Denmark has bucked the trend of former world powers—“expand, overreach, then decay, their martial spirit dimmed, their peoples left to recount old glories and wonder at times past,” Denny Woodkin writes on Splice Today. Instead of muttering about what could have been, the Danes have developed “what is perhaps the world's best-run welfare state” and consider themselves “the happiest people on Earth.” But how?
Woodkin finds one answer in the mostly-lawless, semi-autonomous Christiana neighborhood of Copenhagen. Since a guide book told him “that open air drug markets no longer operate within the boundaries of Christiana, I must have hallucinated the aging hippie selling bags of marijuana from a tie-died street stand.” But that’s the point: Christiana is nothing more than an exhaust pipe for the perfect mechanism of Danish civilization, a happy trade off by the powers that be—'Here's your sandbox,' they seem to be saying. 'Don't go outside it.' And this tiny patch of untamed terrain throws the broader cultivation of the state into clear relief."