Observations on Urban and Rural Attitudes Toward the State

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The principal reason that rural Americans tend to be more independent-minded and anti-state is that they seldom encounter any of the state's minions in their daily lives. Other than the occasional patrolling state police trooper or county road commission work crew, they don't interact with them much at all. Need 'em? For what?

And when they do interact, it is nearly always in a negative and subservient context. Such as going into town to get a permit, buy a license, pay some fee, tax, fine, etc. They see the government at all levels as being an expensive waste of time and money that in no sense returns any comparable benefit for all the time and money it squanders.

To those in the rural areas, 'the government' is a bunch of slackers and nepotists down at city hall or the county building who have nice, cushy jobs polishing chairs with their ass most of the day.

Urban dwellers are another matter. They are inundated with the local, state and federal government at all levels. They depend, in their own minds at least, on the government for everything.

A form of Stockholm syndrome has taken hold in their minds. They depend on the state for water, sewer, personal safety, snow removal, and literally everything else that make their lives possible. In return, Mr. & Mrs. Urbanite give the state about 40% or so of the gross proceeds from their work in order to maintain this childlike dependency on the state.

On the other hand, rural people have their own wells and septic tanks. They have snowblowers or ploughs on their pickups. They buy and spread salt on their own driveways and sidewalks. They usually have shotguns and fire extinguishers around the house for 'public safety' purposes if needed.

If a problem does come up, they tend to think: 'What am I gonna do about this?' The urbanite calls his city councilman to see what he's gonna do about whatever problem Mr. Urbanite has.

When I lived in Dearborn, Michigan some years ago, the world headquarters of the Ford Motor Company and a metro-Detroit suburb of some 100,000 plus people, a local mosque played its call to prayer recording (similar to bells on a church) too loudly for some neighboring residents. So they called their city councilman, who'd in turn sent the police, city ordinance inspectors, and all manner of other such types employed by the city government to deal with 'the noise issue.' Some weeks afterward and after numerous letters, tickets, summons, and much aggravation on both sides, the mosque turned the volume down.

In the small village in rural Michigan where I live now, the neighbors would have just called up the noisy neighbor and asked them to turn the volume down, they would likely have done so, and that would be that. Problem solved.

Urbanites feel just as oppressed and bullied by the scolds, petty tyrants, and slackers at city hall as the rural folks do, I'm sure. However, they mostly feel that they've no alternative. If they take any sort of meaningful steps toward autonomy, independence, and rational coping with their daily life issues, they worry.

Worry that they'll get in trouble, that the cops will come, that they'll get sued. All of which are real possibilities, too. A feeling of dread consumes them and that the only action they can take is inaction. This overwhelming sense of oppression and the resulting sense of helplessness and simmering anger are what engenders and preserves the dependency mindset. And so urban dwellers at all level of education, income, and ethnicity become a dependency class that the politicians and bureaucracies cater to whilst feeding off of like the parasites they are.

This is what social scientists refer to as a vicious circle. Those with more money, votes, or political organization can do better at gaming the system for what they want or need, and those with less do worse. But it's the only game in town and so they play it as best they can.

Rural folks view things differently because they live in different circumstances. Living in a less dense population, and so being relatively less under the scrutiny of prying eyes, they cope and deal with daily life happily confident that what the cops, neighbors, and the county or township doesn't know, won't hurt 'em. And for the most part, they are right, too.

All this isn't to say that there are no people of independent spirit left in America's urban areas or that all rural and small town residents are died-in-the-wool anti-statists. It is merely some pattern recognition on my part and my deductions and estimations on what they all mean. I hope this screed made you think, and have a free day.

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Ali Hassan Massoud's picture
Columns on STR: 43

Ali Massoud is a proud old-school isolationist who writes for the Internet and blogs.