Urban Post-Theory, Class, and the City

Kimberly DeFazio



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Julie Torrant

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The Guardian of Profit
Jennifer Cotter

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Rob Wilkie




The modern city is the product of capitalism; it is a place of commodification—a place where workers and machines are placed together in one part of it to produce wealth, which is then appropriated by the owner who lives in another part.  (Pre-capitalist "cities," for the most part, operate by the economics of the "country"—they are not spaces of "commodification"; they are places with markets, not market places.)  Both the traditional studies that have focused on the urban aesthetic and the radical left studies that have dwelled on the city as a social space, have tried to account for the fault lines of the city by diverting attention from "class."  My argument in this essay is that all other city-practices (the architecture, the urban planning, . . .) are secondary to the primary economic function of the city. The global relations of wage-labor, between those who work for wages and those who appropriate the surplus labor of others, form the underlying class structure of the city, which can only be grasped through a dialectical understanding of the relation between the "concrete" (the local effects of wage labor) and the exploitative structures that give rise to it.  I contest the dominant post-al readings of the city, put forward by such theorists as Edward Soja, Michel de Certeau and Anthony King, because in diverting attention from class and on to secondary effects (such as textual and cultural "difference"), they construct a post-causal city—a city of Foucauldian "events"—in which the urban "concrete" is analytically severed from the structures that produce it.  And, as is the case with all epistemological strategies which sever cause from effect, the political consequence is a deeply conservative one: it is to occult the possibility of transforming existing relations of economic inequality. Dominant urban theory is, in short, an alibi of global capital.

The "city" has become an urgent social question in globalization because cities worldwide have become the most explosive site of social contradiction.  As the most concentrated sites of social production and therefore of population, they are the spaces in which devastating poverty and unemployment, lack of healthcare and educational resources, unaffordable and inconvenient public transportation, etc., exist for the majority, along side capital accumulation among a tiny cosmopolitan few, who enjoy lavish gated communities, expert medical care, extravagant physical fitness centers, and the privatization of all city spaces for the exclusive use and benefit of the wealthy.  These contradictions exist in the cities of the North and the South, and they have only been exacerbated with the development of what is called "globalization."  Cities, in short, manifest what Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto call the "simplify[cation of] the class antagonisms:  Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat" (474).


And yet, according to contemporary urban theory, to claim (without "irony"—the postmodern code for knowingly deploying "ludicrous," because self-deconstructing, concepts) that the city is the space of class struggle between owners and workers is tantamount to declaring one's own theoretical and historical "irrelevance".  According to urban post-theorists it is to show one's lack of awareness of the new "plural realities" inaugurated by global capitalism, and how they "fracture" all binary relations such as "class" in the Marxist sense of the concept. This is because, in contrast to the left models of analysis, which have recognized the antagonistic character of the urban space and traditionally foregrounded such concepts as the "Dual City" and the "Internal Colony" to connect issues of class, race, gender, etc., to systematic relations of inequality, dominant urban theory in the moment of globalization has increasingly moved away from structural analysis and toward theories of "difference," separated from structural conflict.  To be "relevant" today is to recognize that, as Anthony King argues in Representing the City, developments in globalization indicate the need for a new paradigm shift, from what he calls a "cultural orthodoxy" (by which he means the Marxist and materialist-centered urban studies of the 70s and 80s) to the "new heterodoxies generated by the multicultural city itself" (2).


But if class inequality is increasingly less relevant, how does one account for the increasing gap between rich and poor worldwide, which is especially stark in cities?  What is the cause of the exponential growth of poverty and homelessness in cities throughout the North and South on the one hand and on the other the accumulation of capital in the hands of a tiny transnational few?  How does one account for the massive cutting of social services and the transformation of remaining "public" spaces of the city into private ones?  Why, in short, does the "multicultural city" (also) manifest such deep social divisions between the haves and the have-nots?




What I am referring to in my paper as urban "post-theory" are the various strategies by which dominant theory de-conceptualizes and de-totalizes the city in order to crisis manage the contradictions of class society by blurring the lines of social inequality. Following the postmodern attack against the "totalitarianism" of metanarratives, post-theory is a theory against "theory" as a means for grasping the local in relation to the totality of social relations.  It substitutes for "totalizing" materialist theory a theory of "difference"—that is, a meditation on the "specificity" and "indeterminacy" of local differences, which are assumed to exceed systematic explanation.


Exemplary of urban post-theory, which substitutes an indeterminate and elusive "complexity" for a rigorous materialist conceptual analysis, is Edward Soja's Postmetropolis, which I am using in this essay as my tutor text.  Soja argues that "the contemporary urban social order can no longer be defined effectively by such conventional and familiar modes of social stratification as the class-divided Dual City of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat" (265) and as such what is necessary is to discover the "differences" and "heterogeneity" within the existing global relations.  As Soja makes clear: "older polarities have not disappeared. . .[but] a much more polymorphous and fractured social geometry has taken shape" in cities (265). 


What is necessary to note here is that post-al urban theory does not deny that (class) binaries still exist.  Rather class is "complicated" through a deconstructive logic of hybridity, which underwrites Soja's text.   Following the protocols of postmodernism, Soja includes class in a constantly shifting "series" of identities—what he calls a "polymorphous" "geometry", which cannot be "contained" by any binary logic (265). On the conceptual logic of hybridity, which as Soja explains, "literally inject[s]" one binary term into another "and vice versa" (199), Soja's text "includes" class, to produce an in-between space which is a space of inclusive differences—that is, a "class" without distinction and without antagonism. The suggestion here is that an emphasis on "difference" is more "inclusive", more democratic than binary logic.  But a reading of class which displaces class antagonism is aimed at completely displacing the explanatory value of class as a relation to the means of production—that is, the Marxist theory of class in which one's class position is not a subjective or imagined relation, nor a question of "lifestyle" determined by "consumption" practices, but rather determined objectively by whether one must sell her labor in order to survive, or whether one owns the means of production and therefore profits from the labor of others.  The ideological effectivity of the hybrid "third space" of indeterminacy is that it analytically blurs the boundaries between the exploiter and exploited.  Social structures are suspended in the post-al theoretical imaginary and urban politics becomes a site of political ambivalence, play and oscillation beyond the antagonism of labor and capital: a supplemental city (what de Certeau refers to as "a gigantic rhetoric of excess").  In such a space, there can be no decisive theory of social relations, and therefore no decisive position from which to combat social inequality.  The "complication" of class, in short, is a means of dissimulating the contradictions of global capital, by positing a new "complex" and "complexifying" urban order—urban in-between-ness. 


I will return in more detail the relation between the assertion of "difference" and the abandonment of struggles for equality later on.  But first it is necessary to examine the theory of the "concrete" that is being privileged under the name of "hybridity," "difference" and "particularity," and why this notion of the concrete is viewed as enabling for social struggles—so enabling that it can replace "equality" as a social priority.  This question of the concrete is  important moreover because the emphasis on the "concrete" informs all of cultural theory today.  So, what is meant by the "concrete"?


The underlying assumption of post-theory, as I have suggested, is that theory erases specificity and difference; to "reduce" urban life, for instance, to matters of "race" or "class" is to suppress the (in-between) differences of urban life—which is more effectively understood, from this position, on its own particular terms.  This is another way of saying that the concrete is understood to exceed conceptuality—the concrete is an excessive particularity, which cannot be contained by any theory; in fact it "resists" conceptuality.  It is for this reason that post-theory rejects Marxism as too "general," "totalizing," and "abstract".  But one needs to ask: does urban post-theory exceed the very "abstractions" it claims to oppose?  Is Soja's "specificity" of "inbetween-ness" really an example of a concrete "beyond" theory? 


One of the main paradoxes of post-theory is that while it formally rejects Marxism as too "reductive", it simultaneously ends up reducing the material relations to a very conservative theory of the concrete—a theoretical reduction that is able to quietly escape the charge of "reductionism" simply because the theory underlying it has become so dominant and familiar as to appear "natural".  To be more specific, urban post-theory reduces the concrete to the merely "empirical".  It takes that which is given immediately to one's experience of the world as the "root explanation" of material reality.  For this empiricist theory, the "concrete" is basically to be understood on its own terms—as containing its own, independent, material reality. The assumption is that things are the way they are (immediately) perceived, and therefore there is no need for the "mediation" of theory. Of course, one of the most "radical" claims of poststructuralism was to show how even the "empirical" was itself a construction; that is, that the empirical is always mediated by language, which inscribes social values; and therefore to appeal to the "empirical" as a non-mediated site of certitude beyond debate is a tool of power, definitively on the side of the powerful. However, with the institutionalization of poststructuralist assumptions (which ultimately sever language from the material conditions in which it is produced), and any of it seeming "radicality" having been subsumed by the very power structures it sought to immanently critique—empiricism has once again returned as the only "legitimate" mode of reading "concrete" material reality. 


The reason neoempiricism (post-theory) has achieved such a powerful status is because the effect of empiricism is to naturalize what is as the way things ought to be by taking what is for granted, by obscuring the question of causality behind the concrete. Empiricism therefore supports existing relations of inequality.  In other words, the "effectivity" of "particularity" (empiricism), is precisely its failure to explain the concrete.  Because it suggests that experience is irreducible—that it can only be explained on its own terms, locally—it therefore cannot explain why the "specific" emerges, why it takes the form it does, and in whose interests it works.  It simply accepts things as they are, as meaningful by themselves.  In other words, it suggests that the local can be understood "immediately"—without the mediation of theory—and in fact, as precisely the resistance to explanation.  And in positing the specific as excessive and the concrete as a resistance to "abstraction" this theory of materialism is basically arguing that the concrete is a particularity or singularity not explainable on the basis of underlying relations. 


This becomes particularly evident in de Certeau's writing on the city. In "Walking in the City," for example, de Certeau declares that "The Concept-city is decaying" (130).  Following postmodernism, de Certeau associates conceptuality (the "concept-city") with "the hero of modernity" (129), propelled by the "totalizing" desire for "seeing the whole"—a figure he associates with the modern corporate planner of the city.  In arguing that the concept-city is decaying, he is suggesting that conceptuality is increasingly "torn" from within by that which it attempts to exclude.  For de Certeau, the ability to conceptualize the city as totality has given way to the theoretical "blindness" of "practice" outside conceptuality.  "Practice," for de Certeau, represents those "tactics" that exceed the dominant rational and normalizing order and in their excessiveness "release" the "difference," "specificity," "spontaneity" of urban life, which is manifested in what he calls the "footsteps".  The subject of spontaneity in this discourse is the "pedestrian" (propelled along the streets, not by any guiding conceptual or objective motive—i.e., by need—but purely subjective desire), who resists the universalizing drives of power by refusing to "make the complexity of the city readable" (128). As opposed in other words to radical urban movements of the 60s and 70s, which stressed the need for understanding the system which produces the "difference" of race, gender, class, sexuality,. . ., in order to change inequality, de Certeau suggests that to understand the city as a complex totality is a sign of one's complicity with power structures.  The exemplary subject for him is thus not a knowledgeable subject—but a "blind" one!  That is, a subject infinitely more manipulable by existing power structures.


De Certeau, to put this differently, transforms illegibility and illiteracy (i.e., the inability to "read" the social and the consequent inability to act collectively to transform it) into a cultural marker of "resistance"—a marker of one's "knowledge" that any attempt to conceptualize totality is an epistemological "fiction" which suppresses the difference of the "other"; a "knowledge" of one's irreducible otherness.  This is basically to turn powerlessness and its effects into a virtue.  But de Certeau's reading of illegibility and illiteracy not only blocks necessary conceptual knowledge (by valorizing the opacity of the city)—it also dehistoricizes "illiteracy" itself by representing it as a particularity that is unexplainable on the basis of underlying social relations of production.  But "illiteracy" is a result of class relations and is explained by unequal access to social resources stemming from private property.  Inequalities of knowledge are the effect of the monopolization of all social resources by the few who own and control them, and who use alibis of race, gender, and class to justify unequal access.  Far from being the other of power structures—representing illiteracy as a particularity unexplainable by social relations is the same class logic of state officials who argue for cutting funding for public education when public schools are not—owning to lack of funding!—able to produce higher levels of literacy.  In other words, this too is about representing illiteracy as a particularity that cannot be accounted for by the underlying inequalities in the social relations of production but is a "private matter" (i.e. better addressed by the market).  In the guise of offering a "more concrete" analysis, post-theory's return to empiricism actually offers a very ahistorical and idealist abstraction of the concrete (of illiteracy, etc.) as "self-evident".  It takes "what is" in existing social configurations as a means of continuing the status quo, as is the case in recent arguments over welfare reform, and whether welfare recipients should have access to education.  Conservatives claim they should not have access to education, since the literacy levels of most recipients are already "so low" that education would be "wasted" on them—what they really need are job skills.  Once again, lack of resources ("what is") is used to legitimate further cuts in resources, rather than examine the causes which produce unequal distribution of resources to begin with.


But let us extend de Certeau's conclusions about the "radical" role of the pedestrian a little further.  If the pedestrian is she who escapes the panoptic view of the urban planners and administrators, by for example, walking, not according to any plan or specific destination, and therefore not subject to the "control" of municipal organizations—the most "radical" pedestrian would be the homeless pedestrian—a "nomad" who is in fact is so "out of reach" of or "resistant" to power that she has neither rent-controlled home or hierarchically organized place of work to walk to.  Instead she is forced to wander the streets in search of garbage that can sustain her—since, if she were "really" radical, on these (ahistorical and idealist) terms, she would also avoid all the public resources such as soup kitchens and shelters.  In fact, on the terms de Certeau sets up, the most "radical" act would be, not to change the root property relations which produce poverty (which have made "homeless shelters" necessary to begin with)—but rather to close down all homeless shelters, since they only manifest the panoptic power of corporate administration.  On these terms, the most "radical" act would be to starve on the streets, rather than fight collectively for a classless society in which none are homeless or hungry (and "homeless shelters" are no longer necessary). 


At a moment when the rate of homelessness has never been so high, with cities everywhere aiming to cut back on rather than expand social services, de Certeau's theory of the urban pedestrian is little more than a more "complex" and "civilized" alibi for the barbaric elimination of all social services for the poor in favor of the rich. 


In contrast to urban post-theory's analysis of "concrete" material reality, which takes the concrete as self-evident, Marxism puts forward a rigorous historical materialist critique that accounts for the material relations behind the "concrete."  For Marxism, the concrete is not an "irreducible particularity" opposed to abstraction but is itself an abstraction of underlying root relations of production that themselves need to be explained (and can only be explained through conceptualization). As Marx explains in the Grundrisse, the concrete is "the concentration of many determinations". It is the manifestation of a plurality of social relations, an effect, which is not explainable on the basis of the immediacy of perception.  Marx writes:


It seems to be correct to begin with the real and the concrete, with the real precondition, thus to begin, in economics, with [for example] the population, which is the foundation and the subject of the entire social act of production.  However, on closer examination this proves false.  The population is an abstraction if I leave out, for example, the classes of which its is composed.  These classes in turn are an empty phrase if I am not familiar with the elements on which they rest.  [For instance,] wage labour, capital, etc.  These latter in turn presuppose exchange, division of labour, prices, etc.  For example, capital is nothing without wage labour, without value, money, price, etc.  Thus, if I were to begin with the population, this would be a chaotic conception of the whole, and I would then, by means of further determination, move analytically towards ever more simple concepts, from the imagined concrete towards [less and less complex] abstractions until I had arrived at the simplest determinations.  From there the journey would have to be retraced until I had finally arrived at the population again, but this time not as the chaotic conception of a whole, but as a rich totality of many determinations and relations. . . The concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse. (100-101)


In other words, to begin with the concrete, as dominant post-theory does, to take the concrete as it is (or seems to be), is to begin with a very "chaotic" and "imagined" effect of underlying social relations.  A chaotic effect which, far from being the "other" of abstraction, is itself an abstraction.  Indeed, it is an idealist abstraction, since severed from the conditions in which it emerges.  The "complex" particularity of everyday experience in urban post-theory is neither "complex" nor a "resistance" to theory, but rather a "chaotic" conception of the whole masquerading as "complexity".  For this reason, it is only through the process of analysis, by which one arrives at "simpler" determinations of the original "chaotic" perception that one can explain the actual complexity of the concrete.  Without such analysis, the "concrete" is treated as an idealist abstraction.


Marx is of course critiquing the assumption that that which seems most immediately true and real is actually the "real"; that the world is as it appears.  The empiricist view in other words that that which appears in one's experience is the basis of all knowledge.  (But it is also not the case that Marx is arguing that there is a trans-social and eternal antagonism between appearance and essence, such that one can never come to understand "reality," or that "reality" is always subjective, as textualists suggest—rather the conflict between essence and appearance is the effect of social relations, in which it is in the interests of those in power to conceal the basis of knowledge in class exploitation.  Analysis is necessary in order to explain the roots of social relations, and how to collectively build a society free from exploitation, where science can be developed for the sake of all, not just the few.) In their critique of Feurerbach's idealist conception of the "sensuous world" (which "is confined on the one hand to mere contemplation of it, and on the other to mere feeling" [62]) in The German Ideology Marx and Engels make clear that the sensuous (what post-theory calls the "concrete") cannot serve as the "end point" of any serious analysis of social relations.  In response to Feuerbach's appeal to the "cherry-tree" (i.e., "nature" as given to the senses) as a test of "sensuous certainty," for example, Marx and Engels argue that "Even the objects of the simplest 'sensuous certainty' are only given him through social development, industry and commercial intercourse" (62).  In other words, Feuerbach:   


does not see how the sensuous world around him is, not a thing given direct from all eternity, remaining ever the same, but the product of industry and of the state of society; and, indeed, in the sense that it is an historical product, the result of the activity of a whole succession of generations, each standing on the shoulders of the preceding one, developing its industry and its intercourse. . . The cherry-tree, like almost all fruit-trees, was, as is well known, only a few centuries ago transplanted by commerce into our zone, and therefore only by this action of a definite society in a definite age it has become "sensuous certainty" for Feuerbach. (62)


In other words, the cherry tree is not meaningful by itself, but becomes meaningful through an analysis of the conditions in which the cherry tree becomes available to one's senses.  That which is given to the senses, whether it is "nature" or questions of "ethnicity," "class" or "urban life," is the product of history, of social activity—abstract relations that need to be conceptualized. To extend the consequences to contemporary questions of (urban) "identity," ethnicity, race, class, etc. are not "self-evident" differences—rather they are produced out of specific social relations of production and ones position within the division of labor.  The task of analysis should be explaining why they emerge, and in whose interest they serve.  To simply embrace "difference" without an understanding of how and why it is produced is ultimately to naturalize social differences that are differences within social relations of production based on exploitation.  For instance, race as a permanent "natural" difference is being re-worked today in a seemingly "emancipatory" discourse (as a permanent "cultural difference") because, its proponents claim, it encourages people to "reclaim" what they are, rather than accept the dominant assumption that to be different is to be less than.  But this erases the material conditions of inequality.  It erases the way race is used to divide the working class and is reproduced as a tool for the ruling class in surplus-value extraction.  Moreover, it discourages people from collectively changing the conditions of exploitation.  It is a strategy of coping with inequality.  Similarly, to start with the experience of police brutality or ethnic profiling, which has now become legalized in the US, as if these practices were graspable on their own terms, outside of the concentration of property and power in the hands of the few world wide and the resulting militarization of society, would result in a very limited understanding of this experience.  It would not be able to explain the causes of such experience.  But this is the very kind of limited understanding of events that US officials promulgate among the working class, so that they are not able to understand the systemic nature of such violence, its causes, and how it can be transformed.




I have been discussing thus far the notion of the "concrete" in urban post-theory, and the ways in which it takes the immediacies of experience as self-evident, and as a result brackets the larger social structures in which the concrete emerges as the "concrete". I now want to examine the consequences of this abstraction for the theory of the "city".  To be more specific, I want to put more analytical and historical pressure on the post-theory of the city—and the notion of "citizenship" that follows from it—by showing that the understanding of the city (and its contradictions) offered by "post-theory" (as a site of "in-between-ness", "hybridity", "desire", etc. in "excess" of class conflict, collectivity, and need) is itself a historically specific understanding of the city that is enabled by class relations.  All theories reflect larger social structures, and how we understand the "city"—whether we conclude that the city should be based on private interests (on civil citizenship) or meeting the needs of all (social citizenship)—has consequences for the billions of people who live and work in cities worldwide.


Many urban post-al theorists, such as Soja, tend to highlight the spatial differences of the contemporary city, and use these differences to posit a radical break from (class) relations of exploitation.  In other words, post-al urban theory substitutes "space" (and its empirical textures) for "class".  It looks at the surface organization of urban space—the "cityscape"—and takes shifts in the appearance of spatial surfaces for changes to the root class relations.  On these readings, what Soja calls the "postmetropolis" is a "fractal" city without any clear lines or patterns, and this is what distinguishes it from the "modern city," which is represented as a city based on consistent patterns and clearly delineable finite spaces.  As Soja explains, the modern city was based on "spatially segregated concentric zones: workers and the reserve army in the densest and most haphazardly jumbled inner zone, the new "middle- class" bourgeoisie settled in the more regularly gridded second ring, and the upper bourgeoisie in a suburban commuting zone of gardened villas and countryside estates" (81). On these terms, which posit a break between the "modern" metropolis of "industrial" capitalism, and radically new developments of the "postmetropolis" in cybercapitalism, the modern metropolis is a space of binary relations, with clearly definable lines of social demarcation (i.e., between workers and owners, blacks and whites, men and women), while the postmetropolis is a hybrid space which blurs all previously "definitive" boundaries. With the emergence of a new "spatiality," in short, is a "recomposed sociality that has become similarly fluid, fragmented, decentered, and rearranged in complex patterns" (Postmetropolis  265).  Like identity, then, urban space has become hybridized, and thus no longer explainable in terms of such binaries as worker/owner, black/white, etc. 


Urban post-theory understands the opening up of the binary as liberating, since it seems to suggest that the city is no longer divided in the traditional ways it used to be divided—it has become complex and "unruly". Instead of a focus on the "sameness" posited by binary theories, difference has not only become privileged—but for Soja, it has become a "right".    Drawing on the work of Cornell West, Soja writes: 


[The] new cultural politics is not defined around erasing inequalities per se but rather around the reassertion of difference, diversity, multiplicity, heterogeneity. . . Rather than seeing difference, including the difference associated with intergroup inequalities, only as something to be erased, the right to be different is asserted as the foundation of the new cultural politics.  Hence the description of the new cultural politics as a politics of difference rather than of equality. (281).


In other words, Soja is arguing for the "right" to be an "individual"; to be free to be "different" without restriction, without imposition from homogenizing "identifications" (including "equality").  And, he is suggesting that what is "liberating" about the "postmetropolis" is that it is here that one can most effectively realize the "right to be different".  But what needs to be addressed is: What are the conditions that enable people (and "space") to be "different"?  If we assume by "differences" he means more fluid identities of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc., does this not codify the already existing differences and present existing social divisions and inequalities as permanent? Or if the assumption is that what is enabling about the postmetropolis is that it is basically a matter of "remaking" differences (and their significations) at will, does this not presuppose a "free subject" of choice?  That is, a subject who, regardless of the conditions in which she finds herself, believes that she can be/do whatever she desires? 


Leaving aside the philosophical contradictions of such a position—i.e. the fact that this postmodern notion of the "free subject" presupposes an originary transcendental consciousness, which subsequently somehow "chooses" difference, not on the basis of any "norms" but pure, subjective desire—what Soja is positing as given are the bourgeois relations of private property, and the corresponding notion of civil citizenship. 


As Marx explains in "On the Jewish Question," the right to be an "individual" presupposes private property relations, in which people are separated from one another.  The right of the individual is a right "not founded upon the relations between man and man, but rather upon the separation of man from man.  It is the right of such separation.  The right of the circumscribed individual, withdrawn into himself" (42).  By this he means that the "individual" considers other individuals as an impediment to his or her own local freedom, that is, as in opposition to his/her own interests.  As Marx puts it, the right of the individual is the right of private property, the right to "enjoy one's fortune and dispose of it as one will, without regard for the other men and independently of society" (42). 


What is at stake here is that the post-theory of the city as a site of "in-between-ness" is basically an argument for the impossibility of collectivity and the rule of private interests.  When Soja discusses the "distinction" of difference he is really making an argument for the "autonomy" of difference from the structures that produce it.  In other words, this argument for difference is an argument for the freedom of the individual, the freedom not to have one's "rights" imposed upon by another, to be able to do whatever one desires, without regard for others.  It is the understanding that the needs of all cannot be accounted for by the social collective (thus only reforms for some can be made).  In other words, the "postmetropolis" is an articulation of the opposition between "private interests" (of, what Marx calls, the "monadic" subject of civil society) and the "social collective."


This supposedly "above class" logic (of the irreconcilability of "private interests" and the "social collective"), in other words, is itself a historical product of private property relations. It is not a natural or self-evident contradiction. Rather, it is under private property relations—where a minority own and control the means of production and social resources of society and thus the social collective is organized to benefit the few—that "difference" and "social collectivity" get abstracted from one another and opposed.  It is under capitalism, which is based on the private ownership of the means of production, that there exists a fundamental antagonism between those who own the means of labor (and therefore the product of labor) and those who must sell their labor in order to survive.  These exploitative relations form the underlying structure of social relations today; they are at the root of the opposition between the private and the collective.  That is, they determine the circumstances in which collectivity and the needs of others represent an obstacle to profit for the owners and impoverishment for workers.  These private property relations are actually historical relations of production behind the "excessive particularity" of "urban differences" that get represented in ahistorical terms in urban post-theory, presenting these as eternal laws. 


The separation of the majority of individuals from ownership of the means of production on which "civil citizenship" is based is central to the development of the city in capitalism.  However, from a materialist position, this separation is not viewed as the only viable basis of society.  On the contrary, this separation is not only changeable—it needs to be transformed in order to bring about social arrangements, which are no longer based on exploitation.  The separation of individuals from one another is the product of capitalism because capitalism requires the existence of "free labor"; that is, labor which is "freed" from the means of production. In contrast to the Greek "polis", which was based on slave labor and landed property, the capitalist metropolis requires a laborer freed from the means of production because such a worker is thereby compelled, in order to survive, to exchange her labor for wages, which represent only a fraction of the actual value produced by her labor.  The surplus labor appropriated by the capitalist in the process of production is the basis of capital accumulation.  Marx theorizes this relation in Capital in terms of "The process of separation between the workers and the conditions of their labour, to transform at one pole, the social means of production and subsistence into capital, and at the opposite pole, the mass of the population into wage-labourer, into the free 'laboring poor'" (925).  Whereas in feudal relations, the worker was a direct producer, and therefore owned the conditions of her labor, but was forced to turn over a surplus production to the lord, capitalism presupposes the existence of the free laborer without such means of production.  "Free workers," Marx writes, are free "in the double sense that they neither form part of the means of production themselves, as would be the case with slaves, serfs, etc., nor do they own the means of production, as would be the case with the self-employed peasant proprietors.  The free workers are therefore free from, unencumbered by, any means of production of their own.  With the polarization of the commodity-market into these two classes [workers and owners], the fundamental conditions of capitalist production are present.  As soon as the capitalist production stands on its own feet, it not only maintains this separation, but reproduces it on a constantly extending scale" (874). 


People could begin to conceptualize themselves, and be conceptualized, as "individuals" in other words when the material conditions for "free labor"—that is, "wage labor"—developed.  However, far from being emancipated (free from exploitation and oppression), "freedom" here is freedom in the bourgeois sense:  freedom for some to own private property while the majority of the population are "free" to be exploited by them.  This freedom was fundamental to the development of capitalist centers of production in the towns and cities.  Without being freed from the land (having no other means to survive than to sell their labor), capitalist production could not have recruited such large numbers of workers from agriculture to the cities.  It is in this sense that Marx and Engels argue in The German Ideology that "[t]he town already is in actual fact the concentration of the population, of the instruments of production, of capital, of pleasures, of needs" (69).  With the development of capitalism, the division between workers and owners grows exponentially (and this division is increasingly sharp in cities), since as capital continues to be accumulated, it becomes concentrated, creating larger and larger monopolies of ownership on the one hand, and worldwide propertylessness on the other.  The class division is in other words increasingly "simplified".


And this simplification of class is becoming more and more evident today.  Even the mouthpieces of capital such as the New York Times increasingly acknowledge that, for instance, "New Studies on the growing concentration of American wealth and income challenge a cherished part of the country's self image: They show that rather than being an egalitarian society, the United States has become the most economically stratified of industrial nations" (Bradsher A1).  Not only has class conflict not been resolved by globalization—but capital accumulation has increasingly polarized the relation between the haves and the have-nots.  The relation between workers and owners is a structural relation—it is not one among many "differences" that are equally determined and determining (or a "plural" relation), but rather the base-ic "difference" (i.e., opposition) which structures all other relations. 


In transnational capitalism, then, what is referred to as the "postmetropolis" is really the restructuring of the social relations of production in the wake of the increasing "globalization" of capital and the internationalization of labor.  That is, the simplification of class, not its "complexification".  It is in the "global cities" above all that one sees what Marx and Engels argued over 150 years ago: "The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world-market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption . . . All old-established national industrial have been destroyed or are daily destroyed . . . In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the productions of distant lands and climes.  In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations" (Mannifesto of the Communist Party 476). But, as Marx and Engels explain, beneath the "cosmopolitanism" of (global) city is the universality of propertylessness, without which there would be no private property, and no accumulation.


It is the task of post-al theory to "complexify" class antagonism through textual strategies of dispersion and dissemination, which displace class conflict onto superstructural forms (i.e. "culture"), in order to ideologically reconcile deepening crises of capitalism.  The hybridization of social relations is seen as a progressive move by contemporary urban theoriest because it "opposes" the "rigidities" of homogenizing thinking in a way that recognizes difference, rather than "suppressing" difference (and this "suppression" is what these theorists believe is the real source of oppression in global capitalism).  Urban post-theorists, therefore, suggest that what Derrida calls "dissemination" has radically transformed previously existing structures of production.  On these terms, the fundamental structures of production are radically changed when, for instance, a corporation moves ("disseminates") its production sites "off shore"—that is, out of the (internationally) recognized borders of commerce.  Or, to use another example from the standpoint of "dissemination", the "Enron crisis" represents a "radical undoing" of the existing structures of corporate ownership and not evidence of the subordination of public institutions and "democracy" to capitalism.[1] But this is to represent the fundamental class contradictions between workers and owners as an epistemological "problem" which can simply be solved by a new mode of thinking which "rejects" binaries.  Far from representing a "break" with "tradition" however, these are symptoms of the deepening social contradictions in capitalism and in no way transform the fundamental economic relation of exploitation, in which the worker's surplus ("unpaid") labor is appropriated by the owners of the means of production in order to produce profit for the few.  In actuality, the "dissemination" of capital around the world by newer and newer strategies, has not "complexified," "diffused," or "dispersed" but sharpened class inequality around the globe.  By fetishizing "difference" urban post-theory is a close alibi of the new modalities of accumulation, which the ruling class is eager to portray as a radical break, opening onto new "liberating" opportunities for humanity.


Insofar as the historical basis of the "postmetropolis" is in private property relations, post-theory is basically a defense of traditional civil citizenship under capitalism: the freedom of the isolated monadic subject (the pedestrian, the isolated citizen of desire), who places her own desires above the "collective good".  Moreover, these "civil freedoms" are themselves freedoms of private property (not freedom from private property relations) and are, thus, freedoms for the ruling class.


What I am calling Red Urban Studies places the question of "social citizenship"—the other of civil citizenship—at the forefront of its analysis of the city.   "Social citizenship" is not based on the right to be "different" (which is ultimately a code for the right to be exploited).  Rather, as Teresa Ebert argues in "The Spectral Concrete: Bodies, Sex Work and (some notes on) Citizenship," social citizenship is based on "the rights of economic security and social well being for all" (279).  That is, on the right to be free from unmet social needs—from hunger, from inadequate education and housing, from racist and sexist oppression, from oppression based on sexuality and disability, from the exclusion of public spaces and from expert medical care. . .  A society, in other words, in which people do not see others as an obstacle to their individual gain, but rather see themselves as part of a collectivity, whose advance represents the advance of all, not just the few. Social citizenship, moreover, cannot be achieved within the existing relations of private property.  Social citizenship requires the transformation of the exploitative relations of production, in which a few monopolize the social resources, and subject the majority to conditions of scarcity, oppression, etc.  There can be no social freedom in a society in which some privately own the means of production and, therefore, are able to profit at the expense of another.


And yet the very process that is globally drawing workers into cities, making "megacities" (cities of 10 million or more inhabitants) no longer the exception but the "rule", is also the objective basis of social citizenship.  That is, the objective basis of a society freed from exploitation.  This is because the development of the city in capitalism is a contradictory one.  On the one hand, it subjects more and more of the world to "universal propertylessness" against the concentration of property in fewer and fewer hands.  On the other, through the development of the forces of production, which unite workers around the world on increasingly global terms, it also makes possible the united transformation of privatization of social resources.  Indeed, as capitalism develops, it renders privatization less and less socially and historically viable.  For the first time in history, it becomes possible for society to produce the means of meeting needs, and advancing/widening those needs, on a mass scale.  Never before, for example, have people been forced to starve due to a surplus of food products, as is the case today with the massive industrialization of agriculture and food production.  Previously under class relations, people starved due to scarcity—the inability to produce enough food due to the low level of technology and small-scale production. What prevents the equal distribution of social goods is the exploitative basis on which production takes place, due to private ownership of the means of production and the products of labor.  That is, the private property relations in which all social needs are turned into commodities available only to those who can afford it.


But of course it is in the interest of capitalists to maintain exploitative relations, to do everything possible to forestall a society in which social needs are the priority of social arrangements. As Ebert explains, social citizenship is under massive assault by transnational capitalism—an assault that has grown ever more devastating in recent decades.  "We are witnessing, today," Ebert writes, "the almost complete dismantling (especially in the United States and Great Britain) of 'social citizenship' as it was articulated even in the liberal 'welfare state', and the increasing gap between the rich and poor—between the transnational bourgeoisie and the international proletariat—is growing at a staggering rate.  We find capitalism today waging an intensive war against 'social citizenship'—against the rights of economic security and social well being for all—and it is reviving the property relations and possessive individualism of civil society as the hegemonic realm of freedom" (279).


The "civil citizenship" of urban post-theory is part of this revival of private property relations.   It is the freedom of the "monadic" subject of civil society—of the individual from (state) regulation and collective norms—which is modeled on the freedom/rights of private property that is being defended in urban post-theory and its emphasis on "hybridity", "in-between-ness" and the "concrete"/"specific" as excessive.


The fact that this excessive notion of difference is not "subversive" but highly conducive to the dominant corporate practices can be seen in the way in which corporations themselves deploy the "right to difference" in order to "market" the increasing fragmentation of the city, to avoid having to pay municipal taxes.  For example, the conservative City Journal has recently advocated the "breaking up" of big cities into their "different" component parts to be "more democratic" ("Let's Break Up the Big Cities," by Howard Husock).  Deploying arguments that are virtually identical to "radical" urban post-theory about the need to be free from totalizing municipal thinking and practices which impose order and unity on "differences" or separate entities, Husock supports the growing "incorporation movements" which secede from municipalities to form their own "distinct" communities and neighborhoods, rather than being tied down by public "bureaucracy" (which, he suggests, unfairly distributes resources to people who do not "earn" them, such as the poor and the unemployed).  In other words, once again, Husock takes the conflict between the interests of the individual and the collective as eternal, and does not bother to inquire into the historical conditions that produce poverty in the first place.  Arguing against such urban theorists as David Rusk ("onetime mayor of Albuquerque and self-described former civil rights and anti-poverty worker, [who] travels the lecture circuit spreading the gospel of his 1993 book, Cities Without Suburbs,"), who advocates the integration of suburbs into larger municipalities as a means of more equal distribution of resources, Husock contends that we should instead follow the new activist "localism" which supports forming "smaller, decentralized city governments for neighborhoods that secede from a larger whole".[2] Against the critique of the class politics of such a project Husock maintains that


Localism is popular not because it promises a sweetheart deal for a few privileged suburbanites at the expense of the greater good, or because the unsophisticated fail to understand a demonstrably superior metropolitan approach. Instead, it rests on common sense—which economics and political science amply confirm. Voters' common sense tells them that the closer they are to government, the more it will respond to their demands. They will see their hard-earned tax dollars spent on the kind of projects they prefer and will have a greater assurance that interest groups—such as public employee unions—will not usurp local government for the benefit of their own members, who may not even live in the city in which they work.


He thus heralds California Governor Pete Wilson's effort to allow residents to "detach" from their city residence to privately obtain the services they want, rather than relying on the city "bureaucracy".  This is of course the same Pete Wilson who supported the Referendum 187, barring any suspected "illegal" residents from all social services, and the principle is the same: individuals should have no responsibility to anyone but their local ties. Meaning that the very structures that produce racial, ethnic and class divisions should not be transformed, rather they should be formalized: an updated form of transnational segregation, which justifies the private appropriation of social wealth.  On these terms, once again, it is not economic exploitation that is the cause of inner city poverty, homelessness and poor school systems, but public institutions and resources:  "Freed from centralized bureaucracies, these neighborhoods, including many of the older, poorer ones, would prosper."  And how might they prosper?  By welcoming industries that richer communities block or discourage—such as "waste-recycling centers or power plants"!! 


In the guise of a "radical proposal" to benefit persons subordinated to poverty, Husock is merely articulating the developments of transnational capital to subordinate more levels of human existence to production for profit.  The fact that this is far from a subversive proposal is evidenced in the class contradictions involved in subordinating social needs to production for profit: impoverished communities around the nation, and the people who support them, have for decades been struggling against the attempt by corporate and municipal officials to turn poorer communities into the sites of toxic waste dumps, which have had devastating effects on the people who live and work in these areas.  Moreover, the class politics of the supposedly "left" urban discourses of today become strikingly clear when we see that they basically mimic the movement capital at the level of theory, by representing as "solutions" to urban inequality the very strategies by which corporations further exploit, divide and impoverish the working class.  


Like urban post-theory Husock appeals to the "common sense" of infinitely variable differences among people to dismantle collectivity: "There's no shortage of theory to explain why this long-standing American preference for localism makes sense. The key fact: we don't all want the same things from our local jurisdictions. Those with small children may care most about education, unmarried joggers may want to spend public money on parks, and the tidy-minded may want the streets cleaned three times a week."  Never does the possibility of a society in which all people have access to the means meet their needs emerge.


The reason "localism" is popular, from the right to the left, is because it supports the dominant economic interests of transnational capital, and the people who benefit from it.  Corporations have an interest in "breaking up" the cities so that they will be even less economically responsible for social services in the (larger) city.  In contrast to the previous era of the city of the "welfare state," today, as part of the cutting of social services for the poor, corporations are creating "business improvement districts" (BIDs) in order to avoid having to pay for public social services.  So, as William Tabb explains in "Privatization and Urban Issues: A Global Perspective," rather than paying taxes for city/municipal garbage disposal, corporations in BIDs are now "cooperating" to provide such services only for the local region in which they are located.  For example, corporations now only pay taxes that support individual corporate "blocks" rather than all citizens who live and work in the city.  Not only do BIDs appeal to the "inefficiency" of municipal "bureaucracy"—they contest the very notion that taxes should be used to support the public.    But, as Tabb argues, "The same corporations that demanded the lower taxes that starved the public sector have found [in BIDs] a privatized way of paying for the services they want while avoiding paying for public schools, emergency rooms at the hospitals, shelters for the homeless, or subsidized housing for the working class" (34).  And the result has been "to deny services for the poor by making it more and more difficult to obtain those services and redefining entitlements out of existence (except where forced by court challenges to begrudgingly, and to as limited an extent as they could get away with, restore benefits)" (37). This is the same economic interest that encouraged corporations in the postwar period to move from the downtown districts of cities to the suburbs, and the rich to follow them—another development which urban post-theory has embraced as a "radical" break from older capitalist urban formations. 


What is at stake here is that urban "fracturing" and "dissemination" is the logic of the complete dismantling of social institutions and continued privatization of human needs under transnational capitalism:  it represents the further subordination of the needs of the majority to commodity production and exchange.   It is the attempt by transnational capital to stave off crisis and maximize as far as possible its rate of profit by privatizing all aspects of social life, making them occasions for surplus-value extraction. Therefore to take as the end point of analysis the spatial effects of this transfer of social wealth, is not only to entirely erase what has caused such spatial differentiation—it is to represent the deterioration of the social conditions of life for the majority as "liberating," even "subversive".  It is not surprising, then, that there has been such a "boom" in urban studies in recent decades, which is, with few exceptions, entirely underwritten by bourgeois post-theory.


It is important to point out here that this subordination of public welfare to private profit cannot be resolved within capitalism by state measures and policy but must be transformed at its root: the social relations of production based on private property.  While the state, and federal and municipal levels of government continue to be the primary institution through which workers in class society obtain social services, which their wages do not cover, these services are administered in the general interests of the ruling class.  Within capitalism public services, such as health services, food assistance, and subsidized housing, are provided to workers in order to reproduce the conditions necessary for capitalist production: so that workers are better able to return to work, which is of course necessary not only to the survival of the individual worker, but to providing labor reserves for capitalist production.  Capitalists in other words have an interest in "reproducing" the workforce, so workers can return to work and produce more value (i.e., more profit for the capitalists).  But this "meeting of needs" under capitalism is always underwritten by production for profit: it only meets the needs of workers insofar as this is profitable to the ruling class.  As capitalism has developed in the post-war era, deepening the division between haves and have-nots, capitalists have sought to further increase their rate of return by shifting the burden of "reproduction" almost entirely onto the backs of the working class.  This means that workers' wages must cover more and more services that were once covered by the "welfare state," itself financed through taxes, which corporations are increasingly exempt from.  What we are seeing in the cities, in short, is the subjugation of virtually all aspects of "urban" life to commodification, to the production of profit.  Such a situation can only be addressed by transforming the fundamental production relations on which the reproductive functions of the "state" rest.


With the dismantling of public services that this transfer of social wealth to private hands has involved, cities have less and less federal and state funding.  And, in the wake of the cutting of federal funds to municipalities, not only have there been movements to "secede" from cities, but cities now increasingly turn to urban corporate enterprise to produce profit.  They turn in other words less to federal and state aid within the nation, and more toward other international cities. The "sister cities" program is an index of this development.  A program that developed in the 1950s to encourage international cultural exchange and diplomacy, "sister cities" have now become one of the effective means of exploiting cuts in federal funding to cities.  Under the current sister city programs, cities invest (with private and public monies) in other cities around the world to develop trade connections. They do so, for instance, by investing in technology centers or corporate chains, which not only brings increased "revenue" to cities involved in the program, but increases migration of people (workers) between these cities. As a New York Times article reported, "Economic development has long been pursued at the national level by the Commerce Department, [a spokesman for Sister Cities International] acknowledged. And states and large municipalities, which can afford offices of economic development and send trade missions around the world, have long been doing business internationally. Now, however, more and more cities are reaching out internationally through city-to-city relationships," in which  "the emphasis is changing to a more bottom-line approach" (Honan, New York Times, July 8, 2000). So far have these sister cities programs expanded, the article goes on to indicate, that by the end of 1999 approximately 1,280 American cities had sister cities in other parts of the world (Seattle, for example has 20, from Christchurch, New Zealand, to Haiphong, Vietnam. New York City has six). 

The empirico-spatial analysis of the city that underwrites urban post-theory has led urban post-theorists to read the surface level developments of transnational capitalism as representing a radical break with the structures of capitalist production (i.e. exploitation).  As a result, they read the "city" as having an "autonomous" agency ("beyond" the state) and is now a "particularly" important site of "resistance". But this reading of the "particular" importance of the "postmetropolis" as a site of "resistance" is actually a legitimation of the privatization of urban social institutions and resources by transnational capital--that is, it is a legitimation of the war on social citizenship that is taking place as urban centers, urban social institutions (public education, healthcare, etc.), and social welfare are increasingly being dismantled and privatized (transferred under the direction of transnational corporations and, therefore, subordinated to the dictates of production for profit).  In taking the empirical realities of the global "flexibility" of capitalist urban relations as a sign of greater freedom and mobility and as a marker of growing acceptance of the "right to be different," urban post-theory is simply "catching up" with the theorists of a triumphalist capitalism for whom freedom is freedom of "market relations" not freedom from exploitation and dire need for all. 

Urban post-theory is part of a much broader massive assault on social citizenship by transnational capital and the subordination of the needs of the majority to production of profit.  It is an effort to restore a "civil citizenship" based on freedoms of private property as the only ground of "freedom" for individuals. When, therefore, Soja attempts to suggest that the new struggles for the "right to be different" is not an abandonment of struggle for social equality—this is a not so subtle attempt to erase the class politics of post-al "difference".  For, to substitute the relations of private property for a society in which people are freed from unmet need is indeed to retreat from the struggle for equality and justice.  But never before has the struggle for economic equality been so urgently needed.  And that struggle, in order to be effective globally and not just for the few, needs to be able to produce systematic knowledge of the social totality—it cannot become enamored with the subtleties of capital and commodity culture.  It cannot "acknowledge fragmentation and incompleteness as inevitable conditions of postmodern life" and reject "overarching solutions," as Margaret Crawford argues in Everyday Urbanism (13; my emphasis). Rather it must be able to explain the underlying material contradictions of contemporary urban life in order to transform them and bring about economic equality for all.  What is necessary is a Red Urban Studies, which takes as its starting point Marx's argument that production determines, in the final analysis, all aspects of human life.     


Red urban studies, in other words, is an analysis of the material basis of the "city" in production (in which the "surface" is shown to be the effect of its "other").  The city not as a "thing in itself," but as the manifestation of a deeper set of social conflicts in capitalist relations of production. By beginning with class, a red urban studies cuts through the surface to get at the core of "city" life, to demonstrate how "shifts" in city life are determined by capital.  The urgency of this question is thus an objective effect of capitalism. The constant revolutionizing of the means of production means that cities serve not only as sites of concentration of capital and labor, but as the most advanced sectors of production, they also become the most contradictory sites of capitalist development.  They must be formed and re-formed to fit the needs of capital and thus constantly bring capital and labor into intense conflict.  A red urban studies unpacks these contradictions, and goes bellow the surface, in order to demonstrate why capitalism has produced these contradictions, why capitalism cannot solve them, and why only socialism can bring an end to the fundamental antagonisms at the core of "city" life.  


Social citizenship, which is at the core of a red urban studies, is citizenship based on freedom from exploitation, freedom from necessity, and social and economic well being for all.  It does not understand the individual (and her differences) as "eternally" opposed to the social collective but shows how this understanding is itself a product of private property relations (and not "in excess" of them).  It is the recognition that "freedom" (of any kind) and "equality" is not an ideal assertion of independence from regulations (or collectivity), but itself is determined by collective material conditions: the social relations of production and one's position within these relations and the division of labor. Red urban studies, in short, is an investigation into the conditions necessary to bring about social citizenship: freedom from exploitation and from economic necessity for all.


Works Cited


Bradsher, Keith.  "Gap in Wealth In U.S. Called Widest in West." New York Times April 17, 1995: A1. 

Crawford, Margaret.  "Introduction." Everyday Urbanism.  Ed. John Chase, Margaret Crawford and John Kaliski.  New York: The Monacelli Press, 1999.

de Certeau, Michel.  "Walking in the City." The Cultural Studies Reader. Ed. Simon During, Routledge, 1999.

Ebert, Teresa.  "The Spectral Concrete: Bodies, Sex Work and (some notes on) Citizenship." Transformation: Marxist Boundary Work in Theory, Economics, Politics and Culture V. 2.  Syracuse: The Red Factory, 2001. 

Foucault, Michel.  "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History."  The Foucault Reader.  Ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984.

Ganter, Brian.  "The Hidden Lesson of Enron."  Yellow Times.Org, Feb. 12, 2002.  Online:

Honan, William, H.  "Sister Cities of the World Find a Common Cause" New York Times, July 8, 2000.   

Husock, Howard.  "Let’s Break Up the Big Cities."  City Journal Vol. 8, No. 1, Winter 1998.   Online.

King, Anthony D.  Re-Presenting the City: Ethnicity, Capital and Culture in the 21st-Century Metropolis.  New York: New York University Press, 1996. 

Marx, Karl.  Capital Vol. 1.  Trans. Ben Fowkes.  New York: Penguin, 1990.

___.  Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy.  Trans. M. Nicolaus.  New York: Penguin, 1993.

___. "On the Jewish Question," The Marx-Engels Reader.  Ed. Robert C. Tucker.  New York:  W.W. Norton & Company, 1978.

Marx, Karl and Frederick Engels.  The German Ideology.  Ed. C.J. Arthur.  New York: International Publishers, 1995.

___.   Manifesto of the Communist Party. In The Marx-Engels Reader.  Ed. Robert C. Tucker. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978.

Soja, Edward.  Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions.  Blackwell Publishers, 2000.

Tabb, William.  "Privatization, Globalization, and the Fate of Cities," Monthly Review Vol. 52 February 2001  

[1] For a materialist analysis of Enron and the relation between "democracy" and capitalism, see Brian Ganter's text, "The hidden lesson of Enron," YellowTimes.Org (

[2] It is not incidental that Husock celebrates the work of one of the first and perhaps most famous of "radical" postmodern urban theorists, Jane Jacobs.

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