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Housing costs are skyrocketing everywhere. I hear people talking about a “housing shortage,” but there is so much new construction near me I find it hard to believe. In my community, the amount of development has so far outstripped infrastructure that the people on city water have very low pressure because too many homes have been put into the system. There have been thousands of new housing units built, and not one of the old roads has been enlarged to accommodate new traffic.
And the new development is stupidly expensive. Large, boxy homes on postage-stamp lots sell for over half a million dollars. This isn’t the middle of a large city. Average apartment rents run about $1700/month.
It’s absolutely insane.
A real solution to this problem might be something like forbidding huge investment companies from buying up large amounts of properties and then setting prices. Instead, we have people promoting things like pod living, or trying to make it socially acceptable to live in your parents’ basement.
Is this push to make people live on top of each other just greed? Or is some other ideology at work here? Part of me acknowledges that the suburban trap for ever-bigger houses is silly and wasteful. However, I’ve spent my share of time living in low-income, densely occupied urban areas. I’ve had neighbors that stab each other and set things on fire. The cute little pods full of urban professionals only show one part of the densely-living picture. Imagine just one person in a house like that with a substance abuse problem, and the cute little dream-pod turns into a waking nightmare.
People need choices.
America was never envisioned as the land run by huge multinational firms. It was supposed to be the land of opportunity, where if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could keep the fruits of your labor. However, with the consolidation of the housing market into the hands of investment firms and the consolidation of farmland into the hands of people like Bill Gates, choices regarding where we live are exactly what we’re losing.
Many governments have confiscated land throughout history. Beginning in the late 1920s, the Soviet Union forced farms to collectivize. Stalin wanted the USSR to become an industrial superpower and saw the independent peasantry as an obstacle. He believed consolidating independent farms into large, centrally managed agricultural operations would lead to vastly more efficient farming practices and would free up more labor for the new factories, which would launch the Soviet Union technologically ahead of Western countries.
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Did it work the way the Communist leadership envisioned?
Not exactly. First of all, to forcefully take not only the land but a lifestyle itself required murdering the most capable peasants, the kulaks, those good enough at farming to acquire land and wealth. In his book Archipelago of Hope, Gleb Raygorodetsky gives a heartbreaking account of what happened to his grandfather, a successful farmer, during the period of collectivization.
This pillar of his community refused to hand over his land and various agricultural enterprises. And so the Soviet soldiers hacked him and his sons to death with bayonets in the middle of town, with their female relatives in the front row, forced to watch.
This kind of scene played out countless times. And while the Soviets did eventually control all the land, they had killed the most knowledgeable farmers, the ones best at actually producing food. In the end, though estimates vary, at least 7 million people died.
The face of the country dramatically changed
Because city dwellers had priority in receiving food rations, many former peasants flocked to the cities to become factory workers. In Nien Chang’s book Life and Death in Shanghai, the author recounts something similar during the Cultural Revolution. City dwellers received a set amount of food, while country dwellers were expected to subsist on whatever they could scavenge. So, naturally, people gravitated toward the cities.
If you want to turn a nation of independent farmers into a nation of urban dwellers, utterly dependent on a centralized food-distribution system, confiscating the nation’s food and then selectively distributing it will get the job done.
But Communist groups were not the first ones to confiscate land.
The Enclosure Acts passed in England in the 1700s had a similar effect on the population. Between 1760 and 1870, about one-sixth of England’s land was transferred from public lands into private hands. In medieval England, while only the nobility technically owned land, the peasants were granted all sorts of usage rights, such as grazing, wood-cutting, and fishing. This led to a population relatively dispersed throughout the country.
However, when landowners realized they could make more money with various business ventures by getting people off the land and into factories (owned by those same landowners, of course), they passed laws to make it happen. A mountain of literature describing the filthy factory towns was produced, including Friedrich Engel’s The Condition of the Working Class, which greatly influenced Karl Marx, the father of Communism.
Communist groups, however, did not want to simply turn the clock back and let people return to doing their own thing in the country. Marx refers to the “idiocy of rural life” in his Communist Manifesto. He was no William Cobbett or Thomas Jefferson – pastoralists who passionately believed in the virtues of lifestyles tied to land and family. No, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels looked at the slums and thought, we need to plan these better. Marx idealized technological progress; he just thought someone other than the European landowning class needed to organize it.
Where are we headed with this philosophy?
I can’t recall leaders or politicians expressly stating that they want to empty out the countryside, but the overwhelming trend of governments, and supra-national organizations like the World Economic Forum, is centralized data collection, regulations, and management, which inevitably leads to urban congregation.
Think about the costs of operating a small business. The larger the business, the more easily it can absorb new regulatory costs. For a long time, a variety of small businesses served the needs of rural areas. But increased regulation over the past few decades has made it more difficult for small businesses to stay profitable; they have a hard time competing with places like Wal-Mart.
And many intelligent, capable people who would be otherwise content to run their own businesses are not content to be a cog in someone else’s machine. They leave smaller towns in the hope of more satisfying work in urban areas, and the rural areas become that much poorer. Thus far, in the United States, we have not seen direct action-forcing people into urban areas. But many, many other forces have been condensing people into cities, whether they particularly want to be there or not.
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And why would powerful classes want the plebs smashed together in cities, anyway? Why does it matter?
Well, during the original Industrial Revolution, it was simply part of the “March of Progress,” the path to industrialization. Which really has lengthened the average life span and given most of us in industrialized nations relatively safe, comfortable lives. Most, not all, but most of my relatives were more than happy to trade physically difficult and intellectually uneventful rural life for the comfort and convenience of modern suburban life. Technological advancements and specialization led to that, and if a small percentage of European families got super-rich from industrialization, they dragged a large portion of their country’s population upwards as well.
During various Communist revolutions, people were forced to move to urban areas, and this social movement was enforced by a chunk of the population that really believed in the Communist ideal of a workers’ paradise. The Soviets promoted urban communal living as morally superior to the materialistic American system.
With the huge displaced rural population, they attempted to re-create the village atmosphere in buildings like the Narkomfin building, built in the 1920s and still standing today. Residents had a little personal cell for their own use, and then communal kitchens, laundries, and common areas. It’s not too different from the pod living currently promoted in the U.S.
I grew up in the Captain Planet years.
The generation propagandized as children about evil polluters is the population now being sold on eating bugs and living in pods for the sake of climate change. We’re not being sold so much on a workers’ paradise these days – we’re being sold on cramming together for the sake of the planet.
If it feels like we’re constantly being manipulated, it’s because we are. This happens in myriad ways. But the push to cram the general population together in cities has been a big one, a trend that has been ongoing for a long time. Whether it’s a voraciously greedy landowning class, Communist planners, or the World Economic Forum is beside the point. The urge to dominate and control has always been part of human nature.
Modern technology just makes us better at it. And the latest round of forced urbanization is particularly troubling because of the Smart Cities Initiative that has been around since the Obama years. The Smart Cities trend sounds nice in a speech, but in reality, amounts to vast amounts of data collection.
For example, highway authorities collect massive amounts of traffic data in hopes of directing people to less crowded routes. And yes, this is extremely convenient. Now, highway departments only look at vehicles, but people carry their phones in vehicles, and that data is available too. And what happens when someone wants to buy that data? For example, when the CDC bought data from the phone companies to see if people were complying with Covid lockdowns?
Data collection can make our lives convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost
The lockdowns in 2020 proved traumatic for children and ineffective in preventing disease spread, but depending on where you lived, you could ignore them to varying degrees. In a smart city, you will not be able to ignore stupid, damaging mandates. You will be forced to comply.
Compliance is the real end game here. Yes, people have been migrating to cities for centuries, and arbitrary rules have always existed. But the black markets and side gigs that go unnoticed have always been in places like New York and Chicago too. In Life and Death in Shanghai, the author talks about the “back door” system that was really the only way to get anything done.
They will leave you with no escape.
In a world of digital identification, vaccine passports, skills passports, centralized digital currency, facial recognition technology, and social credit scores, there will be no more side hustles, no more back doors. With every Industrial Revolution comes another increase in material wealth for certain people, but also an increase in centralized control. Klaus Schwab openly talks about ushering in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As endless as the possibilities for increased riches are, so are the possibilities for increased coercion.
Situational awareness is vital to prepping. We need to look around us and see our leaders for what they are. Personally, I think this newest Industrial Revolution will only benefit a small amount of already very wealthy people. The current system is trying to push us closer together and strip us of all notions of privacy, freedom, and choice.
We need to opt-out of this system in whatever way we can. Those of us lucky enough to get land while it was relatively cheap need to make it as productive as possible. City dwellers have ways to opt-out, too. Whether it’s homeschooling your kids or even just choosing to fix your own stuff and cook from scratch.
The above-mentioned methods of control, such as digital IDs and centralized digital currencies, are coming, and they’re coming fast. Find your supportive circles of like-minded friends, and opt-out as much as you can while you can.
What are your thoughts?
Do you expect a push to end personal property in America? If so, how do you think we can protect ourselves and all that we’ve worked for? Share your thoughts in the comments.
About Marie Hawthorne
A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.