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Patrik Schumacher – architect and libertarian

One of my daily internet visits is to a site called Dezeen. Here I learn about lots that bores me, involving designers making small buildings shaped like boxes rather than ornamented, and about lots that interests me, including such things as much bigger and (to me) much more interesting buildings that are being dreamed of, built and celebrated.

On the matter of Brexit, Dezeen reported that the the overwhelming majority of “creatives”, in London and in the world generally, favoured and still favour Remain. These creatives were very angry when they learned that a majority of British voters did not share their views.

But Dezeen also had a recent link to a creative who sings a very different sort of ideological song to that sung by most of the kind of creatives whose work and opinions Dezeen reports on. I give you Patrik Schumacher:


Patrik Schumacher has written an opinion piece for Archinect, with these words at the top of it:

Brexit: a chance to roll back the interventionist state and unleash entrepreneurial creativity …

I have very little in common with the arguments of the Leave Campaign, and in particular reject the anti-immigration thrust of the Campaign. However, I welcome Brexit as offering an enhanced ability and chance to experiment with new policies that dare more economic freedom.

Later on in the piece, we read stuff like this:

I am convinced that the next prosperity potentials of our civilisation can only be explored and discovered if the straight jacket of the nanny state is gradually loosened and dismantled. (The bigger the scale of a country or block, the easier it becomes for the state to expand its scope. That’s why I favour small countries: they must keep their state action small in scope and cannot afford to erect trade barriers or impose heavy tax and regulatory burdens.) It’s time to roll back the state and for us to take the risk of giving more freedom and self-responsibility to us all, unleashing entrepreneurial creativity, organisational experimentation as well as individual aspiration and empowerment.

It’s those particular sorts of libertarian phraseology that I find so intriguing. “Roll back” the “interventionist state”. “Unleash entrepreneurial creativity”. “Nanny state”. “Heavy tax and regulatory burdens”. Above all the simple: “Economic freedom”. This guy is one of us. There really can be no doubt about it. He has been reading the same kind of stuff that Samizdata readers have read, in among training to be an architect and then working as an architect. Any libertarians who doubt the ability of libertarian ideas to spread beyond the confines of mere libertarians should read this piece, and rejoice.

Patrik Schumacher works for Zaha Hadid architects. The recently deceased Zaha Hadid was rumoured to be a very “difficult” woman to work for. Bossy. Opinionated. Highly individual in her behaviour and in her designs. I don’t know much about Hadid other than noticing when she recently died (at far too young an age for an architect). But if Patrik Schumacher was the sort of man she hired to do her bidding, I am starting to suspect that she too may have been some sort of libertarian, maybe in the closet, but maybe of the in-your-face variety.

There’s lots more I could say about this, but my basic point is: how interesting, and how encouraging.

23 comments to Patrik Schumacher – architect and libertarian

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    The way Brian describes the lady who recently died made me think instantly of Ayn Rand.

  • John Galt III

    …and there are a few Hollywood actors/actresses who are not brain dead as well.

    Remember, to be an outspoken libertarian or traditional conservative in these artsy/media industries is to cut your own throat unless you have reached a success level that allows you to speak.

    Also notice he sung all the correct Cultural Marxist notes about immigration, but he stopped at the Economic Marxist threshold which is a little safer.

  • Alisa

    Also notice he sung all the correct Cultural Marxist notes about immigration

    Or these may be his actual views on the matter, which incidentally are shared by many out-of-the-closet libertarians, including some posting and commenting here.

  • Watchman

    Why is free movement of people even considered cultural Marxism anyway? What stops free movement is government, so free movement is a triumph over government. Cultural Marxism prefers controlled movement (as in the EU having common borders and internal movement – there is an in and an out) if anything.

  • Sam Duncan

    “The bigger the scale of a country or block, the easier it becomes for the state to expand its scope.”

    Which is received libertarian wisdom, but I’m not actually convinced. When a large state entity expands its scope, it has a bigger impact on more people, and therefore makes a bigger dent in the sum total of liberty, but I’m not sure it’s really any easier to do. A smaller one can more readily convince itself that it speaks for The People, and that they want it to expand its scope. North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela aren’t exactly huge countries (Venezuela, the largest, has less than half the population of the UK). As a less extreme example, one of the worst examples of the modern regulatory state is Australia, which, while it may be a big place, doesn’t have a big population.

    Which isn’t to say I’m in favour of big countries either. I don’t really think the physical size of a state’s jurisdiction really matters very much either way in terms of liberty. Beyond certain thresholds, anyway. A smallish city state might find it hard to maintain a Soviet-style totalitarianism, but when we’re talking about the sort of regulatory irritiation of the modern West, does it really make any difference whether the population is 5 million or 500 million?

    The problem with the European Union isn’t its size; it’s the form of its government. That’s what makes it expansionary. The entire machine of EU government is stuffed full of people who think it should be bigger, and there’s nobody with any power to say otherwise.

    “I am starting to suspect that she too may have been some sort of libertarian, maybe in the closet, but maybe of the in-your-face variety.”

    She did a lot of government work. Mind you, the museum she desinged for my local council is bloody awful. Perhaps that was deliberate.

  • Umbriel

    The classic Libertarian responses to mass immigration woes is “don’t have an over-expansive welfare state that attracts ne’er-do-wells” and “don’t force cultures on people, but don’t implement policies that discourage assimilation either”. Clearly, though, there can be situations where mass influxes of displaced persons can create large pockets of impoverished, less-than-classically-liberal sorts who can overwhelm a smaller, more enlightened, native population. Complete freedom of human movement is a fine aspiration, but we’re seeing in Europe now a real clash between principle and reality.

    I’m not sure “Cultural Marxism” is really an appropriate term for what we’re witnessing, though. Marxism recognizes only economic class as an important human distinction. A true Cultural Marxist would welcome immigration, but would insist on the immigrants’ abandonment of ignorant ethnic cultures in favor of a homogenized, post-ethnic, atheistic brotherhood. What’s going on with the current “Cultural Marxists” is partly political expediency in support of the welfare state (the more people dependent on the state, the more powerful the masters of the state become), and partly a manifestation of the Guilt/Appeasement Imperative (the desire for a welfare state to both grant the prosperous absolution for the sin of wealth, and to appease the poor, lest they rise up in revolt) on an international scale.

  • mike

    Freedom of movement would be acceptable were other freedoms also respected, such as the freedom to disassociate from and discriminate against Muslims who take their religion seriously, or those freedoms arising from the right to private property including the freedom to buy firearms and train with them for purposes of self-defense. Since those and other freedoms are not respected in the UK, it is not unreasonable to argue that the UK cannot continue with freedom of movement and unrestricted immigration.

  • bloke in spain

    “I have very little in common with the arguments of the Leave Campaign, and in particular reject the anti-immigration thrust of the Campaign”

    I can never understand why the free movement of people is lumped in with the free movement of goods, services & capital. The latter three contain a balance of choice. No-one is obliged to import. There is no obligation to export.One is not obliged to take advantage of foreign provided services. Nor to provide them. One can chose whether to invest. Or whether to accept investment.
    But with free movement of people, the choice is all in one direction. One may chose to move one’s country of residence. But one gets no choice whether one accepts those who wish to move.
    Not much freedom there.

  • CaptDMO

    How odd. In the US there have been progressive calls for MORE Gub’mint,and expanded welfare,
    (Para)”That “certain” folks can be freed from the shackles of work,(and passing lower/ higher ed exams) and pursue artistic pursuits”
    I wonder how the French felt about the Free Movement of People when the “formal” German Army walked in
    step to place THEIR cultural patriotic bunting everywhere.

  • CaptDMO

    *sigh* awkward:
    …engage in artistic pursuits…

  • Rich Rostrom

    What Sam Duncan said.

    Some large countries have been traditionally on the side of liberty, e.g. the U.S. Some small countries have been totalitarian hellholes (Cuba, Albania) or brutal kleptocracies (Haiti, Equatorial Guinea).

    In the U.S., most state and local governments are honest, and more responsive than the Federal government. But when they go bad, they are much worse, and Federal intervention is often needed to clean up the mess.

    So there is no correlation visible to me between government size (horizontally speaking) and liberty.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    I am a minarchist, along the lines of Switzerland, which means that small governments should have the right to enforce border controls. So what do you mean by ‘classic’ libertarianism?

  • Rich Rostrom (uly 12, 2016 at 10:10 pm). Rich, your observations tally with the arguments in “The Federalist” (as maybe you already know). They hoped that federalism would mean the parts counteracting the vices of the whole and the whole counteracting the vices of the parts. They argued that small states were more subject to certain vices than large ones, and vice versa.

    US history contains much that proves them right – and even more that proves them right in their basic scepticism about government and the public. But you have only to look at the rest of the world to see much that also justifies their work.

  • John Galt III

    To Watchman

    Free Movement of People

    You do not understand the Libertarian philosophy at all. Let’s say you own a home. I walk in and help myself to your wine, beer food and maybe your wife. In Montana, You try that shit I will shoot you and there are no consequences to me. It’s our “castle law”. You can of course ask me in as a guest. See the difference.

    Same with countries. People from around the world are pretty much free to come to the US. They can see our National Parks, stay in our hotels, eat our food, but they must pay for it. They can ask to live here permanently as well if they go through the proper steps.

    George Soros, the Clintons and Obama want your “free movement of people” but wiser folks know exactly what that entails. Third world grifters and Muslims want free stuff and the Cultural Marxists who hate 1) Liberty 2) Freedom 3) Western Civilization 4) Christianity and Judaism 5) Israel 6) Free Markets and especially 7)Property Rights want to “transform” our countries by the importation of a new reliable voting bloc that wants my stuff, wants to kill our way of life and wants me essentially dead

    In the US, many of us aren’t fooled by the “free movement of people” crap.

    Wake up, Watchman or you personally volunteer to pay for this with your own money in your own country: try Cuba or North Korea. End of story.

  • You do not understand the Libertarian philosophy at all

    No, that would be you with your false analogy.

    Same with countries.

    Except it is not the same at all. I own property, I do not own a country. Here is the hint…

    Third world grifters and Muslims want free stuff…

    Then stop giving them free stuff.

  • Watchman


    Just as a random question, what if you invite someone in and then they help themselves to your wine, food and wife (beer is obviously a legitimate killing offence…)? An invited guest is not covered by castle doctrine (which is English common law in origin remember). Nor does castle doctrine anywhere that I’ve ever seen, including Montana, actually allow you to kill someone unless that is a proportionate response – so the intruder better have taken your beer or wife, because I doubt even in Montana is stealing your wine justification to kill someone rather than just call the police. So the analogy has a few problems.

    Free movement has to be on the terms of being a guest, because otherwise this is this little thing called invasion, which tends to cause bad feelings – see the current refugee invasion of Europe. This is important, and perhaps where people like me (not actually a libertarian due to a few quibbles over issues here and there, but generally supportive) differ from Mrs Clinton and her ilk – we are happy for everyone to come so long as they realise they are guests.

  • In the victorian age, Britain showed all who came a self-confident face, and there was no welfare state for immigrants, and not much for anyone else. There were few restrictions on free movement and we appear to have survived it.

    Today, Britain shows all who come a self-ashamed face, and there is a huge welfare state. Because everything is much more regulated, cross-border movement, though little and ill-controlled, is probably not quite as unregulated as then. Immigration is having alarming effects.

    All theory that grants the state a right to exist at all imposes a duty on it to protect citizens from external and internal threats to their lives and property. At least some classical libertarianism is OK with this, combining “as few laws as possible” with a strong “but enforce those few”. I’d call this balance common; I’ll let others say whether it is mainstream, or mainstream only in moderate libertarians, or …

    “As few laws as possible” certainly implies the state will not impede free movement – unless its practice conflicts with “but enforce those few”. Another way of saying this is that an internally-libertarian state is assumed not to need restrictions on movement across its borders, save in the specific cases of criminals and invaders, but a state that fails to practice libertarianism within its borders will not be able safely to practice free movement across them either.

  • Paul Marks

    Sounds good.

    As for freedom – there is a profound “disconnect” between human experience and what humans are taught (in school and university and so on).

    For example a young person in France knows that they are more likely to get a job in Britain than in France (because France is more regulated and the taxes on employment are higher) – yet the education system (of Britain not just of France) teaches that the “compassionate” planning and interventionism of modern France is the way to go.

    Just as every American knows that if they are on the border of South Dakota and Minnesota – heading to South Dakota is the more rational move. Yet the American education system (including many private schools) teach that the high taxes, high government spending and extensive regulation of Minnesota is the way to go.

    The practical reason of Californians leads them to leave Big Government California and go to such places as Texas and Colorado – yet the ideology they carry with them leads them to try and change these places to the Big Government place they fled from.

    As for building.

    A city such as Houston “works”.

    There are still many factories there (there are not in most American cities) – and shops, houses and places of making things, are all mixed together. Not kept far apart by the insanity of “zoning”.

    But Houston is ugly.

    It is not enough (at least not enough for the soul) for a city to work – it must also be beautiful.

    And that is where architects (at least good architects) come in.

    Offering the public beauty as well as functionality (and NO – they are not the same thing).

    Whether the public will pay for this is another matter – although beauty is often no more expensive than uglyness.

    But at least individuals and private groups should be offered the option of beauty.

  • John Galt III


    You do not live here. Trust me, if a person in Montana in his own home is threatened by an intruder, a guest or anyone we can defend ourselves. Presumably, you can also with your cricket bat. It’s just that I and most of my friends have a gun, in fact lots of them. I have (6). I am trained and have fired thousand of rounds. I have a concealed carry permit. I don’t go looking for trouble, and I don’t go to “gun free zones’ or hang around areas that are dangerous, but if shit happens the other guy will be very sorry and that gives me great comfort and security. Glad we split off from you guys 240 years ago.

    If you are in Great Britain and can’t see what the Muslims are doing with your country in cahoots with your “elites” and their border policies then you are stupid. Very stupid. Under Obama we have the same issues. That is why electing Trump is so important.

    You like it in your country and I prefer it here, thank you very much.

  • John Galt III

    Paul Marks,

    Paris is “beautiful” and it is a shit hole. Rome in 300 AD was probably “beautiful”. That worked out well. A city has to be beautiful?

    Architects? Dear God. I was born in New York City in 1947. Then the Bauhaus “architects” took over. Read Tom Wolfe’s “From Bauhaus to Our House:” and get back to me.

    Beauty to me is freedom. I would rather live in a double-wide trailer with liberty than a Beverly Hills Mansion or a $10 million home with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge in SF under Jerry Brown and his lunatic Left friends.

  • John Galt III

    Hey Paul,

    I don’t live in “beautiful” Paris but Chanel’s CEO does and he says “Paris is a nightmare now”


    Houston – my 30 year old son lived in the Santa Monica, CA with your beautiful people, perfect buildings and city ordinances and now lives in your “butt ugly” Houston. Want to take a guess 1) Which city is growing faster and 2) which city my son prefers as to its inhabitants?

    The Taj Mahal is beautiful but to get it some 80,000,000 million Hindus were murdered by the Muslim invaders. I would drop your beautiful city, beautiful building kick. I like beautiful buildings as well, but there are far more important things in this world. Dubai is spectacular I suppose, but I would take Cody, Wyoming over it any day.

  • Watchman


    I think before killing the lacernous guest you might have to ask them to desist and leave first, otherwise no judge will accept castle doctrine. It does apply (with a reasonable force qualification, which is the devil in the detail), in the UK as well. Wierdly, it applies in Muslim households and to Islamic intruders as well, as, like Montana, we don’t actually discriminate in law.

    Maybe I should point out I have Muslim friends, and they are as British as me (that is we are all mainly clued up on American culture…). There are non-integrated Muslims, but they are a small minority. In Birmingham, where I live, there are some pretty good indications that 30-50% of Muslims may have voted to leave the EU. So not sure what Muslims are meant to be doing to our borders, but I suspect if they are involved in might be the elite of the ‘Islamic community’ and not the people with whom I work and live. So if the elite is in conjunction with a section of the elite, does not that mean the elite. And presumably we are in agreement with the idea that the elite are a danger.

    And congratulations on your guns – don’t hold with them myself, but each to their own.