For no reason I can think of — perhaps it was hangover from last week's Vent, which mentions a fictional chav-ridden Britain described by Martin Amis — I dreamed that my neighborhood was beset by some distincly ill-tempered (and, from the looks of the one I addressed directly, dentally challenged) yobs who sought to deface artworks and make off with electronic equipment, not necessarily in that order. It seems to me that neighborhoods generally, except at the very top and very bottom of the socioeconomic strata, are always at least somewhat in flux, and there exists great fear in many neighborhoods that their quality of life, not to be confused with their property values, will be threatened by this kind of churn.

There also exists a belief, most often among those with a sociological bent, that this fear is wholly unfounded, that neighborhoods change all the time with no ill effects, and those showing concern must be motivated by blind, unreasoning prejudice. ("Unlike us," they think but usually don't actually say.) In general, they are missing the point. A neighborhood does not go downhill because so many members of Demographic A were replaced by members of Demographic B; a neighborhood goes downhill because people who give a damn were replaced by people who don't. Ethnicity and other considerations are a factor only tangentially, if at all.

The reason the sociologists fail on this point is their insistence, amplified by the volume of the Diversity Machine, that our species is infinitely perfectible, that we would have no problems with the aforementioned Demographic B, or indeed any other letter, were it not for our unaccountable failure to understand them and their special needs — and guess who's uniquely qualified to explain said needs?

Back in the days before lessons of this sort were deemed inappropriate, we knew why this was a crock. "We are all fallen creatures," pointed out C. S. Lewis, "and all very hard to live with." We are not infinitely perfectible: we are not even acceptable until we have aligned ourselves with the Laws of the Universe, which are not given to us by sociologists or by politicians. Of every last one of us the worst should be thought, until we've given sufficient evidence that we should not be so considered.

This notion is horrifying to some people, typically evoking two simultaneous responses: (1) "Well, I'm not like that" and (2) "How dare they say that some people are better than others?" One reliable distinguishing characteristic of the contemporary progressive is the inability to perceive the contradiction inherent in those two responses. The old-school doctrine of Original Sin persists, not so much because it's still being pushed by a handful of churches, but because it explains so much about contemporary human behavior: even the best of us can be seduced by evil — by the power of the Dark Side, if you'd prefer — and we must be on our guard. The half-assed response to this is for people to redefine evil as "whatever we're not," thereby presumably guaranteeing themselves a position on the side of the angels. (Actual angels, of course, will not be sought out for their advice.) So if my neighborhood ever is beset by ill-tempered yobs, I expect to be told that my objets d'art are bourgeois and unworthy, and what right have I to spend money on electronic toys when there's so much poverty still? A twisted, cart-before-the-horse worldview of this sort can only be explained by vision restrictions caused by cranial-rectal proximity; once you straighten yourself up, you know better.

The Vent

#790
  23 September 2012

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