Hi Tomas, nicely written as always - with excellent graphics to illustrate your points.

However, I think it is worth bearing in mind that to call leftist parties "Progressive" is the second best branding strategy in political history. The best branding was for the Russian Bolsheviks (majority).

To make progress is to make change that people will come to see as positive. And perhaps when you look across countries and for a long time you can make a good case for "Progressive" parties making "progress" at least when taken as an aggregate. However, there are problems on the horizon just now.

Crime is at an all-time low - as an aggregate. However, it has seen a severe uptick in the last three years in numerous large American cities. Bari Weiss's podcast, Honestly, has an excellent, nuanced discussion of the intertwining issues. Taking account these intricacies most people would say that progressives tried some new things based on poor understanding and made life very dangerous for small parts of big cities. It is so dangerous in these places that the overall trend lines have changed direction.

Progressives have also decided that homelessness is largely a choice and that cities should accommodate the homeless rather than take measures to get them off the street. Now many cities have become dangerous due to lawless homeless encampments. Again referring to a Bari Weiss project, see this morning's post by Leighton Woodhouse on Common Sense. Many people who support Progressive parties have great compassion for "the least of these," which includes compassion for the soaring number of people dying of drug overdoses in urban homeless encampments where there is not only a lack of drug law enforcement, there is often municipal government material support for drug use.

So, I think there will be ebbs and flows. Perhaps the net effect of this will be a movement towards changing things - and, fair enough, no system is perfect and it makes sense to try to fix known flaws. However, it makes more sense to try out proposed changes slowly, carefully and with careful evaluation of their effects before there is wide implementation - including determining if positive effects came from the change or from the highly motivated team that executed the pilot project.

"Progressive" politicians have a long history of implementing their "good ideas," such as, say, communism, without any real-world evaluation. In the case of communism we may never know (within 100 million) how many people died from that effort.

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Nov 1, 2022Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Nice text! I kind of had the idea in mind but giving it a name an data makes it a lot more concrete.

I have a doubt left. If there are countries where 80/90 percent of the population is in cities then right wings and conservatives shouldn't be a big contender with only 10/20 percent of the population (you would still have the correlation). In other words, if cities produce progressivism (whatever that is) then there is an explanation lacking for why a big percentage of the population in cities is still conservative

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Nov 1, 2022·edited Nov 1, 2022Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Technically Catholic said +/- what I wanted to say, and well said too! I'd just add Michael Schellenberger's book and essays about how the Left has "destroyed" American cities.

I think that political dynamics is dominated by two factors, a general trend and a tendency to oscillate. Whenever one side becomes a "natural monopoly" and dominates for a while, it becomes decadent enough (often by the dominance of its most extreme wing) that the public throws it in the trash, at least for a while.

Weiss and Woodhouse and Shellenberger see that happening in US urban crime and drug and housing policy. Many observers, perhaps led by the very impressive Roger Pielke Jr, see it happening in today's climate policy. And others see it happening in the empowerment of girls to demand gender-changing medical and surgical treatments. And several observers and elections see it happening in the intersection of education and critical theory etc.

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Nov 1, 2022·edited Nov 1, 2022Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Another refreshing splash from your boundless fountain of creativity -- much appreciated. I agree with your assertion that urbanization drives progressivism, and the corollary that increasing per capita wealth moves people to the left. Much of the world's population lives on the upward-sloping portion of your graphs, so internationally these trends will continue. Brazil's example is encouraging. But I wonder what you think about the implications at the leading edges. To me, the signals appear mixed.

First, a good sign. As your charts show, urbanization is leveling off in the US, Germany and other developed countries as well-educated and left-leaning people move out of blue cities into red territories. Remote work is only one driver. Here in Northern California, de-urbanization is in full swing because nobody raising kids makes enough money to buy a house in the Bay Area. Where are people moving? To non-urban Texas and other red areas where jobs are plentiful and nice houses on fair-sized pieces of property on the wildland interface are cheap. Will Texas turn purple any time soon? Haha-- no way. But look at other formerly Confederate states. Over time, re-homogenization is happening, and with it may come a moderation of differences in political points of view.

A more disturbing trend may be happening regarding increasing wealth. In the middle of the rising curve, wealth tends to turn people blue. However, at the extreme, entrepreneurial billionaires seem to be turning right. For every blue George Soros, there appears to be a few Peter Thiels. Now we have entrepreneurial genius Elon Musk, who Tim Church (creator of the brilliant blog Wait But Why -- I know you're a fan) once called "the raddest person in the world" retweeting hard-right conspiracy theories about the recent attack on Nancy Peliosi's husband. He seems bent on reopening Twitter to right-wing bloviators, probably including the former president. Even though he's taking Twitter private, thankfully he won't escape the moderating influence of his advertisers. Corporations seem to have developed consciences -- who'd have thought? I won't get into Rupert Murdoch, whom I think may disprove your theory that individuals don't determine history -- even 100 years from now, Western civilization will be irrevocably marked by his successful attempt to impose his political views on a vulnerable and unsuspecting -- and, remarkably, still unconscious -- viewership that eagerly laps up whatever his commentators choose to feed them. It's a solidly anti-progressive, anti-diverse, anti-democratic diet, and it's just as popular as Coke and fries.

I know you're thinking about where present-day trends may head in the future, particularly in leading-edge countries where free expression of ideas is still supported -- so far. Yes, I agree that in the long term, freedom will win out. In fact, there is an underground spiritual revolution already taking place that will power this cultural transition -- but that's a different discussion. In the meantime, there's some big, dark money working to reverse these positive trends.

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I think we have to define what constitutes “progressivism.” There are some trends (spending above revenue) that are not sustainable and definitely are not “progress.” Social policies that undermine the nuclear family are similar, as are those that excuse crime and put citizens at risk. You could add policies that politicize education to the list of self-destructive “progressive” trends. Civilization depends upon strong families and societal cohesion that has often been helped by religious organizations. There are cities in the USA that your definition would say are maximally “progressive” and many of them are seeing a substantial outflow because some of their policies are making those cities less desirable places to live.

I think to be truly “progressive” policies need to be pro-citizen. Such policies help families stay together and build unity within the citizenry. Support for the next generation is essential to build an enduring society, and that should include an education system that informs and builds competence without political indoctrination. Also inherent in supporting the next generation is not leaving them with mountains of public debt.

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Jan 15Liked by Tomas Pueyo

In México, the left is conservative and the right is progressive. So left and right make no sense anymore. The rest holds true.

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Loved this article of yours and it’s been percolating in the back of my mind since reading, thanks. There’s something quite comforting about the idea that as we get more densely clustered we tend to be more prosocial!

Also I read this paper today and I think Dr Evans is talking about the same thing you are - Increase in prosociality as pop density increases. Thought you might like to see it too, if you already have, yay, and here it is for others :)


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I agree with almost everything you say.

The only thing I disagree with is the idea that urbanization will continue upward, especially in developed countries.

In underdeveloped countries, I think urbanization will continue for the rest of the century.

In developed countries, we might have reached peak urbanization (and much of this depends on how you define "urban").

Technology has changed how we work. Until the pandemic, the old ways of working were held in place by cultural norms. Those norms have now been shattered. I think we are seeing the beginning of deurbanization in the developed world.

You don't "need" to live in New York anymore to be part of the publishing/media/finance industries.

So long as you have an internet connect, you can live anywhere, and internet access is rural areas is only getting better, especially with new systems such as Starlink.

Many of the problems people have with urban life can all be solved by just moving to a rural area.

High housing prices? Move to a rural area.

High crime? Move to a rural area.

Fear of infectious diseases? Move to a rural area.

Food security? Move to a rural area.

Many urbanites now shop almost exclusively via Amazon Prime. You can get goods almost as quickly, now, if you live in a rural area.

Cultural events? First run movies are now streaming. You can watch Broadway shows and orchestral performances all online. Is it the same? No, but it is much cheaper and in many cases the quality is much better.

Birth rates are strongly correlated with urbanization. If birth rates are ever to increase, it will probably involve deurbanization.

The process of deurbanization is going to be the other size of the coin from 20th century urbanization. Technology is going to make it possible.

The reason cities exist, efficiency in labor and sharing information, has largely been replaced by the internet.

This process has just started and suspect it will play out over the next century.

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The essential difference between urban and rural, based on my observations, has more to do with the place of modern institutions. Progressivism is a socio-political concept that is a product of modern institutional culture. The culture of institutions represent the class structure of Progressive ideology and is why it is compatible with modern cities.

As for rural communities, its culture is far more relational as there is not the available wealth to create a similar institutional social structure. There is a social hierarchy, but it doesn’t foster a Progressive purpose nearly so simply.

One other observation. It relates to how institutional structures tend toward centralized governance and relational network structures tend toward decentralized, distributed governance. I believe this is the real difference between urban and rural as you describe. The question is whether the urban phenomenon of Progressivism has within it the capacity to decentralize its message in order to appeal to rural voters.

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Nov 1, 2022Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Thank you. China is undergoing massive urbanisation. Your article suggests that this may further complicate the CCP's hold on power if this shifts the political landscape.

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Nov 1, 2022·edited Nov 1, 2022Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Here's a story with a bit of long term history. We life in a decidedly rural area of north central Washington state. My wife was on the school board and we had a child in middle school. There was a 6th grade program being used by the school which taught Central American pre-Columbian history, part of which involved enacting imagined Maya ritual of offerings to their God Chok. Great! was my thinking, get those middle schoolers off their butts and their hands and feet moving. Some of our (few) close neighbors (who had children our son's age and were his friends and playmates), objected strenuously to this process, claiming that it was "teaching religion in schools", and after a few non-productive meetings with the board, they hired a lawyer to come with them. That meeting sticks in my memory well, with this neighbor I know well in a highly emotional state, tears streaming down her face, quite shocked that the school would promote this kind of 'ritual'.

The use of that word, and the obvious emotional attachment for her to it left me dumbfounded. The other word she used several times was 'PAGAN'. The etymology of Pagan goes back to the late Roman period when Christianity was being absorbed by the urban Romans, but not yet accepted in the more rural areas; it meant country people, rustics. It actually began as a quasi-military term meaning 'incompetent soldier' which was adapted by cosmopolitan Christianized Romans to mean something like 'those not in the army of the Lord'.

I learned some things about 'ritual' and our cultural bonds connected to that concept. The ironies abound in this story, but irony is not a strong suit of the devout.

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Nov 1, 2022Liked by Tomas Pueyo

Living in NZ, the graphic from the 2020 election is misrepresentative of normal distribution. The current Labour govt roared to an unprecedented sole majority victory off the back of successful Covid elimination (at that point anyway). Recommend using data from the 2017 election that shows a more traditional spread. We use a mixed member proportional system. The Green Party who sits further left than labour won the CBD seat in our largest city. Literally the most left leaning party won the densest possible seat. The only electorate seat they won.

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Nov 1, 2022Liked by Tomas Pueyo

The USA has a rural urban divide

States with smaller population are more heavily rural

The political system gives 2 senators to each state giving smaller rural states more power per person

The move to on line business promotes some movement to less dense area

On line silo effect hardens attitudes

Will your urban effect fade as on line activity decentralizes location and opinion makers

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Nov 1, 2022Liked by Tomas Pueyo

If there is such a move toward urbanization, and thus progressivism, why are we seeing waves of ultra-conservatives gain power over the last five years or so?

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My story is my only experience with gender change. The child is now 19 and seems pretty content with the process. The rocky territory of adolescence is a hell of a place to have to make those kinds of long term commitments for sure. I look to how we use language for an X-ray view of social trends and there’s probably no more wound up and packed place there than those that fall under the Sex category, from the use of gender itself to the expressions surrounding vulgarity.

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The source link after your second graph is not working, 404.

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