Comment 33037

By LL (registered) - website | Posted August 25, 2009 at 18:24:40

I'm going to go against the grain here. I think the city should have kept the buses in Gore, but keep the cars out. The buses have been a huge source of human presence there. I have nothing in particular against the wayward folks that hang there. I've found that they won't bother you if you don't bother them. And they certainly aren't out to hurt people's kids. But the buses have been a big source of "normal" working people in the Gore. In fact many of the "druggies" are just workers or students having a quick toke before the bus ride up the mountain.

I LOVE Victoria Park! It outshines McQuestin Park on the mountain any day of the week. But the core itself needs some green space. The city should commandeer/buy out one of the vacant lots and make a nice park right in the core.

Also, respect to all of the people who USE the public space in productive/reproductive ways. Big up the maker's market; the bicycle polo; Food Not Bombs; critical mass; the art crawl crowd; the buskers; awkward hockey; basketballers, soccer and baseball players. Oh yeah, and hackey sack (foot bag) is now being played every Sunday in the demolition parkette on King William - 2:00 pm. Where are the b-boys and b-girls these days?

Remember, it's not the space, but the social relations that take place in the space.

Now, my left-libertarian perspective on some of the problems discussed:

Let's be honest, taxes ARE a violent form of theft. But so is the exploitation and domination of workers in capitalist production/reproduction. In a free society (assuming there was still such a thing as money), people would voluntarily pay a portion of their wage as membership in a municipal commune. If money was abolished, they would collectively pool their voluntary labour to make benches, public squares, gardens etc. happen.

Why would they cooperate that way without carrots and sticks? Well the short answer is that human cooperation has never been as narrowly an instrumental, incentive-bound activity as people like A Smith claim. I would argue (and I think the anthropological record would back me up) that, given the right CULTURAL CONTEXT, voluntary cooperation can be as natural as breathing. The municipality - better yet, the neighbourhood - is a good place to start building that LIBERTARIAN (in the original sense) culture.

The long answer refers back to an earlier argument A Smith made:

"...how would closing streets off to traffic increase the net happiness for the people of Hamilton? In particular, what factors did you measure to come up with this insight? Furthermore, if not profits, what metric do you use to measure the demand for this product rather what the streets are used for currently?"

Crazy or not, this statement actually makes sense given the common assumption that use-value and exchange value are the same thing. They're not, even if most "mainstream" economics unifies them under "utility". Despite the tendency of capitalism to COMMODIFY EVERYTHING, most people still understand the basic, universally human use-value of walking in the park and would not want this experience monetized. Most people still understand the public use-value of PRODUCTIVE SOCIAL RELATIONS that good cities and towns make possible.

And, like many of the things A Smith suggests, REAL CAPITALISTS would not really want that. Public parks, education, efficient transportation and many other things - even public health care - increase the value and productivity of the LABOUR POWER that they need most efficiently. Commodifying this REPRODUCTION OF LABOUR POWER has been a real trend in neo-liberal capitalism. But I doubt it would reach the extreme of banning public parks. Not here at least.

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