Daily Bread for 5.31.22: Old Whitewater’s 3 Big Mistakes

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will see afternoon thunderstorms with a high of 84. Sunrise is 5:18 AM and sunset 8:26 PM for 15h 07m 22s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 0.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 455, Emperor Petronius Maximus is stoned to death by an angry mob while fleeing Rome.

‘Old Whitewater’ — a state of mind rather than a person — dominated this city’s culture until recently. Mostly composed of traditional conservatives, it had a few others among its ilk, all of them united in civic views and habits that sustained them up until, within a single decade after the Great Recession, those views gave way to conservative populism.

‘Old Whitewater’ isn’t, by the way, a description of all residents, or even long-term residents. The perspective applies only to a portion thereof, an unfortunate minority within the city (namely, local officials and would-be notables).

Old Whitewater committed three key mistakes, making its eclipse inevitable:

1. Boosterism as an ideology. Boosterism, as a political & development doctrine, is the specious claim that if one accentuates the positives within a community, one will garner more positives still. It’s a perspective that ignores some residents’ suffering for the sake of imagined economic gains. It encourages indifference to the least advantaged, lest those who are disadvantaged detract from the happy tale of progress that boosters repeat ceaselessly. In its heyday, the true believers of boosterism, whether otherwise religious or secular, were among the most orthodox of believers in this community.

Boosterism is an ideology for the narrow of mind and small of heart. It’s also a lie. Over the years that happy-talk boosters dominated Whitewater, the city only grew poorer. This plain fact led to the admission that, despite years of insistence that a boom was only around the corner, Whitewater remained a low-income community.

Flat-Earthers would have been as credible.

2. Thinking that a Perimeter Fence Would Protect Them. The construction of a (metaphorical) perimeter fence is how a group tries to shield itself from competing ideas. By the late Aughts, digital media were so pervasive that a few residents could not prevent others from sharing competing ideas and critiques about local politics. Local newspapers were fawning, but they could be circumvented, just as a figurative perimeter fence could be breached.

Email, texting, the web, blogging, and social media, all over the place… passing fads, right?

No one will ever read that‘ sits alongside ‘horses are good enough‘ and ‘talking movies will never catch on’ in the Museum of Bad Takes.

3. Believing They Didn’t Have to Prove Nothin’, Damnit. Limits imposed through a cultural perimeter fence were meant to obviate the need for Old Whitewater to justify its claims. Why prove your assertions when you can cajole others into consensus, and limit discussion, with no rationale at all?

America is the most dynamic and productive society in human history, but Old Whitewater thought that it didn’t have to meet any standard beyond the repetition of platitudes and slogans. In fact, an effective perimeter fence requires work to maintain, and a vigorous defense once it falls. Instead, breaches were left unsealed, panels and posts unreplaced. When gaps began to emerge, the ideas that leaked in were rebutted poorly or not at all. (This was a secondary but crucial problem: flimsy claims are often worse than no claims at all. Effective claims require careful preparation; the complacent don’t prepare.)

Those who held the view that they didn’t have to justify their claims first looked ridiculous, then comically tragic.

Tomorrow: The End of DYKWIA in Whitewater.

Summiting the Tallest Mountain on Earth:

GoPro Awards Recipient + mountaineering guide Jon Gupta takes his GoPros from Mount Everest Base Camp up to 29,032 ft (8848m). Congrats on hiking the world’s tallest peak + thanks for showing us the view from the top.

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2 years ago

[…] Previously: Old Whitewater’s 3 Big Mistakes. […]