Civilization

The preservation of civilization should be of concern. I don’t have any advice, but here are two sparks:

Civilisation by Kenneth Clark. This is a television series produced in 1969. In it, Kenneth Clark, an art historian, limns the history of western civilization from the middle ages to the present. The characteristic that separates civilization from barbarism, according to Clark, is that civilization thinks about its future and its past, whereas the barbarians think merely of the present. Episodes from this series can be found on YouTube sporadically (and some times in high definition).

The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival [PDF] by John Bagot Glubb. I found this from excerpts on the Isegoria blog. This essay, as far as I can tell, is unique. It describes in general terms how empires rise and fall. The commonality between ancient civilizations and our own is startling. Among other features, empires last approximately 200-250 years, they emerge from modest backgrounds unexpectedly and achieve great conquests, they grow more powerful and wealthy, and eventually succumb to decadence and collapse. Living in a decadent age, it is difficult to avoid pessimism after reading this, but I think it gives us a better view of what the world really is like.

Traditional Cities

I saw this article linked on Free Northerner‘s blog. This is an intriguing concept. I can definitely see how the traditional city has advantages over the hypertrophic city for residential uses.

Comparing the traditional city to the suburbs is a little more difficult, because they occupy slightly different niches. Traditional cities seem better for socialization and pedestrian commuting. But the lack of pedestrian traffic is a feature for certain suburban residents; they don’t want people walking by their windows all night. People who have hobbies that take up more space also would prefer a more spread out neighborhood (think car buffs or gardeners). Perhaps they would fit on the outskirts of a traditionally laid out small village. It’s food for thought.

Another issue is white flight. It wasn’t only inferior architecture and city planning that drove people to the suburbs. There would need to be a reform of urban policing and perhaps some sort of reinstitutionalization of de-facto segregation to convince well-to-do Americans to pack themselves into dense cities again. It isn’t PC, but PC isn’t enough to convince people to raise their children in a neighborhood they don’t like.