A Sort of Freedom

Social justice would consist in the balance between freedom and law, between rights and the duties which would affect what individuals got in the way of increased values and rights they also rendered back in the way of increased service to society. I suppose, in a general way, anyone who admitted there was any ethics to the question at all would have to admit that it would have to be found in some such equation between benefits received from society and benefits conferred to society. (John Dewey, Lectures on Ethics, 1900 – 1901)

Some Australian visitor to Berlin has mentioned that during a week’s stay in the German capital he hasn’t seen a cop. The only officer he managed to find was a parking inspector. From the article appeared in Culture column of Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, the reader may learn that there is not many police or surveillance cameras in Berlin compared to other major cities. According to the article, England has some 4.2 million surveillance cameras – equating to one for every 14 people – and most can be found in London, while in Berlin such cameras barely exist, and not because the government can’t afford them. It seems that the locals do what they want – within limits, of course – practicing a strange sort of self-governance.

People freely drink alcohol on the streets and in the subway, successfully carry on “illegal” parties in public parks, get nude in said parks, smoke dope wherever they like, sell food and drink without a license, or open unauthorized bars in their apartments, seemingly with the tacit acceptance of the law.

Someone may be dismayed by all this liberty. It’s as if the people can be trusted.

A quiet read in the sun By canonsnapper | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

A quiet read in the sun By canonsnapper | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Source: Berliners play by their own rules | Culture column | Deutsche Welle

Image: A quiet read in the sun | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

P.S. One Flickr member commented on the photo: “… Can someone sunbathe stark naked in Berlin? In what seems to be a public park? Without getting arrested? This is extraordinary…” Another answered: “This is BERLIN!

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