Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Danish Experiment in Self Government -- Part I

When in Denmark, I somewhat surprised our hosts by saying that the first thing I wanted to see was "Freetown Christiania".

The town is a small self governing enclave in Copenhagen. The site of the town is in what was once the defensive fortifications of the city. The forts were obsolete, but the military continued to use the barracks until 1972, when the shut the base down. Soon, some hippies moved in and established their own community.

The hippie spirit still survives!

The old buildings were occupied and redecorated to reflect the free spirit of the new residents. No cars are allowed in the town, so people get around primarily by bicycle. Many bicycles are manufactured and/or modified in the town itself (one of the major business was a bicycle company). The bicycles are custom manufactured to have cargo spaces or turned into tricycles that can carry extra people or goods. The bicycles are very popular and you see them all around Copenhagen.

As you would expect in such an enclave, there were an abundance of artists and other creative types, and their work was very much in evidence.


Rodak said...

But I thought that those socialist Scandinavians had sacrificed all freedom of expression in exchange for socialized medicine and the government jackboot? Surely you were only shown what "they" wanted you to see!

Anthony said...

There was quite a bit of trouble between the residents of Christiania and the government, although, according to my hosts they have worked out a truce.

Rodak said...

Ah, then socialism does not necessarily mean the end of individuality and freedom of expression, after all? One can have freedom from fear of ruin by disease, universal guaranteed education, freedom from fear of personal financial ruin, and still be a happy hippie?
Sounds to me like a return to the Garden, compared to the War in Iraq, the Mortgage Crisis, the Fuel Cost disaster, the Decaying Infrastructure, the Widening Income Gap, and the Increasing Loss of Civil Liberties, that we are "enjoying" under our "democratic" and "capitalist" system.

Rodak said...

All that aside, Anthony, did you see any evidence of a religious sensibility among these creative separatists? Did they, maybe, have an artfully tricked-out Lutheran gothic church at the center of their commune?