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Oh no! Americans moved less this year than ever-since-1962 , we’re told — and, apparently, this is a sign of tough economic times, an involuntary lowering, or closing in, of our individual and national horizons. Now, as you may know, my vision of the highest is not very closely associated with the civitas , the good city in which citizens live well together in the same place until the end of time. I read the restlessness of we Americans as, on balance, as much of a feature as a bug, and I think that our love of movement operates more or less independently of what Christopher Lasch rightly, if excessively, railed against as our cult of upward mobility . Of course few people pull up stakes in order to worsen their lot. But let’s consider why it is people moved so much more in the ’70s and ’80s than the early ’60s and today. Two (interrelated) phenomena in particular leap out: white flight in the ’70s and Iron Belt flight in the ’80s. These mass migrations cannot be dismissed pejoratively as in thrall to the cult of upward mobility. It makes little sense to praise or condemn them as characteristically American. It does seem that we shouldn’t feel too bad about ‘failing’ to move around as much as people moved around when our major cities were in flames or in decline (or, for good measure, when we were more racist).

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