Christiania – the country of freedom built by rainbow warriors

The StoryThe story of Christiania is colorful, long, and filled with battles, victories and defeats. Many of the people who began this “experiment” do not live here anymore, but the dream of a life lived in freedom and the idea of a city ruled by its inhabitants still continues.You will, probably think the name Christiania has a religious roots. No, not at all! Actually this is the name of a very specific area in the centre of Copenhagen (Denmark) and historically it is closely connected to a barracks of King Christian.It all began in early 70s, when the city government decided to remove those barracks and built something useful on the area – whether a stadium, whether a market, nobody actually remembers now. The important is that the indignant public on behalf of ten hippies decided to occupy the territory and protect a historical relic (to tell the truth, “the relic” were only a few miserable small brick houses on the coast of marshy lake). The mass media have organized a great show from this incident, and soon all hippies, who had aimlessly loafed across the Europe, directed right to Denmark to support their foreign “comrades”. And when sluggish policemen came to expel the rebellions at last, they were nearly shocked: hundreds of hippies were spread all over the barracks and they didn’t want to leave anymore. This was the birth of Christiania and its first legendary defense of those, who came to create an alternative life based on communal living and freedom.Times were quite rough then: the police was spreading a tear gas all around and attacking the barricades by helping dogs and cudgels. Accordingly the hippies were protecting themselves by throwing a bricks and “Molotov” cocktails into enemies. Mass-media was almost crying of happiness and broadcast direct reportings from the place of events. All this disgrace continued quite long, till hippies finally decided to write an official letter to the queen of Denmark. The queen supported a noble business of protection of ancient monuments and asked the police to leave hippies in their barracks alone. Although queen wasn’t able to order that simple – there’s a constitutional monarchy in Denmark. However her requests were always executed, probably because she asked very seldom

By this way Christiania got its half-legal status. However hippies weren’t satisfied only by this – soon they declared Christiania as an independent state and the first thing they did in it was drugs legalization. The city government decided not to pay attention to this – it was very stupid to start a second war when the first hasn’t finished yet. Several years had passed; the “rainbow warriors” had already grown roots in their new home: they’ve painted barracks with pacific-signs and flowers, graveled paths, built few small houses, opened a few cafeterias and ecological epicure. Soon Christiania has turned into a cute “hippical” village controlled by a government of The Common Meeting. The idyll was broken only by one – an extremely high death level.Once hippies have “sobered up”, looked around and noticed that they now practically lived in a new Europe’s capital of heroin. Half of the founders of an utopian “country of Freedom” by the time have already gone to a cemetery; the third part of the population was drug addict. Heroin killed people even more than any epidemic would; you could find lots of used syringes in the toilets, and the dealers have traded in drugs practically without any fears. But soon hippies have realized current situation and took actions against the drug dealers. The local government declared that everyone who is using heroin or some other “heavy” drugs must take treatment-programs; else they will be thrown out from Christiania. Unfortunately both dealers and the “junkies”(heroin users) seemed absolutely irresponsible: they have flatly refused to leave! This has caused another problem – the beginning of civil war in Christiania, once again with barricades, “Molotov” cocktails and other “fun” stuff. There were even some gun-fights. But this time good hippies have won against the “bad” ones. The drug dealers and “naughty” junkies were expelled and the legislation of village was changed.
So from that time the legal drug in Christiania is only marihuana and it can be sailed only on a special area called “Pusher-street”. The other part of “country” is considered as “clean”, which means you can smoke the “weed” but you cannot trade it. And for an attempt to sell heavy drugs in Christiania you can be seriously beaten. The most amusing is that the “security functions” are carried out by the same sellers of weed – it’s a real benefit to them – the police is not so annoying when there’s no heroin around.Basically, problems with authorities, that tried to stop “weed-trade” periodically, weren’t that serious. The police often made “guerrilla strikes” in the area, grasped few kilos of hash, couple of drug dealers and quickly left Christiania. Usually hash was solemnly burnt, “pushers” got a few of months of prison; all in all, life in Christiania was almost peaceful in its own way. But once Swedes have taken part in this story. It is necessary to notice, that Sweden doesn’t like Christiania because Swedish students often like to run out of home and spend their time…guess where. Once there was a hearing that Sweden has promised Denmark to close its nuclear power station (which isn’t very appreciated by Danes), but only if Denmark will close Christiania. Who knows, how fair these hearings were, but there have been taken a really serious measures in relation to Christiania. This was an unpleasant period of time: the police began to intrude into territory twice a day and to search everybody, the dogs were barking all the time, people became nervous, and the “assortment” of weed has noticeably decreased. The most considerably adjusted hippies have already begun to prepare traditional “Molotov” cocktails, but right at this time the marihuana-dealers made a very unexpected and graceful “move” – they’ve decided to declare a termless strike.
The strike “pushers” have made was totally unique – they were simply giving weed and hash for everybody, who wanted, absolutely for free! This was probably the funniest ant most ridiculous strike you could ever see! The whole youth of Copenhagen have gathered immediately to protect Christiania. There were no barricades this time, and the last war rather reminded a national entertainments: everybody was singing the songs of protest, loafed from a corner to a corner and smoked joints (self-made cigarettes of a weed) of an improbable sizes. The police surrendered in four days, and since then there’s only peace and harmony in Christiania!

Today’s ChristianiaToday Christiania looks very fancy; more than that, it became quite organized social community. It has a communal bath house, a nursery and a kindergarten, garbage collection and recycling, as well as communal shops and factories. The “Pusher-street” now reminds a modern-designed shopping centre (not without an influence of hippy style of course), weed-trading is now rather a local feature than the main source of an incomes. There are lots of shops there: ecological products market, the secondhand bookseller, collection ovens, souvenirs and ect. Believe or not, during 30 years of its existence Christiania became one of the largest cultural centers of Copenhagen. There are some art-galleries, four concert halls, five cafes-bars and one ecological restaurant named “Loppen” (a very expensive one, by the way). The Opera has Russian rock on the programme, the Youth-club has techno, the Rock Machine has experimental theatre and there is cabaret and theatre in the Gay House. Thousands visit the Strictly Underground concerts in the Grey Hall and there are football championships in the Meadow of Peace. Curious tourists from all over the world study the Christiania Bike, or explore the area.It’s also interesting, that Christiania has its own tax system and even a currency! Each owner of some business (including dealers) must give a part of his incomes to a common treasury. Using this money The Common Meeting employs inhabitants of Christiania for socially useful works by dividing the people into work groups, each of which has their own color characterizing the different tasks: red for outgoing action, green for food and nutrition, blue for consciousness, raising etc. Of course, nobody forbids to work outside the theretory.

Today the populations of Christiania consist of about 650 adults and 150 children. If you want to move to this unique country of hippies and become its lawful citizen, it won’t be enough just to buy an apartment, because only area meeting decides who can move in. The rent today in Christiania is 1,200 DKK (=100 GBP) per month per person and it covers rent, water and electricity. No new houses or homes are allowed, though extensions are accepted. All construction plans must also be approved by the area meeting through a consensus. Besides, Christiania has made an agreement with the Ministry of Defense that it is responsible for maintaining the building stock, and the State shall have no expenses running the Freetown.