An amusing article about Christiania (and it's much discussed pending, or possibly pending, demise) appeared in the Comment is Free section of The Guardian the other day ('Farewell to Freetown'). Check it out if you have a few minutes.

Even if containing a few basically minor factual inaccuracies, it's a pretty solid and original analysis. It's always nice to get a bird's eye perpective on issues so close to home and see them cast in a different light.

I liked her suggestion that as a consequence of Danish society, being so relatively homogenous and universal in it's approach to "housing, education, homewares and even clothes" that
"the flesh itself is the only remaining beacon of individuality". Hence, the popularity of tattoos (and interesting hair styles) here.

I think it's true - I'm pretty sure the per capita average of people with tattoos in Denmark is one of the highest in the world, though I can't prove it.

When this 'universal approach' is combined with the values of efficiency and casualness, so prized in Denmark, you end up with a sort of explanation for Christiania's existence as the casual side of efficient Copenhagen - but with otherwise shared values. Meaning, in truth the two aren't so far apart.

"Put simply, the Christiania/Copenhagen divide is no more than a geographical illustration of the tattoo principle. In this binary world, Copenhagen is clean-cut, civil, stylish, cool. Christiania is scruffy, loose, warm, old school. Both pride themselves on being tolerant, community-focused and environmentally friendly. Their residences, which seem the antithesis of one another, are in reality living out the same essential principles."

And also I like her simplified analysis of Christiania as a a "microcosmic study of social evolution" - how Christiania's self-government emerged out of the necessity to provide the basics that such an open society, as perhaps originally envisioned, couldn't, regardless of whatever romantic spin is put on the way Christiania's society is structured.

"The process by which an internal government developed to regulate the freedom shows how residents were forced to compromise their anything-goes approach in the same way that all communities first find their laws. It was an organic occurrence, fuelled partly by the necessity of presenting a united front to the larger city, and partly by the effects of the drug trade. The liberated town required rules on how it would stay liberated, and though still relying heavily on the goodwill of its citizens to create welfare and respect property rights, a ruling council was made responsible for creating schools and daycare centres to service the generation born within their borders."

Still, it sucks to see that dusk is likely starting to fall on Christiania, even if it will be quite some time yet before darkness sets in, once and for all.

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