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The basic logic of Jane Jacobs’s work must lead an attentive reader inexorably to a libertarian view of human social relations. FULL ARTICLE by Jeff Riggenbach
Thank you, Mr. Riggenbach, for an excellent ‘biography’.
Rest assured, I will be adding Jane Jacobs’ works to my summer reading list. I just hope I can track down all of her books ! ! !
” ‘ But as for not wanting to help the poor or saying ‘let everyone stand on their own feet,’ no, I don’t believe that at all.’
So, by her own account, Jane Jacobs was not a libertarian.”
Neither was she a libertarian nor, apparently, did she understand what the term meant.
After reading his columns, I believe Jeff Riggenbach’s contribution to liberty is remarkable. His research, his tips-of-the-hat to Bohemian oddballs, sci-fi writers, regretful Bolsheviks, academics of all stripes, and hundreds of niche writers, large and small, is critical, significant and underscores not only his study and breadth, but also that liberty is indeed refined, challenged, tested, validated, via gems of these diverse scholars and authors. Thanks to Jeff’s regular mini-bios, the true libertarian tests his own foundation, considers the practicality of the framework, and that alliances exist in dusty, literary cupboards, unfortunately too often neglected. Mr. Riggenbach reminds us that scholarship and value is abundant, if you care to open the fading cabinet and look inside.
But more’s the pity that when you scratch the surface, many of these “activists” and outside-the-box thinkers veer off the track, when push comes to shove. And they’d seek the power of the state in a heartbeat to help the so-called poor.
On another comment:
“…the anarchocommunist Murray Bookchin, who at times made common cause with libertarians of our sort, praised _Cities & the Wealth of Nations_, saying that ‘it remains a lasting contribution of Jane Jacobs to have demonstrated in a very compelling way that our economic well-being depends on cities, not on nation-states.’ ”
Feh… In other words, he traded a smaller socio-political geography (the city) for the larger one, in pursuit of “our” economic well-being. Those quasi-fascists just don’t cease.
Nevertheless, good essay as always by Riggenbach, and thought-provoking.
I started reading her first book and was almost immediately turned off by it. Maybe ill try it again though.
Thanks for your comments, Franklin.
In fairness to Bookchin (and Jacobs), she conceives the earliest cities as antedating States. In effect, like James C. Scott, she sees States as having taken over previously free cities at some point in humanity’s early history. She (and Bookchin) sees cities as concensual, spontaneously orderly centers of commerce and economic growth, upon which States are parasitic growths.
On your broader point, my only hope is that my articles and podcasts will help a larger number of libertarians to see that the “Bohemian oddballs, sci-fi writers, regretful Bolsheviks, academics of all stripes, and hundreds of niche writers, large and small,” whom I often write about (along with various “true libertarians”) have, in varying degree, made worthwhile and interesting contributions to the Libertarian Tradition.
I found her book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” fascinating. There’s a story she tells about her neighborhood in New York. A man was trying to coax a little girl to go with him. What he didn’t realize is that he was slowly being surrounded by the people who lived and worked on the street–the barber, the convenience-store owner, people who lived in the apartments upstairs from the commercial establishments. Her point was that neighborhood safety didn’t depend on police patrols; it was a function of the ownership people felt for their neighborhood. And it didn’t just include people who actually resided there. Commuters who passed through and stopped to buy a paper every day were part of the neighborhood, by her reckoning. She was a great believer in open-all-night bars, because that added eyes to the “neighborhood watch”, and kept the area safe.
She goes into great detail about different neighborhood areas of Boston, and why some succeed and some didn’t, regardless of the money the city government poured into them. She explains why children playing in the streets can be safer than children playing in a park. Great book.
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