Automation isn’t the fragile virtual layer on top of the sturdy city; rather, the inverse is true.
The pandemic made clear that the supply chain is the society.
There are certainly aesthetic and stylistic reasons to prefer homogenous village-scale communities to the “alienating” anonymity of the big city. Indeed, there is a direct if implicit anti-urbanism in anti-automation politics and aesthetics. Some may have forgotten that, despite their bucolic pleasures, small towns are also facial recognition–based social control systems from which many people have given their lives to escape.
For example, the petit bourgeois Primitivism of the all-organic neighbourhood farmers market stands as a kind of wishful idealisation of what infrastructure might be and “where things come from.” Although it provides an anodyne experience, its symbolism reeks of a Restorationist cultural politics that symptomatically prioritises ambience at hand over equity at scale. It is an aesthetic indulgence claiming to be an ethical politics that is claiming to be a more resilient economics. And yet, the world cannot actually “be like this always”; it is not possible for every piece of fruit to be handed to you in person.