Christiania goes Wall Street
January 17, 2012 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Copenhagen's Christiania squatters, famed for their anti-free market ways, are selling shares in their community so they can buy it from the government. What do you get for your investment: "a symbolic sense of ownership in Christiania and the promise of an invitation to a planned annual shareholder party." As one squatter calls it, "ownership in an abstract form." According to the Copenhagen Post, after striking a deal with the state this summer, Christiania residents now need to raise 76.2 million kroner (almost $13 million) to buy the majority of the area’s properties and an additional six million kroner to rent adjoining green spaces. The first 43 million kroner (or approximately $8 million) is due on 15 April 2012. Several prominent people have purchased Christiania Shares, including Margrethe Vestager, minister of the economy and interior, and Mogens Lykketoft, president of parliament. The shares are available for purchase online (Text source)
posted by infini (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Visited, loved it (warts and all), will be purchasing a share. On the one hand it's heartening to finally see it have a relatively secure future.

On the other hand, especially given the hugely discounted price, the state should have given it as a gift or merely put it in trust with the occupants as beneficiaries though. I'm not sure why a nation state would care about $13m except as a stupid we-don't-give-in-to-hippies gesture.
posted by jaduncan at 9:44 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


cf. 'sovereign equity' aka currency: "The analogy between fiat currency and equity..."
posted by kliuless at 9:48 AM on January 17, 2012


Alternate share site link (already in English language).
posted by jaduncan at 9:53 AM on January 17, 2012


As one squatter calls it, "ownership in an abstract form."

So....charity. Which is fine, but let's call it what it is.

Christiania has about 850 residents. At a total of about $16 million, that's $18,823 per resident. I think far more good could be done in the world with that kind of money (e.g. building water wells and schools (especially for girls) in developing countries). For example, Charity Water says $5000 can build a water well for a village that supports an average of 250 people. So that $16 million could provide clean, accessible drinking water for 800,000 people.

Whatever floats your boat, I guess.
posted by jedicus at 9:57 AM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just donated. Christiania is an amazing place.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:09 AM on January 17, 2012


As one squatter calls it, "ownership in an abstract form."

So....charity. Which is fine, but let's call it what it is.

Christiania has about 850 residents. At a total of about $16 million, that's $18,823 per resident. I think far more good could be done in the world with that kind of money (e.g. building water wells and schools (especially for girls) in developing countries). For example, Charity Water says $5000 can build a water well for a village that supports an average of 250 people. So that $16 million could provide clean, accessible drinking water for 800,000 people.

Whatever floats your boat, I guess.


With all due respect to you, the individual, this is a conceptual boat I'd like to mine and sink. In the Mariana Trench.
posted by infini at 10:12 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Note: season tickets to Packers games not guaranteed.
posted by one_bean at 10:31 AM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Phony shares for a symbolic sense of ownership? I can't figure out if they're cargo culting or have decided the to hoist the Jolly Roger and join the 1% by selling unicorn farts.
posted by codswallop at 10:57 AM on January 17, 2012


It is not ideal but it is a step in the right direction.

I lived in Copenhagen for about 12 years and Christiania was one of my favourite parts of the city. It has always had its fair share of problems - but these problems were definitely exacerbated (and exploited) by politicians. I hope this'll be the end of trying to 'normalise' Christiania - that phrasing never sat easy with me.

Copenhagen needs Christiania - especially after the gentrification of Vesterbro and Nørrebro - because it continues to be a safe haven for what Danes would call "skæve eksistenser' - people who do not fit within the rather rigid definition of what passes for 'normality'.
posted by kariebookish at 12:00 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those adverse to such a commitment of owning something, and instead interested in an abstract way to rent a Brooklyn apartment, I'll give you my PayPal address if you send me a message.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:03 PM on January 17, 2012


For those adverse to such a commitment of owning something, and instead interested in an abstract way to rent a Brooklyn apartment, I'll give you my PayPal address if you send me a message.

Not to be all "you people just don't get it" but you really, really don't. Christiania means something to anarchists and anti-authoritarians worldwide, for example. Giving money to get the state off their backs - I don't need a "share" to want to do that, but if it's the only thing the government will accept, I'm down. I'd do the same, frankly, for any serious anarchist project I care about. It has nothing to do with "owning" something or being conned into believing that I "have a right" to some part of Christiania. In fact, it's the polar opposite of the "lol you're so stupid that you'll "buy" something without market value" comments going on above.

Additionally and once again, the VAST MAJORITY of people who care about stuff like Christiania aren't rubbing their hands and saying "guess I won't give any money to those stupid charities for girls now". Most of us do other political stuff, largely for free and often at some inconvenience.

It's almost as though regular folks want to be assured that anyone who cares about anything enough to give money with no expectation of return is either a hypocrite, a liar or terminally stupid. Well, we're not. Tough luck for you.
posted by Frowner at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, I just purchased my share!
posted by unknowncommand at 1:22 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Christiania means something to anarchists and anti-authoritarians worldwide, for example. Giving money to get the state off their backs - I don't need a "share" to want to do that, but if it's the only thing the government will accept, I'm down. I'd do the same, frankly, for any serious anarchist project I care about.

Asking $13 million in donations to pay off the state...I'm not sure Bakunin would approve.
posted by Skeptic at 2:10 PM on January 17, 2012


Christiania means something to anarchists and anti-authoritarians worldwide, for example.

Pretty much exactly what I meant by "Whatever floats your boat." If this is an important cause for you, then great. My point was only that it is really a spectacularly inefficient form of charity.

Additionally and once again, the VAST MAJORITY of people who care about stuff like Christiania aren't rubbing their hands and saying "guess I won't give any money to those stupid charities for girls now".

No one said one couldn't do both. The comparison to Charity Water was not to say "it's either one or the other and the Christiania supporters are making a bad choice" but rather "compared to the first charity that popped into my head, this seems an inefficient way of helping people, and it's not the choice I would make if I were looking for a way to help some folks in need."

Most of us do other political stuff, largely for free and often at some inconvenience.

Ah, there's the rub. It seems you're viewing it through a political lens, like donating to a political party, which is in a very different budgetary and mental bucket than charity for most people. I'm in no position to comment on the political value of Christiania's continued existence, and so I was looking at it from a different angle.

It's almost as though regular folks want to be assured that anyone who cares about anything enough to give money with no expectation of return is either a hypocrite, a liar or terminally stupid.

This is clearly a strawman argument, since it supposes a belief that all charity is the product of hypocrisy, deception, or stupidity, and I don't think anyone here has advanced that view, which is basically Objectivist. It clearly isn't my view or else I wouldn't have made the comparison to another charity. In fact, I find the implication to be a rather serious insult.
posted by jedicus at 2:11 PM on January 17, 2012



Asking $13 million in donations to pay off the state...I'm not sure Bakunin would approve.


Being extorted $14 million by the state in order not to displace a large and important community - that's what I see going on here. Of course, I'm an anarchist, so I believe that the squatters are entitled to the land and shouldn't have to pay at all. I don't give a good goddamn what Bakunin would have said, because I am an anarchist and not some kind of pre-programmed zealot. And honestly, I'm not that big a fan of Bakunin (there's a lot of anarchist theory out there.)

And that's the other thing that lots of folks don't seem to get - many anarchists help each other out. It's not about "asking for donations", it's about "we're comrades, your buddy stayed here when she was on her way home to visit her family back in 2008, someone from here came through your town last year and stopped at the place you volunteer". People help each other out. I help friends with rent sometimes, too. Just because they need it and I can.

Ah, there's the rub. It seems you're viewing it through a political lens, like donating to a political party, which is in a very different budgetary and mental bucket than charity for most people.

See, I don't separate things like that. (Don't generally donate to political parties, either.) If a project means something to me - if it does what I consider good in the world - and if I can afford it or find the time, I'll donate money or help out...which is why, very very occasionally, I've kicked down for a political campaign. It's the "political" mentality that I find so mystifying - like I'm donating to Christiania, for example, as some kind of clever-clever strategic move. Of course I hope that supporting anti-authoritarian projects reduces total global authoritarianism, but it's not exactly Stalinist international strategizing up here.

This is clearly a strawman argument, since it supposes a belief that all charity is the product of hypocrisy, deception, or stupidity, and I don't think anyone here has advanced that view

Given that it's absolutely bog-standard here on the blue to have people mocking the very idea of activists helping each other out just because we believe in doing so - and I've seen that trope too many times to count - I think it's a pretty standard psychological defense mechanism. Folks don't want to feel guilty, so they attack the motives of others. You see it about all kinds of stupid things - folks who don't go to the gym versus folks who do, meat eaters versus vegetarians.

And it's also a very standard rhetorical tactic which I'm sure you've encountered to say that whatever charity/activist project/volunteer thing is under discussion isn't as useful as Other Thing - usually a gesture toward the undeveloped world as sort of this ne plus ultra of immiseration, which I find a teeny bit patronizing given the track record of many Western organizations....Anyway, it's pretty standard to name some Caesar's Wife of a charitable or volunteer project as the best and most efficient in order to imply that people who support other, lesser projects don't have their priorities right because of the lack of efficiency.

I don't think that this:

Christiania has about 850 residents. At a total of about $16 million, that's $18,823 per resident. I think far more good could be done in the world with that kind of money (e.g. building water wells and schools (especially for girls) in developing countries). For example, Charity Water says $5000 can build a water well for a village that supports an average of 250 people. So that $16 million could provide clean, accessible drinking water for 800,000 people.

is intended as a purely neutral presentation of two options.
posted by Frowner at 2:33 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think that this: ... is intended as a purely neutral presentation of two options.

I didn't say it was neutral; quite the opposite. I said "The comparison to Charity Water was [meant to say] "compared to the first charity that popped into my head, this seems an inefficient way of helping people, and it's not the choice I would make if I were looking for a way to help some folks in need."" (emphasis added).

Given that it's absolutely bog-standard here on the blue to have people mocking the very idea of activists helping each other out just because we believe in doing so - and I've seen that trope too many times to count.

You're changing things around. First it was "anyone who cares about anything enough to give money with no expectation of return" now it's "activists helping each other just because we believe in doing so." For the record, however, I've got no problem with either, and I've never seen that trope here that I can think of. People might mock specific examples, but not "the very idea" of activists helping one another.

If a project means something to me - if it does what I consider good in the world - and if I can afford it or find the time, I'll donate money or help out

Well there you go. "If I can afford it." It comes down to opportunity cost, which means that you compare projects based on some metric, be it efficiency, the importance of the cause, or something else, and then select the ones you can afford to give to or help out with. So it's very strange that you're attacking me for doing what you necessarily do yourself, even if it's subconscious.

Folks don't want to feel guilty, so they attack the motives of others.

Again, I didn't attack anybody's motives. Just the opposite, in fact. "Whatever floats your boat" and "If this is an important cause for you, then great." Suggesting that a project seems like an inefficient way of helping alleviate suffering has nothing to do with whether people have good motives. I'm sure everyone involved here has fantastic motives. They are, after all, trying to help the poor and disaffected in Denmark have a place to live, which is a laudable goal. I just find the chosen method questionably expensive.

Anyway, it's pretty standard to name some Caesar's Wife of a charitable or volunteer project as the best and most efficient in order to imply that people who support other, lesser projects don't have their priorities right because of the lack of efficiency.

Yes, indeed. And that argument is tiresome when it's hair-splitting, but in this case we're talking about a factor of 1000 in terms of the number of people helped (and both projects address a basic necessity of life, so the numerical comparison is fair). We're also talking about people in Denmark versus people in the developing world. At some point a charitable effort really is inefficient enough that a comparison to other projects has value. But, as I said, if you view Christiania as being about a political principle or cause, then that's different.
posted by jedicus at 3:49 PM on January 17, 2012


Glad to see this here - I couldn't post because I am deeply involved in this cause, if not a resident of Christiania.
One thing I have only realized recently is that at the time Christiania was founded, there was a completely different perception of "government property" in Denmark. (Christiania is a former military area). The common notion back then was "government property is ours" - it belonged to all of society, and thus the argument was about what to do with our land. Conservatives hated Christiania, but they argued from the point of view of values and common good. Today, government property is seen as an economic asset, something that can be bought, sold, mortgaged etc. So the discussion now is about the value of Christiania, and what price its inhabitants should pay for it. On one hand, this makes me sad. On the other, I think if we could move so far in this direction over 40 years, well, then we can move as far in another direction over the next 40 years. The shares deal with the reality of now, and mock it.
There are lots of problems to deal with right here and now, and Christiania needs to change in order to maintain it's relevance. But the decade-long fight for survival has been the main hindrance for organic renewal and development, and now, there is an opening for new visions. Go visit! Make your own judgements.
posted by mumimor at 3:52 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Philosophical, political and economic debates aside, I have fond memories of the place from 1972 and will be "buying shares" on that basis alone. My donations to a dozen other more beneficial charities will not be affected.
posted by kozad at 4:14 PM on January 17, 2012


● ● ●
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:06 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The common notion back then was "government property is ours" - it belonged to all of society, and thus the argument was about what to do with our land.

That does not really help Christiania's case, you know. As the Copenhagen Post article points out, the state is selling the land, which is sited in a prime location in one of the most expensive cities in the world, well below market price. So, in fact, this initiative could also be understood as a state-sponsored land grab on the commons for the benefit of the happy few current residents of Christiania, who on top of that want our money to support their "anarchist, anti-authoritarian" ideals.
posted by Skeptic at 11:25 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sceptic, I'm not certain I understand your point. Apart from some years abroad, I have lived in Copenhagen my entire life. I was born in Christianshavn, the area Christiania is part of. Until I was well into my adult years, Copenhagen was a poor, even almost bankrupt city with huge abandoned areas, and the whole situation of Christiania and several other squatter-projects were created within that reality. Discussing Christiania in terms of land value is like discussing urban farms in inner Detroit in terms of land value. It's not completely irrelevant, but it is absurd.
Christiania - and other projects - have created value in Copenhagen. It has happened on the legal premise that the legal government of Denmark has permitted a social experiment on the land. The government at the time saw the land of the former "Baadsmandsstræde Kaserne" as part of our common heritage and ownership, free for us as a society to dispose of as this democratic society might wish. That a later generation chooses to understand "us", "society" and "democracy" in a different way cannot change the premise of that generation.
posted by mumimor at 2:07 PM on January 18, 2012


This is why understanding context is so critical when evaluating human behaviour in locales very different from our own.
posted by infini at 11:05 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


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