Monday, July 28, 2008

Cities or villages?


Cities are not habitats. City folk can, indeed must, participate in a momentum against urban living because city ways are one of the roots of our predicament and it is city inhabitants who will suffer the most in the coming years. Millions of people obviously can’t move out to the countryside or the wilderness tomorrow morning. If you can’t bring the village to the mountain, then bring the mountain to the village. This might be part of a solution. Bring some wilderness to the city. Cities must be de-citified. It will take insurgent imagination and imaginative insurgencies. Cities can become partly abandoned, partly re-created into a collection of autonomous villages separated by vast tracts of gardens and re-emerging forests, the whole region healed by becoming a sort of vast permaculture zone. Paradise paved need not be permanent.

What seems insurmountable often isn’t in reality. There is an urbanizing trend spreading across the continents, it is proletarianizing our brothers and sisters, threatening our fellow creatures, it is polluting and exploitative and unsustainable.

Cities don’t end where the suburbs dissipate into farmland. Rural living presently is but the flip side of the same coin of capitalist civilization. Rural people also work and shop and pay rent or mortgages and live out atomized lives. The air is cleaner and at least one might spot a deer and watch the stars at night, but private property, work and cops also control the countryside. There too habitats are invaded, plundered, polluted. Country folk are also incarcerated, carcinogized, monitored and punished. Our destruction of urban life entails the destruction of rural life. The goal is a geography where villages and clans and groups of friends dominate the social landscape, not vast tracts of farmland that feed cities or country estates that the privileged and lucky retreat to. The goal is healthy habitats, the creation of healthy environments and the healing of sick ones that can sustain all the life forms that live within them.

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