Correspondence

The New Age in Copenhagen

For centuries philosophers have grappled with the question of how society should be organized. The overarching issues involve the maintenance of order and the distribution of political power. While the answers to these knotty problems varied greatly from Plato to Burke, there was a belief that these concerns were essential lineaments in social organization. Even many of the 19th-century anarchists conceded as much.

However, in the late 60's youthful adherents of a new social order suspended rational judgment. They wanted a secular nirvana without the imposition of order and power. While the political legacy of the late 60's and early 70's is arguably insignificant, Denmark allowed its disenchanted free spirits to establish the "Free State of Christiana," to serve as an example of the logic of that overheated period.

At the outset, this community in the heart of Copenhagen was based on certain well-understood principles: peace, tolerance, no hard drugs, no weapons, and no cars. This was to be a "separate state" unaffected by what transpired outside its gates and unreliant on the Danish police force. With 16 years of unfettered experience under its belt, it is apparent that Christiana is a slum with all the attendant problems of any marginal urban area. Drug addiction, alcoholism, disease, violence, crime, and racism are rife. The hawking of drugs is done openly in a bazaar called Pusher Street,...

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