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Weathering With You: An Agorist Perspective

If someone asked you what your favorite emotion was, how do you think you’d answer? For many people, I suspect they would answer “Happiness”, “Joy'', or some variant of exclusively positive emotion. Someone may think more meticulously and answer with “Contentment”, which while a positive emotion has a lot of nuance attached to it. However my answer to that question is what I feel others would consider more orthodox: Bittersweet. Pleasure accompanied by suffering, not exactly most people’s first pick but from my perspective pain is necessary in order to enjoy the pleasure that life gives you. Perhaps I'm over-romanticizing but there’s something to desire from looking back fondly at times where you were hurting and seeing yourself in a better place in the present. Perhaps you finally have moved on from “The one who got away” and can look back on those times with fondness. Perhaps you are sharing stories of a friend or family member at their funeral and though they may never w

The Gated Community: A Welcome Trend in Urban Development


I recently finished reading Tim Marshall’s Politics of Place series. It’s a three book trilogy focusing on contemporary international relations. The first two books were both excellent reads - Prisoners of Geography (which loyal fans of The Agora will remember from the source list for our podcast series, Geopolitics) and A Flag Worth Dying For. But the impetus for this article comes from book three: The Age of Walls.

Marshall’s focus here is on political and socio-economic barriers dividing societies. He discusses physical walls such as those separating Israel & Palestine, China & Mongolia and Trump’s proposed border wall. However, he also covers in detail, the internal divisions amongst societies. One of these internal divisions he mentions are those of the gated community. Although Marshall only spends 4 or 5 pages on the topic, he makes points of sufficient interest that I felt it warranted further investigation. After looking into it a bit, I confirmed my initial suspicion that the gated community is in fact, an excellent tool for the agorist. Allow me to make the case.


The idea of the gated community is actually a very old one which dates back to the ancient Chinese civilizations. Archaeological evidence from the Americas suggests that the practice was widespread, and we know by the time Caesar was conquering Gaul, he had to knock down walls to do so. According to Marshall, “Only in relatively recent times - with the rise of the nation-state and internal security, including police forces - did cities allow walls to be taken down or begin to expand outside them.”



Thus, after experiencing a lull, gated communities began to reemerge in in the twentieth century on the west coast of America. Scholars argue it’s no coincidence spikes in the number of gated communities positively correlates with periods of decreased welfarism, as was the case in the 1980s. According to Forbes, by 2009, 11 million Americans lived in gated-communities. Indeed, there are no signs of this trend slowing down. As individuals continue to rely less and less on the state for the provision of security and infrastructure, the more likely they are to seek refuge behind the walls of private, gated communities.

Moreover, the effectiveness of the gated community is undeniable. Even in today’s modern, ultra-PC culture, left wing academics who decry the gated community as exclusionary are forced to concede that the crime rates of private communities are generally lower than those of open communities which are dependant on state policing.


This effect is even more striking in the developing world. In parts of Africa and Latin America, gated communities provide refuge for whole hoards of people who have been failed by crooked, unstable regimes. Marshall points to a 2015 study conducted in Ghana which polled residents of gated communities to find out why they preferred life behind the walls. Want to guess what the top response was? That’s right; “Safety and security.” Similar stories play out in Brazil, Peru, and Nigeria.

Here we have yet another example of private, voluntary exchange increasing the quality of life for individual human beings by offering alternatives to the inefficient state-provision of goods and services. The point is best made by Marshall, who says:

“If significant numbers of people live in communities in which they pay private companies to provide the infrastructure, such as water pipes and roads, and to protect them with private police and fire agencies, while dealing only with private health care, then the role of local and national government diminishes. And if government’s remit is only to administer smaller sectors of society, then the cohesion of the nation-state is also weakened.”

From your lips to God's ears, as the saying goes...

Comments

  1. have you read the novel 'snow crash'? it touches on this idea a bit as well.
    good article, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my favorite books. Excellent observation! The enclaves Stephenson sets up are extremely similar.

      Delete

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