Episode Five – Urban vs Rural

Of course we should leave!

I, like most of you, had a plan in my twenties. I was going to do a thing to make a gob of money. Figured it’d take about five years of serious work and then I was going to leave this rat race behind. I was going to move to the country, with all my best buddies, lovers, and relations, and do something like cooperation or consensus or whatever in the fuck the land told me to do. I’d be free, with my community, and I’d just wile away the years writing, reading, puttering about in the garden, and not being productive, in the capitalist sense of the word, for the rest of my life.

And I had a big advantage over my less serious, less commited cohort. My father, and his group of high school friends showed me the way. They bought 40 acres together, they build structures on it, and were serious about living a different form of life. I spent a lot of my childhood there with a bow and arrow strapped across by back, fishing, and hiking. Nights around the campfire making goddamn smores and hot dogs and sleeping in teepees, structures, and even under the stars. But it was also not the dream at all. It was a weekend retreat for working class hippies who swung from trees and got wasted as a way to heal from working shit jobs and being exhausted from never ending shit. The two hour drive was, for most of these people, a way to get into a headspace that could imagine a better world because the other five days a week it was not possible. And as the years ticked along these little escapes became less frequent until they no longer occured at all.

And when I go to the country now, I mostly see working land. It is no more restful than the jobs I work in the city, it just pays less. And as it turned out I didn’t save the money I thought I would, the friends and lovers didn’t stick around and the community isn’t even referred to in jokes any more. Of course we should leave the city, except for all the reasons we stay, we become specialists, there are too many of us to imagine being without, and the terrible routines become what we are accostomed to. We can no longer imagine a different horrorshow.

This week we talk about the dream (for many many anarchists) of moving “back to land” and how it has worked out for those who have done it. Wouldn’t getting away from all the shit be great? What is that shit? Are there more fun anarchist activities happening there rather than here? Or is it in fact the opposite? Are the libraries, cafes, and protests worth the high rent and commuting? Is getting work even possible in the country any more? We talk about the dream, the reality and what happens when the things fall apart!

2 Replies to “Episode Five – Urban vs Rural”

  1. Soup & Oyster

    Last week I gave up on the broadcast. But came back. This seemed to be a great interchange and the time flew quickly by. Aragorn seemed more open, relaxed, and maybe not as forced. The time he spent researching the issue may be part of it.

    Interesting Sociology had a Rural Sociology versus Urban Sociology disciplines.

  2. loiterhard

    As usual I am late to the party, I missed the live show.

    Someone needs to tell Malthus that this is a ‘call in’ show not a ‘call out’ show! Just kidding, I am sympathetic to a lot of Malthus’ jabs and appreciated his tone. Thanks for the laughs everyone.

    The dream. I have considerably less stars in my eyes about it these days, especially as the 5 year goal gets extended again and again due to life’s curve-balls. That’s a good thing in some ways because maybe I dodged some bullets socially and would now not think about doing the dream with some of the people I originally intended to. It’s still hard for me to imagine something better than the rural, given what there is to work with and what seems feasible.

    Like Malthus, I have become a bit of a hermit. Being a hermit in a big city sometimes works fine for me, other times it adds another layer of me feeling crazy living in the city or feeling like an old asshole. In the city, the one I live in anyway, there’s a relatively high percentage of ‘Alt’ appearing people pretty much everywhere I go. There isn’t the stark contrast of that one person in the rural area showing the particular aesthetic signifiers that makes me want to reach out and talk to them. In the city I pretty much just ignore the sea of watered down alts, politics on sleeves, and the i’m-so-much-weirder-than-thou’s. When I come across a freak outside of the city I am much more inclined to give them a chance and reach out.

    I could be rid of the cafes and protests and parties, none of which i frequent or like. Libraries on the other hand are a little harder for me to dismiss.

    I thought Aragorn! made a good counter to some of the pro-ruralites in that tech/internet’s permeation makes going “back to the land” not such a clear break as it might have been in the 90’s or even the early 00’s. My project of moving to some land goes hand in hand with lessening the role of tech in my life. Not that that is a silver bullet.

    Just some disjointed thoughts and disjointed thumbs up.

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