The Star Raft as a ‘Temporary Autonomous Zone’

Junk rigged sailboat

The BC sailor De Clarke named her hand-built sailboat ‘TAZ’, deriving the acronym from Hakim Bey’s idea of a ‘temporary autonomous zone’. Clarke speaks of Bey’s idea as “…a defiant, yet prudent response to overwhelming power, a mobile, elusive contingent space that is not fought over like turf but instead dissolves and reforms elsewhere, evading encirclement, definition, and capture.”

She continues,

“This [seems] to me to sum up the essence of the sailing life. For a limited (temporary) period, the skipper of a small sailing craft is independent and free, out in the water; when the wind is fair, boat and skipper are briefly free of dependence on fossil fuels and the … machineries of commerce and industry, free to set any course, free to live for a while outside the ubiquitous surveillance of nosy neighbours or State powers.

“But such freedom is always temporary – like life itself; eventually we have to return to a dock somewhere to find food, fresh water, tools and parts, [fuel], and other products of the civilization we went sailing to get away from. The TAZ concept [seems] to me to express elegantly all my mixed feelings about freedom and society, collectivity and individualism, resistance and cooperation…”

I don’t see the Star Raft as ‘temporary’ – most of us will need allies and community partners to be ‘on purpose’ for the long haul. The Star Raft is contingent, but not conditional, on access to the necessities of life, but it is designed to operate – and in fact to find its greatest strength – in times when formal systems of care are running on empty and when the traditional service environment is at its most turbulent.

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