Metropolitan revolution and new regionalism

An interesting Analysis podcast highlighted a current topic that chimes with several other articles I have recently collected and with the pervasive economic climate and news rhythm of the day.
The underlying idea is that economic power and growth in the near future (given the economic climate) is likely to come from loose, growing urban conglomerations; the sooner power is devolved top these new “city states” the better.
These are generally loose networks which work across party political lines, and unite people with many different backgrounds around a common, local or regional interest. The thinking goes that these are the people most immersed in the life and growth of the city in question, and hence are likely to be able to promote the necessary competition and their place in the global marketplace more efficiently than any centralised planner.
Is this really going back to how things were in the 19th Century, e.g., in Britain where Whitehall was more concerned with running the empire while cities were left to their own devices, and hence run by an “urban elite” of merchants, industrialists, intellectuals, etc.? The drive to centralisation apparently stems to a large part from the origins of the social state, where some form of re-distribution leads to the need for strong central government. On the other hand, the example in Germany, which is (compared to the UK) much more of a network of medium-sized cities, rather than a sprawling centralised metropolis like London or Paris, would suggest that regionalism is alive and well, and as in the USA a model for city-focused clusters that not only nucleate economic centers but also social ones.

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