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London Lecture, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 822

Essay

London became a leading global city through the international trade successes of Great Britain. The worldwide extent of British trade made Britain a world superpower, thus implying that the capital of London itself grew in significance.

After the 1666 fire, London was rebuilt on a neoclassical model. This was largely influenced by ideological reasons, insofar as London was viewed as a world metropolis on equal footing with classical capitals such as Rome. The neoclassical approach would make a direct ideological link between London as New Rome and the ancient Roman Empire.

Rapid urbanization meant that agrarian workers moved to the city to acquire work, creating various forms of disorder, such as high overcrowding, unemployment and hunger. As a result of phenomena such as overcrowding, disasters like fire had a greater effect on the city’s populace.

The strategy of reformers to deal with these problems was organized around a new strategy of segregation of London along class lines. Hence, West London became a center for the upper classes, based on concepts of open space and parks within the city. Furthermore, the establishment of a professional police force essentially criminalized poverty in the city.

The panopticon is a concept developed by Jeremy Bentham that arose from the criminality that was the result of high overcrowding in London. Prisons were now designed in an orderly fashion arranged around a central observation tower, so as to physically exert control over the inmates.

The garden city concept attempted to tame overcrowding and chaos of London by introducing what were essentially miniature cities within the London city-space. Land ownership would be shifted from landlord control to the ownership of land being held by the new “town” concept.

The proponents of council (public) housing attempted to provide the poor with affordable dwellings. However, this concept itself can be viewed as continuous with previous initiatives of segregation of the poor that attempted to segregate them. The result of this approach, therefore, was not the amelioration of the criminal problem as related to poverty, but merely its transformation into a new form of class segregation.

Postwar British planning was based upon a utopian concept that believed the problems resulting from mass industrialization and overcrowding of the city could be curtailed. Phenomena such as the aforementioned garden city model contributed to this aim by its division of London into more manageable “town” areas.

The collapse of the welfare state in London has led, on the one hand, to increasing commercialization speared by the capital of the bourgeois class, and on the other hand, a new class delineation that arose from the loss of social subsidizing of the poor.

London Reading Questions

Engels’ construed London as an example of capitalist exploitation par excellence. Namely, the workers’ separation from the means of production created a dehumanizing effect, whereby human existence resembled just another means of production. The overcrowded and sometimes desperate situation of the working class in London reflected capitalism’s creation of class conflict.

A “social war” in London entails precisely this division in society along class lines. Social war meant the segregation of the poor to delimited cramped areas, whereas the bourgeois classes occupied open spaces equivalent to their social status.

The conditions which Engels describes are degradations in human quality of life. By emphasizing the transformation of the city space into regions such as slums, Engels views conditions of poverty as degradations of human nature in line with capitalist ideology.

London Underground Questions

The London Underground was to solve the problem of the massive city sprawl that would increase effectivity by providing efficient transportation. In addition, the Underground would eliminate overcrowding on the normal London streets, by shifting the flow of traffic away from the latter.

The Underground needed to use steam trains because of logistic failures in previous models for the Underground trains. The steam trains were especially comfortable to metro users, as space for the commuter and speed of transportation were maximized by this approach.

Social class differences reflected themselves in the Underground according to fares being delimited by class. Accordingly, third class was available to anyone who needed to travel in cramped conditions, whereas higher classes and more comfortable trains were reserved for the bourgeois class.

Private interests were arguably responsible for the first lines, insofar as there was a need for transportation of workers for reasons of industrial efficiency.

Lines were modernized by technological advances such as the movement away from steam locomotives to the electrification of the Underground, which allowed for its expansion.

Suburban development increased with the underground, since transportation time between city-center and outskirts was now diminished, allowing for London’s development away from its center.

The London Underground served relevant to the problems engendered by World War II, for example, serving as a bomb shelter during the German blitzkrieg of World War II.

Women played a crucial role in World War II, serving so-called “home front” causes, such as providing fire and police service, while also helping in Air Raid precautions, precautions that were mostly tied to the usage of the Underground as a bomb shelter.

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