Monday, August 17, 2020

will New York bounce back?

People are leaving New York City in droves—mostly left-liberals who don't understand that their own voting habits led to the current disaster. Quite a few people are declaring NYC dead—including James Altucher, writer, comedian, venture capitalist, and all-around businessman... but I don't think so. Here's what I just wrote in a comment over at Instapundit in response to Altucher's pessimism:

I read this article back when people were linking to the LinkedIn version of it. Color me skeptical. Maybe I've watched too many action and horror movies, but the declaration that something is dead is almost always premature. When people crow that the last Antifa member has had his intestines roasted on a spit while he watched in horror before dying, I'll be skeptical that that's the end of Antifa. People who think history is linear, that it reliably approaches an omega point (to steal a term from Teilhard de Chardin), are always mistaken. Things may fall, but either they rise again, or something similar rises in their place. We've already seen this with those districts, like the CHAD, that banished the regular police: something grim and police-like arose in the police's place. Nature abhors a vacuum, and even if NYC crumbles into dust (which it won't), it'll rise again, or something NYC-like will. I know people will be tempted to rebut this insight. I won't reply to those rebuttals because that's just a waste of time. Here's an idea: instead of uselessly debating, let's talk again in ten years and see where NYC stands then. If, in a decade, it looks like the city portrayed in "I Am Legend," then you're right, O Contrarian, and you win. Anything short of that—nope.

To clarify: I'm not a New Yorker, and I can't say that I care much as to what fate befalls New York. I'm just channeling my inner Taoist, the one who tells the famous story about the old farmer and his horse (or see here). Here in South Korea, where I live as an expat, the four-character "proverb" sae-ong-ji-ma (새옹지마, 塞翁之馬, lit. "poor old man's horse") is widely known. Koreans often take it to mean that things can take an ironic twist, but the original meaning is more like "fortune turns on a dime," as we Americans have collectively found out thanks to a roaring economy that got cornholed by a Chinese virus. Are most Americans linearly thinking that our current misery is forever, extrapolating from present hardship to future hardship? Quite the contrary: optimistic Americans instinctively understand sae-ong-ji-ma and expect to see the economy swing upward again. So why think any differently about New York City?

(By the way: the YouTube link provided above goes to Alan Watts's narration. Watts was a beautiful writer, an interesting thinker, and an evocative public speaker, but he was also a nasty womanizer who shamelessly dropped acid while at Japanese Buddhist temples. That said, don't commit the genetic fallacy by discounting the man's nuggets of wisdom just because he himself was an asshole.)

I've already gotten at least one "dislike" from a retarded Instapundit reader—someone who'd rather rejoice in NYC's destruction as proof that leftism sucks. Leftism does suck, but that doesn't justify cheering for the death of New York. I expect more "dislikes" because so many Westerners are locked into a linear view of history, which blinds them to the often-sinusoidal, periodic nature of events in this reality. (Update: I've received two "likes" to compensate for the lone "dislike." This is becoming a referendum on the wisdom of Insta-readers.)

UPDATE: my comment got removed because the bot in charge of curating Instapundit's comments listed my comment as "detected as spam," probably because it contained two links. Instapundit's comment section is repressively curated, which I find ironic for a site run by a self-professed libertarian. Anyway, I resubmitted the comment, but with "broken" links to avoid the oversensitive spam detection.

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