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Down with the Cities! By Tadashi Nakashima Characters: 18735

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


The City and the Country

In Chapter II we learned that as long as the cities continue to exist, urban pollution - which is the product of the cities' activities - is unavoidable. We also learned that urban pollution is at the same time the pollution of the Earth, and that, other than the cities, there can be no other destroyer and contaminator of the Earth.

In only a brief, cursory inspection we saw that there are far more deadly, serious kinds of pollution than we can count on two hands, and that the city is the sole perpetrator of these pollution crimes, and the source of all the evils that threaten humanity and the Earth.

The Entire Japanese Archipelago Has Been Urbanized

However, the cunning and arrogant city has shifted the responsibility for the destruction of the Earth - a responsibility that is clearly its own - to others, insisting that the pollution is the product of the science civilization or that it is brought about by the industrial state. And it goes without saying that the country is included within that civilized state.

In the country as well as in the city they drive cars, burn propane gas, use electricity, smoke cigarettes, waste paper, spread agricultural chemicals, and drain detergent into the rivers and lakes; as long as the country belongs to the civilized state, it cannot escape the fact that it is an accomplice. Thus saying, the city attempts to shift part of the blame for pollution onto the country. And what is more, the city also tries to justify its own pollution as an unavoidable phenomenon of a modern state.

But sorry to say, this is not at all consistent with reality.

The "country" that the city speaks of - as if it had made some great and wonderful discovery - is not the real country at all, but a fake, a red herring meant to keep us from seeing the truth. The real country is what is left after we have removed all urban influence. It is, in other words, that which can still exist after the cities have disappeared from the Earth.

The country that the city speaks of is a fake country that is under the influence of the city. When country people (actually half-urbanized people) ride in cars, drive tractors, watch television, smoke cigarettes, eat processed foods, burn petroleum, use electric lights, and read the newspaper, they are living a life that would be impossible without the city; this is therefore what we should probably call an "urbanized country." If we go a little bit further we could say that such a place does not even deserve the name "country" for it is none other than the city itself.

Let us take a look at a typical farm family. The son is a white collar worker, and so of course belongs to the city. The head of the household is a part-time farmer who farms on Sunday, and belongs to the city Monday through Saturday. Even on Sunday when he does his farm work, he belongs to the city if he benefits from petroleum and agricultural chemicals. If, after he comes home from the fields, he drinks beer and watches television, he belongs to the city. In this way we can see that, in the entire country of Japan there is not a single place that has not been urbanized, not a single place that deserves to be called "country." Yea, it is not going too far to say that the chilling breath of this devil the city can be felt now in the remotest corners of the villages, and that the country has been completely occupied by the city, or shall we say, the commercialism of the city.

But this is reality, says the city. We must recognize reality as it is. We must respect reality.

The Real, Invisible Country

However, when we take a close look we see that though they chant Reality! Reality! we can at any time invert this reality, and having done so we can see that what has been inverted is just as much "reality" as that which came before. There is no mistaking the fact that the country before urbanization was reality, and that the country after urbanization has become the kind of reality we now have. It is therefore assured that after inverting the present reality (that is, after eradicating the cities and doing away with their influence) the real country that remains will immediately become reality.

And so, rather than saying "The reality is that the country no longer exists," it is more accurate to say "If we remove the presently existing 'urbanized country,' that which remains is in reality the country itself."

I will say it once more: The real country is what remains after we get rid of the cities.

If propane gas stops arriving from the city, then we will burn firewood; if matches to light our firewood stop coming from the city, then we will warm ourselves by burrowing under piles of straw, and eat uncooked brown rice and raw potatoes instead of cooked food; if the city stops sending shrimp taken from far out at sea, we will give up eating shrimp and catch and eat locusts and digger wasps; if salt no longer comes from the city we will consider it an unexpected blessing since it is only human beings who ruin their health by eating too much salt (we never hear of wild animals ingesting too much salt and damaging their health); if shoes stop coming from the city we will make sandals out of straw; if aluminum sashes and bricks stop coming from the city we can build sunken huts with logs and straw; if there is no electricity we will go to bed at sundown and rise with the sun to work in the fields. This is the country. This real country at present no longer exists (except in certain "uncivilized" places in the world), but if we get rid of the cities everyone will find themselves plunged immediately into this kind of country life, and that will instantly become "reality." And is there in this real country any place where pollution can be produced?

The Fate of the Wealth- and Prosperity-Seeking Cities

The city and the country - this is none other than the contrast between extravagance (wealth) and austerity (indigence).

China, which aims to modernize itself, has begun saying that "Being wealthy is the Right Way" (essay in the People's Daily), and has found it necessary to discard the immortal virtue, alive in China since long ago, that "Wealth is evil, indigence is honorable." That such a thing has come to pass is proof that China could not overcome the lure of extravagance.

The present urbanization of the developing countries (including that behemoth, China) is proceeding relentlessly as they seek "wealth," "modernization," and "extravagance." In the near future, it is said, Mexico city will become a city of 20 million, outstripping New York (UN population survey). When in this way the developing countries achieve the same level of modernization as the developed countries, it will be time for humanity to pay the fiddler. If, for example, 90 percent of China's one billion people, in their quest for ease and gluttony (i.e., modernization, wealth, and prosperity), come to live in the cities, they will demand an incredible amount of resources, and create an equally incredible amount of poisons. The reason the developed nations achieved modernization is that they were able to rob the developing nations of all manner of materials, and discard the leftover garbage in every place imaginable. If urbanization spreads to every corner of the globe there will no longer be anyone to rip off, and no place to stash the trash.

Needless to say, the developed countries will not stand for "the slide back into poverty," nor the developing nations for "eternal poverty." So of course we find everyone insisting that they won't listen to anything like "Let's now wear straw sandals instead of shoes," or "Let's continue to wear straw sandals." They all believe that indigence (austerity) is an evil, but it is nothing compared with the much greater evil that we shall perish from the Earth.

Listen! Steamed dumplings will of course fill your empty stomach, and you therefore consider them beneficial. However, should you eat too many you'll get sick, and those dumplings that you considered "beneficial" will suddenly become "harmful."

Changing the planet into fields and gardens may be all right, but changing it into cities is not. This is because the city depends upon urbanized land for it survival (oxygen and food), and cannot continue to exist even one day without it. But the country, even if it does not depend upon the city, can always continue to live as long as it depends upon nature (self-sufficiency and austerity). In spite of this, the country suffers losses day by day, and the cities continue to expand. [19] Has humanity finally been marked for ruin?

Supplementary Remarks on the Distinction Between the City and the

Country

If there is no money the city cannot survive, but even if there is no money, the country will continue to exist. Unless Nature itself disappears, the country will not disappear.

It is money that supports the city (allows the city to control and exploit the country); money maintains the functions of the city, and allows it to continue its activities. If the use of money were to be outlawed the city would immediately find itself unable to maintain its functions, and its activities would cease. This is not an empty argument, for in Cambodia the Pol Pot regime demonstrated that it can be done. The use of money was

prohibited, and the people were forced to conduct business by barter. Immediately the city people went from farming village to farming village in search of food, and in no time at all the capital city of Phnom Penh was reduced to an empty shell. This was a great experiment in which we saw that , without dropping even one bomb, and by merely banishing currency, it is possible to eliminate the cities in a single stroke. [20]

Money is used in the country because of the influence of the city (the damaging influence of urban commercialism). Even if we have no money, things will be peaceful. But perhaps it would be better to express it this way: If we have no money things will be far more peaceful than if we do. Money is making a mess of the country, and it allows the city to rob the country of its food.

Long ago our ancestors lived outside the bounds of the money economy, and so as long as they had salt, there was no need to buy anything. [21] "Farmer" means a person who does a hundred different kinds of work, [22] and originally the farmers did everything for themselves, supplying their own food, clothing, and shelter. They wove cloth, and they made sandals. They dug wells, and they thatched roofs. They made ropes, and they gathered firewood. Not only that, almost all the materials they used were recyclable products of the fields and forests (I will later discuss the necessity for the tools - hatchets, sickles, and saws - they used to cut and assemble these materials).

"As long as they have salt…" I wrote, but even if they do not have salt the farmers can somehow get along. Wild animals such as squirrels, raccoons, and monkeys do not ingest so much salt, but they maintain themselves in perfect health. It is only human beings who eat too much, thereby suffering from hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure. There is plenty of salt contained in natural foods; Nature, I expect, made human beings the same way it made squirrels and monkeys. * * * Since the city depends mainly for its existence upon nonrenewable underground resources, its functions will of course be paralyzed, and its activities will come to a halt, when the resources run out. The cities, therefore, will perish first with the discontinuance of the money economy, and second with shortage of natural resources. The country can always get along without such underground resources, just as wild animals and primitive societies do.

Next (and this is directly related to my remarks on money), the cities will disappear with a cutoff in the supply of food. The reason the cities will perish if there is no money is because, first and foremost, it is money that the city uses to plunder the country for food. As I have said time and again, the city itself is nonproductive, and cannot supply its own food. It cannot continue to survive without robbing (this includes imports) every last grain of rice from the country. A cutoff in the food supply is the best means of triggering the fall of the cities.

It is the city which, for its own benefit, and for progress and development, continues to control and destroy the natural environment, and it is the country that lives by being in accord with the flow of Nature. This is the decisive difference between the city and the country, and the all-important fork in the road where we separate that which perishes from that which will endure.

The flow of Nature is a cycle. The four seasons come and go, night and day are repeated (the Earth repeats the rotation on its axis, and its revolution around the sun). Rain falls, the water soaks into the earth, and becomes a spring. Spring water flows into mountain streams, then makes its way to rivers, and then into the ocean, where it evaporates. Rising into the sky it forms clouds, and falls once again on the Land, starting the cycle anew. Parents give birth to children, children to grandchildren; from seed to seed the relay of Life continues. And the remains of all things that have died are converted into humus by the Land (its self-purifying mechanism), where they again become the source of nourishment for life (soil). Plants grow, animals then consume the plants, and the cycle starts all over again.

There is no end to this repetition. We may say that this cycle is eternity itself. [23] It is therefore not a mistake to say, "Nature is a cycle, and that cycle is eternity."

The Cycle Is the True Substance of the Country and Agriculture

Furthermore, in this cycle, i.e., repetition, there is no "progress." From time immemorial the Earth has continued its rotation and revolution. In the center of the solar system the sun has continued to blaze. For tens of millions, hundreds of millions of years, there has been not the slightest development or improvement. In Nature there is no "progress." The biological idea of evolution is adaptation to the environment, and is different from progress. For example, the functioning of human brains and hands has advanced, whereas the sensitivity of our ears, eyes, and noses has regressed. These changes are the results of the adaptation of intelligence and nerves to the environment, i.e., external stimuli. For the same reason, the necks of giraffes and the ears of rabbits became long. If evolution is the same as progress, then can we also say that it was progress when the dinosaurs became too big?

Well then, the country (agriculture) must be in accordance with the eternal cycle and progress-less repetition of Nature. Last year I planted seeds in the spring, watched them grow in the summer, and harvested my crops in the fall. This year I will do the same. And next year I will no doubt do it again. It only stands to reason that if the cycle of Nature never changes, a kind of agriculture that is closely joined to the cycle is also eternally unchanging (needless to say, I speak here of true country agriculture, not of modern agriculture). It is a simple and boring repetition, but this is what makes agriculture what it is. The essence and true characteristic of agriculture must be this simple, boring repetition.

In the modern city, which holds industry supreme, there is no such repetition. Yea, it is the very essence of the city that it cannot have repetition. Even if, after the limited resources have all been dug out of the ground, the city tries to repeat something, it cannot because there is nothing left. Such ineffective one-way movement means stagnation, and stagnation means an irrevocable loss. The more the city becomes aware of the inevitable future awaiting it after the depletion of its resources, the more it tortures itself with worry. The cities then fight among themselves, each trying to grab more resources than the others, thus hastening their own demise by frantic squandering. Momentary (as opposed to cyclical and eternal) prosperity is the fruitless blossom that blooms upon buried resources. To the modern industries (i.e., the city), repetition is a fatal blow. The city has a short life, and therefore no time for leisurely repetition. The categorical commands given to the city are Progress, Development, and Prosperity.

In the country it is possible to eat rice even if we produce it just as we did one hundred years ago, but in the city you'll not find anyone who is able to watch the same television they watched ten years ago. The city must have even one step forward, even one millimeter's change. The same can be said for people who make their living by getting the attention of the world with literature and painting, for they are always thrashing about wildly, trying to find a new style, or trying to breathe newness into things. This quest for novelty ultimately leads to poetry and prose and pictures that we find are impossible to understand. Nikita Khrushchev termed this "a pig's tail" thereby earning the reprobation of the literati, but I think he was correct and justified in saying so. Ah, the idiocy of those who believe they are the cultured just because they follow what is new or strange.

So in this way people put all their energies into this mad rush forward, ever forward, while single-mindedly screeching about such things as Creativity, Challenge, Freedom, Individuality, and Progress. If they just sit around they'll be left behind, and being left behind is serious business (this is the urban competition mentality).

This stern competition mentality has started the big race to ruin, and continues its fearsome advance with the entire society in tow (an effect produced in combination with the Pursuit of Profit). * * * And now a final word to modern agriculture -

Nature has repeated the same cycle over and over again for billions of years. If agriculture, which is in an inextricably close relationship with this cycle, shows unusual progress and development (by accepting the intervention of the secondary and tertiary industries) in spite of this relationship with the natural cycle, then it is not at all surprising that distortion will arise. By distortion I mean the contamination of the land (our food), the loss of topsoil, the accumulation of salts in the soil, and the loss of humus.

If we assume that progress in agriculture has made our lives more affluent, then we must pay a terrible price for that affluence. In order to live an extravagant "life," we must give up our survival.

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