Commentary on the fragmenting nature of modern society is not new. Observers recognize the simultaneous growth in supranational entities, treaties, and economic governance, all while small separatist movements and even new nations simultaneously form. The idea that this fragmentation is leading to an unraveling or collapse of core identities that held up the post-World War II system is newer, or at least newer in the pages of progressive.
What is lost in progressive commentary is the massive tailwinds at the back for a decentralization or deurbanization of society.
The trend for decades, if not centuries, has been one of urbanization, owing simply to the trend of technological development allowing for greater and greater centralization. In America, economic growth has funneled into the mega-cities comprising the Clinton Archipelago. These cities act as economic vampires and personnel vampires; the IQ shredding nature of cities means lower birthrates, requiring cities to suck in talent from all over America. This need is combined with a steady media messaging system that starts from early childhood equating high status with living in a city, and not just any city, but a glamorous city.
Trends towards urbanization and centralization feature prominently in news reports, but those reports contain the very same reasons for a push to decentralization and also forget the human element, neglecting to assign any agency to individuals. Business continues to consolidate by using technology and low-interest money to combine corporations and increase efficiency. There is a problem, though, as firms continue to flatten their hierarchy as they grow, merge, and downsize.
For example, firms may scale down their hierarchy from a structure during the 2000s or even late ’90s that may have had an executive VP in charge of a division, five VPs under him, a layer of management, possibly working supervisors, and then the floor of white collar workers. There was possibly even a feeder staff of temporary employees to find the newest floor workers. The flattening of a hierarchy shaves the entire division down to say 2-3 VPs, half the management staff, and floor workers who they stretch and stratify to act like managers, but of course without the pay.
These companies give false promises of empowering down the chain, as technology really places sign-offs and exception power up the chain, creating bottlenecks.
The bottlenecks are not just in processes. For the work environment, this also destroys the future expectations of many employees who see the management slots collapse. The brass ring that was held out for Boomers to chase as they failed to reach executive status is not even visible today. Employers focusing on cutting costs have destroyed the idea of feeder positions to develop talent and gutted many internal training programs. Instead, they want a new hire to have 3-5 years of experience, start day one running at 100 mph, and also accept the wages of a 25-year-old.
The other problem is that skilled workers are becoming harder to find, but technology has a fix. The rise in remote workers is due to technology, but also the lack of loyalty from employers, allowing more skilled workers to become free agents themselves. These factors are economically where the tailwinds for decentralization come in, as now employees can earn a city wage or a Blue State wage but live in rural areas, small towns, or simply lower cost of living Red States.
This has become a trend in recruiting, which will accelerate as firms continue to seek cost reductions, while bidding on the limited high skill talent pool. A fixed cost to cut is the square footage of $0 for a remote employee working from home versus the massive square footage for office space in any big city.
Deurbanization can also extend to entirely new microfirms that employ one or maybe two employees for the purpose of using technology to provide clients with the service they get at Bugman Corp, but with the care and attention of a boutique firm. In the 1970s, sales and service employees threatened to take their bloc of customers to a competitor if they were upset with Bugman Corp. With today’s technology, these same client interface employees can take their bloc of clients with them and become a small firm.
Perhaps this does not appeal to large clients with many moving parts, but it is awfully seductive to clients that are small to midsized and feel like one of millions of fish the many corporate oligopolies fight over servicing. Why would a customer have to be a small fish in a giant pond for a financial firm, when they can receive custom care and service as the big fish that a boutique firm needs? Years ago, many service firms scoffed at the idea of automated customer service lines or everyone outsourcing to India due to negative customer feedback to Gateway’s use of Indian call centers. The all-powerful cost-cutting impulse made it so, despite angry customers.
It does not need to be boutique firms or remote workers creating a landscape of skilled people heading remote. Regional firms can compete with the oligopolies of today because of the limits on economies of scale. Naked Capitalism has always written how numerous studies on banks show that after a certain size, gains from growing actually turn into losses. The too-big-to-fail (TBTF) bank situation is a perfect one for an industry destroyed to bail out a few elite entities now in a symbiotic relationship with the central political authority. With very little to compete on for costs or products, regional banks can begin to compete on service and client interaction again. With the spread of technology, TBTF banks no longer have an edge.
Deurbanization requires skilled workers and managers to become disaffected with the city and to erase the idea that the city is supreme from their minds, which with propaganda is not hard, as the sick culture of cities twist the lure of good food and the occasional concert into Western metropolises resembling The Capitol in Hunger Games. While the Pentagon’s ‘unavoidable’ dystopian urban future is anchored on the urban hellscapes of the Third World, this also applies to Western cities if the immigration floodgates remain open. As cultural goods decay or become targets for terrorists, as in the Ariana Grande concert bombing in Manchester, what is the upside to city living? If work can be divorced from location and the edge of being city anchored to get an executive spot is sandpapered away, what is holding anyone in the city?
Within the last 100 years, flight from the cities has happened and can happen again.
It is not simply 20th century white flight that serves as an example, but the development of old European towns. Henri Pirenne wrote how the locked feudal system ended up pushing others out or forcing others to create economic and political orders outside of the feudal system. This new order involved the formation of a patriciate with political power in the hands of locals that made their small towns function (a decentralized authoritarian order). These merchants and tradesman built the very picturesque cities Europe is famous for, while holding political power outside of the feudal agricultural system.
The neo-feudalism of today’s economy, where large corporations use large masses of the underclass via government funded conduits to earn money, allows for others to seek fortunes elsewhere and by other means. The current high and low could become a closed-off loop, and with their 90/10 Democrat/GOP voting patterns could in effect do this already to the areas outside the Clinton Archipelago. The elimination of the middle class could be interpreted as a removal of the middle as needed by the ultra-concentrated high to earn their lavish fortunes. This middle could form a new system if only it could coordinate and stepped back from the ‘cities r gud’ brainwashing.
It would take shared goals, ideals, and beliefs–and it would not look like a back-to-the land farming movement, but rather a back-to-the-land pioneering spirit to build up small towns and rural areas, using location independent workers, technology, and the rejection of the progressive status system. For small towns and little cities, it would not take many individuals to co-locate and transform a community of 5,000, or even 10,000. In these towns, there would be a renewed demand for sovereignty services, police services, education, and various goods and services that could be private and outside the current progressive regime.
There are probably ways to trick the Eye of Soros on the surface without revealing the weaponized infrastructure underneath. There would have to be some large entity that could provide security and even legal help for this distributed network.
Each technological development allows for a central force to further centralize services and power. If the products of that force are corruption and dysfunctional, the atmosphere will change for competent individuals to employ that same technology on a smaller scale. That same technology can provide the same goods and services, but in the hands of a person you can see, touch and feel. If the broader identities that the system has used for unifying their nations are unraveling, the opportunity is there for greater differentiation, social isolation, and given enough time, even speciation.