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With Detroit’s Bankruptcy, Anarchists Have Begun Project “Free Detroit” – Starting a Community
by Ezra Van Auken
The city of Detroit isn’t looking too pretty to date. On July 18th as many know, Detroit filed for bankruptcy after falling an estimated $20 billion in debt to over 100,000 creditors. Due to the inability for the city government to provide for goods and services it once could, common emergency calls are questionable on reply, police hours have been cut back, and ambulance and fire services are not completely reliable. Other services such as education and social benefits from the state-run workplace are showing decline as well.
With much of the city in disarray and literally moving away, the cost of living has gone down dramatically with housing prices in some cases reaching only a single dollar. Taking advantage of the opportunity to cash in on cashless houses, Michigan market-anarchists from the “Michigan Peace and Liberty Coalition” are coming together to put “theory into reality” when it comes to free markets. The group has deemed the project “Free Detroit” and they mean business, literally.
In their plans, coalition members believe they’ll be purchasing an estimated five blocks of property, whether it is the individual who pays for the house and lives there or someone who buys it merely to invest in the idea. Katie Testa, an active member in MPLC and participant in Free Detroit, contacted The State Weekly, telling us that there’s been a tremendous amount of support towards the project. Testa also said many entrepreneurial spirits are joining in on the project, as they see Free Detroit as a way to explore anarchy.
Testa explained that part of having well-aligned market-anarchists to “utilize their own unique skills and abilities” will result in providing goods and services that city officials can no longer promise. Part of what Free Detroit members hope to provide is food production, security, water collection, education, construction, communications, child services and many others – through agorism, without any government intervention. The Michigan native told TSW that her hopeful role would be educational services.
“I have connected with a few other individuals who are interested in founding a free school in alignment with meeting the unique needs of each individual child involved while honoring their autonomy and curiosity,” bringing up the idea of “unschooling” in a group setting. In addition, Testa told TSW that a dispute resolution and mediation service would inspire her as well, looking towards solving community problems through a win/win situation and not a punishment/reward model – calling that the status quo.
The State Weekly got in touch with Rob Bert as well, who is an active member for Free Detroit. Bert told TSW that support for the market-anarchist approach has been worldwide with true consideration online and idea sharing. Asking Bert how a community-based anarchy inside a government-run city would work, regarding conditions, Bert replied, “Literacy programs, job opportunities through privately owned farms and home renovation, extensive permaculture development to feed the hungry,” and other outreach programs.
Without setting the bar too high, Bert noted, “I feel that fundamental concerns like security, blight, food production, and other immediate issues will need to first be taken care of before longer term services like education cooperatives can flourish.” The Free Detroit organizer sees this opportunity as a way for mutual cooperation and understanding as a community to arise, which in the future could only bring market-anarchist qualities, to a place where Free Detroit members say it’s needed.
Boiling down to it, what Free Detroit hopes to prove to Detroit, the nation and apparently the world, is that free market enterprise, voluntary actions and mutual cooperation are the laying foundations of a free and prosperous society. Organizers of the project have met in Detroit recently to construct and brainstorm their plans going forward.