The Media's Spin On Anarchists

  • Posted on: 29 August 2012
  • By: worker

<table><tr><td>From <a href="">... Zero</a>

There has recently been a growing and disturbing trend whereby right-wing idealogues, organizations, and terrorists have been presented in the media as being “anti-government” or even anarchists. This effectively serves to confuse the public about the philosophy of anarchism and what anarchists actually stand for. And this practice will, undoubtedly, have negative consequences for actual anarchist communities.

This inaccurate media portrayal of right wing extremists really caught my attention after the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin – when Amy Goodman subsequently interviewed a former DHS analyst on the subject of “right-wing extremists.” In that interview her guest dismissed the idea that Timothy McVeigh was a racist and no mention of his Christian fundamentalism was put forward. He was described primarily as being involved with “anti-government” militias. This despite the fact that McVeigh constantly praised the Turner Diaries (a novel that romanticizes a race war), which he sold below cost at gun shows, and despite the fact that he was associated with the fundamentalist Christian Identity movement. And, actually, McVeigh was not really anti-government. Rather, he was merely opposed to certain aspects of the government currently in charge. So, while I am a frequent member of DemocracyNow's audience, I think Ms.Goodman dropped the ball in this particular interview and should have been a little more challenging with her questions.</td><td><img title="If only they would give good information about us..." src=""></td></tr...
More to the point along these lines... a prominent headline in the news recently has been about a supposed “anarchist” cell within the U.S. military which was allegedly planning to carry out political assassinations, blow up dams, and poison Washington state's apple orchards. However, despite numerous headline's referring to them as “anarchists,” when one looked a little deeper it was discovered that these "anarchists" were actually just “true patriots” who were essentially looking to take the country back. Later it was revealed that the alleged ringleader of the group was an usher at the RNC in 2008. Like McVeigh, this group seems to be comprised of fairly typical right-wing militants – who are not really "anti-government" and certainly not anarchists.

The problem is that much of the general public doesn't really know much about anarchism or anarchist history and, so, they are likely to believe that the aforementioned people are actually anti-government anarchists. However, as an anarchist, I can tell you that I find this to be seriously troubling and inaccurate.

And the effect of this mislabeling and the demonization of anarchists will not stop the right-wing hate groups from continuing to perpetrate massacres like those in Oklahoma City or at the Sikh temple. Nor will it work to stop the murder of doctors who perform abortions. Nor does it work against anti-gay or racially motivated hate crimes.

This mislabeling and demonization will work against actual anarchists who often directly oppose the perpetrators of such attacks. The anti-fascist movement around the world, groups who physically confront Nazis and other fascists when they march, are predominately made up of anti-racist anarchists. You can find countless articles and videos about anarchists actively resisting fascistic racists. However, according to popular media portrayals, anarchists and fascistic right-wing racists are one and the same.

So... what is the real reason for this mislabeling and demonization of anarchists? It's actually pretty simple. Not only do anarchists actively oppose neo-Nazis and Klansmen, they also oppose the official racist and fascistic policies of the U.S. government. They oppose the racist police state of the United States which imprisons more people (per-capita AND in total numbers) than any other nation on Earth. Anarchists oppose the corporate fascism which concentrates power into the hands of a few while it abuses and enslaves people around the world. Anarchists oppose the racist militarism which kills innocent civilians around the world. Anarchists oppose the system of domination which leads to a billion people going hungry each year and which also destroys the environmental foundation required for human life on this planet. And they're not looking to replace one corrupt government with a less evil version, they're looking to create a completely non-hierarchical system wherein all people are free and have their needs are met.

Nevertheless, when right-wing racist extremists are mislabeled as anti-government anarchists... the effect is to crush actual anarchist communities and movements. For example, at the recent RNC protest in Tampa, a spectre was raised about the diabolical anarchists who were planning all sorts of dastardly crimes during the convention. However, as the protest began, the riot police on the ground (not including other agencies involved with “Homeland Security” who were present) outnumbered the protesters 4 to 1. No great atrocity occurred but the local police got an infusion of high-tech weaponry (which they will conveniently retain after the convention and protest is long over). Surveillance and infiltration of anarchist groups was undoubtedly escalated and the effects of such will undoubtedly linger.

The real anti-government and anti-corporate groups are suppressed, thanks in part to the mislabeling and demonization by the media, while the right wing hate groups keep doing the awful things they always do. And the general public suffers as a result of this because the general public is probably more inclined to be anti-fascist, anti-corporate, anti-racist, and anti-government as well – if only the real and legitimate arguments for anarchism were presented honestly in the mainstream media. But, as it is, general repression and surveillance of the broader population is continuously increased under the auspices of protecting society from the anti-government “anarchist” bogeyman.

Don't misunderstand, anarchists are not all peacenik pacifists looking to sing Kumbaya while a phalanx of armed riot police charge at them. Ideologically, many anarchists are at least willing to defend themselves – if not actually inclined to go on the offensive. But the pertinent issue at hand is the scale of the threat presented by anarchists in the United States and who (or what) is actually being threatened by them. Beyond the false media portrayals of right-wing patriots as anarchists... it's hard to recall any massacres perpetrated by anarchists in the United States. And any violence they do occasionally engage in is certainly not for the purposes of maintaining or establishing a more racist or oppressive government. Some anarchists are inclined to scrap a little bit with the police at protests (a highly punishable offense regardless of harm done), but the biggest threat most anarchists present in this country is, primarily, toward the property of destructive corporations. And this is largely why they are so demonized by the government and the mainstream corporate media.

A random ATM (belonging to some bank that stole a billion dollars) gets jammed full of honey or superglue, a sweatshop storefront gets it window smashed at some infrequent protest, or maybe once in a blue moon the elusive ELF strikes with no casualties. Then... the state and the media calls for the complete crackdown on all the unruly and dangerous anarchists. The anarchists who were NOT responsible for the Oklahoma city bombing, who were not responsible for D.C. sniper spree, and who were not responsible for the Sikh Temple massacre – these were all actions undertaken by former members of the U.S. military. The anarchists aren't religious fundamentalists involved with the 9/11 attacks or the murder of abortion providers. The anarchists are not gunning down poor people each day in the official line of duty. And yet, it is the anarchists who are often presented as public enemy number one.

Obviously, it is their underlying ideology and their latent populist appeal which is feared by the state and its media. And, maybe, someday, anarchists will actually pose a serious threat to the oppressive authoritarian systems in place. But, until then, especially for the moment, lets at least be honest about who anarchists really are and what threats they actually present. Most anarchists in the U.S., for better or worse, are primarily concerned with starting sustainable farms, feeding the hungry, and speaking out against war. They are interested in going to book fairs, protecting the environment, and working on their blogs. And these are the same anarchists who will probably be the first to go when the purges start.

<a href="">... Zero</a>


Word, feels bad man.

It seems obvious to me that this is a PR campaign on the part of the state to smear anarchists. What's less clear is what the response on the part of anarchists should be. Assuring people that we're not dangerous, that all we want is to feed the hungry and go to book fairs, seems both disingenuous and counter-productive. I agree that the anarchist movement in the US doesn't represent the threat being projected upon them, but at least from where I'm standing, we strive to be. Not saying that we need to support every person the media claims acted in furtherance of anarchist goals, but for anarchists to be more honest and open about what our goals actually are. Let the liberals engage in useless efforts to protect the environment and speak out against war. Anarchists understand that ecological collapse and the imperialistic war machine won't stop until the state is destroyed.

I wasn't intending to entirely dismiss any ambitious motivations or aggressive sentiments on the part of anarchists. On the other hand, I don't necessarily see it as particularly useful to present the current anarchist milieu as being the most hostile and aggressive faction in the country. Primarily because, in all honesty, we're obviously not. And, secondly, because any aggression on our part is already blown out of proportion. The government will literally make a federal case out of some anarchists breaking a window. And I'm not saying that windows shouldn't be broken but, rather, the general public should take a step back and put things into perspective.

what is "the general public"?

A small subsection of society with very specific traits that are not broadly shared with many other people in that society. In fact, it may just be one or two persons who view things very differently from most others you'd meet. Like you! You are the general public! Congratulations. Now you should better be able to understand the tragedy of the commons.

Honestly it more looks like a bunch of local outlets copied one or two badly worded AP or whatever reports, i.e. that it was syndicated out. IDK how much of a conspiracy theory it has to be.

What are we gonna do start calling ourselves anti-government communists?

Yeah, I believe it was a CNN article that was picked up and syndicated by every other news outlet. If you look at this article on my blog I've put in a hotlink in the text which discusses the "anarchist militia" and the stock image on that linked page is of a bunch of black block protesters standing behind an anarcho-syndicalist flag and a circle a. But no... I have no intention whatsoever of calling myself an anti-government communist. Not a chance.

what about anti-state primitive communist?

If only we attacked left wing AND right wing organizations...
Oh wait! We already fucking do that!
Leave it to fucking Americans to not know how to pick up a book and fucking read it once in a while!

yeah, the people are SO dumb. that's why they need us to liberate them!

It would be nice if the anti-government commies distanced themselves from the pro-government commies though, for real. I used to swear off all commies until a few years ago I found some that were anti-authoritarian.

How about calling yourselves anti-Proudhon communists?

That might snerk

In the future, everything not liberal will be anarchist.

Like cops, gay-bashing and neo-nazis? Yeah, dude, life's like... everything, you know!

This article is a bit of a premature over-reaction, I think. The only real example of organized smearing is CLEAVLAND. Washington might be, but still... need more evidence.

Google it. If you aren't getting the memo you're not paying attention. I don't even know if it's the media praytell so much as poor journalism and government spin. Anytime anyone does anything batshit they're labeled "anarchists." But a lot of that is poor journalism and government smear, but there are cases where the media, though maybe not so much in this context are smearing Anarchists for funs sake. Again see Oregon.

Type in Anarchist militia black bloc and see what you get. The F.B.I. info center whatever literally lumps militias of this type in a with Black Bloc RNC warning.

Fuck, shit, white boy, Anarchist, Jewish, 2000 dollars in tuition fees etc. etc.

where are these "actual anarchist communities" you speak of?

anarchists will never be portrayed in a way that is favorable or's the fucking media. how long have anarchists known not to trust the bullshit it serves? so remind me: why are we surprised when they spread lies about who anarchists are, who we affiliate with and what we do? I guess what I wonder is...why waste so much time beating ourselves up about it?

anyway...the desire to be accepted by the public and to have our reputations, as anarchists, protected and defended..what is that all about? this is how you want anarchists and their desires portrayed to the masses?:

"And they're not looking to replace one corrupt government with a less evil version, they're looking to create a completely non-hierarchical system wherein all people are free and have their needs are met."

how romantic. how cute and digestible. how blissfully utopic.if this is how the media and society in general is to perceive anarchism, I will have none of it. I, for one, don't see the idea of not being governed as a very cushy, lovey-dovey, easy-to-swallow idea for the majority of people. simply because...most people truly enjoy being led.

with or without the media anarchists will always be demonized. apparently "no government" is a threatening enough idea in and of itself /without/action attached. it has always boggled my mind, but that is just how it is. no use whining about it. embrace it.

PS - ELF wasn't/isn't explicitly composed of anarchists either...

Most people find the idea fearful because of the Other. "I could live without government. But, what about people that pose a great danger?" The Others will say the same thing.

Perhaps it's not so much an enjoyment of being led but that being led causes them to be divided, in fear of others, in competition with others, and/or various combinations.

Remember too, this educational system was set up to produce an easily manipulated labor force.

Start making some alternatives, and once people see how they work (if we make them work) right in front of them more will join in.

Let's still assume the masses like to be led. Damn near everyone I've ever encountered has some sort of problem with how this system operates, or a contention with its indirect or direct effects.

You are correct that the way in which governmental systems are set up (democracy is very good at this) traps people into tricking themselves into believing that they have no volition over their own lives....

but I am tired of this attitude that I encounter so much when talking with people about saving our @ reputation so that the masses may look upon us favorably, or (cross your fingers) so that they might find our way of thinking so freeing and palatable that they too will come to some sort of anarchistic enlightenment.

explain to me then why myself and many other anarchists I have met over the years, came to "anarchism" on their own accord...could it possibly be simply because these are people who are disgusted with being led? with living their lives as sheep?

the masses would do nothing with a friendly anarchism except enact it in their own lives as pure liberalism. who needs their enlightenment anyway?

on a side...I have a question: since when does competition lead to being led? and is it bad?

excuse me...**interact with it ....not **enact it

I think that's a really good point. I think we should do our best, write letters, editorials, blogs, whatever to make people know that we're not the bad guys, but in the end, who gives a flying fuck. I only say that because with political repression having befallen, it would be good to be able to go to people and say "look, this is what they do to us." But it's because it's a dangerous idea. Altruism through freedom, can't beat that bitches. Besides, who listens and watches mainstream media? Goats? Old people scared about Medicare? Seriously. If you watch mainstream media and take it seriously, you're about 5 minutes away from never moving again for the rest of your fuck existence.

It wasn't my attitude to come from the angle of isms, but thw immediate putting to practice of the lived experience that is non-hierarchical relations, and their defense.

I do not hate the masses. I hate the power relations that dominate individuals so as to write them off and label them a spook notion. I was also referencing the view of the founding fathers in using the term. Many hated the masses, seeing the constitution/govt as a means of protecting the 'opulent minority' (them) from the 'ignorant masses.'

Anarchy is not some sacred idea to be guarded by a select few annointed ones, determining who can be let into their club. I do not want others to think like me, accept my ideology. I just want them to be free. Anarchists are of the 'masses,' from them, standing with the exploited. We're not fucking leninists. I don't think preaching ideological standpoints is going to turn people on to anarchy...even liberals, like you mentioned.

I meant that people need to struggle for something concrete, because it will be lived and therefore worth defending. Anarchy, really, wouldn't even need a name. Engaged in it we find many accomplices, because we're destroying and subverting relations of domination and creating/building a transformation to freer ones. That's a lot better than sitting arouns arguing that my concept is cooler or more correct than your concept, ad nauseum.

I will never hate on anyone for not knowing about anarchy/anarchism. It's not the easiest to discover or be introduced to. I grew up very sheltered, and wasted a lot of tim in college before a friend's professor told him about the volume 'No Gods No Masters' after they had developed a personal relationship. I knew that shit was fucked up about the way the world operated from childhood, but growing up didn't give me access to the knowledge i'd always was looking for.

As far as competition goes, I meant all of the bullshit pageantry of keeping up with the Jones', that which leads to nationalism, efficientism, all of the prizes and tokens given out to children and adults for their performace levels, allegiances.

Sorry if this isn't written well. I'm exhausted after work.

I'd have to do the research first but I bet good money that you could fairly easily connect the Sikh Temple shooter to the group that anti-fas attacked just outside of Chicago around the time that NATO was happening. I think a connection like that would go a long way to showing the disconnect between anarchists and these right-wing douche bags.

It doesn't help that a good amount of U.S. "anarchists" get into anarchism because of the shoddy way it's portrayed in various media and never really get an inkling as to what it's actually about.

Yeah turns out that's not just a U.S. sort of thing. Trust me. It's actually a bit more pronounced in other countries depending on where you are.

Well yeah, any anti-social sect often identifies itself as of anarchist proclivity, or the media describes sects as 'anarchist' in their ignorant statist sucking complicity to the system. The greatest thing that hinders a popular appreciation of anarchist desires and goals is the stigma which arises from the conflation of the noun 'anarchy' as 'the absense of any order' with the doctrinal 'anarchism', which possesses a form in a minimalist sense, yet nevertheless all encompassing and orderly. But this is my own individualist-nihilist explanation, I couldn't really give a fuck about these petty public relation issues, I might be dead tomorrow. I find 21st century anarchists starting to resemble 20th century nihilist-techno-primos in their attitudes, they are out of touch with the intuitive anarchism of simpler and more earthy times, the era of letting spontaneous feelings govern ones actions, but not the cry-baby ones lol. Sorry.

What is a "nihilist-techno-primo"?

Capitalist hipsters on wage with energy sustainable gadgets is the new bourgeoisie. Any self-proclaimed anarchist who preaches sustainability yet consumes technology is a hypocrite. The nihilistic element is the root lawlessness which gives them licence to participate in the flagrant exploitation of popular whims without regard to essential autonomous truths. Their consciousness has become smug and self-justified in the same way that colonialists as missionaries viewed their place within the cosmos in the previous century. But I'm just glossing over this, you shouldn't take my rants soooo literally. This is just a statement of 50 words within a tome of gigantic proportions, possibly enough pages which if joined end to end would reach to the moon. I'm angry with you for your lack of imagination! Go away!

What I'm basically saying is that to be an anarchist or nihilist truly one should have been initiated into the realm of experiential realms, and smashing a capitalist window is only the start, later comes fighting cops in the street. But we all have our social restraints, overcoming them is what anarchism is all about, whilst nihilism is about overcoming internal moral limitations.

WTF!!im fuckin sick ofg thbe way the fyckin media maske anartchists like fuckin bittyer actuivists like we're just most oif bus from peasant sytockj enjouy a fuckin beetr and footbalkl an ythenm some fuickin college iunlectuals come round and knwwo we like a good fight likwe afgter fiootball riots and give usd all a fuckin bad name we jus regulatr people the firsty ones will who stop if yousd broke down on the fuckin road!!fucki9 n middfle clasds activiustys.,,.8ball

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Enter the code without spaces.