Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Christiania: Free Town

Christiania - Free Town is a small section of Copenhagen, not far from the city centre.

The community was established in 1971, when a group of well-organised anarchists moved into a set of disused army barrack buildings. Today, 40 years later, members of the original community - as well as 'incomers' from later generations - are still there.

Anarchy is often misunderstood. Many people perceive anarchists to be dangerous individualists who want to do whatever they want, to please themselves, all the time. That's not necessarily the case. Behind anarchism is a principle of personal responsibility: everybody has to take responsibility for his or her actions, and has responsibility, too, to the people they live with. Anarchists resist the interference of state and corporate institutions. In any society, even an anarchistic one, you still have responsibility, and Christiania operates under simple 'common law': No private cars, no weapons, no hard drugs, and no violence.

The whole area, miraculously, has managed to avoid gentrification. Around the lake are a myriad of amazing self-built houses, made from mis-matching window frames, pieces of wood, and tile. Some are better built than others. Along with resistance to state interference comes greater reliance on the self, and not every anarchist can be a great builder. Take a few steps away from the more 'notorious' parts of Christiania - and you will find something interesting and beautiful.

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