Citizenship, after not thinking about it for a while, feels like something we’re all thinking about quite a lot these days. In the words of Hannah Arendt, citizenship is the right to have rights. All of your rights essentially descend from your citizenship, because only countries will protect those rights.
Benevolence isn’t inefficient and I’m a big fan of benevolence. It’s just that it’s not enough. It’s okay for a group of twenty-five or fifty people where everyone knows everyone. But when you have 300 million in the US or 7 billion in the world, if we were self-sufficient and we had to produce everything for ourselves we’d all die, or 99% of us would die. So we have to cooperate with each other. But the only way to cooperate with each other in such large numbers is through markets.
My thinking is how do we design systems that provide for every aspect of our humanity? How do we design a city that cares for all of our needs? You know it’s not just thinking about shelter, but it’s thinking about our food and our air and so, obviously the types of industry we have are very different, because we have to make sure that our air and our water is clean. And that our food is readily available, and that we have spaces for contemplation and reflection. And that we have places for communing with each other.
When the public cannot prove that the oil company is going to cause damage, then we’re not allowed to say, “Nevertheless, the risk is not acceptable.” So we have turned it over, the decision, to the expert. We have taken it out of the hands of the community. And then when we say we want community input, we hold a public hearing, and the experts sit up at a table. And then the grandmother who does not have a graduate degree, she’s not allowed to say, “Here’s what I’ve seen. Here is what’s happened in my community. And that’s not acceptable.” Her view is not taken because she’s not an expert. And so we’ve taken away the right for self determination and for community determination.