Sunday, June 21, 2020

Get into the Zone: Autonomous Zones

Until recently, the only famous Chaz’s were Bono and (albeit with an extra “z”) Palminteri.

Now, we have CHAZ, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Washington.  Although it also goes by CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) as well as other names.

Several of the causes espoused by many denizens of the Zone are admirable and righteous, including but not limited to combating police brutality and other criminal justice reform proposals as well as greater funding for social services investments (such as community health).

The overall political outlook of the Zone is broadly anti-fascist.  And (according to news accounts), while democratic socialists are on the scene, it seems to the present author (based on those same accounts), that the protest/micro-polity is more animated by anarchist principles (see: Peter Kropotkin).  

From what I can tell, most of the protestors seem like sincere and committed activists. 

At the risk of being accused of (gasp) concern trolling, I nonetheless find myself wondering:

·      What are the possibilities of this protest being co-opted or undermined by bad actors (such as dilettantes, fame-seekers, profiteers, grifters, criminals, and/or state agents)?

·      Is this form of protest expending valuable organizing time, energy, and resources in the most efficient and effective way possible? 

·      Is this method of protest sustainable?  Is this about building a movement or just living a moment?

·      Will the desired outcome(s) be realized?

I am, of course, hopeful that such CHAZ-style protests will help bring about positive changes to the country.  Yet knowing the forces arrayed against them, I recognize that enthusiasm and good intentions are not enough to win.

In solidarity.

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