The Gilead Baptist Church outside Detroit is on a four-lane highway called South Telegraph Road. The drive down South Telegraph Road to the church, a warehouse-like structure surrounded by black asphalt parking lots, is a depressing gauntlet of boxy, cut-rate motels with names like Melody Lane and Best Value Inn. The highway is flanked by a flat-roofed Walgreens, Blockbuster, discount liquor stores, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Bob's Big Boy, Sunoco and Citgo gas stations, a Ford dealership, Nails USA, the Dollar Palace, Pro Quick Luve and U-Haul. The tawdry display of cheap consumer goods, emblazoned with neon, lines both sides of the road, a dirty brown strip in the middle. It is a sad reminder that something has gone terribly wrong withe America, with its inhuman disregard for beauty and balance, it obsession with speed and utilitarianism, its crass commercialism and it oversized SUVs and trucks and greasy junk food. This disdain for nature, balance and harmony is part of the deadly, numbing assault against community.
Chris Hedges, American Fascists, pp 182-183
I read this passage, and could only shake my head. Typical liberal arrogance.
Oh, yes, how shameful that those who are not so well-off have to stay in such tawdry, cut-rate places like Best Value. Such a pity all hotels and inns aren't Marriots or some other where a night's rest would likely cost a week's wages instead of a day's.
And, of course, how unimaginative that stores are in buildings with flat rooves (or is that roofs, I admit I'm not certain). Perhaps Hedges would find them more acceptable if they had...oh, I don't know...domed roofs? Or maybe inverted V-shaped roofs? Steeples? Or like that famous opera house in Australia?
And, oh, that evil junk food. Never mind that the supposed all-natural health food costs a lot, problem doesn't taste all that good, and in likely not even all that much better. It only gives the health-food snobs a source for their feelings of superiority over those who enjoy Big Macs.
So much could be picked out from this excerpt. Wal-Mart, of course, gets mentioned. As do SUVs, those bastions of evil in the liberal mind.
Now, I have a different take on it. You see, I've been to a former Communist country, Russia.
There is a movie, a classic among the Russian people, I think, from the Soviet era. It's a holiday movie, though probably more concerning New Year's than Christmas, that being the Soviet Union and all. It's a comedy movie. The main premise of it is that, after an evening of carousing with his friends, a man unwittingly takes a plane from Moscow to Leningrad (once and now again St. Petersburg). Because buildings in both cities looked essentially the same, he didn't realize he was in a different city, and he even gets to an apartment or flat that is in the same address as his place in Moscow, and his key works and his gets in. The movie is essentially a romantic comedy, so you can guess where things go from there.
Another aspect of the movie is the animation that precedes it. A man, an architect, designs a building of flats. It's a rather basic but a bit ornate design, with balconies and some other bits of decoration. But in order to build it, he must make his way through the Soviet bureaucracy, and in doing so, a bit is taken here and there, and the final building design is about has basic and plain as one could imagine. At the end of the animation, we see lines and lines of these plain buildings, with legs, marching about, even into other, non-Russian places, I suppose to show how that form of housing will eventually be everywhere.
And in Soviet Russia, it pretty much was. I remember seeing city streets lined with these rows and rows of flat buildings. They may have varied a good bit in height or width, but overall there was a dulling sameness to them all, something even the Russian people knew.
So, one must pardon me if I'm not too taken withe Hedges sentiments and logic, if it does not do injustice to the word logic to apply to whatever thinking Hedges was doing. I simply cannot agree with his conclusions, and frankly think that his words display an arrogance and condescension that is rather ugly and unbecoming.