James Joyce once said that when writing about Dublin that he could get to the heart of any city in the world. Even though he left Dublin quite young and never returned, it was still where he based most of his stories. In the current era of neo-liberal globalisation, I think this culture can best be embodied by New York City. New York City is the unofficial capital of the world and it influences what the rest of the world follows in terms of the precedents it sets in terms of culture and social mores especially in the west. If we can get to the heart of New York then we can get to the heart of the current thinking among our elites.
This article does not just apply to New York but is the primary source where this way of thinking emanates from. It could be applied to other metropolises across the west from Helsinki to London. New York City represents a certain dichotomy where on one hand it is the heart of capitalism where they tell you that if work hard and play by the rules and then you as they say “can make it”. While this is largely fiction, it does appeal to people in an emotional way as it gives them hope. People are always busy and in a rush while working hard and wish to emphasise it constantly. People can be aggressive and have a get out of my way mentality. New York is also where the elites of society reside or work but only in particular areas of course.
On the other hand, New York represents what the left sees as the best of us in that New York is as culturally liberal as it gets and is extremely racially diverse and accepting of everyone no matter their background. There is a culture of the arts and of activism exclusively on the left particularly related to social issues. New York intellectuals are among the most prominent leftist intellectuals while there is also a culture of enterprise and free market capitalism among its business elite who are also the business elite of America and the world. They still manage to co-exist, while New York sees itself as the most progressive on issues related to minorities. People of colour, particularly African Americans, are locked up at disproportionate rates and police can behave in quite an aggressive manner in minority neighbourhoods. There is also a culture of what we might call left wing chauvinism when leaders proclaim that New York is the greatest city in the world. This type of sentiment is usually associated with the nationalist right in many countries but no one will criticise New York in this context.
The question is what is meant by the term “greatest city in the world”? Is there a metric that can be used? As far as I can see, New York does not meet any criteria for this title. It is a sharply divided city composed of mostly liberal white/Jewish elite and a large mass of impoverished people of colour. It is extremely segregated while most liberal whites will shout from the rooftops about the benefits of diversity, they will segregate themselves from it in wealthy enclaves. Ironically you could say that New York is the definition of white supremacism even though the leaders will constantly harp on about issues pertaining to racism and inequality.
These leaders mostly virtue signal and are unlikely to make systematic change to advance the interests of minorities, which gets to the question, how this system maintains itself as New York demographics resemble more and more the demographics of the entire western European world. New York is strong and resilient like the current system but they are cracks widening beneath the surface. There are a few reasons for this; one is that New York officials do not have to concern themselves with foreign policy issues which for example could cause division between a mostly pro-Israeli elite and pro-Palestinian populace and New York has also especially during the Trump Presidency has been able to position itself as a liberal bulwark against the so called nativist Trump administration.
New York has the freedom to be a liberal bubble without any responsibility to govern a whole nation which would present serious difficulties which the west is currently experiencing and are being exasperated by the current consensus. Places like New York are what our elite point to and tell us that these differences between racial groups will eventually work themselves out and we will all be better for it in the long term. New York offers no evidence of this and suggests a more likely situation like in Brazil where the wealthy live in heavily guarded compounds and everyone fights for the crumbs. In a sense this will again perpetuate white supremacy instead of ending it as the left envisions.
Most moderates on the political spectrum from left to right think that these differences will decline over time and hardcore identity politics will end and the aforementioned people of colour will become just like white people. This fault is of European thinking which thinks that everybody will be just like us. This fallacy will be ultimate self destructive and these peoples will resist becoming like us and even if they did want to, they will be unable to. The truth is that other groups will resent Europeans and will not differentiate between the wealthy and poor ones. They will, if current policy continues, be superior numerically and will seek to advance their interests at our expense. Look at South Africa, for example. South Africa is the most developed country in Africa largely due to European settlers.
This does not matter to the native population as this is seen as coming at their expense and they probably think that they could have achieved greater things if they had not been subjugated for so long. As we see even though, whites are still the wealthiest group in South Africa, although they are very much on the back foot and in retreat. Many are being forced to leave with those who remain, living in constant fear. The constitution is being changed to expropriate white land. This is not sustainable long term and most whites will have to leave for safer environments. Most whites still think that if we placate these groups and play to their grievances that they will not resent us and there will be peace and harmony. Europeans will also be forgiven for their original sin of “racism”. This is utopian thinking that is not routed in reality. Each group will do best living in their own environments among their own people utilising the strengths that they have as a group.
This is the first part of a essay on New York which I will delve into more deeply in the next part.