The coronavirus has really brought out the culture differences throughout both the world and the country. It has sharply contrasted the mindset of China and the mindset of the West. Within America the divide between Urban and Rural has never been clearer. Both of these are interesting and important aspects of the future.

The Chinese got hit by this coronavirus first, and I’ve heard a lot about what they do from my dad, who works with Chinese kids, teaching them English. Since kids are less tight-lipped than adults, we probably know a lot more about China than most people and were hearing higher death numbers before they were revealed to everyone. China is the embodiment of the centralized state, at least in the modern day. The Communist party rules as a dictatorship. It first invented the lockdown, where everyone was kept inside. They exercised to the fullest their control over the population. And China managed to keep the counts low, as far as we could tell. Bigger numbers came out later. Because of the false numbers, the lockdown was considered the best and only way of beating the coronavirus. China is the most fertile ground for any virus, with many urban areas that Americans can only imagine. Beijing has 21.7 million people in it. California has less than double that with only 39.5 million. That is astounding. Because of this, and the poor nutrition of most Chinese, the virus has every reason to be rampant in China. Only now, as the temperature goes up, has it begun to melt away.

In the West, things went differently. First Italy was hit, and it stood against the Chinese way, and let their people take care of themselves. This led to disaster, from which Italy has not yet recovered. After that the West went into a panic, especially Europe. In America, it was mostly done in the form of suggestions, at least at the Federal level. In Europe things were shut down much quicker. In both, the end result has been the same. We’ve had a large amount of trouble in the urban areas, where people are closer together. In the rural areas, things aren’t that bad. This has been a chief cause of division between urban and rural.

The urban/rural debate has been going on throughout history. It has been brought to a head in recent times, however, as the urban population goes up, and the rural population goes down. That, combined with the partiality of the coronavirus towards urban areas, has led to this divide becoming sharp. The chief difference is this. In the city, everything is there. You work hard to be on the cutting edge, and everything is there. You have a lot of money, but everything costs a lot. You rely on public transportation. You pay high taxes, and get lots of benefits. The urban life is bustling, and is always on the cutting edge of culture. The cities have always had the ideas first. In Paris, the French Revolution was conceived. In Moscow, Communism was first practically considered. In the American and European cities, we’ve seen the ideas of the past thrown away for new ideas. The current divide is about whether they will spread.

The Rural population is “behind the times.” They live a simpler life. In one of the most rural states, Wisconsin, they opened up bars, because the state Supreme Court ruled that the lockdown order was unconstitutional. The Rural population is independent. As they say, “A country boy can survive.” The rural life is one of working without much intervention. People mostly just want to live the way they always have. The rural population is much older, and this is because the colleges are run by the urban population. These colleges then try to imprint the people who go to college with urban ideals. Thus, the rural population is rapidly ageing, while the younger generation goes from college to the urban centers, and from there the rural population loses the population battle, despite the fact that one of the urban ideals is having fewer people in the world. I suppose it is the natural result of living in such a crowded place. I describe it as a battle, and that may seem extreme. However, it really is not. It was the rural population that produced President Trump, who won by sweeping the Midwest and winning key states that have large rural populations, like Pennsylvania. The Urban population despises Trump for the most part, and they are not at all happy that the rural population, through the electoral college, defeated the superior population of the urban areas. The massive gap between these two populations can make the U. S. seem like two countries, with two radically different cultures and ideas being put forth for the governance of the country.

How will it go? I can’t say. The rural population is shrinking, but that was primarily due to college, in my opinion. If colleges become virtual, and young people stay in rural areas, perhaps they will have rural ideals. We shall see. We may have an exodus from urban areas like New York City when this is over. Who can say what effect that will have? Whatever the result, this will certainly be one of the most important issues of the next decade. 

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 8:32 am | Edit
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Thank you, Wyatt. I agree about the importance of the urban/rural divide. I've said for a long time that the only reason we have not had another secession is that we can't draw a simple geographical line between our intense political divisions.

I also agree that the fact that going off to college is now nearly universal in America is a large factor in the spread of "urban values." To that I would add popular media, especially television, movies, and music, which are more effective at spreading urban values than a packed Pentecostal church singing and praying at full volume is at spreading COVID-19.



Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, June 02, 2020 at 9:35 am

With a little more perspective, I'd argue the end result is no longer "pretty much the same." I've used Google and the Johns Hopkins coronavirus map for data.

Switzerland:
8.57 million inhabitants
close to 370 COVID19 cases per 100'000
population density 537/sq mile
curve: clear sigmoid

New Hampshire:
1.36 million inhabitants
just over 410 COVID19 cases per 100'000
population density 145/sq mile
curve: beginning sigmoid

Wisconsin:
5.82 million inhabitants
just over 450 COVID19 cases per 100'000
population density 89/sq mile
curve: still rising

I'll also add that the temperature doesn't seem to have that great an effect (see Singapore, constantly humid and hot).

I do not think that urban folks preach population growth reduction because cities are crowded. I'd bet they see their city as bustling, energetic, full of opportunity. Many jobs and projects can only get off the ground with a sufficient population density (Jane Jacobs argues that case very well), and thus I don't think the high density is seen as only a disadvantage.



Posted by Stephan on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 7:20 pm
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