Tag Archives: Anarchism

Classic Film Review: Anarchism In America

Full Title: Anarchism In America
Director(s): Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher
Year: 1983
Grade: B
Comments:AIA is a good starting point for those that want to learn about Anarchsim, because (as displayed in the documentary) most people have little to no idea of what it really is. The doc does a good job of explaining to viewers that anarchism is a strong social, political, economic, and spiritual philosophy and/or movement built on individualist principles and the belief that society would be better off without the state. The filmmakers distinguish this from the narrow minded view that anarchists are just about chaos and throwing bombs, which unfortunately most folks believe. The film features various anarchsits including, Emma Goldman, returning to America after having been deported for years in rare video footage, veteran Murray Bookchin, tax resisting, “market” anarchist, Karl Hess, the Dead Kennedys (interview and performance), amongst other famous and unknown anarchists. The film also shows various implicit anarchists including American workers committed to the rugged individual ideals of America and they associate this with anarchism, or at least the filmmakers do as well as a sowing company in which the workers run the show a la Chomsky! Speaking of Noam, he is nowhere to be seen and other prominent anarchists and related groups/organizations like the trailblazing paper, Fifth Estate>. I suppose they can’t document everything, but still they focused too much on the implicit Americanism rather than the explicit characteristics; albeit a nice feature. In addition, we see footage of the Liberatarian Party and how this connects to the anti-government (or anti-state power) stance of anarchism, historical events such as the Spanish Civil War, Russian Revolution, and the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. Lastly, my only other complaint is the fact that they didn’t include any anarchists that used violence or force as a political means, justified or not. Granted, this might reenforce the negative connotations of the philosophy that naive viewers have, but at the same time, it would be nice to provide a balanced picture, considering some anarchists are violent. Overall, it was worth a watch and I would recommend it, not for those who want an in depth history of anarchism, but rather for those who are curious or unaware of it and want to learn about the philosophy/movement, at least the American aspects up to the early 1980s.

The following site has a lot of information on this documentary as well the film itself, which can also be viewed on Youtube as seen below.


Here are some cool quotes from the movie, which also appear on the above site.

“Almost anyone, I suppose, can call himself or herself an anarchist, if he or she believed that the society could be managed without the state. And by the state—I don’t mean the absence of any institutions, the absence of any form of social organisation—the state really refers to a professional apparatus of people who are set aside to manage society, to preempt the control of society from the people. So that would include the military, judges, politicians, representatives who are paid for the express purpose of legislating, and then an executive body that is also set aside from society. So anarchists generally believe that, whether as groups or individuals, people should directly run society,” Murray Bookchin

“My understanding of anarchism has as part of its element a connection between ends and means. To me, if one is an anarchist, then, from my point of view, one also must be nonviolent, and if one is nonviolent, one must be an anarchist—I see the linkages very clear[ly]. A person who believes in nonviolence is a person who believes that the sort of society we want to achieve is a society without violence, without wars, and without injustice; and to use wars, violence, and injustice to achieve that society is to be counterproductive,” Ed Hedaman

“Well, it’s hard to tell on the basis of the Party’s rhetoric, after all they’re running for state office, but my experience is that most people who are in the Libertarian Party have pretty decent anarchist impulses, even if they do not say they are anarchists—most of them will say they are libertarians, at any rate. And one thing that is useful is that they have a fairly well-refined analysis of why they aren’t conservative. It took the New Left to do a proper analysis on American liberals, it seems to me, and I suspect that the libertarians are doing the best analysis of American conservatives. I think that they are quite good people, and that the Party contains within it probably more people of an anarchist tendency than any other organisation in the country,” Karl Hess

Here’s Part I


AK Press!


CHECK IT OUT! Perhaps the greatest source for Anarchism and related subversion/dissidence. You can find just about anything, from Chomsky to Punk Rock. They have the Rage Against the Machine endorsement. Do iT!

…. I wish they didn’t charge money for incendiary material. That’s for the companies to do, while the artists merely accept money as a means of survival, but through their social commentary they fight Capitalism within Capitalism….. I guess.


Some Common Misconceptions of Anarchism (For Emma)

1) VIOLENT BOMB THROWING FREAKS!– We live in a violent society period. From schoolyard bullying all the way up to big fucking bombs being dropped on a schoolyard of Iraqi kids. So, are anarchists violent? Some of them are, some of them aren’t, but look around you, there are far more violent institutions such as the Police, the Military, and the entire United States Government. But, do we label said institutions as “violent?” Of course not, whenever they use force it’s to “protect” you and me. We grant such vultures(not all participants of the former organizations fall under this label) at the political top the means and tactics to abuse the rest of us from the middle to the bottom. You see, anarchists question and seek to abolish this authoritarian system and that logic is seen as violent by those at the top. The real question, as veteran anarchist, Alexander Berkman once posed: Is Anarchism violence? and the simple answer is, HELLLLLLL NO! In short, anarchism in itself is just a political theory that advocates overthrowing violent systems and replacing them with more suitable institutions, and since the violent criminals that run society disagree with this logic it is violence. Out of all the political philosophies/theories it has caused the least amount of violence, but that’s a whole other story.

2) NO SOCIAL ORDER!– It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant people are of this very vital and quite appealing political philosophy. Even some History/Government/ Political Science teachers cannot formulate a proper definition of what anarchism really means. Often they just say it means: no government, no laws, no order! Technically, they would not be completely incorrect, but to offer that simple response as a serious definition of anarchism is ludicrous, silly, and especially misleading. When anarchists profess that they would like to see NO GOVERNMENT they mean NO CENTRALIZED STATE POWER. We, anarchists, seek a society without state power. Like all political theories there are numerous variations and different beliefs/ideals. Some anarchists, such as Noam Chomsky, promote big government, for the people of course! Chomsky, particularly refutes the idea that a possible, envisioned, anarchist society would be chaotic or lawless and goes on to say that he believes society should be “highly organized.”

3) ALL ANARCHISTS HATE AMERICA!– Those sick, brainwashed fucks bad mouthing America! some Neanderthals might holler. Well, it is true that many Anarchists hate America, but not ALL. In fact, we have seen several highly patriotic Anarchists, such as Abbie Hoffman, Edward S. Abbey, Howard Zinn, and yours truly! I love America. I hate Amerikkka. There’s a big difference.

4) ALL ANARCHISTS ARE AGAINST RELIGION– Ok, many and perhaps most are. Emma Goldman, a prominent anarchist and personal favorite (well, one of them) often preached that religion was one of the three biggest evils dominating society (the other two being government and property). On the other hand, Christian Anarchism exists and two of the greatest anarchists to ever live are Phillip and Daniel Berrigan, both ordained priests and 100% BAMFs.

5) ANARCHISM FEEDS ON DESTRUCTION OF SOCIETY– This is only partially true. If you’re speaking of Anarcho-Primitivism, then this would be spot on, but most other forms or anarchism preach building society today for a better tomorrow. Emma Goldman noted that this is what made Anarchism distinctive from Socialism/Marxism/Communism, that the latter was based on DESTRUCTION of society and that the former was based on CONSTRUCTION. Then some anarchists, such Jello Biafra and myself claim that we should “destroy society.” This basically is the equivalent of Emma’s points. Simply, out with the old, in with the new. In other words, destruction as a form of creation: abolishing the old traditions that have failed us or are no longer relevant and instituting new ideas to take them over to create a better, peaceful, and more harmonious world for everyone.