The Suburbs: Is America Accidentally Self-Organizing Into Labor Camps?
Friday, March 15, 2013
Growing up in Eastern Europe, my parents and grandparents, as well as teachers and church figures, made sure that all youth visited the sites of what remains of the concentration camps of World War II. We also saw the many graphic visual accounts of these camps presented in numerous museums. It was horrifying, but both part of the terrible history, and part of the education of my nation, Poland.
The impact it had on my upbringing was profound, and quite naturally I developed a keen paranoia about repeating history in any small semblance of this sort of institutionalized, incomprehensible terror. My family suffered through this, and have done their best afterwards to warn us.
Seeing the labor camps, ghettos and concentration camps of my nation has permanently altered the way I look at human organization. Now, in the United States, I find myself noticing little, yet creeping similarities between the way life was organized under totalitarian militarism and the peculiar ways of the self-organizing structure of modern urban and suburban America.
While modern suburbs certainly are not wartime labor camps in any direct terms, our modern civilian lives are already physically resembling the organization of prison camps. In softer, less coercive ways we are naturally dividing and cordoning ourselves off from each other, forming suburban blocks and neighborhood units. Our custom, very comfortable and well-stocked homes resemble luxury cells that we confine ourselves to, growing ever suspicious of even our neighbors. In many American neighborhoods you can walk around for an hour and never see another human being outdoors and not in a car.