22 August 2005

Enforcement of communities

The deputy mayor recently encouraged residents to resolve their own problems by talking together, rather than asking for intervention by the Council or the courts. This is now becoming expected of residents. People are being forced into communities which negotiate their own rules.

“All the people around here are nice, except you.”

Totalitarian government systems use local committees to enforce conformity with the “majority”. Deviation is not tolerated. Modern urban societies however tend to break down traditional relationships based on family and community. These are replaced with money-mediated relationships. Paid public organisations make laws and regulations which establish norms of behaviour. Neighbourhood bullying and the rights of the toughest do not belong to such a system.

Regulation of neighbourhoods needs to be distinct from personal relationships.

Local governments will try to save money by delegating their obligations but they have to avoid the civilised variations on lynching which are not uncommon in local communities.

A local community may decide that they all want to wash their cars or clear all the trees. But it is only an overarching and informed authority which can develop the larger perspective to control these activities to prevent the loss of all trees and the depletion of scarce water.

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