Friday, March 07, 2008

Florida on steroids

What is really fascinating about Dubai is that apparently there are thousands and thousands of people in the "western" world who are so affluent and so without roots that they are willing to go live in a completely artificial and remote location. This really says something about the kind of relationships they (do not) have in the places where they grew up.

6 comments:

Santiago said...

It's not only the affluent. It's the middle class in America, who live in faceless suburbs, and the poor who live in bleak inner cities. We shouldn't blame the rich for being rootless; it's not a moral offense. It is simply the condition we are all living in today.

Carlo said...

Ah, I disagree. Affluence does have cultural relevance. In fact, if you think of it, the whole modern bourgeois mentality has theological roots (nature vs.supernature, the belief that there are purely "natural" ends etc.) The poor may be affected by it, but this phenomenon is revealed in its essence in the rich: the denial that to be human is to be essentially dependent. And the denial that to be a person means to be in relationship.

Of course, this reflects a perennial problem (it is easier for a camel...) but it is especially relevant to our time. At the height of the Marxist wave in the late '60's A. Del Noce pointed out in a celebrated essay that Marxism was doomed by its inner logic "to lead to the perfect bourgeois type, purified from all the XIX century Christian incrustations." This certainly happened in many parts of Europe, but also in the US. Just look at the voting patterns of the 10 richest counties in the US. Or read the Financial Times! A characteristic figure of the age is the billionaire-nihilist. Only 25 years ago, when I was a teenager, money was universally associated with cultural conservatism...

Santiago said...

Go to the suburbs of Indiana, or Illinois, or Missouri, et al. There you will see a middle class people who live comfortably in prefabricated houses along streets with meaningless, a-historical names, who feel they've controlled every contingency in life, and implicate themselves in this very view: the denial that to be human is to be essentially dependent. We can depend on ourselves because we have to so well in the suburbs. It's a phenomenon that began in the 50s, with the baby boom and the Levittown, before Del Noce.

Again, I don't blame these people morally. It is the world they were born into.

Freder1ck said...

This discussion reminds me of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Guy Montag was not responsible to anyone until Clarisse asks him if he's happy. The condition is not a moral fault, but an amorality. What did St. Paul say, strangers to every covenant?

Carlo said...

Sure, but what's the point? The masses share (to some degree) in the affluency. In fact, Del Noce wrote precisely at the end of the post-WWII economic boom that created what he called the "affluent society." Except that nobody paid attention to the cultural and athropological shift that accompanied the economic developments.

As for the word "moral," I never used it...

Freder1ck said...

yes, the poor are affluent also: cable tv, xbox, designer clothes, etc. If nothing else, they are affluent in their desire for these things.