they’re getting it good and hard. I say, let them have it.

  14. The provinces I’ve lived in — Quebec, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia — are, despite their individual faults, very good places.

    But it reminds me of an old tale. A man was walking from the town to the city, and along the way he meets a group walking the other way, from the city to the town.
    So he asks them, “How is life in the city?”. And they reply, “The people are terrible, they lie and cheat, the council is a pack of thieves. So how is life in the town?”
    “Oh,” the man replies, “I think you’ll find it much the same.”
    So on they go their separate ways, and eventually the man meets another group, moving from the city to the town.
    So he asks them,”How is life in the city?”. And they reply, “The people are wonderful, they’re honest and decent, the council does its best for all. So how is life in the town?”
    “Oh,” the man replies, “I think you’ll find it much the same.”

  15. The idea that the US Constitution and limited government is outdated and racist is quite popular among the progressives. (This from the same people who get their economic views from Marx, in the 1860s, but I digress.) what did that racist idiot Jefferson know about government?

    The result is that the amendments that are no longer “relevant” are to be discounted: i.e. The first amendment (“hate speech is not free speech!”), the second amendment (I don’t care for it myself but I care even less for taking away constitutional amendments by fiat), due process (“believe all women!”), etc. In general freedom is seen as suspect, as a dangerous thing in untrained hands, since free people have the annoying tendency of doing and thinking the wrong things.

    Progressives often have what Aristotle called “the mind of a slave”. He meant people controlled by their passions - envy and resentment, above all - and who fear freedom and desire conformity, and comfort, above all. Men without courage and women without shame, as Tacitus contemptuously called the degenerate upper class Romans of his day, are the progressive ideal. Or as they call them, “sensitive” men who are “not afraid to cry” and women who are “connected to their sexuality”.

    No wonder, it occurs to me, that the classics are attacked as “racist”, “sexist”, etc. They show us the “deeply stereotypical” examples of brave, honorable men an beautiful, chaste women. Allegedly this makes for “boring” and predictive literature - you know, such worthless scribbling as The Divine Comedy or The Count of Monte Cristo, to name two. But the reality is that i makes them feel bad, for a good reason: these heros Andy heroines are the exact opposite of the typical “progressive” academic, whether a man woman (or a mentally ill person pretending they don’t know which one they are.)

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