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White Flight Ends With Civil War Or Secession Early History

December 2, 2012

Liberals have a problem understanding Conservatives but in this case I suggest they pay close attention.  We are rapidly reaching the point where things are not going to end well, and that goes for both sides and all of the “99%”.  The move to secede, still thankfully more of an attempt to be heard than a threat to leave,  is really the final solution from the perspective of those who just want to be left alone.

“White flight” may most often be associated with the phenomena of whites fleeing en masse from specific neighborhoods or cities in an attempt to avoid ethnic and racial mixing, but Michael Streich seems to take a different tack in his article, Consequences of 1950s White Flight.  Although he doesn’t completely dismiss the racial component, in fact he simply sees it from a different perspective, he makes the point that various policies pursued by the Federal Government also come in for their fair share of the blame.

In his scenario, the allure of home ownership in the newly created suburbs was more of a carrot than any changes occurring in the old neighborhood being the stick.  As he also points out, other “Caucasian” ethnic groups remained entrenched in their old neighborhoods openly celebrating their traditions and express their community values in various other ways.  On the other hand, where he does see the racial component as a significant factor is when one looks at the employment and salary/wage opportunities available to “Negroes” in the post WWII period.  The fact that people of color, on average, made less than their fellow citizens created a financial hurdle which in many cases was much more difficult to overcome than simply being the wrong color.

Another article which provides an interesting perspective is Where The Neighborhood Ends.  The original purpose of this article was to inform and engage students at the high school level, and actually ends up raising some rather untidy questions.  Although it is written from an African American point of view, I wonder how many of the students end up understanding all the various perspectives.

The protagonist in the story is a young black male who lives in a primarily white neighborhood of Chicago.  His father is a lawyer and the neighborhood is concerned about the “quality” of the people who are threatening to move in.  The end of the story leaves us wondering whether he is able to escape the angry group of (white) neighborhood men who mistakenly took him for a prowler based on the color of his skin.

There are some rather obvious holes in the plot, but the short story still asks some interesting questions.  In the story, the father is obviously involved in the affairs of the neighborhood and thus the fact that he is a “Negro” is obviously not a secret. He is not only asked to attend the neighborhood meeting, but his status as a full and contributing member is further emphasized by the fact that they accept and appreciate the fact that he is willing to contribute his expertise.  Essentially, the story asks the question of what constitutes a group.  Although the ending attempts to suggest it is by color, I would suggest it also makes a case that groups are defined by the values and interests which the individuals hold in common.

In 2005 Capitalism Magazine published an article by Thomas Sowell in which he made the following points:

The phrase “white flight” is completely misleading. All over the world and throughout history, groups have collected together with people like themselves, whether by race, income, education, religion, or any number of other characteristics. There is nothing unique when white people do it.

Perhaps even more relevant to today’s environment, he goes on to say:

The fact that people sort themselves out in many ways is not usually a big problem — except to those people who cannot feel fulfilled unless they are telling other people what to do. Government programs to unsort people who have sorted themselves out have produced one social disaster after another.

The recent appearance of petitions to secede are a direct result of discounting the negative consequences which accrue when policy makers ignore the natural laws which Dr. Sowell is referencing.  As he points out, people have always gravitated to those who share certain relevant characteristics.    One might even argue that without that impulse there would be no United States.

Experts have attempted to explain historical events using a variety of underlying themes.  This article will primarily focus on the integration of social norms with economic realities while not completely ignoring how other factors may also have had a significant effect.  These two threads, the right to keep what you earn and the right to live in a community of shared values, begin even before the first settlers arrived on the American continent and continue to this day.

Those who originally braved the elements to carve out a place of their own on this “new” continent were not only fleeing oppression at home, but also hoping to found and live in new communities which reflected their values.  The desire for religious freedom, albeit sometime misinterpreted, is generally acknowledged as a major theme of American History and yet the economic aspects are often seemingly ignored.  The reality is that they are necessarily intertwined.

Perhaps the best way to explain how the quest for freedom and the desire to keep the fruits of one’s labor ties the three themes of this article together is to consistently tell the story from one point of view.  Some may argue that this is unfair, but that would ignore the point of the exercise in the first place.  The purpose of this article is to spark a discussion related to the ongoing conflict between progressives (statist) and conservatives (small government).

In the most general sense what we are in the process of observing as well as experiencing is the rear-guard action of a tattered army being fought by those determined to defend Western Values until the very end.  Whether one wishes to characterize the on-going battle between the two forces as racist, xenophobic, or even white supremacy, the fact of the matter is that with each retreat the general level of prosperity declines.  Conservatives, by and large, are not in favor of either big corporations or big governments as they see them as two sides of the same coin.

When the first settlers left England for Plymouth, Massachusetts,  they believed they were about to build a better community as a result of its’ expressing their religious and cultural values.  Financial considerations also played no small part in motivating many to leave a society which favored the rich and the powerful over the poor and the weak.  It seemed unfair that they labored long and hard and yet after paying taxes and other tributes they were left with a pittance to meet their daily needs.  It is thus not a coincidence that their religious beliefs had economic as well as spiritual components which determined the way in which they initially structured their society.

Unfortunately their first attempt to found a society structured to ensure that no individual was robbed of the compensation he was due was an unmitigated disaster.  It seems they had learned the wrong lesson from their experiences in England and had not realized that the success of every system depends on how well it rewards its producers and punishes its miscreants.  Jerry Bowyer provides us with a good picture of what happens when non-producers, whether they be from the top or the bottom, are accepted as equals and rewarded at the same level as the producers of the society.

As William Bradford recorded in his Of Plymouth Plantation, a people who had formerly been known for their virtue and hard work became lazy and unproductive. Resources were squandered, vegetables were allowed to rot on the ground and mass starvation was the result. And where there is starvation, there is plague. After 2 1/2 years, the leaders of the colony decided to abandon their socialist mandate and create a system which honored private property. The colony survived and thrived and the abundance which resulted was what was celebrated at that iconic Thanksgiving feast.

(Once again, the excellent article can be found here, and a related article which I attempted to link cannot be found “here”)

It would seem from the Plymouth Plantation experience that the ill effects of socialism are much more readily apparent in smaller societies and when survival is at stake the required adjustments are not long in coming.  This highlights the fact that those who support socialistic societies depend on those societies being large enough to obscure the negative consequences inherent in the system itself.  The point being that early on it was discovered that when the producers of a society are rewarded every member of the society also benefits while if everyone benefits equally no one benefits at all.

Although my next section might seem more relevant as I plan on focusing on “white flight” in this century and the last, this section provides a basis for that presentation.  This is because one might suggest that the history of the United States is the history of “white flight”.  Imagine what might have happened if the leaders of the Plymouth Plantations had not changed their ways and continued to indulge their original socialistic ideas.  Is it not reasonable to assume that the productive members would have struck out on their own and formed a new colony of their own, leaving the non-productive members behind?  It was only by incentivizing productive behavior that the colony was able to successfully provide enough sustenance for even its poorest member.

Thank you.

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