The more subtle strategy

My unimaginative “mow them down to marmalade” solution for street demonstrations, and similar public events, might not work smoothly in all instances. I’d hate to create martyrs for ungodly causes. And so, occasionally, we might try subtle variations, such as “let them mow themselves down.”

Seattle is a city I have not visited in forty years. It seemed fairly crazy then, but the “new crazy,” often still wearing suits and neckties. Having only a couple of days at my disposal, I may not have penetrated very deeply into the heart and soul of the Seattle experience. I didn’t even go up the Space Needle. The city’s bourgeois, gentrified districts struck me then as bourgeois and gentrified; other districts as less so.

The Pike Place Market, built on mudflats beneath a bluff beside the tablecloth of Elliott Bay, was a disappointment. At the time, I was visiting from Asia, so my standards for funkiness may have been too high. Already an “urbanist,” I was an enthusiast for small autonomous neighbourhoods in cities, but this one was being tarted up in a way that I dismissed as unspontaneous.

I should have liked to visit it in the days before Pearl Harbor. I gather it was a Japanese district then, and the market stalls were occupied mostly by Japanese farmers. Things happen in the world, and when an American president decided to intern Japanese-Americans generally, the market went into decline. The external world is notorious for intruding on small urban spaces.

Similarly with Seattle’s new “People’s Republic of Chaz,” or whatever they are calling it this morning. While those few city blocks are autonomous for the moment, I do not expect this arrangement to last. In the name of “defunding the police” it is guarded by hippiesque gunmen with AK-47s, under a leftist warlord. “Peace, peace” — they are all peaceful protesters, they say. And in the cause of open borders, barricades have been set across all entrances. Poetry readings and other cultural events are reported, and these are funded in a unique way, by armed local extortion. There is also a welfare system, with veggie food donated for the local homeless. Unfortunately, a gang of them stole all the packages, but what good intentions!

Rather than do something terribly uncool, such as sending in riot squads, or the Army, on my “mow them down” bromide; or follow the more pacific FDR “relocation” approach, to prison camps; I think this little experiment in neighbourhood autonomy should be allowed. Indeed, the mayor of Seattle has compared Chaz to a block party, and now looks forward to “a summer of love.” Who am I to claim being better informed?

After we stop such nasty monopoly services as water, electricity, gas; oppressive fire departments; and global capitalist food supplies; the Chazians will have an opportunity to display their economic innovations. I, for one, will be watching with interest. Verily, my liberalism extends to letting the larger municipalities in the “Blue States” make their own arrangements. I am curious to see what comes after Defunding the Police.

The only security needed, by the “Red State” types in the rest of America, is to prevent the inmates from getting out. Minneapolis, New York City, Baltimore and so forth, could simply be surrounded by the sort of walls now rising along the Mexican border. (Maybe the inmates would like to pay for them.) We could use drones and satellite photography to follow the “progress of progress” within. And if the people inside tire of their confederate status, they could eventually be readmitted to the Union; though under some sort of quarantine. (Mind they don’t get out through the airports, the way they did in Wuhan.)

“Freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom,” as they used to sing at Woodstock, back when the Hong Kong Flu was claiming more (and younger) lives than the Batflu, though hardly anyone noticed. (“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child / a long way / from my home.”)

But like Woodstock, many of these “new democracies” will be on what was, at least formerly, prime agricultural land, and could revert to the primal human condition, as envisioned by Rousseau, and Cain.