#171 Proof that Men are Not Angels

#171 Proof that Men Are Not Angels | The Christian Economist

An island in the middle of Copenhagen called Freetown Christiania has more rules than just about any place on earth, proving that men are NOT angels, and some form of government is necessary. 


“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”  That quote from James Madison in Federalist paper #51 is an appropriate introduction to today’s podcast.  In a fallen world, every organization has a control system.  Today’s podcast is a case study about a small commune that tried to live without one.  They found that they were not angels, so some exercise of power is necessary.


Christiana is an island in the middle of Copenhagen, where hippies sought to escape the power of “The man,” and live without laws.  It didn’t work.  Ginger and I only sailed by it during one of our visits.  Next time, I’ll walk across the bridge and take a closer look.  But for now, most of my information is based on the article titled 8 Things To Know About Christiania, Copenhagen’s ‘Free Town’ By Danielle Kirk.


The alternative community originally sprang up in 1971, after a group of hippies turned an abandoned military base into a home. Since then, it’s evolved into a community with almost 1000 members. 


I’m going to share about 30 ways in which Christiana confirms the fallen nature of humans by forcing their people to live under MORE powerful laws than what you find, just across the bridge in Copenhagen.

Confirming the Fallen Nature

  1. Members
    1. You may have noticed I used the term “members.”  Huh?  What does “membership” mean? To become a member, you must submit to questions by a committee.   Hold it: People make fun of Baptists for having a “committee on committees.”  So the hippies at Christiana have a higher developed committee structure than the Baptists?  When Ginger and I moved to Midlothian, TX, we didn’t have to go before a membership committee.   
  2. Discriminatory
    1. Discriminatory and non-diverse.  So, what kind of questions are asked of these potential members?  You have to think that they accept people who are only like THEM.  Isn’t that the purpose of just about ALL memberships: From the Heisman trophy to your local bridge club: One accepts only the best football players, and the other, only the best bridge players.They claim to live in a world of fairness and equality.
  3.  Fairness
    Oh my goodness.  When will these people grow up.  “Fair” is an annual celebratory event.  There is no fairness in life.  But, they attempt to find it in Christiana.  Fair to whom?  For what?  Based on what measure?  Ok, if there is an objective measure of fairness, that means they are consulting a higher being.  Because, between humans, each person has their own version of fairness.  But, I guess they’ve found one at Christiana.  Sounds like a rather religious place to me.  
  4. Equality
    This should have you thinking about the pigs in Animal Farm, who are more equal than the other animals.  And, that’s what has happened in Christiana.  First: What about the committee members who determine whether you’re good enough to join the clan?  They already are more equal than the other members.  
  5. No taxes
    Gee, that would be nice.   More on that later. 
  6. Having their own laws
    Oh, they DO have laws, just their OWN laws.  If there are no taxes, who pays for making and enforcing the laws? 
  7. Principles
    ….who have all agreed to live by a certain set of principles.”  Oh boy, here it comes.  Haven’t we ALL agreed to live by a “certain set of principles?”  We call them laws.  They call them principles.  This podcast is going to continue for a few more minutes, but I’ll make the main point now, and again later: Every group has some sort of principles.  In a fallen world, we can’t all do what we want, politically or economically.  My observation about Christiana is that they may have MORE stringent rules than the folks who live across the bridge in Copenhagen.  Let’s continue. 
  8. Secretary of State
    “This country within a city within a country is a vibrant, fun, and often controversial area that has worked with the local government to stake its claim on the land and be recognized as free.”  So, it has worked with the local government.  That means it must have something like a Secretary of State who “bridges” Christiana with Copenhagen.Quoting from the article again, “Tourists are very welcome to visit of course, but there are rules.”  Here it comes.
  9. One of the rules is zero violence.  Then, how are people kept in compliance with the rules?  What if a person refuses to follow the many rules of Christiana?   
  10. “The community doesn’t allow guns.”  Lots of communities don’t allow guns.   
  11. “It does not allow bulletproof vests.”  Hold it.  If there’s no guns, why would anyone WANT a bullet-proof vest?  And, how is the rest of the community harmed by someone wearing a bullet-proof vest?  Seems like these free-living hippies are pretty schoolmarmish when it comes to making unnecessary rules.    
  12. They don’t allow hard drugs.  Oh, so the only thing they have gained by separating themselves from Copenhagen is the use of marijuana.  That’s legal in lots of places these days.  These hippies are way behind the curve. They’re not progressive, matter of fact, they’re rather conservative.  
  13. No gang colors are allowed.  They really ARE restrictive in Christiana.  Think about it: On the Copenhagen side of the bridge, you can wear any color you want.  Matter of fact, I doubt if you can find ANY country, province, or city, who has a rule against wearing gang colors.  Do they have a clothing police?  And, what exactly ARE gang colors?  Do they hold up a color swatch to determine if your shade of orange is gang or not gang?  And, of course, they maintain a list of gang colors.  These guys spend more time maintaining their laws than just about anyplace in the world.  
  14. No stealing.  That’s not very original.  God gave that one to Moses as his #8 about 3500 years ago.  I wonder how they punish thieves since there are no taxes to pay the police, and violence is not allowed.  How did they get the land/buildings?  They stole them from the Danish government.
  15. Another rule in Christiania is to not run. You’ve GOT to be kidding.  I would think running would be a sign of joy.  But, not to the apparatchiks in Christiana.  They assume that running means there’s something to run away from, and the culture of fear is something they like to avoid.  How do people stay fit in Christiana?  
  16. No cars allowed either, everyone gets around on bikes.  They’re not allowed in Venice, Italy, either.  Might be a good idea.  But I’m guessing that many of the products consumed in Christiana are transported by trucks and cars to the bridge that leads to the enclave.   
  17. You also can’t take pictures.  Really!?  Why? Is the town full of convicts, avoiding the law?  If it’s such a peaceful, wonderful place, why would they not allow pictures?Now the article by Ms Kirk really gets humorous.  By my count, it’s right after rule #17 where the article says, “Otherwise, you’re free to do as you please!”
  18. “Smoking marijuana is a big part of the lifestyle in Christiania.”  Well, it is in many parts of the world.  No big deal.  But here’s where it gets interesting, because the article says, “Police raids are frequent;” Hold it: What police?!  Without taxes, who pays the police?
  19. Continuing, “and while police may turn a blind eye to residents sampling some weed, they won’t stand it from tourists and you can be slapped with a fine or arrested.”  That’s blatant discrimination.  You couldn’t get away with that type of overt discrimination in most parts of the civilized world.
  20. I just read, “You could be arrested.”  But apparently, without the use of violence.  I don’t know what happens if you resist. 
  21. Quoting again, “The cafes are chic.”  Cafes, what cafes?  Follow me on a thought experiment here.  If my co-author Sergiy and I walked into a café and stated that we were going to set up a café in THAT building, who would stop us?  How could the proprietor show us proof of the ownership of the building?  It belongs to the Danish military.  And if he has a lease, who signed it?  And, if I contested his lease, what court would hear the case?  How could the proprietor, who is a squatter by the way, show just cause for HIM to run a restaurant there, instead of Sergiy and I?  
  22. “The cafes sell for less than in Copenhagen.”  Well, yea, if you have no capital cost for the land nor building, and no taxes, I would think costs would be much lower.  I wonder how the competing cafes across the bridge in Copenhagen feel about this.  Doesn’t seem quite fair, does it? 
  23. The article encourages you to “Find a spot outside on a big wooden table and relax.”  Outside, in Denmark in January?  The average high temperature is 38 Fahrenheit.  And, who paid for the table?  Did it grow itself like a tree? 
  24. “You may think Christiania is hated in Copenhagen but you’d be very wrong. Many Danes view it as a successful community thanks to its values. Meditation and yoga are popular there, it’s very green and eco-friendly, a hub for artists and entrepreneurs, and a place for drug addicts to go. The last one may sound strange, but they’re accepted in Christiania (as are others who think alternatively).   Yes, you can THINK alternatively, but you can’t ACT alternatively.  If you want to do that, you need to escape this strict environment by running…..excuse me…..walking across the bridge. 
  25. They say drug addicts are able to recover in Christiana. Oh, so they are judging others by saying that there’s something wrong with being a drug addict.  Geez, they could learn some tolerance from my Baptist friends.  
  26. There’s a station for swapping and sharing goods (the rest gets recycled)…Oh yea, where?  Do they have a paper and aluminum recycling facility on the island?  Probably not.  They rely on the folks across the bridge for that, as they do so many other services.   
  27. “They gather rainwater and store it in tanks, have composting toilets in areas that aren’t connected to the sewage system.  There’s a sewage system?  How is that paid for, in a no tax environment?   
  28. “Many buildings are fitted with solar panels or windmills.”  Neither of which do any good in January.  SO let’s assume they get electricity from..  where, help me here…….across the bridge in Copenhagen.  Maybe here’s part of our answer, “There’s even a communal bathhouse that gets hot water from the solar panels in summer!”  So, are we to assume they have NO hot water the rest of the year? 
  29. OK, get ready to laugh.  “They’re committed to composting and even have ‘smell policewho go around to make sure everyone is doing it properly.”  They may be the only community in the world that police smell.  These hippies have more restrictive rules than anyplace on the planet!  Oh, and who pays the smell police?  And what power do they have to enforce their rules, since they can’t use violence? 
  30. “The community’s hippy roots have fostered a movement of caring for the planet and ways to make it work in daily life.”  Of course it works, these people have agreed to live by a colossal set of rules.  

I’ll stop at 30.  There you have it: Christiana, the “Free Town” that has more restrictive rules than perhaps anyplace on the planet.  James Madison was correct, men are not angels.  Every organization has a system of rules.

I’ve often told my class at Dallas Baptist University: You can change economic policy, but you can’t change economic law.  Economics is the study of the production and distribution of goods and services under scarcity.  Goods WILL get produced and distributed.  We can only set rules that determine HOW that happens.   






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