Peter Myers: EU President Ursula von der Leyen reconsiders Protected Status of Wolves after a Wolf kills her Pony

(1) UK Supreme Court features Masonic All Seeing Eye
(2) EU President Ursula von der Leyen reconsiders Protected Status of Wolves after a Wolf kills her Pony
(3) Joel Kotkin the Virtuous Few – End of Democracy
(4) Joel Kotkin: Mass immigration, combined with anti-White race policies, are a toxic mix
(5) Joel Kotkin: Progressive radicalism hurts the Working Class and Minorities
(1) UK Supreme Court features Masonic All Seeing Eye
Visit the link to see the photo:
Then visit this link from the UK Times:
Freemasons see a symbolic presence in courtroom
Marc Horne
Saturday October 19 2019, 12.01am BST, The Times
{caption} Freemasons said the design of the Supreme Court resembled an “all-seeing eye”
Freemasons have suggested that one of their most venerated symbols has been hidden in plain sight at the very heart of the UK justice system.
A member of the Grand Lodge of Scotland has argued that the main chamber of the Supreme Court in London has been designed to resemble an “all-seeing eye” — a key Masonic emblem — when viewed from above.
A photograph purporting to show the arcane symbol was posted on the lodge’s official Facebook page. The organisation’s online editor wrote: “The image is a photograph of the main chamber of the UK’s Supreme Court taken from directly above. It is argued by the brother concerned that this is no less than a stylised representation of the All-Seeing Eye.”
They suggested that … ==
Freemason All Seeing Eye In Court
03-02-2020, 10:10 AM
Freemasons have suggested that one of their most venerated symbols has been hidden in plain sight at the very heart of the UK justice system.
A member of the Grand Lodge of Scotland has argued that the main chamber of the Supreme Court in London has been designed to resemble an “all-seeing eye” — a key Masonic emblem — when viewed from above.
A photograph purporting to show the arcane symbol was posted on the lodge’s official Facebook page. The organisation’s online editor wrote: “The image is a photograph of the main chamber of the UK’s Supreme Court taken from directly above. It is argued by the brother concerned that this is no less than a stylised representation of the All-Seeing Eye.”
(2) EU President Ursula von der Leyen reconsiders Protected Status of Wolves after a Wolf kills her Pony
EU President Ursula von der Leyen Announces Review of Protected Status for All European Wolves After a Wolf Kills Her Pony
The European Union is a stupid organisation governed by stupid people.
December 7, 2022
In September, a thirty year-old pony named Dolly, who happened to belong to loathsome EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, was found dead with grievous injuries. Today, we learn that genetic tests have established that Dolly’s killer was a wolf – and not just any wolf, but the notorious livestock hunter known as GW 950m, a member of the so-called Burgdorf Pack.
Von der Leyen’s party, the EPP, had already taken up the question of whether limits should be imposed on the growing European wolf population. Upon receiving this news, though, she announced that her commission will review the protected status that wolves enjoy in EU member states. It’s very hard to find good statistics, but superficial internet research confirms the proverbial assumption that wolves kill mainly sheep, in substantial but not catastrophic numbers. In 2020, for example, envelope math suggests they ate no more than 0.14% of all wool producers in France.
Suppressed fertility, elevated mortality, economic chaos: totally fine and acceptable tradeoffs for our three-year failed campaign to eradicate some respiratory pathogen. The death of an insufferable EU technocrat’s pony: a problem requiring a reassessment of EU animal protection policy. ==
Comment (Peter M.): In Australia, crocodiles, snakes and sharks are similarly protected; woe upon you if you kill one. The Green elite will only change the policy when someone in their own close circle gets killed.
(3) Joel Kotkin the Virtuous Few – End of Democracy
Welcome to the end of democracy ; I just saw Kotkin’s interview with John Anderson, where Kotkin says that Feminism & Green (=EcoFeminism) are the new Fundamentalist Religions.
Joel Kotkin
Welcome to the end of democracy
A rising tide of money and administrative power defines the rising autocracy
8 January 2022, 7:00am
We bemoan autocracies in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Russia and China but largely ignore the more subtle authoritarian trend in the West. Don’t expect a crudely effective dictatorship out of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: we may remain, as we are now, nominally democratic, but be ruled by a technocratic class empowered by greater powers of surveillance than those enjoyed by even the nosiest of dictatorships.
The new autocracy rises from a relentless economic concentration which has engendered a new and fabulously wealthy elite. Five years ago, around four hundred billionaires owned as much as half of the world’s assets. Today, only one hundred billionaires own that share, and Oxfam reduces that number to a mere twenty-six. In avowedly socialist China, the top one per cent of the population holds about one-third of the country’s wealth, up from 20 per cent two decades ago. Since 1978, China’s Gini coefficient, which measures inequality of wealth distribution, has tripled.
An OECD report issued before the Covid pandemic finds that almost everywhere, the non-rich share of national wealth has declined. These trends can be seen even in social democracies like Sweden and Germany. In the United States, as the conservative economist John Michaelson put it succinctly in 2018, the economic legacy of the last decade is ‘excessive corporate consolidation, a massive transfer of wealth to the top one per cent from the middle class.’
This process has developed both in the tangible and digital economies. In Great Britain, where land prices have risen dramatically over the past decade, less than one per cent of the population owns half of all the land. On the European continent overall, farmland has fallen increasingly into the hands of a small cadre of corporate owners and the mega-wealthy. In America, the largest farmland holder is Bill Gates, with over 200,000 acres, while Ted Turner and John Malone preside over lordly estates of over two million acres each — larger than several American states.
As property has concentrated, small-holders have come under increased pressure. Australia historically has enjoyed high rates of homeownership, but the rate among twenty-five to thirty-four year-olds dropped from more than 60 per cent in 1981 to only 45 per cent in 2016. The proportion of owner-occupied housing in once-egalitarian Australia has dropped by ten per cent in the last twenty-five years. Morgan Stanley predicts that the US will soon become primarily a ‘rentership society’ where Wall Street firms seek to turn homes, furniture and other necessities into rental products.
The digital economy is similarly dominated by a small group of giant firms. These overlords together exercise control of up to 90 per cent of critical markets such as basic computer operating systems, social media, online search advertising and book sales. No longer satisfied with controlling the pipelines, the tech oligarchy increasing buys up old news outlets and ‘curates’ the news to its tastes. It increasingly dominates mainstream entertainment too: the pending sale of MGM to Amazon is just the most recent example of its conquest and consolidation of the means of communication.
Like the barbarian princes who shaped the Middle Ages, the new oligarchs have been able to seize their fiefdoms with little resistance from weak central governments. The pandemic accelerated this process; its lockdowns and restraints on mobility proved a bonanza for tech companies like Google, whose profits doubled during the period. In this highly regulated environment, the tech-rich have simply gotten richer: seven of the ten richest Americans come from the tech sector. Apple, by some calculations, is now worth more than the entire oil and gas industry. The already obscenely rich have become richer still. Jeff Bezos alone saw his net worth jump by an estimated $34.6 billion (£25 billion) in the first two months of the pandemic, while his company has enjoyed continued revenue and profit growth.
As executive compensation reached the stratosphere in Big Tech and finance, small businesses face what the Harvard Business Review calls ‘an existential threat.’ Experts now warn that one third of small businesses, which comprise the majority of US companies and employ nearly half of all workers, could ultimately shut down for good. Hundreds of thousands have already disappeared, including nearly half of all black-owned businesses. Particularly damaged have been the small merchants along Main Street and those working for them, such as restaurant and hospitality workers.
The old middle class struggles to compete with online platforms. Amazon is able to coerce small businesses to give up their data. As big-box stores have done for decades, Amazon uses its bargaining power to minimise supply-chain issues by leasing its own ships and using its considerable leverage to secure items that smaller companies cannot get. Property is seeing a similar consolidation. As middle-class prosperity falters in Britain, cash-rich banks seek to gobble up the emerging market in distressed properties, apartments and even single-family homes. Meanwhile, the grand houses of central London are restored to Victorian opulence by absentee Russian, Chinese and Arab investors.
What is the end game for the oligarchs and their clerical allies?
Climate-change policies could nurture the new autocracy for a generation. As tech oligarchs and the financial establishment implement the Davos notion of a Great Reset, they will force a quick end to fossil fuels. There are huge opportunities for massive investment by super-rich companies and speculators in the ‘green economy,’ all made possible with tax breaks, loans and guaranteed sales to governmental units.
This promises to create a new crop of mega-billionaires like Elon Musk, today the world’s richest man. In the era of super-subsidies, a wannabe electric-vehicle maker like Rivian, which has negligible sales and consistent losses, can be valued higher than General Motors, which sells almost seven million cars and has $122 billion (£90 billion) in revenues each year. In Green Capitalism, the British Marxist James Heartfield labels this ‘austerity socialism’: reaping governmental edicts as opposed to actually producing real goods. Nice work if you can get it.
For the middle and working classes, however, the Great Reset may prove somewhat less promising — if not disastrous. For most people, notes Eric Heymann, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank Research, the rapid ‘green’ transition will mean ‘a noticeable loss of welfare and jobs.’ The conscious policy of degrowth as a means of forcibly reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require getting most people out of their cars, and forcing them to travel far less and to live in tiny apartments. Enforcement will be necessarily intrusive as well. Planners in the UK and elsewhere are pushing for family ‘carbon budgets.’ Add surveillance technology and we end up with something akin to China’s ‘social credit’ system, in which your right to free movement is subject to government approval.
The young are particularly threatened by these changes — younger people already face much harder prospects than any postwar generation. Few expect things to improve: across the higher-income countries, roughly two-thirds of people surveyed by Pew Research see a poorer future for the next generation. According to researchers at the Equality of Opportunity Project, about 90 per cent of those born in 1940 grew up to earn higher incomes than their parents. The same is true for only 50 per cent of those born in the 1980s. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis warns that millennials are in danger of becoming a ‘lost generation’ in terms of wealth accumulation. To make matters worse, over half of all young people, in a survey of ten countries, think the world is doomed by climate change.
As housing and other costs skyrocket, class lines are hardening. Inheritance as a share of GDP in France has grown roughly threefold since 1950, with some upper-income French millennials inheriting more money than many workers make in a lifetime. The growing importance of inherited assets is even more pronounced in Germany, Britain and the United States. In the US, a country with a national mythology that looks askance at inherited wealth, the children of property-owning parents are far better situated to own a house eventually (often with parental help) and enter what is now known as ‘the funnel of privilege.’ In America, millennials are three times as likely as boomers to count on inheritance for their retirement. Among the youngest cohort, aged eighteen to twenty-two, over 60 per cent expect that inheritance will be their primary source of income as they age.
How will the downwardly mobile react to the prospect of permanent rental serfdom and, ultimately, total dependence on the state? A recent Edelman survey reveals that increasing numbers no longer trust institutions or believe hard work pays off. In a world dominated by a few institutions, today’s precariat of gig and short-contract workers, and those who have dropped out of the workforce entirely, could become an economically less useful version of Marx’s proletariat: a permanent underclass requiring aggressive, quasi-military policing.
Meanwhile, large tech firms and financial giants — even those sceptical about climate change zealotry — see the prospect of record profits and valuations in ‘disruption.’ The pandemic accelerated the white-collar shift to remote work, and the broader demand for automated solutions skyrocketed. A future less reliant on human labor elevates the tech oligarchs to the highest perch on what Lenin called ‘the commanding heights’ of the economy.
In a digitalised economy, it’s good to control the critical niches. The oligarchs do this brilliantly. They have seized dominant shares of key markets from search (Google) to social media (Facebook) to book sales (Amazon). Google and Apple together provide over 95 per cent of operating software for mobile devices, while Microsoft still accounts for over 80 per cent of the software that runs personal computers around the world.
I have covered Silicon Valley for forty-five years. Today, it is less the hypercompetitive, free-spirited place I knew, and more like the early twentieth-century trusts. Mike Malone, who has chronicled Silicon Valley as deeply as anyone, sees it losing much of its ethos. The new masters of tech, he suggests, have shifted from ‘blue-collar kids to the children of privilege,’ and moved away from the production ethos that once made the Valley so inspiring and egalitarian. An intensely competitive industry has become enamoured with the allure of ‘the sure thing’ backed by massive capital and sometimes by government. Competition is no longer a spur to creativity: competitors are simply bought out.
Wealth cannot rule on its own. Autocracy needs a proselytising class who can justify the rulers and salve the distressed souls of the lower orders. In medieval times, the Catholic Church served this role, essentially justifying the feudal order as the expression of divine will. Today’s version, a sort of clerisy or intelligentsia, is mostly not religious and consists of people from the upper bureaucracy, academia, and the culture and media industries.
The pandemic has been a boon to this class too. The emergency allowed governments to grant them unprecedented executive and administrative powers not just in centralised France but even in usually semi-sensible Great Britain and Australia. For some, the lockdowns served as a ‘test run’ for necessary measures to realise their preferred climate-change policies. In the new schema, the real class enemy is not the excesses of the ultra-rich, or even wasteful spending by government: it’s the consumption patterns of the masses. We see this in the response of progressive media and even politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to complaints about the rising costs of food, rent and energy. The clerisy sees even the essentials as ephemeral, and supply-chain problems as the consequence of too much consumption by the masses.
As in the Middle Ages, when church and crown competed for moral and political authority, the bureaucratic and unelected sources of power are not always in agreement. But to a large extent, they embrace very similar ideologies, particularly when it comes to imposing control over information about the pandemic or climate change. The early-twentieth-century Italian sociologist Robert Michels noted that complex issues — climate, for instance — reinforce what he called the ‘iron law of oligarchy’: the more dependent on expertise a society becomes, the greater the need for elite-driven solutions that bypass popular input — and the greater the force the elite will apply to attain its goals.
H.G. Wells dreamed of a ‘new republic’ run by a virtuous few. Our digital elites are anointing themselves, and being anointed by their fellow elites in business and media. Well-educated managers of major companies and the credentialed clerisy are naturally drawn to the idea of a society ruled by professional experts with ‘enlightened’ values — that is, by people much like themselves.
To confront what they see as an existential crisis, much of the media supports the creation of a global technocracy. ‘Democracy is the planet’s biggest enemy,’ asserted an article in Foreign Policy, an establishmentarian journal, in 2019. This hostility to democracy as an obstacle to top-down ‘progress’ is dovetailing with another source of anti-democratic distrust. People around the world, particularly the young, no longer embrace the basic notion of self-government. A majority of young Americans now favour large-scale government intervention in the economy; about a third call themselves socialists.
The leaders of woke capitalism have signed onto a pledge to defund fossil fuels in the great quest for Net Zero. This is not, as the wacko right and the wacko left might think, a conscious conspiracy. Instead, it is propelled by tech firms’ natural desire for profits derived from replacing the carbon-spewing analog world wherever possible, and the irresistible lure for investors and corporations of a huge, subsidised and government-financed market.
Most tech and finance executives are not ideologues. Nor are they, despite appearances, sociopaths. Yet they feel justified in censoring and even demonetising not just Donald Trump or the New York Post or Bari Weiss, but also the credentialed experts whose views diverge from the accepted line for staffers at Google, Facebook and Twitter, organisations where woke instruction is increasingly imposed. (These companies’ location in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Puget Sound region, two of the most lopsidedly progressive areas in the country, is also a factor.) Many firms espouse woke ideas, says Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council, because they are ‘afraid of their own employees.’
In practice this often means eliminating conservative opinions — and not just views from the crazy fringe, according to former employees. Academic experts such as Judith Curry and Roger Pielke, with somewhat contrarian takes on climate, are routinely ignored, attacked and marginalised. Sceptics like the long-time environmentalist Mike Shellenberger, the Obama advisor Steven Koonin and the ‘sceptical environmentalist’ Bjorn Lomborg are largely consigned to the social-media memory hole for detailing the environmentalists’ record of exaggeration, hyperbolic projections and immiserating policies.
We are increasingly ruled by a perfect marriage of class convenience, with more power for the clerisy and ever-greater economic opportunities for the oligarchy — all with the added benefit of encouraging them to feel good about themselves. Even as they push austerity on the masses, they live like medieval lords, indulging in lavish weddings and building estates reminiscent of the Habsburgs’. Jeff Bezos just spent $100 million (£80 million) on a Hawaiian retreat. Bill Gates’s daughter just enjoyed a $2 million (£1.5 million) wedding. John Kerry, president Biden’s chief climate scold and beneficiary of an heiress’s fortune, travels on a private jet that use thirty times the energy of the average American vehicle.
That’s fine. The anointed purchase ‘environmental offsets’: a green version of indulgences. This may make them feel better about their vast wealth and excesses, just as it did for the murderous and corrupt aristocrats of old. Still, many are also making preparations against a potential peasant’s revolt — just in case. This includes using private security, building bunkers and looking for remote boltholes in the US or abroad, notably in out of the way and strictly controlled New Zealand.
What is the end game for the oligarchs and their clerical allies? Upward mobility for the masses is out of the question. The technology journalist Gregory Ferenstein has interviewed 147 digital company founders. His conclusion:
‘An increasingly greater share of economic wealth will be generated by a smaller slice of very talented or original people. Everyone else will come to subsist on some combination of part-time entrepreneurial ‘gig work’ and government aid.’
In Silicon Valley’s estimation, the mass of people can look forward to life as subsidised consumers of Facebook’s metaverse or Google’s dream of ‘immersive computing’.
What will the rest of us do? There is clearly some disenchantment with the emerging order. Global trust in institutions, most notably the media and Big Tech, has fallen to a low ebb, and economic and geopolitical insecurity are on the rise. We are trying to impose a green economy that we don’t have the technology or even the electricity to power. This will force some countries to return to coal — China has stepped up its use of coal-powered stations — and others to leave part of their populations to shiver.
As blue-collar and many white-collar jobs are eliminated by automation, the oligarchs and their allies in the clerisy want to impose a Universal Basic Income, to keep the peasants from suffering too much and possibly rebelling. We have already seen pushback from the right and left in both Europe and America. Many people do not want to accept a life of subsidised dependency, made bearable by the digital equivalent of Rome’s bread and circuses.
The time could be shorter than we think. The tech oligarchs are creating something similar to what Aldous Huxley called in Brave New World Revisited a ‘scientific caste system.’ There is ‘no good reason,’ Huxley wrote in 1958, that ‘a thoroughly scientific dictatorship should ever be overthrown.’ It will condition its subjects from the womb so that they ‘grow up to love their servitude’ and ‘never dream of revolution.’ It will maintain a strict social order and provide enough diversion through drugs, sex and videos to keep their artificially narrowed minds occupied and sated.
The fusion of government with large oligopolistic companies, and the technologically-enhanced collection of private information, allow the new autocracies to monitor our lives in ways that Mao, Stalin or Hitler would have envied. A rising tide of money and administrative power defines the rising autocracy. If we as citizens, whatever our political orientation, are not vigilant, our democracy will become an increasingly hollow vessel.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s January 2022 World edition
(4) Joel Kotkin: Mass immigration, combined with anti-White race policies, are a toxic mix
Joel Kotkin: To embrace immigration, Canada must reject Trudeau’s racialized policies
Opinion by Joel Kotkin • 11h ago
Recent government moves to increase immigration to 1.2 million over the next three years reflects both a hopeful sign for Canada’s future, but also potential impact. Along with immigration’s many benefits, we could see the intensification of racialism and identity politics, the kind that is threatening to tear apart an already deeply divided United States.
Of course, Canada is not burdened, like the United States, by the legacy of slavery, but both countries do share a similar legacy of displacement of Indigenous peoples and share a justified collective guilt over it. But Canada’s future, even more than that of the U.S., will be shaped by immigration. In Canada immigrants represent 21 per cent of the total population, compared to just 15 per cent in the US.
Most of these newcomers are from outside Europe. In the last half century, non-Europeans have grown from barely ten per cent to nearly 80 per cent of all immigrants. Using the awkward term “racialized” minorities used by the government to define non-Europeans, their share of the population rose from 16 to 22 per cent, between 2006 and 2016. By 2041, according to Statistics Canada , half of Canada could be immigrants, or their children.
Canada needs newcomers. After all, the Canadian birthrate has fallen well below replacement , contributing to skilled labour shortages in hospitals, factories and schools. In contrast to the U.S., where family ties predominate, Canadian policy wisely focuses on the county’s s economic vitality.
Certainly, many Canadian minorities embrace capitalist work ethic and discipline with enthusiasm. As in the U.S., they show a greater proclivity to start businesses than most Canadians. Overall, although their average incomes lag, racial minorities in Canada boast higher labour participation rates than Europeans, and have made steady progress, with most reaching close to equity by the third generation.
Rather than embrace and promote this progress, some Canadian academics, media and politicians — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — seek to construct an increasingly racialized public policy , with a fashionable emphasis on “anti-racism.” Rather than embrace his father’s passionate commitment to national unity, the son has adopted a race-driven ideology, separating Canadians by ethnic group, as well as gender and sexual orientation.
In the U.S. we can already see the damage caused by this mentality. Particularly under the Biden administration, racial classification has become a tool for preferences. Once the party of segregation before embracing integration, the Democrats now are regressing, again embracing racial preferences and quotas in universities, corporations, and professional organizations over merit as a primary qualification.
Wherever this approach is adopted, it undermines the very rationale that all liberal societies have enjoyed — and indeed are the very things that attracts migrants to these countries. In its ugliest form, the racialist agenda seeks to unite “people of colour” — known as BIPOC — against the white majority. In some places, this has taken on the character of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, with all whites forced to admit their racism, whatever their personal feelings.
Advocates for BIPOC — an acronym for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour — envision a coalition of nonwhites to struggle against what the BIPOC Project calls a hegemonic “white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism.” This thinking is deeply embedded in the Biden Administration Education Department, where one official has even denounced democracy itself as “built on white supremacy.” California , the mecca of racial virtue signalling, has even decided to award six figure “reparations” for slavery, even though it was never a slave state and has discriminated far worse against Asians as well as the native Mexican and Indigenous populations.
Now imagine the impact of such thinking on a an increasingly diverse Canada. Who do you extend preferences to when several “racialized groups” — Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Arab and Indian — exceed white incomes by third generation. Generally speaking, Asians outperform whites in education as well as income, even as other minorities do worse and whites, far from the top perch, sit in the middle.
Joel Kotkin: Now watch Biden and Trudeau escalate their extreme progressivism
Joel Kotkin: Biden, Trudeau choose green war on oil and gas over working class
Canadian Universities, like their American counterparts have become enamoured with the politics of guilt-tripping whites, accusing them of the damage done to First Peoples, irrespective of when their families arrived or any real culpability. Similarly, tolerance of antisemitism and Holocaust denial are now tolerated and even supported, by Members of Parliament as a means, apparently, of appealing to Muslims.
This is not good for Canada, and it isn’t good for minorities and immigrants either. Canada has been, if imperfect, a relative place of refuge, a society where personal merit remains more valued than membership in a particular gene pool, religious sect, or caste. As in the United States, a racialist approach seems likely to boost opposition to immigration that has emerged in Europe as well as the United States. Even though illegal immigration is less than of an issue in Canada, at least a third already express dissatisfaction with the current levels of immigration.
Just imagine when French and English Canadians, as well as the children of European immigrants, find themselves discriminated against in such things as school admissions. Ironically, some of the biggest victims of a preference regime might be the largest immigrant group, Asian Canadians, who have the misfortune of outperforming other ethnic groups.
Canada can find better ways to help immigrants, and other Canadians, by promoting broad-based economic growth and policies that lead to lower house prices , a major impediment to moving into the middle class. Rather than celebrate separatism, Canadians should embrace the multiculturalism of the streets, particularly in suburbia, as well as the growing intermarriage rates among Asians and other minorities.
Canadians have to balance their need for immigrants with a sense of common national purpose. A great country cannot be built on a bed of guilt and racial jockeying, but on a common acceptance of merit, fairness and openness, remaining a beacon of humanistic sanity in an increasingly divisive world.
National Post
Joel Kotkin is author of The Coming of Neo Feudalism — A Warning to the Global Middle Class, presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, in Orange, CA and executive director of the Houston-based think tank, Urban Reform Institute.
(5) Joel Kotkin: Progressive radicalism hurts the Working Class and Minorities
Urban Blues
The fashionable radicalism now popular in progressive cities will ultimately fail and, in the process, hurt working people and minorities the most
By Joel Kotkin
July 06, 2020
On the surface, progressive “Blue America” has never appeared stronger. President Donald Trump’s leadership failures exposed by the pandemic and the recent disorders, is sinking him in the polls. His rival, Joe Biden, seems likely to concede his traditionally moderate stances to placate the Democrats’ youthful activist and identitarian wings. Radical “transformation” of the United States seems to some just months away.
Yet even as their political power waxes, the woke progressives are engaged in a process of blue-icide, undermining their own urban base of disadvantaged citizens and their own credibility. Such self-destructive tendencies existed even before COVID-19 and the George Floyd upheavals, in the form of crushingly high taxes, regulatory burdens, and dysfunctional schools. The failures of Trump may help progressives in 2020, but their emerging policy agenda seems destined to benefit the red states, conservatives, and, sadly, the far right, later in this decade.
Over the past several years New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have lost population and San Francisco seems likely soon to join them. Meanwhile the suburbs, exurbs, and sprawling cities of the interior have continued to grow. Politically, almost all the major blue states—New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and even California—are expected to lose seats in the House in the next congressional elections, while the big Sunbelt states, notably Texas, Florida, and Arizona, will gain.
The departure of the urban middle class, with even millennials now joining the exodus, has left cities such as New York increasingly divided between a predominately white and Asian, overclass and a large, and often struggling, predominantly minority population. Without the restraints that traditionally come from a politically engaged middle-class constituency pushing for moderate and necessary reform, urban politics have evolved in directions unlikely to attract desperately needed investment and higher wage jobs in the inner city.
These demographic changes have left the fate of our bluest cities in the hands of radicals such as the increasingly potent Black Lives Matter movement. The blue state political and media establishment, and their allies in the corporate elite, have conceded enormous credibility to a group whose stance is explicitly radical.
Thoroughgoing police reform, the key reason for the Black Lives Matter movement’s growth, is clearly needed. But BLM’s politics go beyond even support for such widely unpopular measures as defunding, or even abolishing, the police and the prison system, and endorsing reparations. The group generally favors radical socialist economics to battle what its founders see as “racial capitalism.” Besides favoring federal favoritism for Black institutions, it embraces single payer health care, huge tax increases, and other leftist positions that might not appeal to blue state oligarchs. It also condemns Israel as “genocidal.”
Blue state leaders have been slow to recognize—or perhaps slow to acknowledge—that BLM politics are more akin to the Black Panther Party of the 1960s than the Southern Christian Leadership Council. Academic Melina Abdullah, a prominent BLM spokesperson and co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter, is an open admirer of the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan. She describes the protests not as a cry for reform but an “uprising” or “rebellion.” In late May, Abdullah explained: “We’ve been very deliberate in saying that the violence and pain and hurt that’s experienced on a daily basis by Black folks at the hands of a repressive system should also be visited upon, to a degree, to those who think that they can just retreat to white affluence.” Among the areas where rioters visited pain was LA’s traditionally Jewish Fairfax district, where stores were destroyed and synagogues were vandalized and spray-painted with slogans like “Fuck Israel.” A BLM leader in New York has endorsed the armed takeover of neighborhoods, something that has already occurred, with deadly results, in painfully white and hip Seattle.
The outrage after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis grew not just out of generations of mistreatment by law enforcement, but also a worsening economic situation for working class minorities in big cities. The bluest, densest urban cores were already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation worsened both by both White House incompetence and that of top elected local officials. But the impact has, for the most part, been more intense in densely populated blue urban areas, particularly those dependent on public transit.
Density is both an inevitable fact of city life and an urban planning goal supported by blue state progressives, but it also increases the chances of pandemic spread, a pattern that has been clear since at least the Roman Empire. Historian Kyle Harper, in his brilliant The Fate of Rome, notes that the “precociously urbanized” empire created cities that were “victims of the urban graveyard effect.” The rise of global trade and mass immigration in Rome, as today in our great cities, boosted the capacity to transmit and incubate pathogens.
Even as the country has witnessed a resurgence in recent weeks of COVID-19 cases concentrated in red states like Texas and Arizona, the preponderance of infections and fatalities have taken place in dense, often heavily minority cities. The highest rates of fatalities have occurred in the New York area, locale for roughly one-third of all deaths. But other predominantly Black cities such as Washington, D.C., Trenton, New Orleans, and Detroit also account for a disproportionate share. Even with the recent surge, fatality rates in Sunbelt states like Texas, Arizona, and California are generally about one-eighth of those in New York and New Jersey.
The pandemic risks represented by density, concentrated poverty, and transit use, can explain the generally harsher blue state lockdown policies. But, whatever their motives, the economic consequences could be profound. No one seems to know how or whether high-rise offices, subways and elevators can work efficiently when people have to be 6 feet apart.
Even before the coronavirus, most new jobs were being created in suburbia; the urban core accounted for only 9.9% of all job growth between 2010 and 2017. This percentage is likely to shrink as information and finance firms shift to online work. Many workers are adapting to the shift from the 60th floor to the kitchen table and a large proportion seem to prefer it to commuting to the office.
The trend is likely to encourage migration to less expensive regions or, for the better paid, a search for houses in the bucolic surrounding suburbs of cities like New York or San Francisco. The real estate firm Redfin has found that up to half of all new post-pandemic telecommuters want to continue to work from home, and, after interviewing potential and present homeowners, predicts a steady movement of skilled workers to smaller cities and outer suburbs. Overall, less dense areas are now growing much faster than denser ones.
Big city diehards insist that “talent” will return in large numbers to the metropolitan cores. But in reality, even in fields like professional business services and technology, employment had already been drifting away from places like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago to less crowded, more dispersed regions like Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, Austin, Charlotte, and Orlando. This is now likely to break down the concentrations of knowledge workers even in marquee locations like Silicon Valley. As many as 2 in 3 tech workers in the Bay Area tell surveyors they plan to leave in the near future.
Tech company employees and white-collar urban professionals may be able to pick up and leave big cities, but what about the service workers, many of them immigrants and minorities, who keep the cities running? They are more vulnerable in every sense: more vulnerable to infection, and to the bad economy—roughly half of all job losses in April were in such low-paying fields as restaurants, hotels, and amusement parks. Almost 40% of those Americans making under $40,000 a year have lost their jobs as the wage gains made during the first two years of the Trump administration have largely evaporated.
In the longer run, the progressive policy agenda is likely to accelerate urban feudalism, driving out middle-class families and businesses from the big cities and coasts to the country’s interior and periphery and leaving behind only the lords and peasants.
Most blue city politicians profess fealty to “social justice” but inequality has become much more pronounced in bigger cities than smaller ones or suburban areas. As the middle class has largely departed, the gap between the affluent urban elites and the marginalized masses has grown. Tensions between the two have been boiling over for decades, sometimes erupting in violent protests against gentrification, precursors to the current unrest.
Caught between their poor constituents and a declining middle class, progressive politicians like Minneapolis’ Jacob Frey, Seattle’s Jenny Durkan, and New York’s Bill de Blasio, have looked the other way as their cities are trashed, sometimes refusing to arrest or jail vandals. Massachusetts District Attorney Maura Healey went so far as to excuse looting as a legitimate, even revered form of protest. Elite journalists compare the ransacking of Target and Apple stores to the protests to the Boston Tea Party.
This rapid reprise of what Fred Siegel labeled “the riot ideology”—unleashing violence and disorder as an intimidation tactic to achieve progressive policy goals and extract economic concessions from government agencies who just want a way to make the violence stop—has no chance of actually improving conditions in the lives of people on whose behalf, supposedly, it is carried out. The rioting of the late 1960s weakened urban economies and led to devastating losses for minority property owners and businesses. Years of protests, including several riots—most of which were also spun as “uprisings” by prominent defenders—didn’t redress the causes of the protests or slow the spread of poverty: High-poverty urban areas doubled in population between 1980 and 2018.
The return of the riot ideology in Los Angeles is unlikely to improve the lives of the inner city residents who will have to live through its aftermath—on the other hand, it could help some activists’ bankrolls to get a bit fatter. Overall Black-owned business and property owners have tended to be hit most profoundly in the wake of these disturbances. South Central Los Angeles, site of two of the worst riots in American history, has experienced a growing gap with the surrounding area in terms of homeownership, income and educational attainment.
Politically, “the riot ideology” today will likely again also prove a loser. As is the case with peaceful protests now, there was strong support among most Americans for the early Civil Rights Movement. But as the protests became more violent, particularly in the late ’60s and early ’70s, public support receded. This helped secure victories for right-wing candidates like Ronald Reagan, elected the year after the 1965 Watts riots and, three years later, contributed to Richard Nixon winning the presidency.
Looting is not widely popular even today. In Minneapolis, we may just be seeing the first fruits of police withdrawals and a new hands-off policy toward violence and disorder. Already one factory owner, whose facility was torched, has announced plans to leave. A friend, whose medical equipment company warehouse was also burned down, also plans to shift the facility, and over 100 jobs, to another state. And that is not to mention all the ordinary people whose ability to go about their lives in peace depends on government officials and law enforcement being willing to actually enforce the law.
The emergence of chaotic, radical-controlled police-free zones in Seattle demanding the abolition of prisons, free college, rent control and funding for arts certainly won’t encourage serious business investment. This week a major investment firm that handles billions of dollars, announced its departure from Seattle and plans to move into a new office in Phoenix. Even more tragically, On June 29, two teenagers were shot inside the lawless zone—the fourth shooting in a span of 10 days. One of the victims, who was 16 years old, later died in the hospital.
Not surprisingly, businesses in the Seattle occupied zone have already been forced to hire private security. Nationally, truck drivers have announced their intention not to deliver to cities without organized police protection. Local police outside Seattle also claim that their cities are being targeted by organized criminal gangs who use the protests as cover for their activities.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot worries about large retailers not rebuilding their looted stores, saying it will take a “herculean effort” to keep them in the city. Major corporations like Target can close down their Minneapolis stores but still function in thousands of other locales, notably in the suburbs and exurbs. But it’s the locally owned stores that were already more vulnerable to the pandemic and often lack the resources to cope with long lockdowns or street violence, that may be hardest to keep.
Minority owned and small businesses had already absorbed the biggest hits from the pandemic. Even before the protests and rioting, the coronavirus lockdowns were hitting Black-owned business far harder than any other large ethnic group. As many as 20% or 30% of California’s restaurants, suggests the California Restaurant Association, may never reopen. Some 60%, according to the organization, are owned by people of color.
The current triumph of woke ideology on campuses, in the mainstream media, Hollywood, and in the corporate suite may smell like sweet success to progressives. But in the longer run, the progressive policy agenda—draconian climate change laws, strict rent control, reductions in public safety, banning single family zoning, and the like—is likely to accelerate urban feudalism, driving out middle-class families and businesses from the big cities and coasts to the country’s interior and periphery and leaving behind only the lords and peasants.
Defunding police will not improve life on the ground in big cities. At a time when cities like Los Angeles and even crime-ridden Baltimore and Chicago adopt “tough” policies about enforcing lockdowns and arresting violators, they have also returned a generation of criminals to the streets sometimes by suspending bail. Crime is up in many cities, including, San Francisco, New York, and Minneapolis, all cities that have emptied jails and reduced enforcement.
The biggest impact of the assault on the legitimacy of law enforcement is felt in minority communities. Diverting funds away from the police may have been seen as politically expedient,but it has not helped Baltimore—a city with a long history of police abuse—curb its astronomic murder rate. Nor is there any reason to expect that fashionable “defunding” efforts would bring down Chicago’s persistently high homicide rate, curb the rising crime rate tied to the growing homeless population in Los Angeles, or slow San Francisco’s slide toward a lawless dystopia.
The return to “riot ideology” may appeal to partisan journalists, academics, athletes, and entertainers, but it will not restore the viability of blue cities, particularly their minority neighborhoods. What’s truly needed in America’s big cities is not just a return to order, but a government determined to foster the cultivation of employable skills and the better paying jobs that go with them.
Certainly it is not promising that in California, post-coronavirus recovery efforts are being led by woke tech oligarchs like Apple’s Tim Cook, who has placed most of his manufacturing in China, and extreme climate activists like billionaire Tom Steyer, who will seek to double down on the draconian climate agenda helping turn the Golden State into an increasingly neofeudal society. Nor do efforts in New York to have powerful oligarchs like Bill Gates and former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt steer their future, bode well for grassroots organizations and communities already pummeled by COVID-19, the digital assault on small business and now by rioting.
To succeed, cities need to be aspirational, safe and healthy. No city thrives under contagion or the constant threat of violence or infectious disease; what humbled late Imperial Rome can also be visited on New York. Against such threats, the nonstop righteous anger, and ever-expanding demands, and the relentless “virtue signaling” by the urban elites will serve only to further alienate the middle class and the political center necessary to achieve compromise and reform.
Of course, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles will continue to appeal to a subset of our vast population, including highly educated young, mostly childless people. The bright lights and charmed districts will survive and even thrive. But most Americans, particularly as they age and seek to start families, may no longer look at these disordered places with admiration or even envy. Blue America may not be quite as doomed as late Imperial Rome, but unless its policy agenda moderates and starts to prioritize measures that will materially improve the lives of ordinary people, it will be following a similar path, albeit one paved with the most self-righteous intentions.
Joel Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and executive director of the Urban Reform Institute. His new book, The Coming of Neo-Feudalism, is now out from Encounter. You can follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.