Tuesday, 22 November 2005

The Voluntary City

Traffic jams, restrictive zoning, slum housing, district plans, heritage plans, rate rises, mayoral embarassments ... all examples of local government failure. The idea of the Voluntary City offers an alternative in which the city's 'public goods' are provided by private means, and without the usually accompanying meddling and incipient failures. The Voluntary City integrates a large number of contemporary approaches to freedom in the modern city, and how institutions can and have been formed to make more freedom possible, and more local government unnecessary.

The Voluntary City movement is an idea whose time has come, one as Jay Jardine argues that can be embraced "whether you are a hard-core libertarian/anarchist, a social conservative or even a grass-roots green. Anyone who is interested in nurturing civil society will certainly be provided with compelling challenges to widely-held myths about the need and justification for government intervention."

Says the recent book The Voluntary City: "In many cities, government increasingly dominates life, consuming vast resources to cater to special interest groups. Decision-making has become intensely politicized, bureaucratic, and largely unaccountable to the populace." The problems that plague cities -- crime, homelessness, gridlock, pollution -- are examples of an oversupply of bureaucracy and an under-supply of freedom. [C/f: Andrew Galambos: "A traffic jam is a collision between free enterprise and socialism. Free enterprise produces automobiles faster than socialism can build roads and road capacity."]

The idea of The Voluntary City is an attempt to change that by making the point that communities can and have been formed and run by choice, rather than by failing and meddling central and local governments. That leaves a role for local government that as I see it is essentially just a forum in which disputes are resolved by common law, rather like a small claims court for property disputes.

A number of posts here at Not PC -- let's face it, a large number -- sit very well with the Voluntary City idea. Here for your edification is a partial list. Many of them outline the means by which the recognition and protection of property rights supports voluntarily chosen actions to produce a spontaneous order in which freedom can flourish:

Cue Card Libertarianism: Bureaucracy, Common Law, Pollution, Property
Decentralisation, and those who oppose it
Message to NZ: Dump the RMA
De-politicising the busybodies
The 'right' to a view
"What nuisance?" And who came to it?
RMA and the Common Law?? Answering back
Right to property = a place to stand
Countywide zoning is unwanted government control
Sprawl is good; regulation is not

Mediocrity and meddling announced by Hubbard and Co.
East Germany in East Auckland
Building slums while banning growth
Building the slums of tomorrow
Frank Lloyd Wright: Broadacre City
Central planning pushing new boundaries
Meddling arseholes
Coromandel mining exposes "a clash of values"--Tanczos
Whose bloody land is it anyway?
Pylons v property rights
Piling on the pylon pressure
"No!" to more council powers
Libertarianz Submission to 2001 Local Government Act Review


  1. I don't know why people want to be such busybodies, concerning themselves about where and how people live- the very same people who loathe those judging people on the basis of what they wear, eat, look like or who they shag, are willing to tell people where to live, where to shop, where to send their kids to school and how to get there!

  2. How bout posting the link to Hardin's original argument.


    I think it puts all the rest of this detritus into perspective.


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