The Urban/Rural Divide

Alison Miller

The readings this week predominantly discuss the internal and external divisions that caused illiberal and populist governments and movements to come to the fore. These movements relied on call-backs to old ideas and events, but these events also shaped how each of these countries saw their far-right populist movements developing.

For Bull, each Italian government of the Second Italian Republic worked to define their populism in such a way so as to exclude particular enemies of the party, with only anti-elitism being a binding agent of all three parties. Drawing on old ideas of Southern Italy as a parasite, re-writing historical events to cast Communists as the enemy, and memories of the First Republic, each party worked to fashion the ‘Other’ that they could set themselves against in order to get into power.

I found the Mamonova, Franquesa, Brooks reading particularly interesting because they address how the history of each of their case studies has influenced current rural/urban divides. This divide is a familiar one, as we see it in movements in the US and Canada as well. I found the concept of the rural areas being emptied to be particularly compelling with regards to why we see the rise of populist groups.

The concerns in Ukraine about land being snapped up by conglomerates is also particularly striking, as I think we are seeing things similar to this in the Canadian context, although my particular reading has more covered the Canadian housing crisis in urban areas.

Furthermore, post-Covid frustration is mounting as people who live in high cost of living areas are moving into smaller towns (ostensibly a good thing in terms of addressing rural emptiness) but are driving housing prices up and making no efforts to actually get involved in civic life in smaller towns. The degree to which this is a similar issue in Europe would be interesting, as work from home could be a good change for rural areas if housing prices are kept down and demand for representation and services goes up.  

One Reply to “The Urban/Rural Divide”

  1. Alison,
    Great response. I also found the Rural/Urban divide fascinating (I grew up on a farm and later on going to school in the city, you learn there is a real disconnect between the two). I can see how economic hard-times, COVID-19, and that populist vitriol can stir up clashes. Unfortunately some of the European countries that are going through this clash also have government corruption issues, which further legitimizes the far-right’s point in their follower’s eyes.

    As to COVID-19, I agree about housing prices but I would argue also that the real crisis will happen when the interest rates rise, the economic downturn really accelerates and those unable to pay the mortgages end up foreclosing and homeless. If (or when) this happens the populists will probably higher, than what Europe and North America hasn’t seen since 1930.

    Intrigued to hear your thoughts,

    Wesley M.

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