chapter  5
12 Pages

From Justice Planning to Commons Planning

ByPeter Marcuse

Just city thinking contributes to strengthening the normative claim of urban planning, which is badly needed in the current period of pragmatism and retreat. Yet the call for distributive justice is a necessary but not sufficient aspect of such a normative pitch. It fails to address the causes of injustice, which are structural and lie in the role of power. The jingle above suggests the problem: justice requires the punishment of the thief, but does not prevent theft nor protect the continued functioning of the common. The common represents a whole system of property rights and production relations, not simply equality of use. It suggests a model of the desired city, which should not be a city with only distributional equity, but one that supports the full development of human capabilities for all. That requires more than Justice Planning; it requires Commons Planning. But the discussion should not be about the definition of imaginary utopias. It should rather be used as a way of raising concretely the structural issues that underlie the creation and exercise of power in social relationships, power that both produces distributional injustices and more broadly inhibits the attainment of a good, or humane, or just city.