Rural and Urban. Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism.

Kathleen Parker has an interesting column discussing politicians’ appeals to “small-town values”, in which she criticizes them–Sarah Palin, in particular–for making it seem as if small towns are superior to cities. She writes: “In the politician’s world, small towns are where “real Americans” live, as opposed to all those other people — the vast majority of Americans — who live in urban areas.”

She then details the feeling of community she experienced living on Olive Street in Washington D.C. She sums up thus: “small-town values have nothing to do with small towns.”

Predictably, the website “Conservatives4Palin” has ridiculed Parker, saying that Palin’s new book has done nothing to criticize those who live in urban areas. The critique of Parker laid out by “Conservatives4Palin” attempts to dodge the real issue; they claim that Parker was merely criticizing Palin’s upcoming book, when in fact she was criticizing Palin’s very worldview. Because Parker was writing not of Palin’s book, but rather of her infamous quote from the 2008 campaign:

If you can’t see the video: Palin said, in part: “We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in the wonderful little pockets of what I call ‘the Real America’.”

Does this not imply that small towns are superior? “The best of America” seems to me to leave little up to interpretation. Of course, this sparked a firestorm of outrage from the Left at the time; and Palin “clarified” (retracted) her remarks.

I am reminded, whenever anyone alludes to this incident or to Palin’s “elitist” bashing in general, of Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West, wherein he draws the distinctions between Culture and Civilization. As the Wikipedia article says:

“He [Spengler] contrasts the “true-type” rural born, with the nomadic, traditionless, irreligious, matter-of-fact, clever, unfruitful, and contemptuous-of-the-countryman city dweller. In the cities he sees only the “mob”, not a people, hostile to the traditions that represent Culture (in Spengler’s view these traditions are: nobility, church, privileges, dynasties, convention in art, and limits on scientific knowledge). City dwellers possess cold intelligence that confounds peasant wisdom, a new-fashioned naturalism in attitudes towards sex which are a return to primitive instincts, and a dying inner religiousness.”

This is no surprise; for Spengler was a Nationalist, albeit a very pessimistic and fatalistic one. The Nationalist always seems to find the people of the countryside preferable to those of the city; and hence it is to be expected that Palin feels the same. She, and the Tea Party, are nationalists through and through, as I have said before.

Parker, on the other hand, is not. Her outlook is rather one of cosmopolitanism, (which is Greek, literally, for “Universal City”) the opposite of Nationalism. And thus Palin’s words hold no meaning for her. Nationalists and Cosmopolitans cannot understand one another even when they speak the same language.

What's your stake in this, cowboy?