When we resist (pt 2)

Compliance and obedience have one thing in common: the choice to resist was not made. Resist is about choice. The big question (and answer) is: what’s being chosen?

In part 1 we went briefly over why the people chose to fight for People’s Park: place identity. The legal ownership of the place was overshadowed by the people’s historical and cultural “ownership” of it. The legalities were ignored. The question of who owns the Park already had a clear answer in each party’s mind: the officials think it’s theirs, the people think otherwise. This means we do not always play by the rules. Let’s say, if the rule is “first come first served,” then it follows that the national GDP of the continent of America should be reassigned under the management of the remaining tribes of the Native Americans. If the rule is “what was written into law,” then the Holocaust, as dictated by the Nationalsozialistiche government, should be acceptable. So on and so forth. We do not always play by the rules because no rule is perfect in all situation. Thus, we resist.

To understand how we resist city planners we should first consider what we tend to do when we get to decide for our own rules. That is, when having the freedom and ability to choose where to live, what’s that like? In the Big Sort, as written by Bill Bishop, the answer is segregation by social identity.


What happens when a liberal person find themselves in a conservative neighborhood where folks put on pro-life signs and practice open carry? They find themselves in an uncomfortable situation where whenever politics is brought up, they would most likely be ostracized. The difference in ideology is so powerful in everyone’s mind. As a result, people start to feel that they don’t belong. They move out. Probably into a liberal neighborhood where folks paint ethnic murals on the walls.


What about that “other” kind of difference that’s ever powerful? That’s right: race. As a matter of fact, people still find themselves segregating along this line. In the graph above each green dot is 5 black residents and each orange dot is 5 white residents.

Resisting isn’t just about fighting those who impose the rules upon us. It’s also about fighting those who live by different rules. If it’s different, it’s disagreeable. If it was agreeable people wouldn’t have self-sorted themselves into these patterns of segregation. As a result here’s a theory: differences in skin color, political ideology, gender, power, priorities,… would mean lead to some form of resistance. Sometimes it’s in the form of hurling bricks and bullets at each other; sometimes you just move the heck away. Fight or flight.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s