the Disillusioned kid: Viva Christiania!
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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Viva Christiania!

Christiania is a hippy community in Copenhagen, Denmark. Until 1970, the area had been Ministry of Defence property, but local residents knocked the fence down in order to make use of the land. It would subsequently be taken over by hippies and squatters who set up the "Free State" of Christiania and sought to live an alternative lifestyle based on communal living and freedom. I visited Christiania during a Danish exchange trip and though it was an amazing place, although I wouldn't want to suggest that it is neccesarily a model of a utopia. Work, for instance, is apparently segregated on the basis of gender.

The community has, to a large extent, been autonomous and existed outside the influence of Danish law. This is most obvious in the availability of cannabis, openly sold from stalls along the side of streets. In recent times, however, the Danish state has sought to exert greater influence over what happens in the community. This reached new lows this week when Danish police raided part of Christiania, sealing of the "Meadow of Peace," where people live in caravans and arresting 100 people. This was apparently in order to implement new law L205, which Christianites and their supporters have been campaigning against for sometime.

I wrote last week about what I thought would be required in order to bring about fundamental social change (going beyond mere reforms). In that post I suggested that we should seek to build and defend alternative institutions. Christiania can be seen as such an institution. To be sure, as I noted above, it has its flaws and it doesn't seem to have ever been revolutionary (in the sense that its founders saw it as a step towards a post-capitalist society), nevertheless it represents a deviation from the state-dominated order, which is why it has attracted the attentions of the Danish state in this manner.

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