As everyone who’s ever been skating knows, there’s nothing like anarchy to bring about spontaneous order. Somebody decides to skate either clockwise or counter-clockwise and pretty soon everybody falls into line. Based on no empirical evidence whatsoever, a “progressive” would have predicted random collisions, overheated tempers and — in concealed-carry states — gunfire. To a leftist, life is a room full of bumper cars just waiting to happen, and needing the heavy, coercive, and sometimes lethal hand of the state to prevent citizens from, well, killing each other.
We conservatives, on the other hand, prefer the view that not every one of our fellow citizens is a homicidal maniac, thief, robber, or chiseler; we do not view the entire rest of humanity, crooked as its timber may sometimes be, as a threat. The Hobbesian left exists in a constant state of fear and misery (hence the rise of the Robocop), with the added genius that its prescriptions for ameliorating the human condition inevitably and ineluctably result in an increase in misery, until it finally turns into what it really has been all along: a suicide cult. The notion that less government equals better government is completely alien to them, because they do not trust themselves to be good.
And now we both have a chance to put our theories to the test, right there in Motown — Detroit City, Michigan, U.S.A.
Their theories, of course, have already been tried.
The fabulous Ruins of Detroit, decline-porn lovingly recorded by legions of photographers from around the world, are a direct result of leftist notions of government, put into place since the calamitous riots of 1967 and now at their apotheosis in the bankruptcy of one of America’s greatest cities. An entire city has effectively been leveled in a failed attempt to prove that the crackpot Marxist “labor theory of value” makes any sense in the real world; that the current generation of people is far more important than those in the past who labored to create the city, and more important even than future generations. An infinite amount of money — well, nearly infinite, because Detroit finally ran out of it — has been expended in order to provide “services” that nearly everyone would have been better off providing for themselves.
As I wrote over at the Corner on NRO yesterday:
Until you’ve been there, you have no idea just how devastated the place is. And I don’t mean “devastated” in its current pop-psychological, New York Times-sense of “a little bit discomfited” — I mean devastated as in Carthage just before the salt trucks arrived. I’ve driven all over the city, from downtown to Eight Mile along Woodward Avenue, which bisects the town into its east and west sides, through surviving neighborhoods like the faded but still mightily impressive Boston-Edison and Indian Village, to neighborhoods that, well, simply do not exist anymore. They’re gone. From Brush Park, for example — in the 19th Century, Detroit’s most desirable neighborhood — you can stand on what amounts to a prairie, gazing south toward downtown a couple of miles away, and your view is entirely unobstructed — you can easily make out Ford Field in the distance. A city that once boasted the finest residential architecture in the country is now effectively a ghost town, and all the finger-pointing won’t bring it back.
And that’s the real tragedy of Detroit — a marvelous example of 20th Century American civilization has vanished and is now returning to a state of nature that would have, literally, been inconceivable were it pitched back in the 1950s as one option for the city’s future. We can argue all we want about the blame, but there is no gainsaying that Detroit did not deserve its lot, and does not deserve to be an object of derision for the Right today.