Monday, September 05, 2005

State of nature

In Newsweek, George Will reflects on Katrina. His closing thoughts are copied below. Emphasis added by me: "But it is hard to imagine New Orleans benefiting in any way, or even recovering, from Katrina. The city relied for its prosperity too much on merchandisable charm—tourism, conventions, gambling—that may be impossible to revive for Americans who have seen the bodies floating in the sewage. Neither Newark nor Detroit has really recovered from the 1967 rioting. "In Katrina's collision with New Orleans, the essence of primitivism, howling nature, met one of mankind's most sophisticated works, a modern city. But what makes cities such marvels—the specializations and divisions of labor that sustain myriad webs of dependencies—also makes them fragile. Forgetting that is hubris, an ingredient of tragedy. "So Katrina has provided a teaching moment. This is a liberal hour in that it illustrates the indispensability, and dignity, of the public sector. It also is a conservative hour, dramatizing the prudence of pessimism, and the fact that the first business of government, on which everything depends, is security."