Monday, November 22, 2004


My post yesterday about the correlation between high population density and Democrat voting elicited a bit of correspondence so I thought I should say more about it. The famous case of Kitty Genovese being stabbed to death while lots of her fellow New Yorkers looked on without raising a finger was of course mentioned. NYC people are of course famous for not wanting to get involved but they do have good reason for that. Crime there was at one stage so bad that getting involved would have guaranteed a short life. And the law there penalizes getting involved too. I understand that to this day you can be sued if you intervene to help someone and the outcome is not universally satisfactory. So crazy Leftist law is at least one reason for the NYC situation. If gun ownership had not been so controlled in NYC, for instance, Kitty Genovese's assailant could well have got his head blown off before he killed her. And NYC has such a lot of crazy Leftist law (including rent control!) because of its huge Jewish population, who to this day are still overwhelmingly lockstep Democrat voters. So NYC pathologies are a good example of some of the ills that Leftism leads to but there could be causes of the Leftism other than high population density. And it should be noted that the Netherlands have long had high population densities combined with a low crime rate -- though that has changed with the recent Muslim influx there.

On the other hand, psychologists have done a lot of work on the effects of crowding -- including some famous white-rat studies. And such studies have of course shown a great upsurge in pathlogical behaviour (including sexual deviance!) as a result of crowding. So while NYC is no proof of anything by itself, it must be admitted that NYC people and overcrowded white rats do have some things in common!

On the third hand, it could be argued that a largely parasitical underclass living on welfare and crime thrives only in big cities and "get out the vote" drives do end up with a lot of them voting Democrat. So it could be purely the tendency of big cities to attract an underclass that gives the Democrats an edge there.

On the fourth hand, the normal human tendency towards division of labour is at its peak in big cities. In NYC, people even delegate to others the walking of their dogs! So if delegation is such a habit in the big cities, it must seem fairly natural to delegate your caring and compassion too. And that is what Leftism offers. Leftism is caring shoved off onto others.

So in the end I do think that a crowded urban environment makes you less caring about those around you (and hence makes you more Leftist) but I don't think that that is the whole of the story. I think there are other causes of that big-city Leftism too. And it must finally be noted that what one person sees as overcrowding, many others (Japanese?) may not -- though there is surely not a total disconnect between objective circumstances and what is perceived.

Reliapundit has more on the subject.


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