Corruption And Politics

A theme that was shown throughout "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs, and "Red Harvest" by Dashiell Hammett, was the everlasting circle of corruption. The theme is shown to be the result of people and their promises and greed. In Jacobs’ novel, corruption rises from government guarantees and fortunately the ability to speak out against it, while in Hammett’s novel, corruption is the epitome of officials and businessman where violence is used to fight it. The want of power and money to make a living is what is exemplified by Hammett in “Poisonville” and then explained in process by Jacobs in regards to the real life subsidized dwelling process. The consequences of this corruption within politics prohibits communities to continue thriving and achieving what was originally targeted, as subsidized dwellings remain slums and violence to achieve power is used to purify itself. The following gallery will depict works that I believe connect to the novels theme.

Reasoning is something that lacks within many communities as Jacobs explains, ".. so many tactics, so well entrenched, that when their purposes are questioned they are generally justified in terms of the conditions laid down by still other tactics" (Jacobs 321-322). It also lacks in Hammett's town as reasoning for certain actions is simply skipped by police forces and gangs, as body counts continue to rise in order to reason with gaining power.
Justice is a big issue that is not existent in Hammett's novel as even Continental Op uses violence to bring people to "justice" for the things they've done. "I shoved Thaler out of the way with my right arm, and kept my gun on him while I yanked Rolff's weapons out of his hands... I called Noonan, told him I had Thaler, and where. 'Mother of God!' he said. 'Don't kill him till I get there'" (Hammett 108). Jacobs shows justice almost as something that can only be afforded as people who cannot be housed by private enterprises are put in the same statistical group as prisoners.
Wealth and power go together within the two novels, and it is supported by corrupted acts. The government pays the difference of the fixed rent within Jacobs subsidized dwellings and they have the power to fluctuate costs depending on household income. But with this ability, corruption becomes inventive. Hammett shows the power of the banks and officials and how they gain wealth from murder, "Then I returned to the bank and said to the boy" 'Now tell me why you killed him'" (Hammett 57).
The community is mainly affected by corruption. Corruption entails confusion, and in order to keep a community visually pleasing and working, organization is needed, "Art has its own peculiar forms of order, and they are rigorous" (Jacobs 372). The lack of organization within the government and subsidized dwellings results in corrupt politics. Hammett depicts this through setting the scene of "Poisonville" as, "an ugly notch set between two ugly mountains that had been all dirtied up by mining" (Hammett 4). The ugliness stems from the corrupted officials that run the city.
A representation of how communities are viewed when corruption and violence are the main characteristics. Almost instilling fear to refrain from venturing to the community."The bureaucracies that build and run these places-always in terror lest their capricious masters, the taxpayers, find fault with the tenants' housekeeping, morals or standards of amenity and blame the bureaucrats- are in some things impossibly arrogant and in others impossibly timid"" (Jacobs 325). Subsidized communities become slums and ghettos as they depict a picture of distrust. Hammett follows this as he gives the town a nickname of "Poisonville", deeming unattractive.
Failure of a community correlates to its susceptibility of corruption within its workings. "... the tendency for outstandingly successful diversity in cities to destroy itself;... to cast a deadening influence; the tendency for population instability to counter the growth of diversity; and the tendency for both public and private money either to glut or to starve development change" (Jacobs 242). The fault at one component affects the rest of the community, which will then infer to its demise. Hammett uses the appearances of authority to demonstrate the failure of "Poisonville". "The first policeman I saw needed a shave. The second had a couple of buttons off his shabby uniform. The third stood in the center of the city's main intersection...directing traffic, with a cigar in one corner of his mouth" (Hammett 4).With the lack of authority, corruption is inevitable.
Behavior and actions are the key and building blocks that corruption is composed of. Jacobs states that communities do not make any good sense after corruption as, "... we lose constructive forms of behavior and forces..." (335). The attitude and behavior of community officials directly exhibits the politics in which they follow. Hammett exploits the actions of Continental Op as his behavior involving drugs relates to his workings with the officials and businessmen. After drinking a drugged drink, Op has important dreams and acts on them. Op's actions throughout the novel deem nothing but corrupt in order to gain "purity" in the town.
Birth, death, and rebirth are the cycles of life. The corruption within politics results in the death of communities, while tactics and policies give it life. Jacobs explains these tactics, "...every eight or ten years at least, to try out new methods of subsidizing dwellings or add variations to old ones that are working well enough for us to retain" (Jacobs 335). Hammett uses this tactic by bringing in Continental Op to remove the towns governing gangs, as Op brings new methods by pinning each side against each other to meet in the middle.
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