A circle around the free coasts 

Organized by Danish Society for Nature Conservation, Speech at Svanemølle Strand, 31 Jan 2016

Last year The Danish Society for Nature Conservation invited me to the People’s Meeting at Bornholm at around the time when the first political law interventions against our free coasts had been proposed. Today we are fighting against Venstre’s initiative to liberalize our plan laws and coastal protection. Have a look at their election proposal and plans for growth: The coasts and the landscape are being abandoned in favor of short-term interests and a heritage from earlier generations is being lost for the coming generations. But we have a democratic emergency brake. Therefore we are a group of people with support from DN, SFF, and DOF, who are working to get these law reforms, provided that they are proposed as we fear, subjected to a referendum as described in the constitution. A referendum like this will require a signature from 60 members of the Folketing no more than 3 weekdays after the law has been adopted. Now we need to make clear to our members of the Folketing that the protection of the free coasts and the open landscape is a national cause. It will not be easy and the time is short. This government works with an unheard of brutality, just have a look at the so-called “paradigm shift” in agriculture. Hence this speech. Our open free coasts and common open landscape be- long to future generations. »How fairly smiles the Danish coast« and our open landscape and nature values and we hope they should keep on smiling. Yes we need life and development all over Denmark but with democratic rules of the game.

This calls for visions of how the landscape should be developed. Because a long time the outskirts have lacked a unified plan for how agriculture, industry, settlement, energy plants and infrastructure can be made sustainable in accordance with scenic values.

We wish to discuss why it should be us, as a democracy, and not arbitrary market mechanisms, that are responsible for shaping the landscape.

With a national plan we want to create the frames for a more balanced Denmark with development in all parts of the country. The proposal from the narrow Venstre government to replace unclear plan laws with random planlessness is a sell-out of our most beautiful treasures of nature. The free coasts and the open landscape is being put on the market to the highest bidder.

The function of art has changed since the 19th century, like everything else has changed. We have become modern, we have become Europeans, we have become global, for better or for worse.

At the beginning when the national museums and the national history are founded cultural history and the national romantic artists have in many ways a common task in the new democratic nation states: To create a national identity. The painters, poets and composers of the golden age created the image of a country for the people.

The Danish landscape is the biggest sculpture we are responsible for. It has been shaped through millions of years, and in the last few centuries like the rest of the globe decisively by us, the people who live in and cultivate the landscape.

We should all take part in modelling, inventing, composing the artwork we call Denmark.

This Danish landscape has developed over thousands of years. Eventually we humans have become the main actors in this development through a net of customs, territorial battles, landscape legislation, churches, royal decrees, aristocracy, absolute monarchy, leading to the birth of the democratic nation state in the 19th century.

It is often claimed that the Danish landscape was created by agriculture and it is a fact that we are the world’s most cultivated land with 62 percent of the land under the plough. But since the beginning of the last century popular movements have emerged initiated by good citizen. From these movements nature conservations, the preservation of ancient buildings, plan laws and protection zones have been developed. And the crown jewel is our unique coastal protection. It is the free coast of the people.

A finely masked net of authorities, institutions and popular local movements have absolutely created the Danish landscape we know – until recently.

Since the liberalizing of the economy in the 80’s, the public management in the 90’s, and the 00’s where the global market forces broke forcefully through, democracy has gradually lost its function as the legitimate power in society. Today it is the market that is dominating the national economies. The citizen have turned into consumers and the whole complex of preservations, protections and plan institutions and the professional instances and authorities are systematically and increasingly called into question or overruled. In the new liberal market economy democracy is considered to be superfluous and standing in the way of its “growth” and “competition state”.

Today political visions are managed by McKinsey, Rambøll, Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs and the unregulated global financial market.

We are standing at a crossroads. In 2010 the Folketing decided that foreign capital is allowed to buy farm land. Denmark is put on the market. If TIPP, a special court of law for business companies, is realized American corporations with their army of lawyers and unlimited funds will be able to overrule any fu- ture preservation and protection.

In brief, in order to sell Denmark to the highest price they want preservations, protections and plan laws to be minimized as much as possible and the rights of citizen to be restricted as much as possible.

We have a choice for the future: Should the Danish landscape be shaped to the benefit of coming generations by democracy, legislation, popular movements, and professional institutions or should it henceforward be shaped by the global financial market?

The regime of the finance ministry has narrowed Denmark into exclusively what can be measured and weighed. All that is valid to this world of the spreadsheet is what gives hard currency at the bottom line. Away with the Art Academy, art museums, orchestras, free research, humanists, the free Danish coasts, nature and our open landscape.

But language is not reality. Language is an image of reality or language represents reality. This means that the models of the finance ministry neither are reality but a very narrow understand- ing of the world: that only industry, agriculture, fishing, and the financial sector contribute to the gross national product, so that everything else, including nature that cheap filth, is expenses.

In this system world of the administrations’ digital algorithms, professionals, researchers, artists, and nature organizations are thought of as irrelevant, disturbing elements, and for the last 10 years, this political administrative segment has become directly aggressive towards any substantiated professional critique and any professionally based proposal.

Not until the day that the democracies see sense and rein- state the individual citizen as society’s proper capital and re- ward companies that create solid sustainable production and workplaces will nature’s great qualities stand a chance.

The society that emancipates the individual’s creative potential is the society that seizes the opportunities of the future. Nevertheless, it takes growth, growth, growth – what kind of growth is not to be discussed.

The kind of growth that neoliberalism talks of is to produce a lot of junk that the world would have been better without, which no one needs, for it to be sold expensively and consumed and thrown away.

We are supposed to fill our fields with more heavy metals, medicinal residue, pesticides, phosphorus, resistant bacteria, and spread ammonia that destroys our soil for the future, in order to produce inedible meat abundantly, which makes us ill and consumes enough crops to feed half of Africa.

The free market is good for many things but not for everything in the world, not for the sky or for nature.

The growth should not be a malignant tumor on the earth. We should discuss democratically what kind of growth. The growth should be improving and enriching and be thought of in terms of entireties and future times.

Moreover, the spreadsheet of the ministry of finance is lying; the arts, free research, humanists, culture, nature, our coasts, our diversity of citizens are the biggest contributors to the gross national product in the long term.

The new narrow government and its just as narrow majority has declared an ideological war against environment, nature, culture, art and free research. We have to respond to this war with love, insight, knowledge, enlightenment, truth and as such the picturesque. We do not want a future with more competition state and absurd commercial freedom of speech in order to exploit each other and our shared globe. We want freedom, equality, fraternity and the right to believe, think and speak freely. The rest is silence.