Jane Jacobs? - Input Junkie
I mentioned that I think Jane Jacobs is better known among libertarians than elsewhere in the comments here
, and then it occurred to me that I don't really know. Unfortunately, lj doesn't offer a good way of getting correlations among different answers, and this isn't a random sample either, but I hope to get a better-informed vague impression.
Have you heard of Jane Jacobs?
Yes, and I've read at least one of her books
Yes, and I know something about her ideas
The name's vaguely familiar
What's your political orientation?
Other-- please specify in comments
|Date:||June 20th, 2009 03:00 am (UTC)|| |
I don't call myself "liberal" or "progressive" because both of those are right of where I am in many ways.
|Date:||June 20th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)|| |
I've read The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Economy of Cities, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and my out and out favorite of hers, Systems of Survival, which I bought a few years ago. I recommend reading it in conjunction with Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series.
Former libertarian, now of no consistent political philosophy- the closest I come is modern whiggism (i. e. modestly libertarian except when it's become obvious that it just doesn't work).
Never heard of Jane Jacobs at all until your post.
Looking up her Wikipedia entry... the Cliffs notes versions of her various works lead me to believe I'd generally disagree with her. She believed that greater diversity and community would result if city planning were left mostly laissez-faire... but I don't think she takes into account the fact that, in most cases, it is the property owners and developers who push for zoning, gentrification, "urban renewal", etc. and pull the levers of government to see them happen. I'd file her whole series of arguments under Just Doesn't Work.
|Date:||June 20th, 2009 04:23 am (UTC)|| |
I don't see what that has to do with it. Laissez-faire is not equivalent to "give property owners/big businesses whatever they want." In fact, historically, large economic interests have often been the leading opponents of laissez-faire; once you get rich you start seeing the appeal of mercantilism. So I don't see that what property owners want is even relevant to defining what a laissez-faire policy would lead to.
See for example Gabriel Kolko's Railroads and Regulation, or the early history of the telephone industry.
In a laissez-faire system the large economic interests are allowed to do whatever they want. The evidence of history is that, given such freedom, said economic interests will use it in one of two ways: (1) to change the government to end laissez-faire and impose regulations that benefit them; or (2) to create a system which creates a de facto governing system not accountable to the people, with the same end goal. Either way, laissez-faire leads to pretty much the same endgame as the system we have now.
Jones' end goal cannot be reached by the means suggested in the summary of her works.
Jacobs wasn't exactly pro-laissez faire as you describe it, though she was very fond of trade as a major source of innovation and (on the small scale) connection.
If she said anything explicit about theoretical limits of government, I can't think of it. Her orientation was more about identifying the livelier parts of society, and arguing that it's crucial not to squelch them. When she was writing, big government plans were the most serious threat.
Some of her views were unique (which doesn't mean I have a strong opinion about whether they were right or wrong). She believed that each city should have its own currency and that governments shouldn't cover more than one city.
Afaik, it did work-- Jacobs' ideas did a lot to discredit slash-and-burn city planning.
That makes no sense to me. "Red" generally refers to Communism, and "Tory" generally refers to the Conservative Party, right? Aren't they antithetical?
Or is this American completely misunderstanding what you meant? The implications might not be the same in Canada.
In Canada, red is the colour associated with the Liberal party. You are correct that "Tory" is (was?) the nickname for the Progressive Conservative party; moderate PC members, who put more emphasis on "progressive" than "conservative" in their social view, were nicknamed "Red Tories" as many of their positions resembled those of the Liberals. (Not all; they were stronger on fiscal responsibility, in the main, than the core Liberal caucus back then.) In US terms, think "Blue Dog" or "RINO".
-- Steve dearly misses his Red Tories, with whom one could beat the Liberals back into sensibility after they'd grown too comfortable with power.
Oooohhh. That wasn't intuitive but it makes sense now. Thank you.
|Date:||June 20th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)|| |
I consider myself somewhere between liberal and libertarian. Trouble is, to me most big-L Libertarians consider Government to be Bad and private enterprise to be Good. I see things more in terms of concentrations of power: when the corporations maneuver to get huge amounts of power over individuals, then they are just as "evil" as the Big Bad Government...
|Date:||June 20th, 2009 05:24 am (UTC)|| |
Well, yes, but consider the proportionalities. Microsoft, for example, is a really huge corporation with massive domination of its markets. But I've never owned a computer that runs Windows; I've bought nothing but Macintoshes since before Windows was even on the market.
Microsoft doesn't send people into my apartment to arrest me and put me in prison for owning a Mac Mini or running OSX. They don't confiscate my Mac, or destroy it. They don't come in and force me to install Windows compatible software on it. They don't force me to pay money to support Microsoft whether I use their software or not, while leaving me free to pay extra if I want the luxury of running a different system. They don't compel me to undergo indoctrination on the superiority of Windows to other systems. Governments have the power to do things comparable to all of those. So the powers of a very powerful corporation are less than those of a fairly weak government.
In fact, when corporations set out to do abusive things, for the most part, they don't commit the big abuses themselves; rather, they subvert courts, law enforcement, and regulatory agencies to do them favors. That is, it's more efficient for corporations to subcontract the exercise of concentrated power over individuals to government, which specializes in it, than to rely on self-help.
Damn. When I made my list of political orientations, I capitalized all of them for neatness' sake, and forgot that 'Libertarian' doesn't mean the same things as 'libertarian'.
|Date:||June 20th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)|| |
I figured you were using that convention, and picked "Libertarian." I don't consider the Libertarian Party to be libertarian or have much to do with libertarianism; I consider them to be states' rights conservatives, a position at best tangentially related to libertarianism and at worst flatly contradictory to it. It's clear, for example, that Ron Paul's advocacy of giving the separate states the power to form their own policies on abortion, without federal Constitutional oversight, not only flatly violates Articles III and VI of the Constitution and section 1 of the XIVth Amendment, but is a stalking horse for taking away the right to abortion, one state at a time.
Should we conclude that small-l libertarians just can't form politically effective organizations?
|Date:||June 20th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)|| |
I think you should conclude rather that ideological visions of any sort and party politics don't play well together. I'd refer you to Jeffrey Tucker's theory of geeks and wonks
. "Politically effective" is a larger question; there are ways to be politically effective without running candidates for office. Jane Jacobs herself is something of an example. Whether libertarians have or could have such effectiveness is debatable; I think it's clear, though, that allying with conservatives has not been a productive way to pursue it.
The essay is intriguing, but I suspect that a lot of people involved in politics are mixtures of wonk and geek.
|Date:||June 20th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)|| |
Sure, but that's an inherent issue in applying discrete conceptual categories to a continuously variable underlying reality. I believe the Greeks called it sorites; English names include the Paradox of the Heap and the Paradox of the Bald Man.
Libertarianism, like socialism, attracts people out toward the geek end of the spectrum.
I had till now only heard of Jane Jacobs as the person who was part of the battle to keep Robert Moses from building a highway across lower Manhattan. I believe she was also part of a similar effort in Toronto.
Socialist. I think more significantly, I'm English, and I don't think she is known over here.
Back in the 70 when I was kinda libertarian, she was the sort of "leftist" "anarchist" we thought we could reach out to, like Paul Goodman and Ursula Le Guin. The two groups seem to have pulled farther apart since then.
GW did a lot to push some libertarians leftwards. Is it a different sort of leftwards?
In the seventies it seemed reasonable to think of two kinds of anarcho-, -communist and -capitalist (like Shea and Wilson) and assume/hope the differences were less important than the similarities.
I get the feeling that W polarized the libertarians, pushing some to "this is not what we mean by liberty" and others to "first we need stronger security to protect liberty."
|Date:||June 20th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)|| |
I don't count anybody who favored the Bush security state, or for that matter the Bush inflationary economy, as having even vague claims to be a libertarian.
Yes, and I know several people who thought of her as a friend. I think she is a profound, continuing influence in Toronto.
I'm British, and don't really fit within US political categories - last time I filled out a survey that was supposed to model the political environment I came out socialist, but I don't think that's true. Among US positions I'm probably farthest from conservatism, libertarianism and anarchism.
Jane Jacobs is well known in architectural and city planning circles, regardless of political orientation. She's also somewhat famous among archaeologists and anthropologists.