A Zero for Metro-Retro

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Longtime Reason friend Joel Kotkin blows up the silly retro-metro dichotomy that some seem to think is an improvement on the preschooler red state-blue state paddycake formula.

Kotkin notes that even though Hollywood and Wall St. hipsters like to think of themselves far ahead of the tech curve, that ain't necessarily so. Besides, the metro-retro divide tells us nothing about all the folks who straddle the line. This is because the analysis assumes that no one would willing keep bits of retro once they had been exposed to the wonders of metro.

Too bad people do not really live like that. Lotsa of them. Like the surgeon I know who is freak for the latest gizmo from Apple, loves Bimmers, and yet loves guns, hunting, fishing, and generally killing things. Except his patients.

Retro or Metro?

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  1. Why would loving BMWs be considered “Metro” anyway? An obsession with cars would appear to be an archetypical “Retro” trait.

  2. More condescention from the coasts. No surprise there.

  3. a car-hating metro would be a Metro metro.

  4. Anyone who doesn’t have a stake in promoting the neo-Roundheads v. neo-Cavaliers kulturkreig would benefits from remembering that “you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

  5. I’m glad that, having reached the pinnacle of civilization, us citizens of New Jersey can look back with quaint nostalgia and condescention at our misguided compatriots in the rural states.

    I live in a densely populated, industrialized state. I’m writing this on a computer, cause I’m hip to the tech curve.

    Therefore, with my developed intellect, it’s only logical that I support a bloated and intrusive nanny state.

    Go ahead, point out a flaw in my logic, I dare you. It’s airtight. If you can do it, you win a Psuedo Certificate of Accomplishment.

  6. Pseudo: The only flaw in your logic is that you are a hick, ’cause you’re a Jersey kid!

  7. The mere fact that Michael Moore is on the “Metro” part of the list proves its utter absurdity.

  8. I grew up in rural retro-land and have lived my entire adult life in downtown-San Francisco-metro land. In retro, I was taught to respect individual liberty. In metro, I am being taught statism, racial/gender/cultural politics, and hatred of my nation. I think I’ll be moving back to retro-land, just as soon as I finish mining the metro for the one thing it’s still good for (better than retro): money.

  9. Working thesis: Authors benefit from these screeds in the same way politicians benefit from platforms, and the audience plays along for similar reasons.

    It occurs to me that authors have adopted the mechanics of campaigning in their efforts to analyze what campaigns tell us about ourselves. Coalition building is essentially about crafting a majoritarian Us to oppose Them, and sometimes to take Their stuff. An attempt to actually bring everyone under the same tent will end in failure, as at the broadest levels, interests compete. If I am campaigning to give money to Labor, I need to have someone extra coalition from whom I can take that money.

    An author is really trying to do the same thing. Sell books to as many as will buy them, but a real attempt to discuss the dynamism of preferences has a distinct disadvantage for the author. Namely, there is no target audience to which you can market. So, why not analyze the population into binary groups as the thesis of your book? You have to give something to your audience something, so you give them virtue by association. Association with whom? Why, the author of course! The coalition the author is building is one that assigns virtue to just the sort of person who would read his book.

    The audience gets to hear how sophisticated they are from a Real Published Author. Hopefully, as writing and publishing become more distributed, people will be less inclined to flatter themselves that they think and live correctly because some jackass at the NYT said so.

    I’m feeling cynical today …

  10. Again, nice editing of my post. I rock.

  11. I prefer the red state/blue state division as it gives me something to identify myself with- purple!

  12. tm-

    That depends on whether you’re doing additive or subtractive color mixing. If you mix red and blue light then it comes out purple. But if you put red and blue filters in series then you see very little.

    I’m feeling technical today.

  13. I don’t know why you guys are making such a big deal out of this. It’s not going to mean a damn thing once the shover robots arrive.

    PS – if you nkow what’s good for you, stay away from stairs.

  14. Very confusing article. And it sets up its own false dichotomies. For instance, what is an “elitist economy” ? That’s what Kotkin calls the doings of the invisible hand in Boston, Northern CA etc. It is simply a fact that some jobs demand a certain degree of education/training as a pre-requiste. If a job moves from Boston to Tennesse etc then you can be certain that its someone with the same educational qualifications who’s doing it in Tennesse. Nothing elitist about any of it.
    Also, its not just the “Professors at Harvard”, code-word for “liberal elitist” i suppose, who bought homes a decade ago. Lots of regular, baseball watching folks did so too. And they made money not just off appreciating home values but also off IPO’s and the like, all very “metro”.

    “The Democratic elites see themselves as in many ways smarter and much “hipper” than these good-old-boy business elites of Dallas, Houston or Atlanta”

    Well, i know a few managerial type folks in the oil/energy industries & they absolutely do not suffer from any lack of self-esteem. In any case, its odd tactics to bust the retro/metro analysis by comparing oil plutocrats to information plutocrats. Ross Perot is an information plutocrat. Would he qualify as metro ?

  15. Thank you for that technical clarification on the color purple, thoreau. Maybe I’m really just a monarchist.

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