Temporary Autonomous Zones

To make fellowship, joy, and freedom work for a day or a week is far more doable than the permanent transformation of society, and it can inspire people to return to that society in its everyday incarnation with renewed powers and ties. The anarchist theorist Hakim Bey famously coined the term temporary autonomous zones to describe these phenomena, neither revolution nor festival, in which people liberate themselves for pleasure and social reinvention. He saw their ephemerality as a survival technique, a way of arising, affecting, and vanishing before any move to repress arose: “The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it.” The goal is not permanence or confrontation, and the moment of liberation can be re-created, so that its lapse is not necessarily a defeat.

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  • CIDOC (shutting it down before it could get institutionalised)
  • Reclaim the Streets
  • Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone
  • Guy Debord shutting down Situationist International—stop it turning into a cult twsu-6333:30
  • Academics "have a corpse in their mouth", pickling radical ideas in their dead theorising instead of engaging with them in praxis


paradise-built-in-hell Solnit, Rebecca. 2009. A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disasters. Viking. ↩︎ 1