chapter  9
21 Pages

CITY STATES

Fortunately for ordinary life, most people can make this match between desire and experience, spontaneity and expectation, in quieter ways. Wherever travel takes the tourists, it leads them always towards the city and, after the big words, industrialisation, capitalism, empire, democracy, have done their mammoth work, nobody can deny the power of the city to change and reorder all of life. In his study of the relations between the two, The Country and the City,1 Raymond Williams says:

H.G. Wells once said, coming out of a political meeting where they had been discussing social change, that this great towering city was a measure of the obstacle, of how much must be moved if there was to be any change. I have known this feeling, looking up at great buildings that are the centres of power, but I find I do not say ‘There is your city, your great bourgeois monument, your towering structure of this still precarious civilisation’ or I do not only say that; I say also ‘This is what men have built, so often magnificently, and is not everything then possible?’