If you were to boil down the current crisis in America, and in the West in general, you could do worse than a simple question, who decides? The central struggle at the heart of it all is who decides things like economic policy, trade policy, social policy, and immigration policy. On issue after issue, the ultimate question comes down to who gets the final say on the matter. Given the endless talk of democracy, this should be a settled question, but it is the central question of the age.
You can see this when you get away from the coastal cities and drive out into the areas the beautiful people try to avoid. Charles Town West Virginia is a small city, a big town in reality, which is the county seat of Jefferson County, West Virginia. Prior to recent decades it was famous for having been named after the brother of George Washington, Charles Washington, in the 18th century. It was also where union organizer Bill Blizzard was tried for treason. He was found not guilty.
Otherwise, Charles Town was a sleepy little place until twenty years ago. The old horse racing track was fixed up as part of a casino project. Like many states in America, West Virginia thought capitalizing on degenerates was a good idea. America is now dotted with casinos that rely upon the state to survive. Of course, with the casino came the other things like strip joints and the drug trade. As soon as you cross into the city proper you see a big sign for a “gentlemen’s club.”
Who decided that Charles Town needed a casino? Who thought that was a good idea to build strip joints? These things are often put up to a vote, but the people are told to keep voting until they get the right answer. The fact is a small number of people saw an opportunity to make money off a casino in this sleepy little community, so they worked the system until they got the right to build it. The pitch is that they bring jobs, but no one wants their daughter working at the strip joint.
Further down the moral hierarchy from the gamblers and strip joint operators are the developers who land on these projects like flies in a pasture. At the first hint of government money for a get rich scheme like a casino, the developers turn up looking to build cheap houses and strip malls. All those people coming to work at the casinos and strip joints will need a place to live. That means knocking down something to put up townhouses and apartment buildings.
Of course, this also means the guy who has lived next to a farm his whole life suddenly finds he now lives next to an apartment complex. The guy who owned the hay farm decided that the money from the developer was too good, so he sold the land his family held for generations and moved to Florida. The developer sweetened the deal by promising to name the development after the farm. Housing developments in America are always named after what they replaced.
The guy now living next to an apartment complex is right to wonder how his little slice of heaven turned into an urban nightmare. Who decided that those rental units needed to be next to his home? Who decided that there needed to be a strip mall down the road from that apartment complex? The answer is always the same. The people who owned the land decided, but they are gone now and the people who used to live next to them have to contend with the consequences.
Living next to a housing development or an apartment complex might not sound like a bad deal, given that it brings economic opportunity. Life is trade-offs and progress is no exception to that rule. Sure, the aesthetics of the community decline with each generic block of new homes, but now you have a Walmart, so it means not driving to the next town over to shop at their Walmart. This may or may not be a valid argument, but the point is to avoid that big question, who decides?
Maybe this is for the best and the people making these decisions are right to do what they are doing, but they should then drop the fig leaf of democracy. If they are going to preach the glories of democracy, while ignoring the will of the people, then it is not going to be long before people lose faith in democracy. The great advocates of democracy have no one to blame but themselves for the crisis of democracy. The cause of that crisis is we were never asked.
If the guy who now finds himself driving his family past a strip joint every Sunday on the way to church knows who decided to put that strip joint in his community, he at least knows who to blame. He can appeal to that person or group of people to move that strip joint away from his church. Even if the guy deciding is actually in a swank Manhattan office and lives in a mansion in Connecticut, he is still a man who calls somewhere home and therefore he can be reached.
If the decision is being made by the nebulous concept of democracy, where voting never seems to make a difference, then that man telling his kids that the apartment complex where the cops are always at used to be a farm, owned by a family that first came to the state at the founding, has every right to wonder if the real cause of the problem is that nebulous thing called democracy. Maybe he would be better served by someone, anyone, who takes responsibility for these decisions.
Counterintuitively, this is why economic elites love democracy and socialism. This is something the Marxists never anticipated or ever understood. Democracy and socialism put the people’s stamp of approval on the economic relations. The guy who decided to put a housing development in your town gets to keep all the money while the people living with his choices get to pretend it is their fault. The greatest trick the ruling class ever pulled is in convincing the people they do not exist.
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