The Administration and Politics of Tokyo

By Charles A. Beard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
THE SPIRIT AND PRACTICE OF SELF-GOVERNMENT IN TOKYO

IN speaking of administrative organisation, budgets, taxation, purchasing, and technical matters we are discussing the machinery by which the work of a city may be done effectively. Moreover we are speaking of matters capable of a more or less precise definition--matters on which there is a large body of accepted scientific opinion. It is therefore relatively easy in this sphere to lay down principles which, if not scientifically exact in all cases, rest on solid foundations of experience.

On the other hand, when we consider the use which is made of this machinery, we confront an entirely different set of data and problems. When we inquire why a city does or does not rapidly introduce all the comforts and conveniences of modern science, we encounter very complex social forces--forces difficult to define, to locate, and to understand. As a Tokyo journalist recently remarked, no one has yet explained why thousands of Tokyo citizens will sit enraptured for three hours at a lecture by Dr. Einstein, and then be wholly content to wade home through mud, ankle-deep, in unpaved streets, with open drains on each side. It may be answered that it is nobler in mind to cultivate things of the spirit than the comforts of the flesh, but it might be added that Dr. Einstein evolved his theories in a city which does possess the conveniences of modern civilisation. The two are not incompatible.

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