I’ve never watched the entire film “My Dinner with Andre,” but my brother once showed me this clip and it’s worth both watching in the film and quoting down below.
I think that New York is the new model for the new concentration camp, where the camp has been built by the inmates themselves, and the inmates are the guards, and they have this pride in this thing that they’ve built—they’ve built their own prison—and so they exist in a state of schizophrenia where they are both guards and prisoners. And as a result they no longer have—having been lobotomized—the capacity to leave the prison they’ve made or even to see it as a prison.
You’ll forgive the hyperbole, but I think this is more or less accurate in the sense that modern urban cities are in fact camps used to control and contain people. Remember, a concentration camp isn’t a death camp necessarily, but a place where people are kept to control them.
I would say first, however, that I don’t consider this to be an innate aspect of urban areas or cities.Rather, it’s what the state has done to them. Read any book about growing up in New York or Philly in the 1930s and you see how unregulated and autonomous the neighborhoods were. The centralization of power and authority we see today would have been incomprehensible to an urban dweller a century ago.
I have an interesting affinity for mountains. I used to live in a smaller city where I could look out my bedroom window and see the local mountain, only a few miles away. Not particularly tall, but it had prominence over the region. Located right on an interstate highway, the rest of the mountain range was less than an hour away. Some weekends I would sling my backpack over my shoulder, get in my car, and drive off.
Over time, I noticed that whenever I drove outside the city and into the mountains, particularly once I got to the other side of the nearby pass, I felt…different in a way that could only be described as “liberating.” I no longer felt the suffocating, claustrophobic feeling I had while in the city. My body relaxed, and things seemed to slow down. I wasn’t as anxious. For me, a chance to hike on some lonely mountain surrounded by beautiful scenery on a Saturday or Sunday seemed like an act of temporary freedom. Even when I drove into a small town, the experience was the same.
I couldn’t understand why, until it occurred to me that perhaps each time I left the city I was exiting a camp that I would have to go back to eventually.
Over the years I have perused many, many government documents pertaining to policies and guidelines. In other words, I get to see what our wise overlords envision for us, how they want us to live. Throughout all of them is a recurring theme no matter which jurisdiction it comes from, restriction and control. Nothing can be left untouched.
I don’t think people quite realize just how many bureaucracies and government entities dictate the finer details of their lives or how they are planned out. This is the part of the subconscious anxiousness that arises in urbanites. They sense it, they feel it, they perceive it on a certain level, but they have no idea where it comes from. You see this in the restlessness they get.
In my home state, for example, there is a law that requires cities in certain areas to absorb a specific amount of people and have so many jobs by a certain date. Land use laws discourage evenly spread out developments and encourage mass density in urban areas. They want everyone confined to as small a space as possible. They do not want people living in smaller towns or cities. They want them in major metropolitan areas. They don’t want them driving cars; they want them to take public transportation like light rail or buses, or even bike to work. They don’t want them to own homes with sizable property or have fireplaces. They want them to live in crammed apartments or highly packed condos on the upper floors of a mixed-use building, where they get their bare minimum amount of living space and no front yard or back yard for the kids to play in. They are fully content to see people spend most of their life at the corporate office they work at. Employers like Google and Microsoft practically offer everything a person needs on their campuses, including shopper malls. I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered housing eventually.
Live, eat, work, shop, play inside the camps. No need to leave. No need to be different. No spontaneity or organic associations and informal activities. Everything has to be an official part of the plan.
What this does is prevent people from acting beyond the control of the camp wardens. The prisoners are totally reliant on either the state or their corporate boss, and thus cannot deviant from the prescribed manner of living. They can’t play on their own property; they have to go to city or state parks which can be crowded with others. They can’t do things to their home without it getting noticed eventually by a city worker. They can’t drive fast down a road in the middle of the night because the cops will see them. They can’t smoke anywhere because every space has been prohibited. If they want to live around the right people they have to buy a home, and to buy a home requires you to pay enormous property taxes. Unless you’re wealthy, you send your kid to a state-school, where these control mechanisms are instilled in them at an early age, so that when they are young they have the fences and the walls but once they leave there is no need. They’ve internalized the external control of others.
Really, what it does is enable busybodies and their continuous nannying. In a rural area, a kid riding a bike without a helmet is nothing. In the city, it can get you in trouble. Not wear your seatbelt in some Podunk town? The deputy has better things to do. Not wear it in the city and that’ll be $125 please.
On one occasion, I was driving through a small town and the entire community had come out onto the street to admire one of the local hunter’s prize, an elk so large its body was spilling over the side of his pickup truck. To anyone inside a camp, this is a surreal scene to witness.
It brings to mind something Fred Reed wrote about a few years ago:
What I remember is how free we were. Solzhenitsyn once told of stopping on some desert desert highway, getting out of his car, and marveling that no one knew where he was, or cared. That’s how it was in King George. You parked with your girlfriend for endless hours on some blind pull-off into the woods. No one asked where you had been or what you were doing or, more likely not doing. Parents didn’t care because they didn’t need to care.
In retrospect, it felt unregulated. And was. In today’s world of over-policing by militarized hostile cops, of metal-detectors and police in schools and compulsory anger-management classes and enforced ingestion of Ritalin or Prozac, King George sounds, well, dangerous. I mean, how can you let kids run around as they like, with…with….guns, (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!) and beer, and unregistered canoes without supervision by a caring adult, and…?
It’s also within these new “camps” the state can best conduct their little multicultural/social experiments. And people can’t say what they think out of fear of losing their job and they can’t go outside the camp because the jobs are all located inside the camps. This is the key to it all; economic opportunity and prosperity has to remain inside the camps so that the prisoners will not only voluntarily enter the camps but remain inside. It’s why unlike a Soviet regime, they don’t need a Berlin Wall to keep the prisoners in.
Ever wonder why despite of our modern technology, most jobs are still confined to cubicle offices, rather than home offices or telecommuting?
Honestly, how many people, if given the realistic option to choose, would rather live outside the city, i.e. outside the camp if they were able to keep their current job? The camps would empty.
The enclosed, cramped, sardine-crammed city environment creates a hectic, fast-paced lifestyle where you barely have a chance to stop and think because you are so preoccupied just dealing with traffic and the eight hour a day job and doing errands and taking care of other business. It leaves little time for introspection or reflection.
This isn’t how our ancestors lived, and it’s not the way to live.
To me, this kind of urban living is insufferable, where I’m always watched, always regulated, always controlled, always monitored in a million tiny ways that I’m not even cognizant of. The stop, go stop, go, stop, go, stop, go grind of driving in the city and waiting for five minutes at every single traffic intersection, as opposed to a long stretch of empty road for miles and miles, gets to you. Commutes feel like the morning and evening shuffle of prisoners as they line up for roll call.
Fortunately, my minimalistic bachelor lifestyle means I have few needs and few liabilities (and I intend to make it even more minimalistic in the future) so at some point if I decide to, I can get out without a great deal of hassle. Others are not so lucky.