Page:Garden Cities.djvu/22

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inhabitants and decreasing the vitality of the air they breathe. But failing the possibility of adequately improving the conditions of existing great towns, the remedy must be sought in the discovery of some means of dispersing, or at all events arresting the increase, of their population. The possibility of this depends upon whether the crowding of manufacturers into great centres is necessary or advantageous. If it is we may abandon the idea, for manufacturers to succeed, are bound to carry on their business under the most advantageous conditions they can secure. Happily, the question has been answered by the individual action of manufacturers themselves who have in considerable numbers found it to their advantage to disperse. High rents and high rates have been found to more than counterbalance the advantages afforded by a great centre of business, for modern means of communication have reduced the necessity of personal intercourse to a minimum.

Now of course it may be said if this be so, if dispersion is going on by virtue of natural economic causes where is the necessity for interference? All would agree that where natural development is satisfactory it is far better to leave well alone. The answer is twofold. First the process of dispersion is hampered and checked by the fact that at present it is only open to manufacturers of very large means, and secondly the process is not going forward under satisfactory conditions and there is no guarantee in the absence of foresight and organisation, against the growth of evils in the future, as great as those which have resulted from neglect in the past. Experience has been altogether thrown away, if it has not opened our eyes to the undesirability of leaving national development to chance. We have tried that method and it has failed, miserably failed. It has led to the existence of social conditions which to right-thinking men are intolerable.