Do you think it's possible to have a city (like proper big size city) that is sustainably ungoverned?
I think no, but I think that's another reason not to have cities -- which pains me to say, since I just can't get enough of that thrilling hustle n bustle.
mindforgedmanacles wrote (edited )
I couldn't think of one that could be ecologically sustained at a large size, let alone one that could be ungoverned.
John Michael Greer suggested quite a few years ago that pre-colonial Shanghai had as many as 1.5 million people that were sustained by intensive rice agriculture from immediately-surrounding regions, and Tenochtitlan likely had at least 200,000 people sustained by its chinampas. These examples might not bode well for the future, being that both of these cities were governed by states and existed on a planet with its biosphere remaining relatively intact, in the relatively benign climatic conditions of the Holocene.
All of this being said, if humans even manage to survive the next few hundreds of thousands of years of climatic chaos I feel like new cities will be where whatever states manage to persist, or for new ones to arise. Perhaps Graeber and Wengrow will be proven correct, and some of these cities will manage to throw off the shackles of domination. Unless cultural tendencies keep these urban forms within the carrying capacities of their landbase, they will send tendrils out to hinterlands and attempt to dominate their neighbours to sustain their artifice. It's a tale as old as civilization.
So like, all my self-indulgent rambling aside... I'd say that maybe it could work on a scale with no more than a few thousand people, depending on if they've managed to find some exceptionally fertile river valley or are doing to their landbase what many indigenous peoples of the Amazon did to their soil (making terra preta, and the like). But at a scale of millions? You need global trade and vast systems of exploitation to keep the thing running for a single day, let alone a single lifetime.