Suburbs as defensive architecture

When you are deciding where and how to live, the first concern is “how do I sustain myself”, and the second is “how do I secure myself”. For the peasant that has occupied most of the historical population base for most of history, this is easy. You’re on the land because that’s where the food is, and if you see the dust from an approaching army, you either run or hide.

For cities this gets more complex. The only reason why cities exist is because they are focal areas for wealth generation via trade and industry. That means a lot of lootable assets, and of course the population concentration itself, which makes for a great source of slaves or ransom. If you hold the city, you’re also in a great position to tax or raid the countryside. How do you secure it? Literally the first thing you’d think of is a big, beautiful wall.

But eventually you outgrow the limits of any practical static defense, and static defenses in any case get less useful due to better ways of knocking them down. Just as well – at the same time that walls were deprecated, the Military Revolution was making military forces larger, faster, and more effective. Instead of wrapping your city in a fortress and hoping to withstand a siege, dedicated military installations secured them via power projection. Instead of a city with strong walls, for security you wanted a country with a strong king who could afford a strong army and strong fortresses.

This entire discussion models threats as external – obviously you had to worry about brigands and burglars, even fairly terrifying gangs, but their life expectancy was short. It’s not like you would suddenly import an army of criminals to worry about!

Now switch continents, and consider the United States. Left and right should agree that America is and always has been a combination of recursive real estate schemes and a slow motion race war (some times being slower than others). The entire point of the continent was cheap land, enough for you and your heirs out to the tenth generation to each have their own freehold, in stark contrast to the Malthusian struggle of the old world.

If you get the idea that your present government is trying to prevent you from fully exploiting that boundless Western frontier, you might be incited to do something about it, and, lacking funds, you might pay your soldiers and war-financiers via land grants (either directly, or by swapping bonds of dubious quality for virgin land). Freed of the colonial British arrangements with certain Indian tribes, you’re free to make further war on them (and vise versa) to open up the continent.

Yet just because the land is available doesn’t mean there is no conflict. Besides the obvious case of the Indian tribes, you can model the US Civil War in a large part as a conflict over modes of development for this freshly opened land – would the West be a series of gigantic slave-run latifundia owned by a new aristocracy, or an endless grid of individual Jeffersonian farms and small towns? By the mid 1860s it was clear how this was supposed to go.

Gloss over every manner of swindle around railroad routes and grants, prime Florida swampland, crooked land agents, a hundred massacres and counter massacres, and with a nearly fully exploited frontier the question again becomes one of control – when the wealth of the nation flows through the cities, who takes a cut, who gets the vig, and who gets to bring in their friends? Cities were cheap, historically speaking, but also focal points for physical and human capital. New construction techniques expanded the housing supply, logistical innovations like the automobile made them accessible internally and externally, and industrial enterprises took advantage of this concentration of capital for a massive increase in production.

What happens when something is both cheap and valuable? A bust-out. The civil rights revolution destroyed the American city, liquidating its value and taking a massive cut along the way. In the course of this ethnic cleansing campaign a new urban client class was created – not the upwardly mobile white immigrants of yesteryear, but a permanently supplicant underclass with unshakeable political affiliations.

Where do you move, when the cities are no-go zones and the farms no longer need mass labor? We come to the point – the suburb.

Suburbs are a defensive architecture against an internal threat, the same way that a walled city or a trace italienne fortress is a guard against an external threat. In a dense city, a single signature turns over an apartment block or causes one to be built. The demographics of a neighborhood switch overnight. Not so in an expanse of single-family units, a tiny fraction of which are liable to be on the market at any given point. This slows down transitions immensely – a defense-in-depth, house by house, block by block.

And of course the primary goals of any local suburban planning or zoning board is to secure the existence of the character of the neighborhood and a future for neighborhood property values. That means no concentration of Affordable Housing, and in fact keeping the housing as expensive as possible. The fact that home equity is by far the largest asset of the home-owning class is a self reinforcing incentive to price undesirables out of the neighborhood.

The easiest way to keep things Expensive and Nice is to require a large baked-in cost – large minimum lot sizes, setbacks, driveway, and secondary structure requirements set an effective price floor and encourage building larger houses (no point in dropping 500K on land and 50K on a trailer tiny house). Not coincidentally, these same physical features make it difficult to infiltrate such a neighborhood en masse.

A suburb of exclusively residences with long roads and plentiful open space does not have the same level of ambient noise or noise occlusion you find in cities. Screams and gunshots carry. Music coming from bluetoof speakers carries. A class of scholars laughing with the Faustian joy of freshly acquired knowledge as they wander around to they cousin’s house is noticeable.

Those same setbacks and two-story houses end up having excellent sightlines, especially from the upper floor, where one sleeps, whereas the privacy of bushes, trees, and fences mostly obscures ground level views between lots. There are only a couple ways in and out of your average bespoke subdivision, which makes entry by car noticeable, and entry by foot or public transit is made impractical or at least conspicuous by the raw distance involved. The lack of commercial establishments means there is no particular reason to be there anyway.

This all adds up to an excellent solution to the Urban Problem that arose in the 1950s-1970s, in the same way that hill tribes found sanctuary from raiders of the plain. Unfortunately, the historical forces of real estate and ethnic conflict did not stop churning just because one faction arrived at a stopgap solution. The priority of the power structure currently occupying the United States government is to destroy the suburb by recognizing this defensive character and cracking it exactly as one cracks any other defense-in-depth.

Start by introducing weak points on the inside – your neighborhood will be made inclusive, or else. A Problem House will be introduced, along with the entailed ambient security issues. Groups coming and going become more common and less conspicuous, and the suburban desert blooms with nocturnal migratory life.

Then isolate and bypass the strong points – suburbs depend on private car ownership and the ability to get in and out at will for their existence. Increasing the expense of such a luxury and installing “off” switches for entire neighborhoods reduces them to the circumstances of cut-off Japanese islands circa 1944.

Ideally, you would prevent such strong points from forming at all, and break the back of the suburb by banning them as a tactic going forward. Any random quarter-acre in a Good School District is more valuable, even including buying out the structure, when it can become part of the footprint of a five-over-one packed with two-bedroom apartments – thus the housing stock shifts permanently in composition, and your monolithic expanse of imposing ticky tacky shatters into a million pieces.

Recognizing that you’re in a fight is the first step to winning, and fortunately, the entire American middle class (and large portions of the upper class) keep so much money in land that they have every incentive to follow through. There is enough combined electoral and lobbying firepower to defeat these efforts if they are recognized for what they are – not for nothing is the National Association of Realtors the largest lobby in DC, and in any random town, the big shots are likely to be some combination of car dealers, real estate developers, and the bankers that finance both. These groups do have a track record of success, once they realize their own interests.

And besides, in an America bereft of frontiers, if the suburb falls there is simply no where else to go.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike M says:

    If you are white with a family, the suburbs are the only choice. Very few can afford buying raw land, farms or acreage. So land is subdivided into 1/4 or 1/2 acres which working Americans can still realistically purchase. The key defense bulwark of the burbs is owning home equity. Even
    Jewish shitlibs want “good schools” and low crime because their home is their largest asset, thus home value matters. This is why they are destroying the housing market with 7% mortgages, zero down deals for POC, institutional ownership of single family homes, etc. You’ll own nothing and eat bugs. They want your kids rayped and enslaved and they think it’s funny.


  2. GDR says:

    >There is enough combined electoral and lobbying firepower to defeat these efforts if they are recognized for what they are – not for nothing is the National Association of Realtors the largest lobby in DC, and in any random town, the big shots are likely to be some combination of car dealers, real estate developers, and the bankers that finance both. These groups do have a track record of success, once they realize their own interests.

    Most important paragraph in the article. Elites get what they want, democracy-believers lose everything.


  3. Aeoli Pera says:

    Housing and finance stuff are blind spots for me, so I appreciate articles like this bigly.


    1. GDR says:

      Pirate books on zoning and real estate investing.


  4. Alex says:

    Nice article. I’d also recommend moving to an historic district or town. It’s very hard to build anything because of strict requirements being met through the historic commission.


  5. Patrick Gibbs says:

    People that shit on the suburbs and “car culture” don’t realize that they are essentially taunting an entire class of people that were ethnically cleansed from their previous homes


    1. Aeoli Pera says:

      If they realized it, I don’t think they would care because they’re bad people.


  6. Alex says:

    Prince George’s County just outside DC was 86% white in 1970. By 2014, it was 15%. The black population went from 14% to 63%. All suburban. They didn’t need to build multiple-family buildings. They just needed racial quotas in government hiring to create a new black middle class that moved out of DC into PG County. The suburbs are not going to save you.

    You need to end racial and sexual quotas and bring back freedom of association. To my knowledge there is no movement in this direction whatsoever. If anything, just the opposite.

    Whites need to think of themselves as a minority, which they are in a global sense. White men are an even smaller minority.


  7. Truthhurts says:

    I see a return to monastery-style walled communities of like-minded Re-pioneers. Such communities were tried and failed by drugged up hippies, of course. But I see them happening again with normal, stable minded conservatives who can still coexist with outsiders when going out to work. But beware of cult-like leaders who give the Feds a reason to SWAT and burn them down like Waco etc did. It is possible if we try, learning from the Middle Ages, when Christendom took root for uncivilized nomads of N. Europe, for centuries. Learn from past achievements —and past mistakes.


  8. Ramesses 2 King of Kings says:

    This is such an interesting topic, great analysis.

    I found refuge in a lower middle class, largely Mexican neighborhood. These people do a semi decent job of yard maintenance, and keep dogs (always take peppery spray on your Lindys). Never had a break-in or heard of one, and it’s just not a juicy target for the Ferguson Treatment. Most bought in the 90s or aughts, and thanks to the post-China-virus real estate run up, these houses are ripe for teardown redevelopment and gentrification. It ain’t Mayberry, but it checks the essential boxes of life and liberty. Living in a lower-middle class neighborhood allows me to maintain a high savings rate, meaning my net worth isn’t disproportionately weighted to what will always be a tenuous, specific real estate position.

    So basically I think the best defense is to live in TX or AZ, where you have the economic drivers pulling middle class people in, keeping prices moving upward, and discouraging the Ferguson Effect via the resulting tendency toward gentrification.
    As much of a problem as immigration has been, it’s almost funny how the name of the game still remains avoiding Nissan owners. Minneapolis shows us that even a large, prosperous metro area can be slowly demographically besieged, so I think ultimately you need to be flexible, and ready to move after a few signs of dangerous demographic development. I take heart knowing that even South Africans have found a way to thrive. It will be interesting to see what new strategies evolve in the coming decades. Most of the new development I am seeing is in HOAs, smaller front yards, with higher and vision blocking fences, rather than chainlink, they seem more defensible and private, even if they’re cheaply made, almost temporary structures.


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