Comrade Hash, Black Hammer Times Staff,
The ongoing rebellion in Seattle, Washington (occupied Duwamish territory), has taken a different course than in other places. Some protesters have taken control of a few blocks in the downtown area and named it the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).
Since June 8, protesters have attempted to barricade CHAZ to create a pig-free zone. The autonomous zone started when protesters realized that the pig department was vacated and left unlocked.
Throughout history, these kinds of autonomous zones have also been called “communes” or “occupied areas.” Whatever the name, these occupied areas exist within a larger capitalist state and are concentrated areas of people resisting their oppression.
While uncommon, these generally occur when the capitalist state pushes the population into a corner.
Here are some examples:
Following the 2008 Recession, the Occupy Movement in 2011 consisted of nonviolent occupations in downtown areas of capitalist countries worldwide, in an attempt to express discontent with capitalist austerity and poverty.
During the Egyptian Revolution at the start of the Arab Spring, thousands had occupied Tahrir Square in Cairo to demand an end to corruption.
Decades before, in the wake of the civil rights era in the 1980s, MOVE, a Black liberation group, created a series of commune houses in Philadelphia as a base for revolutionary life in the heart of amerikkka.
Around the same time, in south Korea, after Park Chung-hee was assassinated, protests in Gwangju escalated in protesters self-governing the entire city in 1980.
A century prior in 1870, Napoleon III was captured, leading to the radical worker-led uprising that took control of Paris, known as the paris commune.
These occupied areas show the potential strength of people in the streets, especially when the capitalist state takes its grasp on the poor and working class. The mere existence of these occupied areas educates people, but were they successful overall?
That’s a harder question to answer. The movements behind these occupied areas weren’t led by a larger organization. The protesters have struggled to create have clear-cut goals.
If the goal is to build a world where colonized people have dictatorship over their lives, land and resources; and where no person lives at the expense of another, then it’s fair to say that the previously listed of occupied areas won’t suffice.
While these occupied areas are a natural response to capitalist destruction, don’t get it twisted: our goal is to free all colonized people.
We can’t do that by spontaneous occupations of a city in the face of militarized state pigs. We will only be successful through one thing: organization.
Without it, we can see what happens:
The Occupy Movement fizzled out, with little change in most places. The police and politicians eventually grew tired of the protests and kicked the unarmed and disorganized occupiers out.
The Egyptian revolution managed to get the president to resign, but the disorganized protesters failed to continue their demands after an oppressive military coup.
Although MOVE was armed, they were outnumbered and bombed by the Philadelphia pigs.
In Gwangju, the amerikkkan-owned South Korean military massacred thousands of people to retake the city.
The Paris Commune also lost when the French army invaded.
The only way to win against your oppressor is to out-organize them and win the support of the masses nationwide. While small-scale battles can be won, they’re not enough to win the war. Do we want to seize a single city, or an entire nation?
History has shown that the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone probably won’t lead to large-scale change. At the same time, we can see that the pigs are not infallible, and they can easily be overrun.
Imagine what we can do when we organize.
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