Travel Hot Spots: The Republic of Uzupis #bloguzupis
The Republic of Uzupis reminds us that we’re all just raging against the machine and fighting da man. At least, internally. A bit. Usually whilst perusing a North Face catalog. But, taking the whole anti-establishment thing a step or two further than you or I, is The Republic of Uzupis. Much like Christiania in Denmark, The Principality of Sea Land off the coast of the UK, or the Principality of Hutt River in Western Australia, Uzupis in Lithuania is another guide to just how far a determined group of anti-establishment individuals can take their own matters, into their own hands.
Before I get further into Uzupis, I should answer a question. What does it mean, to be anti-establishment? At its simplest – it’s to be in opposition to the conventional political, economic, and social norms of the society we live in. In general, it’s going against the existing power structures, made up of small groups of very powerful and shadowy individuals and other targets of the ninety-nine-percenters.
Although historically there have always been rebels with causes, contemporary anti-establishment began to simmer in the United States in the late 1940’s. World War II veterans who had seen the inhumanity and terrors of the world first hand, began to closely question every aspect of the post-war life they were being told to lead. They didn’t get answers, only more questions. And those questions, just made them question more.
Fighting the man, raging against the machine, and tearing down the establishment, continued to gain new adherents for the next several decades. Rising to the front of social consciousness in the 1960’s were people like Malcolm X (assassinated) and Dr Martin Luther King (assassinated) who were simply fighting for freedom against the traditional owners of power.
In 2011 the anti-establishment attained new international highs, with the Occupy Movement bringing the message of inequality to much of the world. The over-riding anti-establishment message by the sometimes goal-splintered chapters of Occupy, is that the global financial system and large corporations are unfairly and disproportionately benefiting a very small number of people, importantly, at the expense of a very large number of people. The system as it stands is dangerous and unstable, and will only lead to more and more social ills.
click to see an interactive map showing the location of this article
Which is why districts like Uzupis, an enclave of the Lithuanian capital city Vilnius, hold so much appeal. Uzupis is a largely authentic and sometimes rundown older part of town, now occupied by anti-Establishment archetypes – dreamers, squatters, artists, and drunks. My kind of people. What makes this bunch so special is their 1998 declaration of independence from the mother country of Lithuania. The Uzupis residents then got a flag, constitution, President and a stirring anthem. And thus, the “Republic of Uzupis” was born.
Since that fateful day of April 1st 1998, Uzupis has taken further steps. In 2013 Uzupis has a standing army of 12, a President, a Bishop, two churches, an embassy in Moscow, and a different official flag for each of the four seasons. As an independent republic, whose original inspiration was provided by the spirit of Frank Zappa (of course there is a statue of Frank, you needn’t ask), the only question remaining regarding the future of Uzupis – is just how far they will go.
Perhaps if a community can get as far as this, there just might not be anything stopping them. We can only hope. All over the world, there are other precedents for incubating micro-nations. One, from my own state of Western Australia.
Closer to my own home lies the Principality of Hutt River. Proclaimed an independent sovereign nation by bush-lawyer Prince Leonard I of Hutt in 1970, the tiny micro-nation is about 6 hours drive North of the Western Australian capital city Perth. When the wheat farmer was forced by the Australian government to not sell most of his harvest – due to a mis-guided quota system – Prince Leonard banded together with local farm owning families and created the new micro-nation. He has since officially declared war on Australia, and then called it off.
Hutt River now mints its own currency, issues passports, and sells stamps. The residents of Hutt River are classed by the Australian Taxation Office as “non-residents”. Most Australian Government bodies have no business with Prince Leanoard, nor his wife, the spectacularly named “Her Royal Highness Princess Shirley of Hutt, Dame of the Rose of Sharon”, nor the 30-odd other Hutt’s folk.
Late last year I strolled through the streets of Uzupis, enclave of Lithuania. Not so long ago I drove past the The Principality of Hutt River, enclave of Australia. They may be separated by over 20,000 kilometers and 3 continents, but at each location, I had exactly the same thought.
F*cking ay, dudes.
(self censored to prevent over-zealous spam filters from flagging this page)
Practical Information for Visitors to The Republic of Uzupis
The Republic of Uzupis occupies a UNESCO world heritage site located within the Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania. You are free to enter and exit Uzupis at any time. A passport stamp is optional.
Keep in mind the laws as set out by the constitution of, as viewed on Paupio Street:
The Constitution of The Republic of Uzupis
Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, while the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by everyone.
Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
Everyone has the right to die, but it is not a duty.
Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
Everyone has the right to individuality.
Everyone has the right to love.
Everyone has the right to be not loved, but not necessarily.
Everyone has the right not to be distinguished and famous.
Everyone has the right to be idle.
Everyone has the right to love and take care of a cat.
Everyone has the right to look after a dog till one or the other dies.
A dog has the right to be a dog.
A cat is not obliged to love its master, but it must help him in difficult times
Everyone has the right to sometimes be unaware of his duties.
Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not a duty.
Everyone has the right to be happy.
Everyone has the right to be unhappy.
Everyone has the right to be silent.
Everyone has the right to have faith.
No one has the right to violence.
Everyone has the right to realize his negligibility and magnificence.
Everyone has the right to encroach upon eternity.
Everyone has the right to understand.
Everyone has the right to understand nothing.
Everyone has the right to be of various nationalities.
Everyone has the right to celebrate or not to celebrate his birthday.
Everyone shall remember his name.
Everyone may share what he possesses.
No-one can share what he does not possess.
Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.
Everyone is capable of independence.
Everyone is responsible for his freedom.
Everyone has the right to cry.
Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.
No-one has the right to make another person guilty.
Everyone has the right to be personal.
Everyone has the right to have no rights.
Everyone has the right to not be afraid.
Do not defeat.
Do not fight back.
Do not surrender.
PS, despite the look of some of these photos, I visited Uzupis in late 2012.