About a decade ago, I traveled from San Francisco to Tokyo to Amsterdam. I wondered why I felt a sense of relief when I saw people on the streets of Amsterdam going about their lives. I conjectured that it was because they are free, they’ve been free for a long time, and it shows on their faces.Having just read Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, I understand that my intuition was correct, and why. The author’s thesis is that the circumstances of creating Amsterdam and much of the Netherlands by reclaiming land from the sea necessitated cooperation for mutual benefit by strong individuals. All of Europe was owned by the feudal aristocracy or the church, but this new land wasn’t previously owned — it was created by draining marshes, building dikes, and using windmills to pump water out of wetlands. That was only the start, according to this exceedingly well-written and researched book. So much of the modern world emanated from Amsterdam: the corporation, individual liberty, civil society, the home, modern painting.(PS, I’m pretty weary of travel but am always open to invitations to speak in Amsterdam)
Bryan Alexander comments (on fb): Can we consider Amsterdam a utopian experiment that worked?
« back to books overviewAmsterdamMy new book is about a place. And it’s about an idea: “liberalism.” Liberalism has many meanings, but in its classical sense it is a philosophy based on individual freedom. History has long taught that our modern sensibility comes from the eighteenth century Enlighte…
individualism, as a theory and an ideal, is related to extreme conditions and, seemingly paradoxically, to the need to band together.
I spent a day yesterday in a conference in Amsterdam, and there is VERY GOOD NEWS: the new coalition in the city, represented by ‘wethouder’ of GroenLinks, Rutger Groot Wassink, declared a open and official commitment to make Amsterdam into a ‘city of the commons’. Many longtime commons activists were present such as Socrates Schouten and our friends from the @Commons Network (Jens)
and from twitter:
yesterday, Friday 16th, the new coalition in the city of Amsterdam, represented by ‘wethouder’ of GroenLinks, Rutger Groot Wassink, declared a open and official commitment to make it into a ‘city of the commons’.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/mbauwens/status/1063830236234752001
city as commons policy reader
common\ing et al