Around 90 A.D., the Roman historian Tacitus traveled through Germania observing the lives of its inhabitants. It was quite an eye-opening journey for him. Among his many observations, he noted how the Germanic people chose to live in small separate dwellings, separate from even extended family. Often these dwellings would house just a mother, father, and their children. That seems normal to us today, but it certainly wasn’t to Tacitus and the Romans, or much of the civilized world at that time.
Authors Michael Lotus and James Bennett wrote of this in their groundbreaking book “America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come.” The Germanic tribes would take this radical cultural trait with them, when in the 5th Century A.D. they would conquer Britannia. In fact, the German tribe of Angles would give England its future name. While this cultural trait would not remain as powerful in Germania or in much of Europe, it would further migrate, most notably to America, Canada, and Australia. The idea of owning a single-family home is not unknown to the world, of course, but it planted its deepest cultural seeds here in the United States. The epitome of the American Dream is to own one’s home – a home is a man’s castle.
Why the history lesson? Because the yearning to own one’s own home is under threat and the ability to buy and own a piece of land in America is under intense attack from the Left. But then what isn’t under attack from the Left. Our communities, families, churches, every aspect of middle-class lifestyle is seen as an obstacle to the Left’s utopian dream of a new society, a roadblock in the efforts to radically transform society.
The Left is now pushing policies that promote a “densification” of living. These new “smart cities” include dense living in small, cramped dwellings in cities where the need and use of a car are eliminated. The question of what people may want becomes irrelevant. That some younger people choose to live in dense living arrangements in cities is often true. But most younger people, when they marry and have families, choose to live outside of dense cities; they vote with their feet and choose to live in suburbs.
The war on home ownership, the suburbs, and efforts to force people into dense living arrangements is not new. For years, Stanley Kurtz has written about the Left’s attack on the suburbs, as have demographers such as Wendall Cox and Joel Kotkin. Kurtz’s book “Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities” detailed the war on the suburbs that Barack Obama had undertaken almost immediately after being elected President. The war on the suburbs was just a part of his radical transformation of America.
The Left is attacking middle class life across the world, but we see the war on single family homes and on the suburbs happening most directly in America and across the Anglosphere. The reasons for this middle class life lies in our uniqueness in choosing this form of living. But it’s all about culture, and not about being “Anglo”. Immigrants to America eagerly fold into this lifestyle choice. I live in a suburban community 25 miles outside of Los Angeles where, while non-Hispanic whites constitute the largest group (45%), they are not a majority. There are large minorities of Hispanics and Asians, many of them first generation immigrants. They all opt to share in the American Dream of home ownership. And before this becomes a racial conversation, which today is where the Left takes everything, let’s be clear: this has nothing to do with “white flight.”
“…today suburbia is where integration is expanding more robustly. In the United States, the majority of ethnic minorities live in suburbs, accounting for virtually all the suburban growth over the past decade. Suburbs also have become a preferred locale for Australia’s immigrant population, just as they have in Canada and the United Kingdom.”
All of this begs the question, why? Why not let people make these choices for themselves? There are several reasons. Much of the war on home ownership and the suburbs today is part of the Green Revolution, the war on cars and fossil fuels. To save the planet we must do away with the internal combustion engine and even further, eliminate the car culture that made modern America and the suburbs that the Left so hates.
But it goes beyond the radical environmental movement, for the war on the suburbs goes back decades, Hollywood has made innumerable movies about the suffocating and boring life of the suburbs. Much of the derision that the Left feels about “1950’s America” is the loathing and hatred of middle-class suburban living. Again, it is a war of the elites against the middle class.
There are several other theories, one is that in the “smart cities” of tomorrow, it will be much easier to monitor and observe, and thus control people who live in dense living environments. We saw this very clearly in China in the days of Covid. But we see it even here in America and even more so in English cities today. There are not just a few of our betters who look to China with envy in how they are seeking to control society.
This leads to perhaps the best answer as to why this is happening; it is part of that war on the middle class and more specifically, the war on freedom. That there has been a war against the middle class in America for the last half century seems clear. The greatest threat to a government and its elites that want to control society comes from independent agencies. These include community organizations, churches, private and homeschool educational groups and, of course, most significantly, the family. And what gives the family its most independence other than the cherished dream of owning a single-family home.
A mobile and independent actor in society, free to make his own choices in where to work, where to play, and most telling, where to live, is a grave threat to those that wish to control the economy, control society, and control our very lives. The good news is that while the Left and the ruling class have, through their draconian policies, sought to undermine the middle class and our dreams of owning a home, they are running up against culture currents that have been ingrained in our psyche, not just since those 1950’s, but for well over 2000 years from those villages along the Danube and Rhine.
We cannot, must not and will not give up our castles so easily.