Householders or Tenants?

“If we are wise, the answer will be ‘programmable geography’ — recoding places based on their changing roles in our fluid global system. Habitable geography is our most precious terrestrial resource, and we must optimize it for those that come after us.”

Parag Khanna, “Migration Will Soon be the Biggest Climate Challenge of our Time,” Financial Times (Oct. 3, 2021)

“By the waters of Babylon
We sit down and weep,
Far from the pleasant land
Where our fathers sleep.”

Christina Rossetti, “By the Waters of Babylon” (1861)

They say that no one has ever washed a rented car.  Nor do the tenants of an apartment building spend their weekends cleaning the gutters.  I confess that I have never entered a motel room and declared to my wife, “we must optimized it for those that come after us.”  Nomads are exploiters. Tenants are termites.  Only sedentary people husband their resources.  And the roots of the word husband mean householder.

What Mr. Khanna called “programmable geography” is a world in which there are no householders, only tenants.  In Mr. Khanna’s world, the earth is a giant event center, its lands are rentable party rooms, and a man’s “home” is a table he has booked for the evening.

I remember how much I hated the words “assigned seating” when I was in school.  Girl, boy, girl, boy . . . And not a friend or companion in sight.  Indeed that was why my killjoy teachers assigned seating.  It made us students docile and sad.

In Mr. Khanna’s world of “programable geography,” a people will be obliged to look to the calendar and say, “time for us to pack up and clear out.  We’re only booked into this country for another decade, and if we don’t leave it clean we’ll lose our security deposit.”

Habitable geography is our most precious resource, and this is why God punishes people who, owing to their violence, indolence, or stupidity, degrade their homeland into a wasteland.  A foolish people that fells its forests and allows its soil to wash into the sea should be compelled to sit among the stumps and learn the lesson of its folly.  A quarrelsome people should be compelled to suffer the evils of its quarreling until it learns the art of peace.

Hell holes are hell holes because they are inhabited (and rendered uninhabitable) by the hellions who live there.

There is, I know, a vast literature that argues that the denizens of hell holes are not hellions, but are rather victims of capitalism, colonialism, or climate change.  I also know this is partly true.  Every denizen of a hell hole is not a hellion.  But exculpatory theories of the exogenous origins of hell holes do not in fact teach us that every hell hole needs a large door marked Exit.

The reason is that this Exit will be used, either by the non-hellions, in which case the hell-hole will become more hellish, or it will be used by the hellions, who will take their hell-hole-making genius with them.

One great lie in Mr. Khanna’s article is that very little of the earth’s geography is uninhabitable, as a cursory glance at human history will show.  Humans are the most adaptable animal there is, and can live in a desert, a swamp, or a frozen arctic waste.  But human adaptability requires intelligence, a lively fear of the terrible consequences of screwing things up, and a resolve to make things work in the land that is under one’s own feet.

We will all drive rentals in a world of “programmable geography,” a world where there are no borders and everyone keeps a bug-out bag under his bed.  And in a world where we all drive rentals, the oil will never get changed.

19 thoughts on “Householders or Tenants?

    • You may have seen a quote floating round from a globalist promising us that, in the future, we will own nothing and be happy. I know that possessions can be a terrible burden, but also that property is inseparable from our sense of self. All one needs to do is look at the creeps who are herding us into apartment buildings and public transportation.

      • Indeed. I had to find a place to live in Bryan-College Station on rather short notice this summer and am thankful every day that I am not in an apartment complex.

  1. “Humans are the most adaptable animal there is, ”
    We are not animals and when Christians adopt the language of materialism we join in being the problem. Animals are herded. Animals migrate. Animals can be invasive species. The world was created for man and understanding that is the only way to counter the globalist motel world.

    • We are not simply animals, but that aspect of our nature takes precedence in our dealings with the natural world. I fear that the danger for many Christians is a disregard of our animal aspect, and a pretense that we are almost as incorporeal as angels.

  2. The most disturbing part of that quote to me is “recoding places based on their changing roles in our fluid global system”. I recently finished an MBA program and took a class on supply chains, the curriculum of which basically treated the countries of the world as factories or warehouses. This is exploitative because the industrialized West shops for countries to plunder based on their needs. It’s no wonder that the denizens of hell holes are coming to the US, where they can at least be paid American wages for their work in plundering their home country. It’s a natural consequence of Globalism–a feature, not a flaw. Mass migration is a rational economic decision when all of your natural resources are being exported.

    Allowing these hell holes to prosper requires forbearance on the part of the industrialized west, both in allowing them to live with their bad decisions and in refusing to exploit their easily and cheaply accessible natural resources. The mere attempt of accomplishing this means that Globalism will end, and the thought of “recoding places” will go with it.

  3. What Mr. Khanna called “programmable geography” is a world in which there are no householders, only tenants. In Mr. Khanna’s world, the earth is a giant event center, its lands are rentable party rooms, and a man’s “home” is a table he has booked for the evening.

    I’ve spent almost all of my adult life in exurban, upper middle class neighborhoods. De jure, my neighbors are almost all householders. De facto, most of us are renters. We stay in the neighborhood (not my particular neighborhood, all such neighborhoods) for a few years until our employer tells us it’s time to move on (and pays for it) or until we switch employers, and then move on.

    The difference between these neighborhoods and an Embassy Suites is mostly the size of the rooms. My neighbors seem nice, and I nod to them as we pass in the hall, and we might even chat while waiting in line at the buffet. Perhaps I remember their names briefly. “Paul Kersey” called these places drifter colonies (earlier in his posting career when he didn’t just do “blacks bad” all the time), and that seems about right.

    This way of life seems designed to manufacture sociopaths, which, perhaps not coincidentally, is what corporations need in their management cadre.

  4. Khanna proposes to manage with global government expert bureaucracies what the human species has always done without any supervision whatever. Analogously, Biden yesterday proposed a plan to ‘fix’ the supply chain problem such bureaucracies have created. It’s the USSR all over again.

    There is a clue in Khanna’s diction, that reveals his real attitude toward humans. He writes, “… for those that come after us.” He should properly have written “… for those who come after us.” As if they were persons.

  5. My neighborhood is old and semi-gentrified. Many residents are fairly settled because they have blood, sweat and tears tied up in their old house. Now that the semi-gentrifiers are getting old and selling out, a landlord has appeared to snap up properties. I know the kind of neighborhood you describe, though. Those people own their house like they own the stocks in their 401k.

  6. In yesterday’s faculty meeting I was reminded of Santayana’s statement that those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it. Santayana was wrong, though. Studying the past simply convinces the student that we are bound to repeat it because very few people ever study the past. I know that it is nearly time for me to retire because I am now the only one who remembers that we already tried today’s new idea, and of course the only one who remembers that it failed. Today’s rising generation has a boundless confidence in its ability to manage and manipulate people. They have no conception how intractable humans are. I think this may be because so few of them have children.

  7. Another delight to read!

    The power-mad who fight among themselves for dominance over resources have always set populations one against the other. Methods abound! It’s everywhere: sports, the most obvious, religion, even in food (Iron Chef…). The ineluctable animal nature of man.

    In the so-called academies of lower education, the pseudo-intellectual (otherwise known as the unscholar) concocts a presumably rational theorem (rife with scintillating coined terminology) appealing to the reader’s narcissistic grandeur of godlike mental omnipotence to collect acolytes through which to attack competitors for the iron rice bowl of tenure. “Programmable geography” is a brilliant concoction, worthy of Philip K. Dick, but he was at least honest enough to set his concoctions in fiction.

    • It’s not exactly newspeak, but certainly a direct tie-in to the overall rhetoric of these people. Of course, this is just one out of many ‘things’ that are supposed to end up programmable. Right now they are stumbling over each other for a seat at the table of control over the envisioned new world, so the conflict is within as well, yet hollyweird teaches us that henchmen are always expendable.. ahwell. Sci-Fi has already explored this world in great detail and largely came to the conclusion it should remain well, fiction, but never let a healthy dose of hubris get obstructed by thousands of books and insights.

      Philip K. Dick, along with many others seemed to have been warning us rather then instructing a way forward; “A recurring theme in Exegesis is Dick’s hypothesis that history had been stopped in the first century AD, and that “the Empire never ended”. He saw Rome as the pinnacle of materialism and despotism, which, after forcing the Gnostics underground, had kept the population of Earth enslaved to worldly possessions.” – I think he was on to something at the very least, but i digress. While its uhm, historically incomplete shall we say, the Empire is more of a mindset regarding the world and humanity, then something that has always been fully tangible/ has had various levels of presence. And it points towards the current despiritualization for us, whilst ‘something quite different’ for them, as the general modus operandi. I’m not really even buying the technocratic trends as being the full story here, not at all to be honest.

  8. Info: What creates hell-holes? Unlimited growth. There is hardly anywhere in America where communities are organized to preserve themselves, and most ways of attempting to do so are illegal. It is not just Californians. It is the developed world. New apartment buildings are going up everywhere you look in Minneapolis. The inability of communities to preserve themselves just about gives the lie to self-government all by itself. Try asserting democratic control of the demographics, taken as broadly or as narrowly as you like, of your village, city, county, state, or nation. The religion of growth gladly adopts the religion of anti-racism to make growth a moral imperative.

  9. Democracy itself might have been a mistake. Its a long argument but difficult to ‘wrong’. Im starting to be on board with Michael Malice despite his history. People with any spirituality left are a gold coin now, and perhaps the only thing worth anything in a world of disposability -Muad’ dib-

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