A Europe of city-states


[Read the post]


How come Leeds is labeled as “Bradford”?


Why isn’t Constantinople on that list?


I was similarly surprised to see Bradford on this map. They do have the media museum (or whatever it is) there. And wasn’t the beeb relocating there?

As an American living in Paris and then London, I was surprised how very very centralised France and England are. This is getting worse in the UK, and it’s not good for the country. I went to a gig last night at a funky arts venue, which I was excited about and learned it’s due to get turned into flats. Over centralisation will turn London into a sea of luxury flats with an impoverished outer ring. This does not improve anyone’s quality of life. It’s copying everything that’s bad about Paris whilst skipping the good bits.

What I like about being in London is being in the centre of things, but this would be obviously better if there were more, other centres. I don’t want to be stuck in a sea of flats with nothing to do but work and weekend engineering work shutting down all transport at the weekend. This projected future is grim.


This is a much better idea than big nation states, and overarching top-down european control of everything. Loose and flexible, more readily able to weather economic problems, more democratic. Hopefully we’ll see this model win out in the next 50 years, legacy state functions will still need to remain for a while, but it’s certainly conceivable that much of what they do will be rendered obsolete by various technological changes.

The US could do with devolving power a lot more as well.


That’s what I was going to say. They are kinda merged into one conurbation, but Leeds is the bigger of the two.


London is already practically a city state.

That’s Salford. i.e. Manchester.

No independent state of Bristol, either?

Apparently they call it Istanbul these days.


It’s going to do what colonial organisms do - die off in the middle.


So now it’s now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople?


Fun two part explanation of the craziness of London and the City of London.


City-states in the sense that… cities are big and important? Or does anybody really think a London Pound will be worth 1.37 Manchester Pounds? Or that passports will be required for travel from Paris to Tours? I’ve seen alternate histories and roleplay games based on the idea of the United States becoming disunited, but in reality we fought a war about that, and the Union won.

Here’s an idea I’d like to explore. It’s pretty clear how deflation can clobber an economy. But what’s the effect of shrinking population? Japan is already there, and I think the US would be too, if there was no immigration.


Bradford - twinned with Gateshead, St Paul, and Pest.


You’ve been waiting for years to pull that, haven’t you.


It’ll always be Byzantium to me.


Been a long time gone, Constantinople.


No burb-claves? No “No-Go Zones”?

No Wales? [sniff]


I mostly agree with you, locals being able to make local decisions. But in the United States, where the states have a lot of power, you get states which try to take away rights, uneven financial regulations and taxation, among other issues. Perhaps if there is a central government with enough power to ensure the rights of the people. It is one of those things where something in the middle is likely best and avoiding extremes is a good idea.


Actually, London is unusually dispersed in terms of density, which is probably a major factor in its resilience. So, like, Soho is a centre for nightlife, but so are Camden and Shoreditch; the City is a centre for financial services, but so are Docklands and even Croydon; Kennington is fairly suburban, yet it’s more central than King’s Cross, etc.

Historically, this has meant that London overall can route around the decline, collapse, or carpet bombing of particular districts, while others grow to fill in the gaps. The City was once at the heart of society, and now on weekends it’s like a neutron bomb hit it; Islington is desirable now, but you’d make a will before walking through it 30 years ago. This is likely due to the spatial organisation, where green space, small houses, shops, warehouses etc. are distributed in a way that can accommodate widely varying intensities of use over time. Christopher Alexander writes about this in a lot of detail.

That said, the current property speculation shitshow is unprecedented in breadth and depth, with everywhere from Westminster to Stratford being choked with crappy short-sighted development all at the same time, so perhaps it will achieve what the Luftwaffe couldn’t.

As to whether the UK economy is too focused on London, that’s a question that will never die (because most MPs represent somewhere other than London), though the evidence suggests maybe it should. Apart from anything else, I think British people are quite happy to leave dealing with the outside world to London.


Yeah, well, those Lygosians, despite being quite well-disposed towards you, always did regard you as a bit of a parvenu.


yeah, I agree. I wasn’t suggesting it as an actual policy proposal for the US today. just that it makes sense in principle. alternatively there are probably some things you could devolve more before you ran into those issues.