The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cities matter


Humanity is older than one might think. We Europeans are part Neanderthal - out of Africa circa 500,000 BC; many other parts of our lineage (H, V, U, K etc) get out of the Near East prior to serious agriculture. Our analogue in Asia, the Denisovans, got pushed into New Guinea. One point we Europeans and New Guineans share: we're not natural urbanites. Urbanity had to be bred into us, and taught to us, over a long, long time.

Agriculture and urbanism arose independently in the New and Old Worlds; the Old World, first, in the Fertile Crescent. We the civilised have carefully bred ourselves to resist disease, to tolerate moderate levels of alcohol, and to pull up our IQs to a baseline of, oh, whatever the average is in Iraq today; mid-80s. And then we had to get even better at "future time orientation" to survive the winters up here.

"Civilisation's" very name comes from the same Latin as does the word "city". I am now wracking my brain thinking up where civilisations have been run from outside a major city. The only example I can come up with is the Mongols.

In modern times, the West runs under a transnational elite whom Moldbug labeled "Brahmins". (He later called them "Eloi"; but that derives from accidental properties, and not the essential one.) Brahmins live in our cities, but they do not rule us from there. Brahmins rule us from college. They rule us from Cambridge, Boulder, Madison, Austin, and Menlo Park.

The best analogy from antiquity is not Mongolia. It's Rome - specifically, mid-400s "Rome" in the West, from Ravenna. The Theodosians did that because they did not feel safe in Rome proper. As to why I didn't count the Ravenna period earlier - that's because, by this point, we generally accept that the Western Empire was terminally boned.

I do not believe that this state of affairs is tenable. I do not believe that This Time Is Different, that now we have the technology to de-urbanise. Go ahead and call this a "reactionary" view. There are too many millennia behind Homo Urbis.


posted by Zimri on 13:19 | link | 0 comments

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