Celebrated as the cradle of civilization, the source of civility, change, and progress, the city has also been damned as the locus of evil, and for many Sodom and Gomorrah are still the archetypal urban communities. These themes run together with traditional political ideologies: liberals and radicals are generally favorable and conservatives take the dim view.
Today the fit between the latter’s ideology and reality seems better than ever. It is difficult to discover in modern American urban life those virtues cherished by conservatives; the contemporary city appears to justify their worst apprehensions about the long-term drift of a liberal society. This may account for the attraction urban ills have for the conservative: he contemplates them with the relish of a fundamentalist preacher gazing upon a sinner....
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