Category Archives: Fragmentation

What if everybody lived only with ‘people like me?’

This started as a response to the very end of a long comment by Barry, and it got sufficiently involved that I decided to make it a separate post:

This balkanization thing is pretty crazy. But it’s huge — people wanting to live only with people “like them,” however they define it. (I’ve always been puzzled by the concept. I look around and don’t really see any “people like me.” I just see people, with all their differences and quirks, and I prefer it that way.)

I was reading a column in the NYT tonight, taking off on the Scott Adams thing, “The ‘Dilbert’ Cartoonist and the Durability of White-Flight Thinking.” I don’t know if you read or heard this part of that story, but one of the things Adams said was, after essentially dismissing black folks as hopeless:

There’s no fixing this. This can’t be fixed. You just have to escape. So that’s what I did. I went to a neighborhood where I have a very low Black population…

Anyway, the column, by Charles Blow, went on to say that back in 2012, you could observe that cities had moved away from the white-flight mode to the point that they were more integrated than they’d been in a century. But over the next decade, things swung back the other way.

And of course, although Blow doesn’t address it, this desire to be with “people like me” extends far beyond race. People have been segregating themselves politically.

So what if we go to extremes, and split up the whole country the way you mentioned in Oregon? You’d have all the Trumpists in one part, and all the “enlightened” folks in the other. One would have a red flag, the other blue. Of course the red country would be run only by people who hate government, and don’t have the skills to do it anyway. Meanwhile, in the blue one, you’d have all these wonderful social programs financed by soaking the rich, and the rich would either lump it or move to the red country, where they’d find themselves without decent roads or schools or sanitation, and I don’t think they’d be happy. I don’t think anybody’d be particularly happy.

We need a mix of people. I think we’re all better off living in what Blow referred to as “a functional, egalitarian, pluralistic society.” A place where people may disagree and even yell at each other, but in the end understand that compromise and accommodation to other people who want other things is part of living together in something approaching sanity.

We used to have one of those. I miss it…