Anarchist Commune May Shut Down Open Cannabis Market

A famous anarchist commune may have to shut down its open cannabis market due to growing gang violence. Christiania is a self-governing commune in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

Established in 1971, squatters occupied abandoned military barracks and declared it an autonomous community based on the principles of anarchism and mutual cooperation.

The community’s rules and regulations are distinct from the Danish legal system. Authorities have had a love-and-hate relationship with the commune. Still, in 1989, they effectively legalized them as a “social experiment.”

Christiania, also called Freetown Christiania, is notable for “Pusher Street,” where an open cannabis market exists. Despite cannabis’ illegal status under Danish law, authorities have (more or less) given the anarchist commune autonomy.

However, the recent surge of gang violence may end the open cannabis market once and for all. Christiania’s residents have acted in the past, organizing boycotts to drive gang-related trade out of the commune.

But now, the mayor of Copenhagen has gotten involved. She told the media that this anarchist commune would have to shut down this open cannabis market.

In Copenhagen, I believe we must have room for Christiania. It is both skewed and alternative. It’s creative. But this harsh, organized violence must be written out of the future around Christiania.

That is why my message is also that if the Christianites make it clear that they are ready to close Pusher Street and replace it with something else then we in the municipality of Copenhagen are ready to support putting together a plan to find out what should happen to the street.

A Brief History of Christiania

A Brief History of Christiania

In 1971, a well-known Danish journalist and many others occupied an abandoned military barracks. The military brought the squatters to court in 1976, and the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the military.

However, Christiania’s settlers weren’t going anywhere. The process of legitimatizing the “social experiment” began.

However, almost right away, drugs and overdoses were an issue. Following the death of ten people from overdoses, Christiania’s residents formed a “Junk Blockade.” For over a month, residents patrolled the neighbourhood and kicked out anyone dealing in hard drugs.

In the 1980s, two motorcycle gangs sought to gain control of the commune. But when someone found the dismembered body of a man under floorboards, Danish authorities stepped in. Police cleared the gangs, and there’s a strict “no biker jacket” policy in Christiania.

For a while, things were quiet. But in the early 2000s, gang violence returned. In 2005 a man was shot and killed, injuring three others in an incident related to the cannabis trade.

Even more recently, there have been stabbings, and another man was shot dead. The commune’s spokesperson, Hulda Mader, told the Guardian, “These are not people we know. We suspect that it is gangs. We are afraid that the situation will develop into a gang war in Christiania.”

She says she’s received death threats for interfering in disputes between gangs.

Anarchist Commune May Shut Down Open Cannabis Market: Details

Open Cannabis Market - Christiania

The anarchist commune once attempted to limit its open cannabis market after a string of violence and death in 2016.

A joint meeting of Christiania’s residents decided to remove the stalls from Pusher Street. Local residents and neighbours were encouraged to support the boycott. Some estimate that within 60 days, the price of cannabis had dropped by 75%.

However, the situation today is different. As the spokesperson said: “It is not something that we, as private individuals, can oppose. Now there have been repeated episodes of violence, and we simply think that it has become too dangerous for us.”

Despite having a “No Police Allowed” attitude, the anarchists of Christiania are now working with the Copenhagen municipality and police to end gang violence.

Thoughts on this Anarchist Commune

Thoughts on this Anarchist Commune

Christiania’s residents refer to themselves as “anarchists with rules.” To some, this may seem contradictory, but anarchists are not opposed to rules. Anarchists oppose rules that flow from hierarchical power structures.

That’s why every anarchist you meet is anti-state. Many anarchists, especially in Europe, are also anti-capitalists. Christiania’s founders were anti-capitalists, but this term needs some nuance. 

Despite claims made by some that “anarcho-capitalism is not real anarchism,” markets result from spontaneous order. 

And suppose Christiania’s residents want to solve the gang violence while keeping an open cannabis trade. In that case, they’d be best to read some Rothbard or Murphy alongside Proudhon, Kropotkin, or Bookchin.

Despite Bookchin’s claim to the contrary, anarchists of different stripes can link this “unbridgeable chasm” between “left” and “right” anarchism.

Consider the foundational beliefs of Christiania: according to the state, they were illegal squatters on military property. But not even “reactionary” Murray Rothbard would claim that the activists were squatting.

State property is not legitimate. But what about private property? Isn’t this where the “unbridgeable chasm” exists? 

Space doesn’t permit a thorough analysis of private property through the context of different anarchist schools. So let’s go off the assumption that Christiania’s residents all agree on the principles of autonomy, self-governance, and non-hierarchical organization.

The community has a long history of promoting participatory decision-making processes. The solution presented here rests on anarchist principles.

“Right-Wing” Economics Fixes Christiania and Keeps it Anarchist.

Right-Wing" Economics Fixes Christiania and Keeps it Anarchist.

This famous anarchist commune may have to shut down its open cannabis market due to growing gang violence. So here’s the solution:

Require “Christiania IDs.” Nobody enters without this ID. There are also temporary “Guest IDs” that the community can issue to tourists wishing to visit.

Have a communal meeting of residents regularly vote on who will distribute and be in charge of the IDs.

But wait – doesn’t requiring “your papers” to move around a neighbourhood the opposite of anarchism? No one would consider the covid domestic passport programs that various governments implemented “anarchistic.”

And indeed, there is nothing anarchistic about the state. Especially the state demanding your papers.

But we’re talking about a private commune. Nobody has the right to trespass on another person’s property. Even these anarchists would make the case that “possessions” are legitimate forms of private property.

Now it’s just a matter of extending this “possessions are legit” logic to “the land upon where you live is also yours.”

If the 1,000 people in Christiania all recognize each other, then the IDs are unnecessary. Just require tourists to wear lanyards.

Additionally, Christiania’s permanent residents can hire a security force to drive out the gangs.

But Christiania residents must – somehow – rationalize private property. One way is by understanding basic economics. 

That way, they can begin reconciling left-wing anarchists’ “mutual aid” with the praxeological capitalism described by right-wing anarchists like Rothbard.

Final Thoughts on Christiania’s Open Cannabis Market

Open Cannabis Market - Christiania

Some describe economists like Murray Rothbard as “neoliberals,” simply apologists for big business. But if you’ve ever read Rothbard’s political philosophy or economics, you’d know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

To save Christiania from having to shut down its open cannabis market due to growing gang violence, the residents should accept some non-coercive capitalism by rejecting the lofty ideals of thinkers like Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky, like Rothbard, is a brilliant thinker. And like Rothbard, he has his limitations.

Rothbard was a terrible political strategist. His association with the anti-war left of the 60s backfired, and his association with the paleo-conservative community around the time of his death has no doubt cemented his image as a “right-winger.”

Chomsky, likewise, is great at opposing the military-industrial complex. Including its entertainment division people often call “mainstream news.”

But when it comes to making economic sense, he is, to paraphrase Thomas Sowell, like a child who has matured enough to make their own decisions, including breaking the rules and circumventing their parent’s wishes. 

But not mature enough to understand why those rules were there in the first place.

An anarchist who considers private property a mere “convention” isn’t a serious anarchist thinker, at least in economic theory.

That is not to say one should adopt Murray Rothbard’s labour theory of property, which, admittedly, is weak. 

But by rejecting Rothbardian concepts, Christiania’s residents have guaranteed that their anarchist commune experiment will fall to chaos and require a State to step in and re-establish order.

If Murray Rothbard is not a “real” anarchist, then anarchism is a failed set of beliefs. 

Either Christiania adopts some “right-wing” anarchist principles, or Freetown and its open cannabis trade cease to exist.