Past and present anarchist communities

From Academic Kids

Template:Anarchism This is a list of past and present anarchist communities.

Anarchists since their start have been involved in a wide variety of social, worker, and liberation struggles. While there are only a few examples of large scale "anarchies" that have come about from anarchist revolutions, there are quite a lot of examples of societies being created through anarchist principles without large anarchist movements. In fact, in recent years, a global growth in "anti-authoritarianism", (that is, anti-state, anti-capitalist), has lead to the creation of various social movements that are striving for a world very much like that envisioned by anarchists. As more and more people in various communities decide to organize their world under principles of self-management and mutual aid, cooperation and direct democracy, more and more anti-authoritarian and anarchist systems continue to crop up.

See also Anarchism

Historical examples of societies successfully organized according to anarchist principles

In recent history there have been numerous instances of collapse of state authority, sometimes prompted by war but also often due to implosion of the state. In some cases, state collapse is followed by lawlessness, rioting, looting and, if disarray lasts long enough, warlordism. Although such societies are often described as anarchy, they are not organised according to anarchist principles.

However, there are instances in which a society peacefully organizes itself without a government or other form of centralised power, along philosophical anarchist lines. A functioning anarchy would then be a society maintaining stability and civil society without hierarchies. There are some examples, usually small and/or short-lived (many were overrun by outside forces), which are considered successful anarchies in this sense.

Icelandic Commonwealth (930-1262)

Anarcho-capitalists cite this as an example of society where police and justice were guaranteed through a free market. They also cite the law merchant, international trade law, some traditional justice systems (as in Somalia) and other historical examples of order happening outside of government (and sometimes against government). Most anarchists reject the claim that there is anarchim in Somalia, given that there exist proclaimed states who are governed by local war-lords. Further many anarchists contend that anarcho-capitalist communities are not truly anarchistic in nature, and that the "anarcho-" part of the name is a misnomer.

Libertatia (1670's-1690's)

Libertatia was a free colony, forged by pirates, under the leadership of Captain Misson in the late 1600s. It is said to have consisted of an enclave within south Madagascar and lasted for about twenty five years. The Pirate Utopia's motto was "for God and liberty," and its flag was white, in contrast to a Jolly Roger. They were libertarian as well as Christian, waging war against oppressive states and lawmakers, attacking their ships, sparing prisoners, and freeing slaves. They called themselves Liberi, and were likely anarcho-communist.

Holy Experiment (Quaker) Pennsylvania (1684-1691)

When William Penn left his Quaker colony in Pennsylvania, the people stopped paying quitrent, and any semblence of formal government evaporated. The Quakers treated Indians with respect, bought land from them voluntarily, and had even representation of Indians and Whites on juries. According to Voltaire, the Shackamaxon treaty was "the only treaty between Indians and Christians that was never sworn to and that was never broken." The Quakers refused to provide any assistance to New England's Indian wars. Penn's attempt to impose government by appointing John Blackwell, a non-Quaker military man, as governor failed miserably. (Cf: "Conceived in Liberty - Vol. 1" pp. 402-411, 495-506, by Murray Rothbard.)

Whiteway Colony (1898-present)

Whiteway Colony in the Cotswolds near Stroud, Gloucestershire was set up in 1898 and still exists today. Though it no longer has an explicitly anarchist outlook, it still retains a flavour of its roots and many of its residents are both aware, and proud of its origins. Today the traces of its anarchist roots can be seen in the communal facilities such as the playing field, hall and swimming pool built and used by residents, and in the way the governance of the community is still carried by general meeting of all residents.

Spanish revolution (1936-1939)

Main article: Spanish Revolution

In 1936, against the background of the fight against fascism, was a profound libertarian revolution throughout Spain.

Much of Spain's economy was put under worker control; in anarchist strongholds like Catalonia, the figure was as high as 75%, but lower in areas with heavy Socialist influence. Factories were run through worker committees, agrarian areas became collectivized and run as libertarian communes. Even places like hotels, barber shops, and restaurants were collectivized and managed by their workers. George Orwell describes a scene in Aragon during this time period, in his book, Homage to Catalonia:

I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life – snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc. – had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master.

The communes were run according to the basic principle of "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," without any Marxist dogma attached. In some places, money was entirely eliminated. Despite the critics clamoring for maximum efficiency, anarchic communes often produced more than before the collectivization. The newly liberated zones worked on entirely libertarian principles; decisions were made through councils of ordinary citizens without any sort of bureaucracy. It is generally held that the CNT-FAI leadership was at this time not nearly as radical as the rank and file members responsible for these sweeping changes.

In addition to the economic revolution, there was a spirit of cultural revolution. Oppressive traditions were done away with. For instance, women were allowed to have abortions, and the idea of free love became popular. In many ways, this spirit of cultural liberation was similar to that of the "New Left" movements of the 1960s.

Ukraine and the Makhnovist movement (1918-1921)

In March 1918 Russia (led by the Bolsheviks) signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to pull Russia out of the First World War. The Treaty gave most of the Ukraine to the German and Austro-Hungarian empires. This was done without consulting the inhabitants. Various insurgence groups arose, including the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of the Ukraine, led by the anarcho-communist Nestor Makhno. They won popular support due to their attacks on the Austro-Hungarian puppet-leader Hetman Skoropadsky and the Nationalist Petliurists.

Although the movement was forced to spend great energy and resources on fighting off the invaders, they still managed to carry out a social revolution according to the principles of Anarchism.

It seemed as though a giant grate composed of bayonets shuttled back and forth across the region, from North to South and back again, wiping out all traces of creative social construction. [Arshinov]

The Makhnovists aimed for a true social revolution in which the working classes (both urban and rural) could actively manage their own affairs and society. As such, their social programme reflected the fact that oppression has its roots in both political and economic power and so aimed at eliminating both the state and private property. At the core of their social ideas was the simple principle of working-class autonomy, the idea that the liberation of working-class people must be the task of the working-class people themselves. This vision is at the heart of anarchism and was expressed most elegantly by Makhno:

Conquer or die -- such is the dilemma that faces the Ukrainian peasants and workers at this historic moment . . . But we will not conquer in order to repeat the errors of the past years, the error of putting our fate into the hands of new masters; we will conquer in order to take our destinies into our own hands, to conduct our lives according to our own will and our own conception of the truth. [quoted by Peter Arshinov, The History of the Makhnovist Movement, p. 58].

Around Gulyai-Polye (Nestor Makhno’s birthplace) several communes sprang up. Several regional congresses of peasants and workers were organised. A general statute supporting the creation of 'free soviets' (elected councils of workers', soldiers' and peasants' delegates) was passed, though little could be done towards its implementation in much of the Ukraine because of the constantly changing battlefront.

The Makhnovist movement consisted almost entirely of poor peasants and in contradiction to the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks the Makhnovists were very popular. Wherever they came, they were enthusiastically greeted by the population, who provided food, lodging and information on the enemy. The Bolsheviks and Whites relied on terror, imprisoning and killing thousands of peasants.

It is rare for a group of anarchists to be named after an individual. This occurred because the movement, although inspired by Anarchism, contained few people who had solidly defined their anarchist views. The movement encouraged learning and political discussion, but most combatants and supporters still called themselves Makhnovists and the name stuck.

The Makhnovist movement was quite a threat to the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks clung to the idea that the “masses” were unable to carry out a social revolution on their own and perform self-management. This was proven wrong by the Makhnovist movement, prompting Bolshevik attacks.

Even in the military area it seemed that the anarchist answer was superior. The Makhnovists defeated on several occasions armies up to 30 times their size, and had great morale. The army was organised according to three main principles:

Voluntary enlistment meant that the army was composed only of revolutionary fighters who entered it of their own free will.

The electoral principle meant that the commanders of all units of the army, including the staff, as well as all the men who held other positions in the army, were either elected or accepted by the insurgents of the unit in question or by the whole army.

Self-discipline meant that all the rules of discipline were drawn up by commissions of insurgents, then approved by general assemblies of the various units; once approved, they were rigorously observed on the individual responsibility of each insurgent and each commander."


The autonomous Shinmin region (1929-1931)

The apex of Korean anarchism came in late 1929 outside the actual borders of the country, in Manchuria. Over two million Korean immigrants lived within Manchuria at the time when the Korean Anarchist Communist Federation (KACF) declared the Shinmin province autonomous and under the administration of the Korean People’s Association. The decentralized, federative structure the association adopted consisted of village councils, district councils and area councils, all of which operated in a cooperative manner to deal with agriculture, education, finance and other vital issues. KACF sections in China, Korea, Japan and elsewhere devoted all their energies towards the success of the Shinmin Rebellion, most of them actually relocating there. Dealing simultaneously with Stalinist Russia’s attempts to overthrow the Shinmin autonomous region and Japan’s imperialist attempts to claim the region for itself, the Korean anarchists had been crushed by 1931.


Examples of revolts and uprisings with anarchist qualities

Instances of anarchist and anti-authoritarian systems of operation during periods of uprisings and revolts against authoritarian governments.

Israeli Kibbutz Movement

The Kibbutz movement was an outgrowth out of socialist strands of the Zionist Movement, many of which stressed Arab-Jewish cooperation. The movement revolved around anarchist principles of non-hierarchy, self-management of production, and direct democracy. The early kibbutz collectives could be seen to be following the doctrine of, "...from each according to ability, to each according to need". New people joining the collective farms, however, were expected to give up most of their assets to the greater whole.

"... a voluntary collective community, mainly agricultural, in which there is no private wealth and which is responsible for all the needs of its members and their families." (Encyclopedia Judaica, 1969)
" organization for settlement which maintains a collective society of members organized on the basis of general ownership of possessions. Its aims are self-labor, equality and cooperation in all areas of production, consumption and education." (Legal definition in the Cooperative Societies Register)

The early kibbutzim were examples of a closely-knit egalitarian community, based on common ownership of the means of production and consumption, where all, conferring together, made decisions by majority vote and bore responsibility for all. Decisions were generally made during general assembly dinners, and direct democracy was used to come to consensus. In discussions, which often continued late into the night, members would decide how to allocate the following day's work, guard duties, kitchen chores and other tasks, as well as debate problems and make decisions. Beyond farm land and dining halls, many centers included offices, sports areas, libraries, and entertainment areas.

When kibbutzim were smaller, social and cultural life was characterized by togetherness and being "one big family". This found expression in the high involvement of members in planning, organizing and carrying out activities, which ranged from campfires and nature walks to choirs and folk dancing. Each kibbutz appointed a cultural director to plan and coordinate events.

After the creation of the state of Israel, the kibbutz movement began to become much more hierarchal and wage-labor based. Ideas of egalitarianism still existed, but became seen as not as important. To this date however, hundereds of thousands of people have existed and worked in worker-self-managed kibbutz farms.

Italian Factory Occupations and Councils

After the First World War, Europe’s working class went on a massive radicalisation process. Union membership exploded with strikes, demonstrations and uprisings increasing with it. Italy was no exception. Its workers were angry with the fall-out from the war and were getting increasingly militant. In Turin, and all across Italy, a rank ‘n’ file workers’ movement was growing which was based around ‘internal commissions’. These were based on a group of people in a workshop with a mandated and recallable shop steward for every 15-20 workers. The shop stewards in one factory would then elect their ‘internal commission’ which was recallable to them. This was known as the ‘factory council’, and is a structure of direct democracy practiced and proposed by anarcho-syndicalists, (and today through spokescouncils by modern day anarchists).

By November 1918, these commissions had become a national issue within the trade union movement and by February 1919, the Italian Federation of Metal Workers (FIOM) won a contract to allow the commissions in their workplaces. They then tried to transform these commissions into councils with a managerial function. By May 1919, they “were becoming the dominant force within the metalworking industry and the unions were in danger of becoming marginal administrative units.” (Carl Levy, Gramsci and the Anarchists) Though these developments happened largely in Turin, this militancy swept Italy with peasants and workers seizing factories and land. In Liguria, after a breakdown in pay talks, metal and shipbuilding workers occupied and ran their plants for four days.

During this period, the Italian Syndicalist Union (USI) grew to 800,000 members and the influence of the Italian Anarchist Union (20,000 members plus Umanita Nova, its daily paper) grew accordingly. Welsh Marxist, Gwyn Williams says clearly in his book Proletarian Order that the “Anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists were the most consistantly…revolutionary group on the left…The syndicalists above all captured militant working-class opinion which the socialist movement was utterly failing to capture.” Anarchists were the first to suggest occupying workplaces. Errico Malatesta wrote in Umanita Nova in March 1920 “General strikes of protest no longer upset anyone…We put forward an idea: take-over of factories…the method certainly has a future, because it corresponds to the ultimate ends of the workers’ movement”.

Obviously, this militancy was going to provoke a reaction from the bosses. Bosses organisations denounced factory councils for encouraging “indiscipline” amongst workers and asked the government to intervene. The state backed the bosses, who began to enforce existing industrial regulations. The big showdown, however, was in April. When several shop stewards were sacked at Fiat, the workers staged a sit-in strike. The bosses responded with a lockout which the government supported by deploying troops and placing mounted machine gun posts outside the factory. After two weeks on strike, the workers decided to surrender. The employers then responded with the demands that the FIOM contract should be re-imposed along with managerial control. These demands were aimed at destroying the factory council system and the workers of Turin responded with a general strike in defence of it. Workers called on marxist and socialist unions and parties to spread the strike, but they refused, and the anarcho-syndicalist groups were the only ones to act. In the end, control was given back to the bosses with the help of authoritarian socialist groups, and many of the main anarchist organizers were arrested.

Hungarian Revolution (1956)

Main Article: 1956 Hungarian Revolution

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 can be seen as an excellent example of a functioning anarchy, perhaps even of successful communism. From October 22, 1956, Hungarian workers refused to obey their managers or their government, in the face of authoritarian Stalinist rule. Claiming sovereignty for their own workers' councils they organized economic, military and social production on an increasing scale. An example of the anarchic social organization was that vast sums of money were freely donated for injured revolutionary fighters, and that this money was left unattended in the street for days at a time. Peasants supplied the workers with food on a voluntary basis. Between October 22 and December 14 Hungary's economy and society was governed by the democratic opinion of workers councils and voluntary associations.

These councils constantly increased in scope and depth, eventually forming a Central Workers Council of Greater Budapest (CWC-GB), with intellectual and student associations affiliated to the body. The attempts to form a national Workers Council were crushed by Soviet military violence. The workers councils fought off one invasion by the Soviet Union between October 23 and 28, and fought a second invasion to an armistice of exhaustion between November 3 and November 10. After this time the Soviet Union negotiated directly with the Workers Councils. However, arrests of the primary and reserve leaderships of the CWC-GB, and massive reprisal executions and deportations of Hungarian revolutionaries lead to voluntary dissolution of the CWC-GB as it was no longer able to uphold its aims and ideals. Sporadic resistance by Hungarian revolutionaries and workers continued until mid 1957. Only one self-proclaimed anarchist, the Marxist playwright Julius Hay (Hay Gyulia), was involved in organizing the revolution. Most revolutionary Hungarians adopted their own "anarchist" way of organizing spontaneously.

Kwangju Uprising (May, 1980)

Events in Kwangju unfolded after the dictator of South Korea Park Chung-Hee was assassinated by his own chief of intelligence. In the euphoria after Park's demise, students led a huge movement for democracy, but General Chun Doo-Hwan seized power and threatened violence if the protests continued. All over Korea, with the sole exception of Kwangju, people stayed indoors. With the approval of the United States, the new military government then released from the frontlines of the DMZ some of the most seasoned paratroopers to teach Kwangju a lesson (see Gwangju Massacre). Once these troops reached Kwangju, they terrorized the population in unimaginable ways. Soldiers beat students, killing many. Bodies were piled into trucks, where soldiers continued to beat and kick them. By night the paratroopers had set up camp at several universities.

As students fought back, soldiers used bayonets on them and arrested dozens more people, many of whom were stripped naked, raped and further brutalized. One soldier brandished his bayonet at captured students and screamed at them, "This is the bayonet I used to cut forty Viet Cong women's breasts [in Vietnam]!" Despite severe beatings and hundreds of arrests, students continually regrouped and tenaciously fought back. As the city mobilized the next day, people from all walks of life dwarfed the number of students among the protesters. [The May 18 Kwangju Democratic Uprising, p. 127] This spontaneous generation of a peoples' movement transcended traditional divisions between town and gown, one of the first indications of the generalization of the revolt.

People fought back with stones, bats, knives, pipes, iron bars and hammers against 18,000 riot police and over 3,000 paratroopers. Although many people were killed, the city refused to be quieted. On May 20, a newspaper called the Militants' Bulletin was published for the first time, providing accurate news — unlike the official media. At 5:50pm, a crowd of 5,000 surged over a police barricade. When the paratroopers drove them back, they re-assembled and sat-in on a road. They then selected representatives to try and further split the police from the army. In the evening, the march swelled to over 200,000 people in a city with a population then of 700,000. The massive crowd unified workers, farmers, students and people from all walks of life.

Cars were taken from the government, and were now being used by the people. In the heat of the moment, a structure evolved that was more democratic than previous administrations of the city. Assembling at Kwangju Park and Yu-tong Junction, combat cells and leadership formed. Machine guns were brought to bear on Province Hall (where the military had its command post). By 5:30pm, the army retreated; by 8:00pm the people controlled the city. Cheering echoed everywhere. Although their World War II weapons were far inferior to those of the army, people's bravery and sacrifices proved more powerful than the technical superiority of the army. The Free Commune lasted for six days. Daily citizens' assemblies gave voice to years-old frustration and deep aspirations of ordinary people. Local citizens' groups maintained order and created a new type of social administration - one of, by and for the people. Coincidentally, on May 27 — the same day that the Paris Commune was crushed over a hundred years earlier — the Kwangju Commune was overwhelmed by military force despite heroic resistance. Although brutally suppressed in 1980, for the next seven years the movement continued to struggle, and in 1987 a nationwide uprising was organized that finally won democratic electoral reform in South Korea.

Situationist and Worker/Student Occupation Movement (May, 1968)

Following months of conflicts between students and authorities at the University of Paris at Nanterre, the administration shut down that university on May 2, 1968. Students at the University of the Sorbonne in Paris met on May 3 to protest the closure and the threatened expulsion of several students at Nanterre. Prominent student activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit rose to the limelight. Police were called in and finally prevailed, but only after arresting hundreds of students.

On Monday, May 6, the national student union and the union of university teachers called a march to protest the police invasion of the Sorbonne. More than 20,000 students, teachers and supporters marched towards the Sorbonne under red and black flags, still sealed off by the police, who charged, wielding their batons, as soon as the marchers approached. While the crowd dispersed, some began to create barricades out of whatever was at hand, while others threw paving stones, forcing the police to retreat for a time. The police then responded with tear gas and charged the crowd again. Hundreds more students were arrested.

High school students started to go out on strike in support of the students at the Sorbonne and Nanterre on May 6. Student Occupation collectives, general assemblies, and committees started to take over the Sorbonne, the teachers and whole system was attacked, and the church was looked upon with contempt. The use of vandalism and posters as a way of communication and propaganda became one of the main uses of distributing information during the revolt. General Assemblies at the Sorbonne were carried out every night, (generally, sometimes waiting for marches, etc), and students volunteered or elected various groups into action collectives that carried out various tasks. The people within the various groups had to be re-elected at various times and could be recalled. One of the most influential of the groups of students was the Enragers, who also worked directly with the Situationist International (SI), which was a autonomous Marxist group that had much of an organizational view like that of anarcho-syndicalism. Situationism rejected the state, and all hierarchal organization. It had an expanded vision of Marx's theories on the alienation created by capitalist society on workers and consumers. Although Situationists made up only a small amount of people involved with the revolt, their ideas and forms of organization would spotlight them as a critical group.

Soon, wildcat strikes took over many French factories in solidarity with the student strikers, and went against the wishes of the labor leaders, who were under Stalinist (Communist Party), control. Literally millions of workers were on strike, occupied their factories, and a social revolution began. Workers' councils were formed on factory floors (councils generally meaning large assemblies of all workers without a hierarchy), and began to make contacts and networks with the student assemblies. "Committee for the Maintenance of Occupations", (which included Enragers and Situationists), grew out of the student assemblies at the Sorbonne, and worked to carry out occupation of buildings, help with various workers strikes, and produced massive amounts of propaganda, most of it advocating for the creation and power of the workers councils and self-management. Goods and services were traded and shared, money began to disappear to some extent, and direct democracy, and the creation of councils of students and workers carried out decisions along with general assemblies which used to be done by the state and the authoritarian unions. Militant resistance to the police, capital, (including the periodic destruction of police cars and vans, and the sacking of a stock exchange building), drew thousands of workers and students together, and many of the battles lasted through the night. Large sections of French working society began to come under the influence of anti-authoritarian principles of mutual aid, self-management, and direct democracy. Nurses organized against bureaucratic doctors, soccer players kicked out their managers, and grave diggers occupied the cemeteries (for example). Large masses of people largely rejected a modern, commodity driven capitalist society in favor of something new.

Infighting and desire by authoritarian Marxist groups (i.e., Maoists, Stalinists, etc.) to control the student assemblies and groups destroyed much of the direct democracy at the university. The infighting and sectionalism was so bad that many of the anti-authoritarian groups left the university to go and work out of occupied government buildings. The Stalinist Union labor leaders also tried to get the solidarity between the students and the workers to end, calling the rioters and Situationists various names, and said that they were not to be trusted. They also tried to get the workers back into the factories and end the strike, partly to make sure that they could gain power in the upcoming elections, and also to regain control over the working class - as opposed to having the workers control and manage their own destiny. Although first having left the country, and French President returned late in May, met with Communist Party leaders, and basically challenged the strikers and students to a civil war if they refused to end the occupation and strikes. With not many of the workers prepared to engage in armed struggle against a very powerful state, and with the constant orders of the labor leaders, many of the strikers went back to work, and the occupied buildings were retaken.

Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities

The indigenous peoples of Southern Mexico rebelled in 1994, partially in response to the signing of NAFTA, reclaiming their lands in what is called "a war against oblivion." They established various municipalities which are, in practice, outside the realm of Mexican law.

Laws in the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities are not passed by "leaders," as such, but by "Good Government Councils" and by the will of the people (representatives in these councils are truly representative of their communities, rather than professional politicians). This is very similar to the delegate structure that many anarchists engage in with spokescouncils, or with unions. In many communities, general assemblies gather during the week to decide on various things facing the community. The assemblies are open to all, with no formal hierarchy. The decisions made by the communities are then passed to elected delegates whose only job is to give the decided upon information to a council of delegates. Like anarcho-syndicalist organizations, the delegates are recallable, and are also rotated. This way, massive amounts of people are able to decide things with no formal hierarchy, and without people speaking for them.

The assemblies and councils serve not as traditional governing bodies but as instruments of the people to provide medicine, education, food, and other essentials. The "laws" passed by the Good Government Councils are not enforced with policemen and prisons, but in a way that respects "criminals" as members of the community. For example, it was decided to ban alcohol and drugs, due to their nefarious influence on Indians in the past. Violation of this law is surprisingly rare; those who do may be required, for example, to help build something their community needs. Some anarchists believe this to be a decentralized, non-authoritarian style similar to what they advocate, having always loathed prisons, police power, and capital punishment.

Like anarchists, Zapatistas also believe in forming freely associated collectives to carry out various jobs and tasks. Zapatistas collectively work land, and plant and grow crops. The Zapatistas do not claim to be anarchists, but through their actions and words, have shown some similarities to self-proclaimed anarchists and have become a cause célebre of the global left and the "anti-globalization movement". It should be stated however that the Zapatistas have been very influenced along with libertarian marxism and traditional Zapatismo, (which is almost identical to anarchism), by the writings and actions of Ricardo Flores Magón, or "Magonism", who was an anarcho-syndicalist during the Mexican Revolution.

Christiania (1970's-present)

Freetown Christiania is a quarter of Copenhagen that became independent and self-governing in the 1970s after an anarchist commune took over army barracks in the center of the city. While in theory governed by the laws of Denmark, it is left alone by the authorities. For a third of a century, this self-described social experiment has successfully resolved conflicts threatening its continued existence, arising both internally and from the Danish state. Some in Christiania derive income from the sale of illegal drugs such as Hashish and Marijuana to non-residents. This has created problems for the community, notably between supporters and opponents of recreational drug use.

Cascadia Free State 1996 (US)

In the mid-1990's, an arson fire near Warner Creek destroyed some sections of old growth forest in Oregon state, in the United States. The forest service responded by burning more of the forest, and selling it off as low price salvage. In response to this, Earth First!, (a network of collectives organized on anarchist principles, and deep ecology), began organizing to stop the logging by road occupations. These occupations stopped the flow of logging and forest service workers in and out of the forest.

What first started out as a small group of protestors, grew to a large eco-village. In the following days the blockade grew and grew. Rock walls sprang up and deep trenches spanned the road in numerous places. Mainstream environmentalists, Earth First!ers, Congress people, school children, people outside of the local community, and many others made the trip up to see the "Cascadia Free State". Several teams of people occupied the logging roads, with teams up in trees to do media and be watchouts, people read to 'lock-down', (meaning to lock on to some sort of device that would hinder vehicles moving on the road), and a whole campsite constructured under a massive wooden structure.

Mutual aid was practiced, and the occupation was allowed to go on for over a year because of people from the surrounding community bringing food, blankets, and other items. Steady streams of people moved in and out of the camp, allowing people to spend various amounts of time blocking the road. "Warnerization" spread, and various other "free states" errupted on logging roads, and various groups occupied land to stop the logging of old growth eco-systems.

Eventually, with the resistance from the occupations, media campaigns, and also pressure from other groups, caused the government to make a deal with the logging company to stop the logging of Warner Creek. The free state was then destroyed by forest service workers, and activists arrested. Although the free state had been ended by force, the goal of its existence, to stop the logging of Warner Creek, was successful.

Argentina (2001-present)

After the collapse of the Argentine economy, coupled with riots and finally the fall of the government in the last days of 2001, the social and economic organization of Argentina underwent major changes. Argentina was once a shining example of free market reforms and structural adjustment programs ("the IMF's best pupil"). However, after the economy crashed, the IMF responded by demanding that more social programs (health care, schools, etc) be cut, and more things be privatized. Massive popular rebellion erupted.

Out of the uprisings came many popular organs of self-management and direct democracy. Worker occupations of factories and popular assemblies have both been seen functioning in Argentina, and both are the kind of action endorsed by anarchists: the first is a case of direct action and the latter a case of direct democracy. Approximately 200 "recovered" factories (fábricas recuperadas) are now self-managed and collectively owned by workers. Over 10,000 people are working in factories with little or no management or hierarchy. In the large majority of them, pay is completely egalitarian; generally no professional managers are employed, or managers are collectively controlled in the other cases. Decisions are made by all workers, in general assembly type structures. These co-operatives have organised themselves into networks. Solidarity and support from external groups, such as neighborhood assemblies and unemployed (piquetero) groups, have often been important for the survival of these factories. Unemployed workers elsewhere have also organized takeovers of plots of vacant land, and taken them back for housing and growing food. Similar developments have taken place in Brazil and Uruguay.

In a survey by an Argentina newspaper in the capital, it was found that around 1/3 of the population had participated in general assemblies. The assemblies used to take place in street corners and public spaces, and generally gathered to discuss ways of helping each other in the face of eviction, or organizing around issues like health care, collective food buying, or conducting free food distribution programs. Some assemblies started to create new structures of health care and schooling, to replace the old ones that were not working. Neighborhood assemblies met once a week in a large assembly to discuss issues affecting the larger community. [1] ( In 2004, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (Author of No Logo) released the documentary The Take (, about these events.

Popular assemblies have gradually died out as the economy began its recovery. However, activism has continued. The piqueteros and unemployed worker movements have become organized and often adopted an extreme left-wing ideology. Most middle-class Argentinians, especially in Buenos Aires, now regard piqueteros as violent and disruptive, due to the continuous road blocks and massive demonstrations they stage in the capital.

Examples of projects and other movements with anarchist qualities

Squatter Movements

Many of the squatter movements around the world and throughout history have been founded on anarchist principles with the simple goals of land and freedom.

Free Software Movement

The Free Software movement is an example of an emergent movement with anarchist characteristics. The nature of the GPL and many other Open Source licenses is such that there is a collective sharing of resources (in this case, source code) between all developers, thus some anarchists see this as putting into practice their perspective on private property and economic organization.

Galt's Gulch (Frontierist) Movements

Some people seek to avoid existing States by setting up societies that are hidden or far enough away from power centers to be relatively safe from statist attack. (Cf: March region.) The term "Galt's Gulch" comes from Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged." Traditional anarchists are more likely to call this "frontierism" due to their rejection of capitalism. One of the more well-known attempts was Laissez Faire City, which attempted to buy 100 square miles from a third-world country along the Hong Kong model.

Data Havens, Cyberspace, and Permanent Travelers

With the advent of computers, the internet, and strong cryptography, a demand for servers and data storage not subject to statist regulation and expropriation developed. One such data haven, Sealand, is a stateless entity in the English Channel.

These technologies also made anonymous digital currency practical. With redundent servers in many non-public locations, digital money provides protection from statist plunder (taxation) and regulation. In "The Sovereign Individual, Davidson and Rees-Mogg argue that technology now favors freedom, allowing people to ignore the State. They predict an evolution to smaller States competing for customers (tax-payers) by offering various services and citizenship programs. As States get more competitive in pricing and the cost of switching to a new "product" declines, there will be de-facto anarchy, i.e. the States will essentially evolve into anarchist PDAs (Private Defense Agencies.)

Some anarchists live as PTs (permanent travelers, perpetual tourists, prior taxpayers) by residing in one State, holding wealth in a second State, and if necessary holding a passport from a third, with none of these three being the State attempting to tax them. This is also called the Four Flag strategy. States with liberal residency or tourist requirements, like Costa Rica or the island of Roatan, are popular expat havens. (See for an example of a PT information site.)


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