SNUL: “Spatial Justice”

This is making the rounds of the rightosphere.  Commenting on academic stupidity is kinda my thing, so per union regulation 23.2.5(b), here goes: Once again we see that Leftism is, at bottom, one big category error:

Students will investigate spatial justice and injustice in the multi-ethnic city through the lens of three thematic technologies that have literally built and transformed LA into a global metropolis: cars and highways; networking technologies culminating in the Internet and World Wide Web; and film and broadcast media.

Pop quiz, hotshots: What are cars and highways for?  What is their purpose?

Never having had them, the Left has no idea that the answer is: “jobs.”  One has a car, and uses a freeway, to get to one’s job.  Cars and freeways aren’t “symbols” that “encode” anything (the meaning behind the even uglier neologism “thematic technologies”); they’re tools.  A car can also be a symbol of something, of course — cf. Midlife Crisis Guy in his new Corvette — but its fundamental purpose, the category to which it belongs, is “tool.”  Cars — all transportation and transportation infrastructure — are a means to an end.

Lefties don’t know this, because they don’t read.  If they did, they’d know that this kind of thing has already been covered, extensively, and that focusing on the symbolic aspects of infrastructure is a great way to make a city unliveable.  There’s even a big fancy academic study about it: James C. Scott’s Seeing like a State.  The subtitle says it all: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed.  It goes without saying that Scott is no kind of conservative, but he is an honest man, who saw the nose in front of his face.  His descriptions of cities like Brasilia, Brasil, which were designed on the principles of Le Corbusier — houses are “machines for living” — are alone worth the price of a used copy.  It’s actually a good read, and widely available.  Check it out.

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One thought on “SNUL: “Spatial Justice”

  1. nightfly

    Not only a category error… but also the problem of looking at things wrong-end-on. Because people DO invest meaning and symbolism in their tools, as they invest it in anything. Man is a mythmaking creature, an incorrigible artist. They don’t just advertise the utility of the car, but that it’s AWESOME. Tailfins! Chrome! Bluetooth-enabled with 6-speaker, multichannel audio and subwoofer! Fourteen cupholders!

    And why? “Because it’s an extension of who you are,” and as a result we can have Jon Gabriel ask, on Twitter, if a reporter personally knows anyone who owns a pickup truck and have it turn into a seven-days skirmish in the culture wars. The average Prius or Smart Two owner is a lot different than someone tooling around in a Kia Soul or a Honda Fit. They’re marketed differently and people really do say different things about themselves based on their choice of vehicle. Same, of course, with their choice of clothes, with their beer, with their haircut, with their diet, with their TV channels and music.

    From that, the Left mistakenly concludes that because people invest meaning in their choice of essentials, that the essential thing is that symbolic meaning, and not the thing itself. They miss that whatever those choices may be, people will stop making them if the thing itself doesn’t actually work. Invest all the meaning you want in the Yugo or New Coke, it won’t make them viable. And the Left concludes that something must be wrong with the people, whom they fail to understand as humans because they see them wrong-end-on as well.

    So, the Left can’t figure out why nobody likes all their fake replacements for concrete and lasting things: ersatz secular religions, sermons disguised as movies and comics, humor that isn’t funny, news that is all narrative fiction, education devoid of knowledge, all the stupid cultural “trends” in fashion and cuisine and art that vanish below the surface with barely a ripple. It’s why they have to layer everything in rules to force people to pay attention to them – in a “fair fight” of ideas, of honest interest, they would have less chance than a basket of kittens in a tornado.

    PS: (Ringo voice) Forgive the lateness of my reply.


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