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3 June 2009

Urban revolution or urban involution? Reflections on fear and political action

Conference lectured at the Symposium "Architectures of fear. Terrorism and the Future of Urbanism in the West" CCCB 17-18 May 2007

More than 30 years ago, Lefebvre published La révolution urbaine (1970 a), which he saw as a “differentialist manifesto” (this is the title of this other book published the same year). The hope was that the “urban revolution” would lead to a better world because urbanization, for Lefebvre, meant valorizing social reproduction and everyday life over technocratic and normalizing measures. Yet, while the current urbanized world does insist on specialization and differentiation (through a global competitive logic), it certainly does not correspond to Lefebvre’s understanding on the potentials of difference. To the contrary, this global competitive logic is tightly related to massive normalization, homogenization, and exclusionary practices. Suffice it to picture the décor of a corporate hotel room and its surrounding neighbourhood in any city of the world to capture the homogenizing tendencies inherent to the neoliberal world order.
Moreover, while Lefebvre’s work foresaw the complete urbanization of the world that is now, I would argue, a sociocultural, political, economic, and statistical reality, the expected fulfillment of human creativity that Lefebvre associated with the urban society is far from being realized. Has Lefebvre’s “urban revolution” become an “urban involution”? Mike Davis is certainly not as hopeful as Lefebvre. In “Planet of Slums”, he suggests that many cities are on the verge of involution, that is, they are caught in a spiralling of self-exploitation by the excluded of the excluded:

As rural areas lose their “storage capacity”, slums take their place, and urban “involution” replaces rural involution as a sink for surplus labour which can only keep pace with subsistence by ever more heroic feats of self-exploitation and the further competitive subdivision of already densely filled survival niches (Davis, 2004b, p. 27).

Urban slums have been on the verge of involution before; one may think of urban conditions during the English Industrial Revolution. The difference today is that the solution of migrating away from the misery of slums is now foreclosed by high-tech security measures at the borders of prosperous countries and cities. Does this mean the only means of protest is the path of pre-industrial urban mob rising during crises of starvation, as Davis might put it?
This paper explores the city as the target for security measures as well as resistance; the city as both the pillar of global capitalism and the “weakest link in the American empire” (Davis, 2004a). In order to do so, the first section offers reflections on how the state is transforming itself in relation to the production of security and the central role of cities in such transformation. The following section explores resilience and coping mechanisms in the city by zooming in on the intimate experience of fear and its incidence on the logic of political action. Lefebvre’s plea for an urban revolution is in fact a call for looking at what people do and how they feel.

Transformation of the role of the state in coping with fear: the role of cities

“No place epitomizes the American Experience and the American Spirit more than New York City. Ironically, it is exactly because we are a city that embraces freedom – that welcomes everyone and encourages their dreams – that New York remains on the frontlines in the war on terror.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, speech to the Republican Convention in New York City, 30 August 2004 (

“And you know something, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki, all of you that worked so hard in bringing this convention to New York, our president and the party that decided they’d have it here, above and beyond everything else, it’s a statement, it’s a strong statement that New York City and America are open for business and we are stronger than ever. … You know, we’re just not going to let the terrorists determine where we have political conventions, where we go, how we travel. We’re Americans. The land of the free and the home of the brave.” Rudolph Giuliani, speech to the Republican Convention in New York City, 30 August 2004 (

“My fellow Americans, for as long as our country stands, people will look to the resurrection of New York City and they will say: Here buildings fell, here a nation rose.” George W. Bush, acceptance speech to the Republican Convention in New York City, September 2, 2004 (
When in 2004, the Republican Party decided to hold its convention in New York City, a long-time Democratic city, GOP strategists signified the importance of cities for U.S. businesses, but also for shaping the image of a protective, caring, and reassuring presidential candidate. The fact that the party showcased the “hero” of 9/11, Rudolph Giuliani, and his program for “cleaning” and “securing” NYC during his term as Mayor is also illustrative.
The strategic importance of cities for the U.S. government is more and more visible in the U.S. and in the world. Fear of quagmire in the urban maze of Baghdad in preparing for the war on Iraq, fear of malaria decimating U.S. soldiers fighting terrorists in tropical cities, fear of the explosion of urban mobs in the slums of the world, fear of the organized pressure of farmers in defeating the free trade talks in Cancún in the fall of 2003… These are all examples of how cities become central to the U.S. elites’ strategic thinking. The problem with these cities and their inhabitants, from the point of view of U.S. strategists, is that they are, to use Mike Davis’s words, “radically homeless in the contemporary international economy” (Davis 2004b, p. 26). They are not under the reach of the U.S.-led global disciplinary apparatus (supported by legal, economic, and military mechanisms). As Thomas Barnett, adviser to Donald Rumsfield, explains, “disconnectedness defines danger” (quoted in Gill, 2003a, p. 220). In this case, “danger” is understood as threats to the accumulation of capital, threats to what Gill calls the “social reproduction of affluence” (Gill, 2003b), as well as terrorist threats. Trying to “connect” these cities of the Global South to global capitalism is one strategic option elaborated by various U.S. intellectuals. For instance, consider this statement:

“If the sons of American janitors can go die in Iraq to keep us safe”, says Robert Wright, author of Non-Zero, a book on global interdependence, “then American cotton farmers, whose average net worth is nearly $1 million, can give up their subsidies to keep us safe. Openingour markets to farm products and textiles would be critical to drawing many nations – including Muslim ones – more deeply into the interdependent web of global capitalism and ultimately democracy” (Friedman, 2003).
The strategy privileged by the Bush administration, however, demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of this urban world. It consists of denying urbanity by attempting to erase its built form in order to permit more of the same in the use of brutal military force. In preparing for the war on Iraq, for instance, the U.S. military quietly invited “experts” in erasing cities, the Israeli military (Graham, 2003; Davis, 2004). Indeed, under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, the bulldozer razing Palestinian cities becomes the arm of choice in making space for the use of military artillery and for controlling populations:

Asked how he would respond to Palestinian sniping at the new Jewish settlements of Gilo, implanted into the Palestinian neighbourhood of Beit Jela, south of Jerusalem, [Ariel Sharon] answered: “I would eliminate the first row of houses in Beit Jela”. The reporter enquired: What if the shooting persisted? Sharon replied: “I would eliminate the second row of houses, and so on. I know the Arabs. They are not impressed by helicopters and missiles. For them there is nothing more important than their house. So, under me you will not see a child shot next to his father [a reference to Mohammed Al-Dorra]. It is better to level the entire village with bulldozers, row after row” (Graham, 2003, p. 66).

The same “cleaning” strategies have long been used by non-military forces in trying to exert control on cities (slum clearance programs, moralizing social services, and so on). Cities are particularly sensitive to the intensification of commodification, reprivatization of social reproduction, police controls and the “war of terrorism”. 9/11 gives elites a new form of legitimation for control measures on the urban society. New security measures, from airport screening to racial profiling, from “gang-free” and “prostitution-free” zones to the criminalization of poverty, are not directly related to increasing national security so much as they represent the manipulation of middleand upper-class feelings of insecurity in the face of difference. The city, just like the hospitals, prisons, and psychiatric asylums studied by Foucault, is an international space of control and normalization as much as a space of resistance.
While efforts to normalize, erase, “clean” and repress cities are brutal, violent and very real, I wish to focus here on the changing role of the state in terms of protection and reassurance. Beyond state repression, it might be fruitful to take as a starting point the French school of pragmatic sociology (Boltanski and Thévenot, 1991). The basic principle in that tradition is to focus on the modalities through which action is concretely unfolding, that is on the skills required to act. Individuals are thought to evolve in various “regimes of practices”, each requiring specific skills enabling adjustment to the social environment.
If we focus on these daily skills, it becomes evident that the state does not simply employ repressive measures for coping with fear, even if those are more brutal and visible. Numerous situations of discomfort, risk, potential or existing conflict, or insecurity are “managed” informally and spontaneously, without state or police presence. In other words, despite (or because of) the absence of state authorities, people tend to continue to live relatively peacefully because they deploy specific skills that could be called “civility”, “communication codes” or “precautionary behaviour”. How do these auto-regulating skills impact the role of the state in providing security?
Weber stated clearly: the state has the monopoly over legitimate violence. The argument here is that the state’s approach to the offer of security is partly shifting from a paternalistic model (welfare-state) or a repressive model (police-state) to a model that could be qualified as “therapeutic” (in which the state manages citizens’ fears by attempting to rebuild their self-confidence). Isin (2004) would call this process “governing through neurosis”, that is, a process through which citizens base their conduct not merely on calculating rationalities, but also on responses to fears and anxieties. In reaction, the state offers not so much the promise of “solutions” to problems, but resources to “soothe” and escape the feeling of victimization by building autoregulating skills.
“Neuropolitics” leads to the depoliticization of fear. The target of state action is not the object of fear per se, but the psychological well-being of citizens. Robin (2004) suggests that fear is a political necessity to maintain a sense of unity and to generate innovative action. Yet, the object of fear is consequently depoliticized: what people are afraid of is not worthy of discussion, as long as fear enables unity. In this view, fear connects people together through their simultaneous perception of threat. With the example of the U.S. coloured alert system on terrorist threats (green, blue, yellow, orange, red), Massumi (2006) suggests that the state is able to calibrate public anxiety and to transform citizens into a network of nervousness. Each individual will perceive the signal of a threat in her/his own way, yet always in connection to the central system. The effect, Massumi continues, is that the state does not offer security, but rather stimulates fear in order to ensure citizen (re)action. In other words, the state is certain that people will react to the signalled alert, but does not know how they will react. The rationality guiding state decision-making, in this system, explicitly allows for unpredictability and the unknown, in order to stimulate action and avoid apathy. This rationale capitalizes on intense automatic bodily reactions rather than appealing to citizen’s rational-consequentialist thinking.
In sum, in coping with fear, the state does use repressive force, but it is also appealing to new technologies seeking 1) psychological reassurance and self-confidence for auto-regulation, and 2) bodily reaction using affect. As Thrift suggests, this appeal to bodily affective (re)action is not only a centrally-determined manipulative strategy, but relies on “an expansion of what has been conventionally regarded as the urban political sphere” (Thrift, 2004, p. 65). The affective appeal of the media (the increasing presence of close-ups or the magnification of voices); the palliative affective role of the computer screen as the lover, the parent or the teacher; the therapeutic form of selfhood focused on the idea that “I feel, therefore I am”; the heightening of perceptive capacities through new technologies; the design of urban space based on increasingly precise knowledge on affective responses; these are all examples of how various actors (from capitalist firms, to gurus, to the state) appeal to affect in order to stimulate (re)actions.
In all three types of state strategies in coping with fear (repression, affect, reassurance), the city is a prime target. In the context of a changing state-citizen relation, can we see, as Lefebvre did, the city as a fruitful site for unleashing human potential for creativity and resistance? Before turning to a discussion of fear and political mobilization beyond the state, a brief detour explaining Lefebvre’s idea of an urban revolution is useful.

The “urban revolution”: from May 1968 to the post-9/11 world

Published in 1970, La révolution urbaine (for translations in English, Lefebvre, 2003) synthesizes Lefebvre’s work on rural sociology, everyday life, the right to the city, Marxism and dialectics, while anticipating his reflections on space published in 1974 in La production de l’espace (for translations in English, Lefebvre, 1991).
Many have interpreted Lefebvre’s work on cities as the simple reflection of the urban revolts of the end of the 1960s. Lefebvre was indeed a great inspiration for May 1968 in Paris, particularly for his students in Nanterre, where it all started. He also wrote two books specifically on May 68: Le droit a la vile and L’irruption, de Nanterre au sommet (Lefebvre, 1968a; Lefebvre, 1968b). But in La révolution urbaine (1970a), his reflection goes beyond May 68. The events of Paris, Prague, Berkeley, Havana, Mexico City, Athens, and many other cities represent for him much more than a crisis of the industrial society, as the Frankfurt School elegantly argued (Marcuse, 1964; Benjamin, 2000), or again as elaborated in the work of Guy Debord in La Société du spectacle (Debord,1967). For Lefebvre, 1968 was the beginning of the “urban society.” He writes:

Entire continents are switching from anterior revolutionary actions to urban guerillas with political goals that are directly concerning urban life and organization (without omitting or resolving problems of industrial and agricultural organization). The period of urban revolutions is starting (Lefebvre, 1970a, p. 61-62, translation JAB).

In order to understand the subtleties of this argument, it is essential to differentiate between the city, that is the reifed “thing” associated with a geographical location that presents specific characteristics (a densely constructed space, often opposed to the “countryside”, where social interactions are intensified by rapid and frequent daily contacts), the municipal (the governmental level dealing with daily life issues), the local (a geographical concept opposed to the global) and the urban society, which designates the goal of social struggles starting at the end of the 1960s and towards which, with the intensification of globalization processes, we are rapidly approaching (for a similar distinction between the city and urbanization processes, see Harvey, 1996). The “urban society” is thus a concept much broader than that of the city. It defines a mode of social, political, and economic relations, that is, a new world order. In other words, Lefebvre is recasting Marxist revolutionary objectives by asserting that the ideal society will necessarily be urban. The march towards this complete urbanization of the world, according to him, began with the crisis of industrial capitalism in the 1970s. At this historical juncture, he writes, “people do not see themselves as part of nature, that dark world submitted to mysterious forces. Between them and nature, between their home and the world, stands the essential mediation of the urban reality (Lefebvre, 1970a, p. 21, translation JAB).1
The “urban revolution”, according to Lefebvre, results from a long historical process through which world society has evolved from an agricultural to an industrial, and now to an urban mode of organization. To this historical process, a geographical process is superimposed, whereby around the 14th century, the city, as a geographical space, changed (in Europe) from bearing an essentially political function (the capital, the agora, the polis) to a mercantile function (symbolized by the central marketplace). During the 19th century, the city underwent another transformation towards an essentially industrial function as the center of mass production and consumption. The current period constitutes, for Lefebvre, a “critical phase” of globalization. The urban mode of production, its imaginary, and its language is reaching out to the entire world. The ensuing “urban society” constitutes a new ontology of the world, not only because most people live in cities and because the city fabric is taking up more and more land, but mostly because we see the world differently. We live in an urban world because our language, our concepts, and our benchmarks are urban more than industrial or agricultural.
Lefebvre attributes to the urban an ontological status, which incorporates both a new mode of production (less based on mass industrialization than differentiation and specialization) and a new mode of social reproduction intimately linked to city life. It is not that agriculture and industry have ceased to exist, or that peasants do not identify as such anymore. It is mostly recognition of the ever increasing interdependence between the urban and the rural (with the dominance of the former). The urban becomes the terrain of power struggles, the mode of social relations, or in sociological language, the new habitus.
For Lefebvre, the main characteristic of urban society is the acceptance of difference. He writes:

The urban is defined as the site where differences know, feel, and recognize one another, and thus where they confirm or infirm their presence. Attacks against the urban coldly or buoyantly plan the disappearance of differences, which are often mistaken with quaint particularities. The industrial, technocratic or individualist ideology is homogenizing (Lefebvre, 1970a, p. 130, translation JAB).
Lefebvre was optimistic towards urbanization processes as he saw them as a means to make differences more acceptable and free people from technocratic domination. Yet, the city in a post-9/11 world is more and more controlled and a target of intense fear of others. In his discussion of the “Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City”, Dasgupta (2006) indicates that it may be more in the cities that are still resisting U.S. control that differences and resistance may flourish:

The idea of the total, centralised, maximally efficient city plan has long since lost its futuristic appeal. Its confidence and ambition have turned to anxiety and besiegement; its homogenizing obsession has constricted the horizons of spiritual possibility and induced counterfantasies of insubordination, excess, and life-forms in chaotic variety. Such desires flee the West’s surveillance cameras and bureaucratised consumption to find in the Third World metropolis a scope, a speed, a more fecund ecology (Dasgupta, 2006).

Fear and the logic of political action: reflections on urban resistance

In a sense, Lefebvre’s optimism towards the urban revolution is not completely irrelevant. For him, the urban revolution culminates when city dwellers appropriate changes in order to reaffirm the creativity of everyday life. The most obvious example of this mounting resistance is the alternative globalization movement, which is arguably the best example of a movement born out of the current urbanization process (for an excellent example linking urban and global mobilization, see Conway 2004). Typically urban struggles such as resistance to water privatization and protection of slum dwellers from bulldozers and other forms of violence are at the core of this movement, in the global North as much as the global South. Struggles against water privatization in Detroit are connected to those in South Africa and Bolivia and around the world (see, for instance, Similarly, slum dwellers’ movements in Mumbai are linked with their peers in Bangkok or Sa~o Paulo (Appadurai, 2002). This illustrates the importance of traditional municipal issues (such as water or public housing) for constructing alternative forms of globalization. Left social movements (whether they represent themselves as urban or not) are constantly reaffirming the centrality of urban struggles in their articulation of the local and the global.
Urban struggles are not confined to municipal jurisdictional responsibilities (housing, water, transit, etc.), nor to the administrative limits of the municipality. The MST in Brazil recruits many of its activists in the favelas of Rio, just like urban-based university students protesting WTO talks are working in solidarity with peasants in order to change the agricultural subsidizing policies of North America and Europe. Similarly, when Toronto-based activists hike up to Temagami (northern Ontario) to protect trees, or when urban aboriginals get together to face the Canadian government on the urgency to consider off-reservation issues, it becomes clear that urban struggles are in fact at the core of the construction of a just world.
Henceforth, urban society produces networks of activists at the global scale, whether they live in cities or not. The intensity of transnational mobilization within cities is particularly important given that they are ferociously targeted by the disciplinary mechanisms set up by global elites. The city constitutes a global political space in which many activists are not citizens of the country in which they live. And as a global political space, the city profoundly questions the national institution of citizenship. The presence in cities of many people with no legal existence disturbs national legal and philosophical categories. Interactions between activists in different cities have opened possibilities for problematizing these categories. For instance, in comparing homeless activists in U.S. cities with slum activists in India, Roy highlights how U.S. citizenship is understood as “propertied citizenship” (Roy, 2003). It is this model of citizenship which is transposed at the global scale through international organizations. When U.S. strategists express their fear of cities in the global South, they expose their ignorance of different models of political membership. Roy writes: “Put bluntly, American cities are free of the populist volatility of squatting and other forms of informality, but they are fraught with the humiliation of homelessness” (Roy, 2003, p. 474). She continues:

As I write, in a post-September 11 era, at a moment of great neo-Orientalism, it becomes clear that critical transnational analysis is more important than ever before. For another type of transnationalism is taking hold. This is the imperial frontier, the transnational replication of the American ideal of propertied citizenship. Thus, a recent tongue-incheek editorial satirizes the idea of reforming Afghanistan through “full-contact suburbanization” (Pesci, 2001). The author argues that paving over Afghanistan with six-lane highways will replace Soviet-era tanks with ready markets for SUVs and will lead to the “safe spaces” of housing development, shopping malls, and Disneyesque theme parks: “Deploy and install all this stuff and the only government that the Afghans will need is a zoning board.” There is a chilling truth to this satire, in the way in which urban form comes to be associated with property ownership and how this, in turn, comes to be linked to liberal democracy (Roy, 2003, pp. 483-484).

While resistance to oppression emerges from what Lefebvre calls the constitution of an urban society, the most common beliefs about urbanity are indeed more chilling. Xenophobia, terrorism, bulldozers, and poverty… Cities tend to generate more fear than hope. In the first part of this paper, we examined state strategies in coping with fear. If we now turn our attention to people’s reaction to fear, we might see how it can also serve as a catalyst for political mobilization.
Fear works sociologically, it constitutes a social gesture. Furedi (2006) shows how people adopt fearful attitudes as a means to produce a social image by conforming to prevailing ideas about good and bad. While socially-structured and situational, fear is also experienced intimately. It is embodied and sensual. As opposed to diffuse and free-floating “existential insecurity” (Marcuse, 2003) about economic instability, fear of the other, or the declining capacity to effectively manage risks, fear as an embodied experience is distinct from discomfort and worries.
Fear is often thought to provoke withdrawal, inertia or paralysis caused by unpleasant body reactions (cold sweat, dry mouth, rapid heart beat, trembling, etc.). Yet, experienced collectively, fear can also provoke spontaneous movements (such as moral panics), which in turn can be perceived by others as threatening (the myth of the uncontrollable mob). In response to these incapacitating reactions, some theorists are attempting to rehabilitate fear as an energizing force, with negative and positive impacts. Fear can be translated into political action through three mechanisms:
  1. In a classical sense, most studies of fear note that it provokes two types of RE-actions: fight (voice) or flight (exit). This has been applied to urban politics in the work of Hirschman (1970, 1991).
  2. Fear can be understood as a factor in the constitution of interest. For instance, Barbalet argues, recalling Weber’s work on motives, that fear is very important “to the constitution of interest and the direction of action” because “an actor’s operational assessment of present circumstances can be influenced by expectations of either painful disadvantage or pleasurable advantage” (Barbalet, 1995, p. 15). In this consequentialist understanding of action, interest and emotion are presented as mutually-constitutive. Fear, Barbalet argues, acts as a form of libidinal energy motivating elites to initiate organizational change in order to contain potential rebellion and maintain privilege. Similarly, rereading liberal philosophers, Robin suggests that when experienced collectively, “fear quickens our perceptions as no other emotion can, forcing us to see and to act in the world in new and more interesting ways, with greater moral discrimination and a more acute consciousness of our surroundings and ourselves” (Robin, 2004, p. 81).
  3. Fear can also generate a sense of duty and ethical responsibility that triggers action. For instance, in a climate of public anxiety, safe sex and safe driving behaviour are often seen as a moral responsibility.

Positioning fear as a trigger for action is somewhat unusual in Western thought. We identify more easily instances of manipulation of fear than cases where fear as an embodied experience leads individuals to become politically active. This can be explained by our rational-consequentialist understanding of action. Yet, a close look at what people do, particularly in cities, reveals that individuals do integrate the unknown, the unpredictable, the unplanned, the uncertain in their acts; they do make decisions in reaction to immediate feelings and not only based on the probability and desirability of consequences. Their relation to time and space is not exclusively dominated by consequentialist judgement and Cartesian control over bounded spaces, as it is often assumed in western social sciences (from economic rational choice theories to cognitive psychology). The degree of comfort with spontaneity and uncertainty varies across cultures, class, gender, age, personalities, and so on. But as the flurry of self-improvement books on bookstore shelves or the recent fascination for Southern cities in movies and novels in North Atlantic countries testify (Dasgupta, 2006), “trusting your feelings” and “encouraging silo-busting strategies” and innovation-generative “risk revolution” is seen as a potent alternative to technocratic planning and conformist education.
In “The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903), Simmel suggests that urban dwellers develop a blasé attitude in order to protect themselves from the intense emotions generated by urban life. A few decades later, Toffler published his best-seller Future Shock (1970), in which he proposed that individuals are no longer able to endure the excessive stimulation caused by our world and the constant need to confront novelty. He writes:

The striking signs of confusional breakdown we see around us – the spreading use of drugs, the rise of mysticism, the recurrent outbreaks of vandalism and undirected violence, the politics of nihilism and nostalgia, the sick apathy of millions – can all be understood better by recognizing their relationship to future shock. These forms of social irrationality may well reflect the deterioration of individual decision-making under conditions of environmental overstimulation (Toffler, 1970, p. 343).
What troubled Toffler was the resulting declining ability to make (rational) decisions for individuals that are more and more disoriented in this urban world of newness and intense feelings. In his recent book, Liquid Life (2005), Bauman refines Toffler’s argument while stripping it of its alarmist and moralist overtone. He writes that when people feel they do not have their life in control, they “will not muster the courage required to get a hold on the future” and “they are unlikely to seek security in hope” (p. 135) because they are unable to rationally anticipate the future. He concludes, however, that “man is a hoping creature” (emphasis original, p. 151) and suggests we need to accept that we can only “feel, guess, suspect what needs to be done” without knowing “the shape and form it will eventually take” (p. 153). This is the key to understand “liquid life”:

In short: liquid life is a precarious life, lived under conditions of constant uncertainty. The most acute and stubborn worries that haunt such a life are the fears of being caught napping, of failing to catch up with fast-moving events, of being left behind, of overlooking “use-by” dates, of being saddled with possessions that are no longer desirable, of missing the moment that calls for a change of tack before crossing the point of no return (Bauman,2005, p. 2).

Toffler’s fear that individuals are no longer able to choose rationally between different courses of action has been turned over by Bauman who simply responds that the new reality requires us to develop new skills. One of these, it is suggested here, is the skill to feel, smell, touch, hear, and taste the city. The ability to accept the uncontrollable, to seek estrangement, as the Situationists suggested, and to express desire, hope, and fear without being paralyzed, is another. This is the urban revolution envisioned by Lefebvre.

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1. As discussed in the conclusion of this paper, Lefebvre’s optimism towards the possibilities of a better life for humanity in a completely urbanized world has to be tempered by the dark picture of human poverty and unplanned urbanization drawn in the UN-Habitat report: The Challenge of the Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, United Nations’ Human Settlements Programme, London 2003.

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