December 19, 2004 by AK
America does have its public places. A city like Boston is a tremendous walking city. Downtown Portland is wonderful to explore on foot.
Europe and Blue America seem to have a livable public sphere in many places. On the other hand, neither seem to be reproducing themselves.
Red America has children, but raises them in ugly soul-deadening surroundings.
Tibor Scitovsky wrote in The Joyless Economy (or was it somewhere else? or there and someplace else?) on the importance of European cafés and bars as public forums and nodes of social life. I think he noted that people in American bars tended to sit facing the bartender, not each other as in the Old World. I don’t really know, not being much of a bargoer — but Scitovsky, who came from a wealthy family of Hungarian aristocrats, grew up in pre-WW2 Budapest, studied in Cambridge and the LSE and taught at Stanford, certainly knew his subject well.
Well, what about Russia then? Russia’s cities are a cross between European big towns and American inner cities. This social milieu has its own attractions, but there’s nothing like Parisian cafés in Moscow. Instead, Russia seems to have gone virtual: its most important public forum may be the Russophone LiveJournal community.
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