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Paris, Capital of Modernity by David Harvey

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

THE GEOPOLITICS OF URBAN TRANSFORMATION

Mankind … inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation.

—MARX

“When the imperial mantle finally falls on the shoulders of Louis Bonaparte,” Marx predicted in 1852, “the bronze statue of Napoleon will crash from the top of the Vendôme Column.”1 On May 16, 1871, the hated symbol collapsed before a Communard crowd, temporarily diverted from the threatening gunfire of the forces of reaction encircling Paris. Between the prediction and the event lay eighteen years of “ferocious farce.”

The ferocity ...

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