“for What Can Be Imagined More Beautiful Than the Sight of a Perfectly Just City Rejoicing in Justice Alone?” Discuss.

A city rejoicing in justice alone is indeed beautiful in its simplistic idealism.   However the beauty of this sentence and of the ideal, masks the complexity of the concept of justice and of the city, and all it embodies. The city according to Soja (1989) is where “it all comes together”. One globally recognizable feature of contemporary cities is the phenomenon of social polarization, which explains the specific social differentiations and inequities apparent in many cities. “The term is specifically used to describe the trend in which an increasing disparity has been seen to emerge between an expanded and more diversely constituted ‘underclass’ and more affluent groups” (Jacobs   and Fincher 1998). Such disparities have manifested themselves in various forms across the city, which presents a clear depiction of inequality which largely implied injustice. A key question is thus: “Can the political objective of equity be reconciled with the notion of cities of difference? [or] Does producing equity require that difference be obliterated in the name of justice?” (Jacobs 1991).

The title is a quote from Mark Helprin’s “A Winter’s Tale”, a tale about justice in fictional New York City. Benjamin De Mott’s literary review in the New York Times, states that “the obligation, as spelled out in ''Winter's Tale,'' is to shed indifference and apathy, to realize the suffering through which one walks - the suffering of small children living and dying like beasts,” in response to which the main character cries out, yet is met by the questioning of the fundamental meaning of justice:
''Who said that justice is what you imagine? Can you be sure that you know it when you see it, that you will live long enough to recognize the decisive thunder of its occurrence, that it can be manifest within a generation, within ten generations, within the entire span of human existence?''
It is thus virtually impossible to prescribe the conditions necessary for a ‘perfectly just city’. What is...