Walls, Democracy, and Identity Part 2

Last time I spoke in a broad historical swipe about the ideology of walls. Baudrillard’s original foray focused on walls at a very macro level as they dealt with ideology of states. Today I’m skipping over a significant amount of middle ground that should probably be covered, but as I hinted at last time, this whole adventure is a bit ad hoc, meaning, I don’t have any idea about what to say there yet. Instead, today I focus on the family—so get out your Bibles…

The fetish for walls has come to define the familiar relation. As the number of walls in our life increased the size of the ‘nuclear’ family unit decreased. In the good old days, back when fire was new and flint knapping wasn’t just a cool trade to pick up to impress anthropology majors, the distinct lack of walls led to family units somewhat larger than blood relation. Some Native American tribes lived in large communal buildings. Now, children and their parents, granting the ideological presumption of a typical household, have separate rooms delineating what is the parent’s and what is the child’s. Whereas once multiple generations were considered part of the family unit, often sleeping in the same house, the family unit has been decreased to two generations, and only if the younger generation is of sufficient age.  Grandparents have been walled out of the traditional family structure. They have their own walls, separate from their own children, who have been encouraged to create their own.

The American dream is one of walls: a house, a fence, a series of walls to claim ownership of all the commodities. Walls are perhaps the most important commodity today, both creating a cartographic space of ownership, but also delineating the Other, those outside the wall and serving as a filter to define who is and who is not allowed to be a member of the post-modern group.

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