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Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design Since 1880, 4th Edition by Peter Hall

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The City of the Permanent Underclass

The reactive mass of the industrial reserve army increases therefore with the potential energy of wealth. But the greater this reserve army in relation to the active labour-army, the greater is the mass of consolidated surplus-population, whose misery is in inverse proportion to its torment of labour. The more extensive, finally, the lazarus-layers of the working class, and the industrial reserve army, the greater is official pauperism. This is the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation.

Karl Marx, Capital, I (1867)

If you catch me stealin’, I don’t mean no harm,

If you catch me stealin’, I don’t mean no harm;

It’s a mark in my family and it must be carried on.

I got nineteen men and I want one mo’,

I got nineteen men and I want one mo’;

If I get that one more, I’ll let that nineteen go.

Bessie Smith, Sorrowful Blues (1924)

I’m bound for Black Mountain, me and my razor and my gun,

Lawd, I’m bound for Black Mountain, me and my razor and my gun;

I’m gonna shoot him if he stands still, and shoot him if he run.

There’s a devil in my soul, and I’m full of bad booze,

There’s a devil in my soul, and I’m full of bad booze;

I’m out here for trouble. I’ve got the Black Mountain Blues.

Bessie Smith, Black Mountain Blues (1930)

13The City of the Permanent Underclass: The Enduring Slum: Chicago, St Louis, London, 1920–2011

There is thus one outstanding enigma: for any urbanist, the greatest and least answerable of all. It ...

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