Thoughts on the CHAZ

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The author of this article studied Marxist-Leninist philosophy in the 1980s at Lomonosov University, Moscow. Between the time of writing and publication, the Seattle Commune has become known as Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). Boxer added graphics and footnotes, with minor edits for punctuation.

Introduction

War, as Lenin described it, is the inevitable continuation of class struggle (1). Having witnessed the establishment of what I can only describe as The Seattle Commune (2), I have some remarks that might be helpful, in light of experience, both for observers and for participants. 

The Seattle Commune

The Seattle Commune is presently a fluid area in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle, roughly centered around the baseball diamond in Cal Anderson Park. At present, the liberated area includes all of pine street from 11th and 12th avenues, and surrounding blocks. The commune was declared after the Washington Army National Guard covered the evacuation of the East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department, from their headquarters at 1519 12th Avenue, on the evening of 08 June 2020.

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Tactics and Strategy

Theorists note that a partisan struggle has three distinct phases (3). In the first, the guerrillas use their superior mobility to fight hit-and-run battles with an entrenched and well-provisioned enemy. Eventually, a state of equilibrium is established in which popular support strengthens the guerrilla band and weakens the material conditions through which the status-quo has erupted. In the final stage, the guerrillas may begin overrunning positions held by the state, conquering and administering territory, and mopping up with large-scale encounters (4).

Che Guevara illustrates the obvious present problem with the Seattle Commune: The guerrilla struggle is currently just beginning, and already the guerrillas have announced that they are conquering territory. Guerrilla forces jumped directly to stage three, without ever accomplishing stages one or two. The guerrillas are presently congratulating themselves on social media, even as they “declare victory” for their cause, as their few sympathizers cheer them on and taunt their enemies. This is an illustration of just how politically savvy they aren’t.

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Deconstruction

The present situation can be easily explained from the point of view of the established authorities. In hindsight, a materialist interpretation would include state actors allowing for the occupation of territory by guerrillas, knowing that the enemy is too weak and ill-informed to properly manage the administration of the same.

What is proper administration? When a guerrilla army conquers territory, it has a twofold responsibility. It first has to improve the material conditions of the inhabitants, and it simultaneously needs to defend the territory from invasion. 

Can the rioters improve the lives of the residents under their control? Will they be able to afford the people in the captured territory a better life than the City of Seattle, in the United States of America? The answer to this question is obvious.

Supposing that the Seattle Commune was not a transparent trap that a bunch of college kids foolishly fell for. How would things progress? The first thing that a competent guerrilla commander would do is issue an invitation of all the residents of the fallen area to meet and discuss their concerns with him. During the meeting, a local soviet would be established (5), giving the residents — the people who actually live there — democratic control over the material conditions of their area. Strict military discipline would be handled by guerrilla commander, and any misbehavior by armed forces under his command would be rapidly punished (communist guerrilla commanders usually shoot thieves and rapists who take advantage of their position in an occupied town.) Aside from acting as police, the responsibility for providing food, medical supplies, power, and education falls immediately to the guerrillas, who transition from a band of partisans into the established executive for the local soviet.

The only reasonable interpretation of present events is to accept that the withdrawal of local police from the east precinct headquarters was done tactically, in order to force the guerrillas into the role of administration. This will strengthen the Seattle city authorities in two ways. First, it illuminates just how incompetent the guerrillas actually are. Going forward, every mistake made in the Seattle Commune will be used by local politicians as a propaganda victory. Second, it punishes local residents (without whom the guerrillas could not have been operating for the last week) by forcing them to rely upon the incompetent rioters they’ve been feeding and sheltering. 

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Conclusion

I don’t know what the future holds for the Seattle Commune, but I predict that nothing good will come of it. Likely scenarios include the guerrillas being chased out of the area by weary residents, or perhaps factional fighting between different groups of occupiers. Such projects usually devolve into violence or tedium.

If I were the mayor of Seattle, I would be broadcasting the possibility of shutting down power and water to the occupied territory, along with a declaration of amnesty, for anyone who voluntarily surrendered their weapons. The children who are playing at revolution ought to accept the fact that they’re fighting graduates from the U.S. Army’s war college, and save their efforts for another day.

Works Consulted

  1. Lenin. War and Revolution, 1917.
  2. Submedia. Map of CHAZ, 2020.
  3. Mao Tse-Tung. On Guerrilla Warfare, 1937.
  4. Che Guevara. Guerrilla Warfare, 1963.
  5. Leon Trotsky. “On Party Development” in Political Tasks, 1904.

 

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on the CHAZ”

  1. In 1991, there was a supposed “student takeover” of a hall, surrounding commons, and part of the Church Street pedestrian mall in Burlington, Vermont. This was at UVM (University of Vermont)

    Well….their demands “more diversity!” and more “inclusion” and the usual tripe coming from upper middle class spoiled kids from white bread ghettos like Fairfield County in CT. The tonier suburbs and towns north of Boston, MA. From hollowed neighborhoods where the worst brush of reality was perhaps the death of a grandparent.

    Intolerent, screaming entitled white college kids….wrecking the local downtown economy. Drum circles for peace, while their garbage piled up (let someone else do that!!!!). Screaming about the plight of minorities, most of which had full scholarships to the university…..while many Vermonters (like now and then) could not even afford to attend their own state university and had to leave the state to afford a public education.

    The band “Living Color” dropped in to encourage them to keep up the struggle. My own private Georgian styled college about an hour south sent shuttle buses for us at Green Mountain to take place in the “peaceful” rallies for more diversity (if yelling “fuck the police” is peaceful………well……)

    Anyone who dared say anything against this was labeled / smeared as a racist, a hater of the environment, supporter of “the man” and wanted backstreet abortions, women chained to stoves………

    So the semester ended, the kids went home……….some of their demands met and they all claimed a victory. Tuition went up, and fewer locals went to the university…..and today not even 1% of this university’s population is from Vermont. They all gladhand on how brave they all were almost 30 years on.

  2. So the semester ended, the kids went home……….some of their demands met and they all claimed a victory. Tuition went up, and fewer locals went to the university…..and today not even 1% of this university’s population is from Vermont. They all gladhand on how brave they all were almost 30 years on.

    Long before either of us were born, the 60’s weather underground and the Yippies were running the streets far worse than these dolts ever could. A couple of years after they were calling for mass killings of white babies, and hanging politicians, they all got bought out and took corporate jobs on Wall Street (fuck’n lol). These people could have a similar payoff for betraying the cause… if they were serious, but they aren’t.

  3. Less than 48 hours after its inception, the “cop free zone” has its own police department!

    https://www.bitchute.com/video/OqC57ixFTrDt/

    (Note: You have to log in to see the video.)

    The original author of this article was eerily prescient, in many ways, though if he thought these people were inaugurating 1917 Petrograd, he’ll be amused to find the CHAZ looking more and more like modern Mogadishu.

  4. If I were the mayor of Seattle, I would be broadcasting the possibility of shutting down power and water to the occupied territory, along with a declaration of amnesty, for anyone who voluntarily surrendered their weapons.

    I would definitely make good on the first part if I were the mayor. As for the second, I would not only not offer amnesty, but would not accept any surrender. In fact, if anyone tried to leave the “autonomous” area, I would have them shot.

    Make these people suffer under the conditions they’ve chosen to create for themselves. Make them create Venezuela in the middle of Seattle (that is, after all, the model they claim to want for themselves and everyone else). Force them to continue their project until conditions become so desperate that they scream for mercy. THEN consider letting them surrender. Maybe.

    I’d like to think that such a strategy would cure a lot of the ills now plaguing us, but I know better.

  5. I’d like to think that such a strategy would cure a lot of the ills now plaguing us, but I know better.

    It would be interesting to get the author’s take.

    In my view, it would just make the system look petty, creating martyrs and encouraging resentment. Sorta like when Jack over at Sigma Frame (a much larger blog than this one) devotes pages and pages to mocking my tiny handful of commenters. The overwhelming power differential means that the much larger party risks looking like an asshole…. and there has been no shortage of that, lately, from Seattle’s city government.

    Also bear in mind that many of the things BLM and ANTIFA are protesting are legitimate issues. American cops really are out of control. They strut around like an occupying army, with little effective oversight. Establishment politicians stole trillions of dollars a few weeks ago, from us, to give to scum like Jeff Bezos. Whether you agree or not, most people notice these things, and the anger is in many ways justified.

  6. “First, it illuminates just how incompetent the guerrillas actually are. Going forward, every mistake made in the Seattle Commune will be used by local politicians as a propaganda victory. Second, it punishes local residents (without whom the guerrillas could not have been operating for the last week) by forcing them to rely upon the incompetent rioters they’ve been feeding and sheltering. “

    Illustrating both of these things, one participant (Twitter account @anarchomastia) had this to say:

    “the homeless people we invited took away all the food at the [CHAZ]. we need more food to keep the area operational. please if possible bring vegan meat substitutes, fruit, oats, soy products, etc. – anything to help us eat”

    This is comedy gold.

    Also hilarious is their absurd list of demands, which includes vigilante law enforcement and segregated hospitals.

  7. This is comedy gold.

    Amateur hour at the insane asylum is so awesome, isn’t it?

    The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. (source)

    As though they are in any position to demand anything, living like pigs in a filthy squatters’ camp, begging for cutter on the street. The mayor doesn’t have to do anything to put down this insurrection. Within a week they’ll all be strung out on dope, or perhaps beaten down by weary residents who are sick of the smell. An authentic “popular uprising” may be in the works, after all.

  8. “the homeless people we invited took away all the food at the [CHAZ]. we need more food to keep the area operational. please if possible bring vegan meat substitutes, fruit, oats, soy products, etc. – anything to help us eat”

    Next battle: Antifa versus the homeless

    Prepare the popcorn and crack open a cold one.

  9. “Amateur hour at the insane asylum is so awesome, isn’t it?”

    My father was a psychiatric technician at a ward for many years. My mother was a medical secretary in the same field. They met on a blind date at a psychiatric hospital. Growing up, I heard an endless stream of hilarious stories from the mentally ill. Their words and behaviors are hilarious due to their irrationality and absurdity. The self-parodying idiots in the CHAZ are certainly giving them a run for their money. The key difference is that in the CHAZ, the insane are running the asylum.

  10. Looks like Occupy Wall Street has graduated from tents to buildings. Not their own buildings, of course; infrastructure is capitalist pig work.

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