Karl Marx, that great ‘communist philosopher’, once said, “The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life“.
He said that like it was a good thing……
I used to basically agree with that statement (until I went rural). How could I not? All modern breakthroughs seemed to happen urban, institutional, governmental. Ya know? Where the university profs and the young geniuses hung out? MIT. Harvard. Oxford. The Sorbonne. All the BIG companies. Amazon. Microsoft. Exxon. The ‘world’ was centered in New York, London, Berlin and Paris…..right? All the great voices, actors, writers, capitalists and politicians were urban, sophisticated and well, recognized as geniuses on magazine covers. Country rural was, well, country and rural, ya know? Hick. Redneck. Bubba. Hillbilly. A bit on the dumb side…….if anyone noticed them at all.
“Y’all don’t get no astrophysicists or brain surgeons from Podunk, mister“.
But Marx’s theory has a few minor flaws. For the record, Marx was the son of a rich lawyer and lived off his father’s estate until it petered out. Then he lived poor. He lived in Germany, England, France and various couch surfing locations along the way…..presumably as a really smart urbanite. He never resided in, or even visited, Russia. Marx was more of a philosopher bum than a revolutionary economist. He may have just rationalized his personal failures….I dunno…who am I to judge?
Sill, he had a point or two to go along with the flaws……
I can now judge the phrase, ‘rural idiocy’ a bit better. I can judge it because I believed it and then I went rural and lived it and I now have an urban-gone-rural perspective. I kinda get it…..and I still kinda don’t.
First – brains migrate to the city. Mostly true. Non-physical-work oriented brains definitely go to the city. But some nature-oriented folks who are really smart don’t go and stay on the farm instead. I’ll give the edge in numbers to the urban smarties but I think that there are more of them mostly because the urban gene-pool is larger and more attractive and because larger libraries and institutions are there for the more intellectual (non-sweat requiring) pursuits. I.e. less physical work.
So, yes. More smarty pants are in the cities. Hard workers, making real stuff, fixing everything that breaks and doing so sustainably without endangering others…? Maybe not so much….
And, even though a lot of blithering idiots are also actually in the city (judging by the sheer numbers), they fall faster and farther than do the silly ones in the country. In the country, there is more open space and less opportunity to be revealed as stupid even though chainsaws and the grape-vine does an admirable job at trying to sort that out. Out here, we kinda know the idiots from the foolish, the silly from the feckless and the cretins from the dummies if by no other means than the number of remaining digits and appendages they sport.
Put more succinctly: country mice, like farmers, are capable generalists and city mice are very dependent specialists. I think that’s the basic difference.
Even a real simpleton working his hog farm has to master a lot of skills and can carry on that way for a long time (even if he loses an arm to a chainsaw). An idiot driving in heavy traffic dies in an inferno rather quickly. Even faster if he is a one-armed driver. Or gets shot. Or arrested. Or is addicted Or bankrupted. Or made homeless. Or worse, cancelled! Country life is more general and physical but it is, overall, more balanced and less dangerous to life if not limb. The dumb can linger here. They are accepted. They fail and die much quicker in the city.
Which, in itself, gives an intelligence edge to the country mouse – they live longer and are happier. Duh!
So, how does the longer-lived homesteader influence his greater rural life? Not a helluva lot. Generally speaking, the rural Bubba is a good enough neighbour. Usually salt-of-the-earth type. Nice enough. His or her influence is entirely local, tho. No campaigning. No selfish fund raising. They are a bit prone to populist influences and conspiracy theories but generally harmless – for the most part. Often brilliant with a lever, a hammer or a saw. Geniuses at ‘making do’. They rarely protest or join political issues except on behalf of the environment. They are sometimes inclined to a bit more religion and a lot less formal education. They are also increasingly unable to cope with the rapidly evolving complications, sophistications and convolutions of the modern urban era. They have trouble with cell-phones, computers, forms, laws, regulations and bureaucracies. Ergo, their interaction with others is less. Their influence on others is even lesser.
I think we all have trouble with modernity to some extent but, typically, the country bumpkin has much slower thumbs than does the city slicker (calluses on their hands?) Can’t keep up on Twitter. Many don’t even have internet. Or a blog. Trump has a huge following. So does Kim’s butt. But no one follows Bubba. Country bloggers have only about seven or eight readers at most.
Bottom line: it’s a significantly different kind of intelligence out here. Better oriented for the individual, the family and the neighbour. Better for nature, too. Not suited for Harvard and MIT, Exxon and the Military Industrial complex…. not so much, anyway. And country smarts does less harm to others. Jus’ sayin’…
But there is one thing that makes the rural guy like me an idiot-cum-victim. Our lack of modern sophistication makes us more vulnerable to those that actually do widespread harm. The tricksters. The politicians. Our folks do not understand the Machiavellian machinations, the sophisticated skullduggery, the permutations of perversions that the city slickers come cloaked in. Like laws and taxes and regulations. They do not hear past the bureaucratic-legalese words spoken, they do not see the invisible, in-camera cheatings and double crosses that will impact their otherwise innocent lives harshly. Rurals simply do not count in the corporate boardrooms or the government offices. They are the rubes, the hicks and the fodder for the movers and shakers. They are the targets of the confidence men, the banks, the credit companies and the bureaucracies. The country mouse gets run over by the bigger rats of the city.
Latest example writ large: Fox News saying publicly one thing and saying the opposite in private. They lied to their public entirely for their own sake.
Trumpism bears that statement out rather dramatically and colourfully as well (if you count camo as a colour). See riot at the Capitol Building. Hear the call for donations to Trump! So do polluting mines, ravaged forests and depleted fish stocks illustrate the great sell-out. People just ‘livin’ their lives’ in the forest find out that someone just polluted their river, killed all the animals and gave ’em cancer. And they don’t know what they can do about it……..
Dramatic fact: half the wild fauna bio mass on earth has disappeared over the last twenty years. There is now three times more domesticated animals than wild animals. There are now as many pounds of just pet dogs and cats as all the pounds of all the wild animals in the world.
So, I have had to revise my take on the term, Rural Idiocy. It is not that rural folk are stupid, it is that they are more innocent, vulnerable and trusting than they should be in this dog-eat-computer, make-a-buck, amoral world of double-speak, jargon, lying and not saying anything at all. Government is slowly working to get rid of us all. Corporations are slowly working to get rid of them country folk. Policies, plans and budgets do not recognize them. No one wants the country mouse in the way of things, they are regarded as harmless but they don’t make anyone who is important very much money.
Worse, they are witness to all the environmental crimes.
In this sense rural idiocy means naive and so Marx was not entirely wrong.
“Dave! Where the hell did all that come from?”
Well, ….it comes from deep down but it was sparked by our local government currently up to yet more ‘secret agenda crap’. They (like all governing agencies) are always disingenuous. They lie. They pass bylaws in secret. They are now on a power-acquisition quest. And they even publicly diss locals who speak up while they smile and say phrases like ‘community engagement’. They are basically ambitious penny-ante liars and cheats but it just reminds me (too much) of my time in the city where that was the common style of play.
And then that reminded me of Marx and well, you know how it goes from there for me…..