By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
I have always been fascinated by secessionist movements. It goes back to my childhood love of maps, flags and geography. I use to spend hours poring over atlases and fixating on the strange autonomous zones that only existed inside fluid borders drawn in dotted lines. Strange places no American ever spoke of, with exotic names like Transnistria, Gaza, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Western Sahara. I would eventually grow into a commie, Third World, war nerd who fastidiously followed and supported these esoteric independence movements from afar.
Secession often gets a dirty name on the American left, thanks largely to those slave driving frauds in the Confederacy who failed to get the approval of the citizens they called property before calling it splitsville. But globally speaking, secession has more often than not been a practice which usually favors the colonized over the colonizers, and one that could have given real teeth to the growing slave revolts of the South had it been held to the standards of Thomas Paine.
All things considered, it’s really little wonder that after an adolescent flirtation with Bolivarian Guevarism, I became a devoted Panarchist, a school of anarchism that rejects globalism in favor of militant localism, and dreams of a world of a million autonomous zones, divided only by ideology and fluid dotted lines. So naturally I was pretty fucking stoked when the goblins on my aging mother’s Fox News programs began hyperventilating over CHAZ.
Born in the heat of urban social upheaval, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone or CHAZ rose from the tear gas like a great anarchist kraken to tantalize and toy with the posh gentrified towers of the purgatory the tech industry has turned one of America’s fine outlaw cities into. Finally, the freaks, faggots and crusty dreaded junkies had taken back a six block piece of what had once been a thriving bohemian red light district and transformed it into an outrageous post-apocalyptic utopia, tattooed in graffiti and crawling with sketchy libertines who saunter through the war torn avenues with exotically modified AR-15’s and fluorescent colored dread-hawks. The only gas that fills these streets now is the skunky fog emanating from flaming dumpsters and doobies the size of dinosaur bones. A glorious cacophony of grindcore and lo-fi Soundcloud rap bounces off the alleyways from a dozen feral ghetto-blasters tapped into the city grid through hacked streetlamps, as barely legal teen runaways go wild in the streets, shooting dark web procured psychedelic tryptamines and eating each other’s taught assholes beneath signs reading “You are now leaving the United States of America.” Finally, the American left appears to have discovered the magic of secession.
If only the vivid nightmares of Sean Hannity were a reality, the world would be my wet dream. Those hysterical creatures who terrify the elderly for a living always make the left look way cooler than it really is. The somewhat disappointing reality is that the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone isn’t really an anarchist project. In fact, in its latest capitulation to the melodramatic Karens of the straight world, it isn’t even an autonomous zone anymore. CHAZ has become CHOP aka the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, which may very well include a fair share of anarchists among its contingency but is not in fact an anarchist commune.