Official London anti-terrorist publication says anarchists should be reported to local police

The City Of Westminster Counter Terrorist Focus Desk publishes a weekly briefing on safety called Griffin Weekly, full of useful advice. For example, this week's briefing contains these helpful tips on Anarchism: "Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local Police."

Right, that's my weekend sorted -- I'll be down at my local police station, reading the works of Kropotkin aloud for the constables.

(More seriously: Seriously? These are the terrorism experts who are making official evaluations of risk and official plans to mitigate it? Seriously?)

City Of Westminster Counter Terrorist Focus Desk 29th July 2011 (PDF)


  1. Well, since they couldn’t flat-out say “Hey guys, we’re pretending that we’re making you safer, but hey, check this out, in reality we’re just cementing our hold on power and making it really easy to off and arrest anyone we don’t like. And you guys are PAYING us to do that! Haha, hilarious, really!” they say things like that.

    It’s the old game. How do you spot an anarchist? What identifies them? The fat “A” on the arm? What do these people think they are doing other than sowing distrust? I can only buy into the fear and think that is probably their goal, because a divided population is easier to control.

    So, who else can you apparently spot via easy visual cues? A terrorist? A communist? A muslim? A jew?

    1. Anarchists are easy to identify, you just look for the folks who are meticulously following the laws. An anarchist, for instance, always crosses the street only at designated crosswalks, because he hates talking to the police. Any carefully law-abiding citizen is a potential anarchist in disguise, sewing the seeds of chaos and disorder through acts of invisible subversion under a thin veneer of patriotic nationalism. Don’t be fooled by the flag wavers and anthem-singers among you, they are always the most suspect! Report any neighbour who does not visibly break at least one law a day, for he is undoubtedly an enemy of the state.

  2. I’ll be writing them an email about Glenn Beck, the Tea Party & other Right Wing Anarchists!  Phew, glad to know someone is watching out for these corporate neo-feudalists in Libertarian sheep’s clothing.

    …wait, that IS what they mean, right?

    1. i’ve been calling “teabaggers “anarchists since they stopped being a loose bunch of cranks to a lethal shill for the corporatists.  

  3. It sort of reinforces the idea that the state is undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, doesn’t it?

    1. :D !!

      Best comeback comment of the year!

      [boing boing should put a trophy icon next to your name for the rest of the year and if people click on it, it goes to your post here]

    1. Beech volley ball is played in trees. It is a somewhat precarious game of passing a ball back and forth across a net in voleys. As the net is generally two or three floors below the players it is generally not as much of an obstacle as simply falling off.

  4. I’d like to report known Anarchist Michael Moorcock and every bookstore in the UK for propagating his the subversive and seditious tracts for decades now…

  5. What you need to understand about this situation is that the demographics of this town in London are a bit weird; they have more police officers than citizens.

    As a result, they get a little bored.

    (Okay, not really – although there are a couple of places nearby where that is true – but it’s still a massively overpoliced town)

    1. Dav, in the late 20th century, the UK did have serious terrorism issues, from the IRA.  Having an organized program to deal with them wasn’t a waste of funds.  These days, terrorism may be mostly an excuse to get more money for more police, but since they don’t have much real terrorism, they can go chase punks instead (“He’s wearing black and doesn’t like the police!  Must be an Anarchist!”)

    2. Possibly not, in this instance.

      Westminster is the seat of British government, and London has instances of terrorist attack going back decades. The IRA made some major big bangs.

      However, if this is the tripe that the “counter-terrorism teams” come out with, then London would probably be safer without them.

  6. An old English friend used to run with the British Anarchists participating in their various sabotage activities –  a lot of it relating to animals: hunts, and medical experimentation facilities. Criminal damage and trespass were usually the worst they did, but they did tie up a lot of police resources, and some of them have been more than a nuisance. Perhaps it’s trivial compared to making bombs. But to pretend that they are harmless seems a little under-informed at best, even if reporting them to the police is an over-reaction.

    1. “But to pretend that they are harmless seems a little under-informed at
      best, even if reporting them to the police is an over-reaction.”

      “They” do not exist as a single entity.  When people calling themselves muslim bomb a building, we cannot infer that muslims are violent.  When people calling themselves jewish brutalize and ghettoize another ethnic group, we cannot infer that jews are racist.

      If any group defies group classification, it’s gotta be the anarchists.

      1. Well “they” seem to identify themselves as a group of coherent national and international organisations on their website. They appear, again, looking at various websites, to espouse a similar ethos (variations on “smash capitalism”) and similar methods (such as “black bloc”). So “they” don’t see themselves as defying classification, quite the contrary.

        1. There is an organization with a defined ethos.  This in no way contradicts what I said–that you cannot generalize from the acts of the few to a characterization of the whole group.  There is, for one thing, no reason to believe that this national/international organization is all inclusive.

          The state of israel is a clearly defined organization with an explicit ethos and modus operandi, but that does not mean that all jewish people support the actions of the state of israel.

          As someone else said, acts may be legal or illegal, but possessing a political philosophy is not a crime.

        2. Not all anarchists are anarcho-communists that want to smash capitalism.  There are also anarcho-capitalists on the other end of the spectrum that want markets to be more free of state intervention.

        3. Just like Christians, Muslims, Democrats, Fascists, Communists, etc. etc. etc. They must all practically be the same person since they have similar views and ethos, right? Don’t be fooled into us vs them. There is only we, built of you and I.

    2. Like the police briefing says, anarchism is a political philosophy. Some anarchists do commit sabotage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all anarchists are destructive assholes.

      1. getting back to the subject here… the reason this post is such a big deal is that they’re targeting people who they have no legitimate reason to believe are guilty of a crime, profiling based on ideology ONLY. make no mistake, being targeted by the police is a punishment, your right to privacy is infringed whether you are guilty of anything or not.

    3. The hunt saboteurs used to believe in a law against hunting and so were clearly not anarchist. The same applies to the anti animal experimentations groups. That said a lot of them thought anarchism was cool with no real idea what it was and so did call themselves anarchists. As both sets believed in a state that would outlaw the things they did not want happening it would be a mistake to report them just because they were intimidating people and breaking things as they do not match the criteria set out for reporting them.

    4. Anarchy doesn’t necessarily have to be about sabotage. To pretend police are harmless is just as dangerous as ignoring people who lash out at their society in violent and manipulative ways.

  7. LDN anti-terrorist mag says anarchists shld b reportd 2 police Back in a society of suspicion #McCarthyism #WitchHunts


    I can’t say I don’t understand. Societal violence (as opposed to war zones) seems closer than ever for many people. The concept of home-grown terrorism, increasing xenophobia and elevated states of readiness, have shifted ‘better safe than sorry” towards the ugly spiral of McCarthyism.

    But understanding is not agreeing. Tolerance for the views of others has to be balanced with an education of what might account for suspicious activity (i.e. As a whole, it’s great that the general citizenry are encouraged by “if you see something, say something” campaigns. But for true plot detection, I’m hoping that the counter-terrorism intelligence community is holding the line.

  8. Sounds to me like a politician or two in office want to keep their offices at the cost of oppressing the masses. If that happened where I live, I would fight to have them removed from office and make certain that the people did not have to fear them. And I would make sure that the people weren’t paying them after they were removed from office.

    1. They probably just want the Olympic Games to go without a hitch so they don’t look like arseholes in front of the whole world. If it hasn’t happened where you live you probably don’t understand the situation, so why comment?

      1. Even if it is to try to keep order for the Olympic Games, it comes off as a modern day witch hunt. And the symbol that the Focus Desk desided to put in the publication helps my thesis, because it does indeed look like it would be a wiccan and/or satanic sysmbol.

    2. what i can’t understand is how the UK can exist so close to all those northern european countries who consider giving up their freedoms as unnecessary for security (and constantly prove it) and still hold these backward anti-intellectual viewpoints so roundly discredited by anyone with an ounce of knowledge or two brain cells that pass in the night.

  9. When I visited Amherst, New York a while back, every street sign had the capital letter A within a circle on it. This was to distinguish them from similarly-named streets in nearby Buffalo.

    Or …was it? (Should we alert Homeland Security?)

    Also, many years ago I watched a (USA) TV “news magazine” program which described the UK as being the most closed and authoritarian society this side of the Soviet Bloc.

    1. Actually, Amherst is a secret hotbed of anarchist sentiment. Don’t let the relative prosperity of Buffalo’s “northtowns” fool you. There’s a black bloc outfit hidden in every closet.

    2. Are you just… making that up? I’m actually from Amherst, NY and there aren’t “A” symbols on the street signs.

      The border zone between Amherst and Buffalo is actually quite small, for one thing (there are other suburbs along the border too) and Buffalo’s street signs are blue, while Amherst’s are NY standard green, so it’s hard to mistake which city you’re in.

      If you’re sure you actually saw that I’d be interested to know where, precisely, in Amherst it was. I live in California now but I could send someone from back home to investigate :)

      1. I believe urbanspaceman may have mistaken Amherst for Allentown. I am sitting in Amherst as I type, and there are no such street signs, however, they certainly do exist in the Allentown section of the city of Buffalo, of which I was a resident for many years. 

  10. According to the Independent (a left-wing British paper) “Organisers of next year’s Olympics believe there is a greater threat of disruption to the Games from anarchist protesters than Islamist terrorism.”

    Last week Rupert Murdoch (80) was attacked by a British Anarchist as he gave evidence to a parliamentary enquiry. I don’t like Murdoch either, but making a circus out of proceedings did not help.

    Meanwhile Politics News pointed out that “Many anarchists participate in the demonstrations using tactics called ‘black bloc’, which sees leaderless gangs of youths dressed in black conducting direct action events on the sidelines of the main march.”

    That’s the context.

    1. ok. couple of things to clear up. the independent is central if anything. being an anarchist doesn’t make you love black bloc tactics or even direct action. it means you think we’d be better off without a state. This is the same as saying “you’re a conservative, you must be reported to the police” you hold a set of beliefs, which can be implemented democratic(some believe) or without resorting to the actions commonly associated with terrorists (bombing, smashing, some would argue black bloc) as i do.
      there’s no evidence that i’ve seen to suggest that jonny marbles (the guy who stuck a pie in murdocs face(not quite an attack, is it?)) was an anarchist. can you provide a source for this. not everyone taking direct action is an anarchist, and not every anarchist takes direct action.

      finnaly, dissruptoipn from anarchist PROTESTORS is verry different to disruption from islamic TERRORISTS, as we have in this country a right to protest, but not a right to commit terrorist acts.

    2. Let me address your points one at a time:

      1) “anarchist protesters” against the Olympics – when people who hold a variety of common objections against the Olympics inevitably protest them, they will be labeled “anarchists” in the press.  This will be done in order to discredit the protesters with scary words, so as to avoid having to do the work of reporting on their grievances, and then having to address them as legitimate.

      What it definitely does not mean, is that the people protesting will contain any greater proportion of self-identified anarchists as UK society in general.

      2) Rupert Murdoch was pied by someone who may have (a) been described as an anarchist, and may even (b) have self-identified as an anarchist.

      Recognize that (a) and (b) do not necessarily closely correlate.

      Anyway, whatever you think of that act, if an anti-terrorist group has time to spend on that sort of thing, they need to be disbanded.

      3) Regardless of what the BBC may tell you, the overall demographics and political leanings of groups conducting ‘Black Bloc’ actions is unknown. 

      The only group I know for sure has been identified as joining black blocs is police –  And before you make the suggestion – no, these were not cops infiltrating a group in order to identify people in advance.  These were the people trying to start things, trying to turn a peaceful protest violent in order to give the uniformed cops an excuse to turn violent.

  11. Does no one else see this as more odd than anything.  The first couple of sentences are a classic text book definition of anarchism, with a weird little “report them to the police” at the end.  

    Given this is a minor publication I can imagine someone thinking “better make sure we’re talking about stuff other than Islamism, especially given the Norway stuff.  Hey work experience kid!  Do something on the anarchists or something”.

    Here is an appropriate place to laugh at petty beuracratic incompetence, not fear a police state.  Although, maybe they’re worried about a slow burner from the turn of the last century

    1. We will be hosting the Olympics next year and recently anarchists have been rising to greater prominence – as noted above. There is a genuine concern that people – who call themselves anarchists – will try to disrupt the games.

      That ties up police time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere, and this as a time when police budgets and staff numbers are set to fall dramatically because of the global financial crisis (caused, ironically, by the prime targets of the anarchists).

      What we’re concerned about, I think, is public disorder for childish goals, as a time when we are worried about actual bombs going off (and if you haven’t had a bomb go off in your city then just pause to think how you would respond if *you* were in charge!), and worried about hosting a successful Olympic Games. The last thing we want is a bunch of purile would-be world changers creating havoc on the streets of London. Witness the excellent contribution that one anarchst made to the parliamentary inquiry into voice mail interception – trying to stuff shaving foam into the face of the man in the dock. Oh yes, very helpful! The more I think about it the less sympathy I have for them.

      1. As an East Londoner, I’d be delighted to see the Olympics entirely disrupted right the hell out of my neighbourhood. The “childish behaviour” you think the police should actively suppress is a legitimate, widely held political view — that the Olympics, whatever their origin, are a waste of money, a corporatist sham, and a blight on cities. As someone who’s just been accepted for UK Naturalisation, I had to pass the Life in the UK test, so I can promise you that the official view of our “unwritten constitution” is that freedom of expression, including opposition to multibillion-pound boondoggles, is lawful, and consistent with the principles of British society.

      2. I think that this is it exactly. What we need to worry about generally is people *calling* themselves anarchists rather than people who at a referendum would vote the state out of existence. Since people associated anarchists with bombing lunatics (to be fair there was a time when they were) they became a cool thing for luntics who wished they were bomb toting to call themselves. It is interesting that the people who came up with the information on the hacking (well some of them at least) were anarchists too. Not aspiring to be “cool as f*ck” bombers they do not shout about it. Did the shaving foam guy even know what it was to be an anarchist?

      3. There are those who act foolishly in all belief systems. That doesn’t mean the belief system itself is foolish, or that all those who agree with it aren’t better than bored, angry teenagers. 

    2. Exactly — it seems pretty incongruous. The definition given is rather pro-anarchy if anything. You’d think the police would focus on the fact that 19th century anarchists actually blew up cafes and things if they wanted to drum up paranoia against modern anarchists.

  12. “(More seriously: Seriously? These are the terrorism experts who are making official evaluations of risk and official plans to mitigate it? Seriously?)”
    Not an anarchist here, but this is why the knee-jerk reaction to fear is not the best basis for establishing policy, security or otherwise. These ARE the experts, or more precisely, this is an example of the midset of most people that enter this area of study and of law enforcement. The live in a world of top down, chain of command social organization that looks at oppositional views as a negative.  This is the self-assembling system that dictatorships and totalitarian regimes use around the world, you just get the fear ball rolling and everyone else will criminalize and beat down your opposition for you. If you draw all your “experts” from this pool of thought, it’s the same as if you went into a bar full of gigolos and prostitutes looking for love,  either way you’ll come out knowing you’re going to be f#cked.

  13. I can understand the police advising the report of anarchistic actions, but this blatant persecution of ideas is terrifying.

  14. anarchist here. we got this out on our mailing list earlier., we’re plotting a trip down to the local police station, reporting ourselves, followed by FOI requests to see what happens. :)

  15. Don’t forget an anarchist started the First World War – which led to the Second World War. You don’t want that again, do you?

  16. This is, if not inevitable, certainly predictable. If one is going to declare a war on something as nebulous as “terror”, a very broad net is going to be cast.

      1. I have a good grasp on several forms of anarchism.  On the first page he says that anarchic societies have existed for millennia, but lists no examples. Ponce. I’m extremely liberal by the way. Just to throw that out there. Functional societies with no government is a joke. It just doesn’t work.

    1. Aren’t you worried they’ll get you on the same charge?

      –edit: oh, I see below where you said it was a joke. Hang on….

      Wait a minute.

      Just another second or two.


      Hold on.

      It’s almost here.

      No, sorry. Not funny.

    2. Well 50% of the population are more than averagely ignorant. Should we arrest all of them? Most of the anarchists I have met were well read unlike most of the people I have met who called themselves anarchists.

  17. Shit, just report anything you see and do to the police, OK?

    “I just made a report to you about something suspicious”
    “I just reported to you that I made a report about something suspicious”
    “I just…

  18. > The last thing we want is a bunch of purile would-be world changers creating havoc on the
    > streets of London. (…)
    > They appear, again, looking at various websites, to espouse a similar ethos
    > (variations on “smash capitalism”) and similar methods (such as “black bloc”).

    Wow, way to paint with a broad brush.

    “They” also espouse a not-very-political existence engaged in a lifetime pursuit of caring for the sick and dying at work (I’m a nurse, so that’s me- insert your other meaningful, compassionate profession here instead) and raising “their” children to be responsible, productive citizens at home. And “they” espouse a philosophy of absolute nonviolence (that would be Gandhi, also an anarchist), and a life of quiet, philosophical thinking (Henry Thoreau- anarchist), and a life of academics, writing world-renowned fantasy and opposing the extremes of the time (JRR Tolkien- anarchist), and a whole other hugely wide range of ways of thinking and acting.

    Anarchists in general are not so into the whole sticking-to-the-party-line thing. We’re an extremely diverse bunch of individuals with a wide range of beliefs, outlooks, and behavior.

    > The more I think about it the less sympathy I have for them.

    Well, thank your lucky stars next time you’re in the hospital then that my political philosophy requires better of me.

  19. In trying to wrap my head around “Anarchism” as a philosophy I was perusing the Wikipedia entry for it. One thing I found funny was this: “The use of violence is a subject of much dispute in anarchism.” With the state being “undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful”, I just don’t get who these self proclaimed anarchists think built the public spaces they use (and riot) in? Really, seriously, can you show me a peaceful country that exists in anarchy? Anarchy as a political and social philosophy will only ever exist in a college lecture hall. And as we’ve seen plenty of times here in Seattle, the anarchism practiced in the street (often by imports from Eugene OR) has more to do with spoiled brats who want attention and can’t control their need to smash something until they get that attention. They can claim that it’s the only way to effect change all they want, it’s still complete BS. What about all the innocent people that get hurt in their riots? (See Vancouver BC riots) My beliefs are VERY liberal, but I will never be able to take these silly sots seriously, and I will never allow them to get away with violence. And if you are going to tell me “Not all anarchists are violent”, then how are they spreading their message? I’ve never seen them passing out information at any public events around Seattle. Do they put up a booth at the Pride parade? Or would that be too organized? Does anyone in this thread think humans can really exist in a society without some form of government? Really, I would like to know if you actually believe that and how it will work. I understand that they are upset that they are all painted as terrorists, but do you really expect to declare war on the state and not expect it to fight back? Is it really any wonder that the State believes that anarchists are undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful? 

    1. Andy – where on earth did you get the notion that anarchists were responsible for any of the rioting in Vancouver?  Those were drunken sports fans.

      What anarchists do do is to feed the hungry and homeless without wasting their time on permits, maintaining a non-profit status, or spending tens of thousands of dollars on a commercial kitchen – seeing those obstacles to compassionate human interaction set up by the state, as having no legitimacy.

      It’s just that, when anarchists take direct political action by way of preparing hot meals for the homeless in their own kitchens and distributing them on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the park behind the library, the media do not report on it by showing the action with a big anarchist ‘A’ symbol superimposed on it.

      So, when armchair pundits opine about ‘what anarchists do’ without having actually asked any anarchists what they do, all they have to go on is those actions the media has chosen to portray as anarchist political actions.

      And, in my city, yes, they do march, and pass out literature, in the local Pride parade, among other activities.

      1. Where on earth did you the get the idea that it was drunken sports fans? So it’s OK to make assumptions about Canadian sports fans but not those saintly anarchists? Sorry, but Vancouver sports fans have a better historical record regarding rioting than Pacific northwest anarchists. 

        And “obstacles to compassionate human interaction set up by the state, as having no legitimacy”, you mean like permits and safety regulations? Yeah, we don’t need those. Silly ideas like forcing builders to put sprinkler systems in buildings to stop fires before they can spread… yeah, that’s terrible. Maintaining a non-profit status is to prevent people from just collecting and pocketing money in the name of charity, but that would never happen, right?. Academic nonsense.

        1. I suspect if you were to misappropriate the funds of a Food Not Bombs group and skip town, your misbegotten gains would get you a city bus ticket to the Greyhound station, but not an actual Greyhound ticket out of town.

        2. To the extent you’ll listen to me anymore, as a purveyor of “academic nonsense”, please note that I am not endorsing any of these positions.  I’m just saying, these are the actions I have observed and my understanding of the political theory behind them.  I don’t consider myself an anarchist, and even if I did I wouldn’t be acting as a spokesperson for any anarchist group.

    2. “…but do you really expect to declare war on the state and not expect it to fight back?”

      If I say a technology is outdated and harmful, I have not “declared war” on it.  I am not actively engaged in a campaign of smashing dial-up modems.  ^_^

      “Really, seriously, can you show me a peaceful country that exists in anarchy?”

      Post Franco Spain.  Orwell happened through there are wrote very glowingly of the scene.

      I don’t know if you’re actually curious about anarchist thought or not, but I’ll offer up a few thoughts:

      Some think that people can’t be trusted, so there must be authority to control them…but your authority is MADE OF PEOPLE, and the kind of people who desire authority are undoubtedly the least deserving of it.

      Anarchy is anti-coercion, not anti-organization.

      And finally, anarchy is actually the de-facto reality.  None of us here agreed to any social contract (well, you may agree, but you were never asked).  The position of the state is not embedded in any overarching structure…the power they have, they took.

      “…I just don’t get who these self proclaimed anarchists think built the public spaces they use (and riot) in?”

      The mob may actually provide protection to a neighborhood after coercing financial support out of the residents, but that doesn’t change the fact that non-compliance is met with violence.

      I’m willing to read replies to this if they are thoughtful and relevant, but I’m NOT going to get into a whole _thing_ with this.  :)

      1. “I’m willing to read replies to this if they are thoughtful and relevant, but I’m NOT going to get into a whole _thing_ with this.  :)” 

        Well, since you added the smiley you don’t come across like a self important ass. :-)

      2. Querent,

        A thoughtful response. If you fancy further discussion of anything drop me a line through the contact page of as it might be an interesting chat.

        Thank you for the post.

      3. hi querent

        post-franco spain didn’t happen until 1975 i’m afraid.  the anarchist collectives which operated under terrible and violent pressure from 1936 (when a military coup failed, leading to the spanish civil war) unfortunately didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory as anarchists, with some quite surprising basic freedoms effectively denied to the people who lived in them.

        possibly a better strategy is to point out that OF COURSE we can’t think of any countries which operate under anarchy; the establishment of a nation state would be anathema.  as for societies, there are a number of (sometimes quite large) groups which operate as effective anarchies.  they often don’t describe themelves as anarchies because they generally have better things to do.  some of them don’t even recognise themselves as a society.  any group with no central authority and which makes decisions by consensus is an anarchy. 

        as for citizens and states, i’m not convinced that most people really want to accept the responsibility of anarchism yet – a tremendous amount of people would rather do what they’re told and have someone to blame when something goes wrong.  that is understandable, i feel quite like that myself a lot of the time…

        ultimately though, IF we believe that hierarchical government must ultimately fail, then all we need to do is quietly educate people and model appropriate behaviours of cooperation and collective ownership.  bombs and violent dissidence will not be necessary, we only need to wait and be ready.



    3. > Does anyone in this thread think humans can really exist in a society without
      > some form of government? Really, I would like to know if you actually believe that
      > and how it will work

      Well, being an anarchist and all, I’m only speaking for myself, not for all of us in general…

      But in my case; no I don’t think there’s any way human society can function without government. But I don’t think I’ll ever be, for example, a perfectly nice person either, but that doesn’t mean kindness is something I shouldn’t strive for. A world with no government at all is impossible (imo), but living as a self-governing being is not.

      Yeah, I think we definitely need government, and I vote and I obey the laws of my country at least as much as anyone else does. But in the end, I’m the one who makes my own decisions- I don’t believe the state has a right to do it for me. The state is capable of mistakes, just like I am. When I do something ignorant, I don’t want everyone else to follow me down the Stupid Road, and when the state does something ignorant, I don’t believe they have the ethical authority to compel me to follow them down it either. That makes me an anarchist.

      1. Like Querent, a thoughtful post. Feel free to get in touch for a chat as mentioned above.

    4. > but do you really expect to declare war on the state and not expect it to fight back?

      I forgot to respond to this part.

      I don’t believe that my husband has a right to dictate my ethics to me or control my behavior; does that mean I’ve declared war on him too?

      It’s possible to have a positive relationship with a person or group of persons or even a very large group of persons without accepting that one party needs to control and the other needs to submit. If the government’s basic goals and my basic goals are generally in line with one another’s then we can live together in peace- no problem. If they’re not, then things are less rosy, but it still doesn’t mean I’ve “declared war” on them or vice versa. There are other responses to disagreement than war.

    5. i agree that anarchism is untenable but given all the harms of statism it’s still a perfectly reasonable assumption that any “system” (ie lack of) would be better. the reason use of violence is much in dispute is that these kindergarten philosophers are actually thinking, studying, and debating about what they believe, more than i can say for any authority i’ve come across in my life.

      so even though it will just result in a different form of government rather than a stateless society, more power to ’em… literally.

    6. I agree that rioters are nothing more than spoiled brats seeking attention, often under the headline of a just cause. Anarchy doesn’t ‘spread its message’ because it isn’t a centralized organization or belief system (and certainly doesn’t promote the use of propaganda): it is a set of principles many people have come to conclude, often independent of one another. Anarchy spreads mainly through discussion, be it literary or verbal. It upholds the fact that every person is a unique, independent being whose freedom is limitless until it encroaches on the freedoms of another. No one has the right or legitimacy to control, lead or ‘represent’ another person or group of persons. In my perspective, that isn’t to say we can’t organize and lead for specific projects and purposes, but rather that we need to get past the idea that any one person is innately endowed to speak for the rest.

      Every single person is inevitably biased. Most people will always tend to favor those they know personally over those they’ve never met. That isn’t necessarily a negative characteristic but the systems currently in place allow it to lead to too often drastic consequences, and spoils all government systems with corruption. Anarchistic societies have and do exist successfully, in small clusters. As for how it would work on a large scale, we’d have to abolish the monetary system first and radically develop (and by develop I mostly mean produce, since it already exists) technologies to eliminate most jobs, especially those of hard labor, danger, or that are often prone to human error. We would need to make possible and protect the outcomes of freedom of movement and freedom of information, especially access to education.

      Anarchy is not a declaration of war; it is a declaration against anyone who supposes they or ‘their government’ have the right to declare war. They tell us government is built on social ‘consensus’ but I don’t remember anyone ever being asked if they consented. People who riot and attack others declaring they’re doing so in the name of anarchy are indeed immature little brats who don’t really have a firm grasp on what they say they’re promoting. Real anarchists live by example by promoting community trust and solidarity without sacrificing the sanctity of the individual perspective. We don’t need humans in special uniforms to come rushing to help whenever there’s a problem, we need to know how to handle those problems ourselves by accepting that each of us are responsible not only for ourselves but for our surroundings, including not only the environment but also each other.

    7. Anarchists in Seattle regularly hand out leaflets and stuff at public events and at other times. The state did not build any public places, the workers built the public places. Workers must get rid of the state and the rich, so that they and everyone else can take control of their own lives and run the world cooperatively, instead of through the idiotically inefficient system of the “free market”.

      Also anarchists don’t just riot, they do workplace and community organising. See e.g.

    8. “What about all the innocent people that get hurt in their riots? (See Vancouver BC riots)”

      Are you kidding me? Do you actually think the recent Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver was perpetuated by anarchists?

      It couldn’t be more clear that this was a bunch of drunken hockey fans (and I can’t think of a more “normal” and politically mainstream group), giving into crowd psychology as an output for their violent and destructive tendencies. Do you think anarchist “looters” would be going after designer handbags? That’s absurd.

  20. You are quick to refute a viable political ethos. One may not agree with something and still recognize the validity of a differing point of view. I am not going to have that argument here. I wouldn’t imagine such societies would need illustrating. History as a discipline is the history of the nation-state as it is written down from the earliest recording of such things. He is speaking of pre-history. Something I keep in mind is that utopia literally translates to ‘No Such Place’. By this I mean that perhaps no civilization is ideal, but that doesn’t mean a better world could not be had. Before slavery was abolished the most common argument against it was that slavery had always existed and that it would be absurd to think otherwise. And yet here we are. The five day work week and minimum wage are both examples of progress brought to you by self-described anarchists. Anyway labels are for jars. The black bloc doesn’t speak for everyone and there are many examples of direct action tactics leading to favorable results. Direct action is a phrase that does not itself imply violence, nor does anarcho-syndicalism imply direct action although they are frequently partnered.

    Much more alarming is this backlash on the part of a government against not even a group of people or violent action but against an idea, a political philosophy.

    How long before I can be arrested and interrogated by indicating that I am a libertarian socialist?

    1. you’re the first person i’ve met who self-described as a libertarian socialist.

      i’m an intellectual oligarchy libertarian socialist… hi.

      1. you’re the first person i’ve met who self-described as a libertarian socialist.

        Most libertarian socialists I’ve know have preferred more specific designations such as mutualism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism, communalism, ect…

        Such societies are common in utopian fiction, as are anarcho-capitalistic societies. This is not so surprising since the common aspiration of most enlightened sociopolitical philosophies tends toward a state of liberty (e.g. self-determination) and humanism (e.g. self-determination going both ways). I personally find it as odd to subscribe exclusively to a single insulated political philosophy as to adhere to a religion, but I find most political philosophical categories, including the broad and varied field of anarchism, have something worthwhile to offer in forming my own ideas about what a better tomorrow could look like. Most of my ideas certainly hail from somewhere on the libertarian corner of the Nolan Chart.

        As moniker42 so aptly quoted, labels are for jars…save for the label human.

    2. The optimist thinks we live in the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears that she is right.

      As a point of relevant interest the (non protesting) man who died during the G20 protests (Ian Tomlins?) came to light because of a man who was working for free as a legal observer and who had seen many similar incidents in his time. Are groups with legal observers inherently anarchistic?

      The protests themselves were an example of a fairly anarchistic (but not disorganized) way of protesting. The police response? “kettling”. That is putting a whole load of people, some of whom were protestors, into a confined area and keeping them crowded in for hours on end.

      If you had been caught up in that which side would you have blamed? The (admitedly peaceful) protestors or the police? I would have been annoyed by both sides and would have done my best to leave discreetly despite the police telling me to stay there. I suspect that response could label me as an anarchist because I would be following Riku’s advice and not feeling that they have a moral authority to tell me to stand around for a few hours for no reason other than being near people they disaprove of.

  21. Hey, an anarchist tried to kill Papa Lenin and I STILL support their rights……seriously though, this is no surprise. If you believe history has not ended, that there is still struggle and a fight for the control of the means of fill-in-the-blank, then the status quo-niks will surely view anarchists (and socialists and communists) as threats…..well, because THEY ARE or at least should be.

      1. @Stephen Bullock:

        I’m a Communist.

        ll communists are overpriviliged, ignorant white kids.  Hey, you’re right, this is fun!

  22. First they came for the muslims, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a muslim.

    Then they came for the anarchists, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a anarchist.

    Then they came for any kind of protesters, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a protester.

    Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

  23. I’m fine with all anarchists who are fine with me not being an anarchist. In my experience it is not the particular ideology that is the critical issue, but how tightly wedded to that ideology – how fanatical – one is.

    A capitalist who is convinced that anyone who dares to question capitalism is evil, is as dangerous as a communist who is convinced that anyone who dares to question communism is evil… and so on…

    1. Are there fanatics who feel that anyone who dares to question fanatacism is evil?

      Certainly there are fanatics who feel anyone who dares question that they should be fanatical is evil but they usually base it on what they are fanatical about. From the outside I tend to feel that it is being fanatical that is more liely evil but I am not fanatical about it. It is probably why my wife drags me in to stop talking to the people who come to convert me from the street. Whether they are religious or political I am happy to debate them and so I get dragged away after half an hour.

  24. Any authority must be able to prove it’s legitimacy whenever questioned and if it can not do this simple task it’s authority is thus rendered null and void. That tenet works at the scale of one on one interaction all the way up to governments and governed. One of the most central aspects of most flavors of anarchism is the ability to question authority, hold it accountable and in its failing replace said authority with something better. And yes there are many many many examples of anarchy in action (with desirable results), as mentioned earlier, check out Orwell’s ‘Homage to Catalonia’ as a good example of what good anarchists are capable of. As for the Black Bloc and other such ‘anarchists’ they do little to advance the cause and much to harm it. Their antics are those of the young, disenfranchised, angry, confused  or contrary which usually subside with age or bloom into more criminal actions (which is about as far from true anarchy as you could get since most crime is for personal gain at the expense of others).

  25. Seems like lots of folks imagine they know what anarchism is about, while they really know fuck all.

    Seriously, pretty much the only valid criticism of anarchism rests on the point that we don’t have a culture in place that would allow for it; far too many people have been raised as peasants who need someone to dictate right and wrong for them, and are incapable of taking their place as fully responsible citizens answering to no authority but that of the collective.

    All this drivel about there being no such thing as functioning anarchy kind of ignores all hunter-gatherer societies – before the shift to agriculture arbitrarily granted some dominion over others, everybody lived in a meritocracy – there was no authority not earned in a utilitarian sense. Anarchism is based on recognition of the fact that nobody has an inherent right to dictate the terms of your existence to you; that we must all accept the challenge to fulfil as much of our own potential to act responsibly as possible, and that fifty fully-realised humans acting in concert is several orders of magnitude more worthwhile in every way than forty-nine materially and culturally impoverished peasants serving the whims of one obscene parasite.

    Remember the old chestnut about power corrupting? I say spread it as thin as possible.

    Communism = fail
    Capitalism = fail
    Anarchism = bring it… back.

    Only by recognising that we each have an obligation to fully develop our own authority can we escape all forms of arbitrary dominion. The only authority any of us should acknowledge is reason.

    1. The collective you’re talking about could only be achieved by the Borg.

      So in hunter gatherer societies there was no murder, theft, or rape? Also, these societies may have worked, but they operate on an extremely small scale. The mechanism for making people behave was banishment. You could not survive on your own. So basically it was obey, or face death.

      AnCap would completely remove this mechanism.

      Times are very different now.

      1. You’re a Communist and you are comparing anarchism to the Borg? That’s awesome.

      2. “So in hunter gatherer societies there was no murder, theft, or rape?”

        I would guess those things existed.  No one claimed an anarchistic society would be perfect. (We’re getting pretty close to the definition of a straw man here.)

        But those things still exist.

        A question would be whether a basically reactive police force actually diminishes the occurrence of these things.  It is an honest question.

        Some things that did not exist: systematic abuse of authority by LEOs (including point-blank executions carried out with immunity), and a private prison industry with incredible lobbying power that fights to guarantee that non-violent recreational drug users (i.e. innocent people) continue to be imprisoned and have their lives ruined for the sake of a greasy buck.

        Also, to go off topic, in re the use of the word “troll”: maybe cut back on your 1 or 2 line posts that call someone you disagree with “ignorant” or a “fool.”  Hell, you use the word “moron” before posting “…a troll is someone who posts inflammatory….messages….”

        1. I said if you don’t heed that post you may look like a moron. I never called anyone a name directly. 

          I’m tired of this. 

          We both agree things could be different. We just disagree how to go about it. Actually if we talked IRL we might get along quite well.

    2. The problem with anarchism is not its opposition to “dominion”. Anarchism’s critique of unwarranted domination in many existing power structures is perfectly valid. Where I take issue with anarchism is in its proposed solutions to the identified problems.

      By wishing to imbue every individual with *identical* levels of authority on all issues, anarchism creates two important problems.

      First, by effectively preventing significant delegation of responsibilities (even if voluntary) anarchism strongly disempowers communities for tackling large-scale and long-term projects, which are the bedrock of human progress. Look at any hunter-gather tribe remnants left today, and for all intents and purposes they live *exactly* as their forefathers did THOUSANDS of years ago (in all respects – technological, social, aesthetic…).

      Second, this desire for everyone to be identically empowered on everything is incompatible with just how different human beings can be. The big challenge of any community is in the creation and enforcement of mechanisms for resolving disputes between its members. The smaller the disputes, the less the need for such mechanisms, but the only effective way for decreasing the risk of disputes is through encouraged homogeneity. Once again this can be seen in hunter-gatherer tribes, which are, by modern standards, obscenely xenophobic (imagine the difference between moving from Los Angeles to New York and integrating into its social fabric, versus the same for someone trying to move from one hunter-gatherer tribe to another), and in which absolute loyalty to one’s tribe and unquestioning conformance and obeisance to its identity and traditions are inculcated from birth.

      Anarchism is good if there is little diversity, and if the community is small and does not aspire to much beyond basic day-to-day survival. For my part, I am unwilling to make these trade-offs just for the sake of greatly minimising the risks of exploitation and abuse of power. There may be no better way than anarchism to reduce the risk of exploitation, if reducing the risk of exploitation is all that one cares about, but there are much better ways of achieving the same goal if one is more holistically minded (rather than just being focused on one single issue affecting human well-being).

  26. Anyone who fears any idea so violently that they would use the force of the State to expunge it from the minds of others is by far a greater danger to their neighbors than are any freethinkers, for they would trust themselves with ideas with which they would not trust their neighbors, and that is the seed of slavery in all its varied forms and degrees.

    Anyone who attacks the right of others to hold competing beliefs is not secure in their own, and thus are a liability to any who are secure in those same beliefs. Joseph McCarthy was not a threat to autocracy or communism; he was a threat to democracy and capitalism.

  27. Let’s see if I can distil anarchism to a single statement:

    There is no Authority but Reason.

    Sounds pretty sweet to me.

  28. Alan Moore is an anarchist.

    Michael Moorcock someone mentioned too, but don’t you Brits worry, he emigrated to the States.

    I’m also an anarchist, and proud of it.

    Most anarchists, by the way, do not consider anarcho-capitalists to be
    anarchists, as we contend that capitalism (differentiated from market
    economics, by the way, look at mutualism for example) is an inherently
    hierarchical power structure.

    Similarly, it’s probably a majority of anarchists who are not against
    the structuring and organization of society, we are just opposed to
    doing it without the consent of the people involved. There are numerous
    historical examples of anarchism at work, although it’s true that state
    forces, both communist and capitalist, have destroyed the functional
    anarchist societies of both revolutionary Spain and Ukraine.

    The state governs me without my consent. I seek to rectify that. I don’t
    understand why that is so strange. If I do something wrong I would like
    to be held accountable for that behavior by my community and peers, not
    forced into a system of legal slavery like the prison system.

    Humanity doesn’t need a “state” structure to build complex systems, and
    anyone who believes otherwise (I would argue) has little understanding
    of how contemporary technological advances are accomplished in a
    decentralized but cooperative way, and/or shows a profound lack of

  29. Isn’t “standing in line waiting until it’s your turn” an example of anarchism? No central agency telling you where to stand, no-one to check if you do it right? You just come in and do what seems like a reasonable expectation of what you would want someone that would come in later should do: Join the line at the end… anarchism in action.

    1. You know that the concept of queuing doesn’t exist in much of the world, right? Everybody just fights to get onto the train before everybody else.

      1. You know that the concept of queuing doesn’t exist in much of the world, right?

        Okay, when you wrote “doesn’t exist” you went a bit too far. Yeah, there may be situations in some places where people decide that it’s in their best interest not to queue but to claim that the concept doesn’t exist?

        I have been to more than 40 countries on five continents and have waited in line with locals in every one of them. Not sure how it relates to anarchy though.

  30. Maybe I’m being cynical but alerts like this, to me, look a lot like someone, somewhere, is supposed to be alerting people to the latest threats, and genuinely “new” threats are a pretty rare occurrence.

    So, the choice: a- admit your job isn’t really very necessary, b- make shit up.

  31. One small point but I think some of yous guise need to understand that the internets is an example of a fully functional anarchistic system?

    That thing you are using, right now?


    Personally I always wanted to be an anarchist but I could never stand the endless bureaucratic meetings it seemed to involve.

  32. “Hello, police? I want to report an anarchist who will probably pass through London again, although it isn’t spelled out on his events calendar yet. Maybe your internet experts can find it more easily. It’s spelled C-H-O-M-S-K-Y. First name, Noam. … Ha ha, no, I think it’s N-O-A-M. You just missed him on March 9 giving the Rickman Godlee lecture at University College London.”

  33. I appreciate all the people making great efforts to point out the huge amount of non-rioting, non-destructive work that anarchists do.  We do a whole lot of constructive work, and it’s very important that this be recognized, because the powerful would like to paint a picture of “constructive authorities who build things and help you live better vs. destructive anarchists who just want to tear down everything”.  We spend an overwhelming amount of time working to build things and help you live better.

    But to be real: a lot of us do riot.  Or if we don’t ourselves, we support those who do.  And we support other kinds of disruption and destruction when necessary.  This is an important part of any real self-determination: the right to self-defense, the right to fight back.  If you would deny us the moral right to fight against a power structure which oppresses us (police, politicians, mega-corps, etc.), while effectively tolerating their violence against us, you ask us to be subjects, not free individuals.

    I don’t think anarchists should have to claim that they’re all peaceful, harmless intellectuals to gain the sympathy of independent thinkers.  People are smarter than that.

  34. Governments hate Anachists because they do them out of a job.
    The best way to defeat Politicians is in the Ballot Box. All you have to do is what they do. Get yourself elected on a false premise and then do what you like. This time however you get rid of Government by getting rid of Politicians and then handing control to the Downtrodden Masses.
    Its kinda Poetic Justice Really but who would vote for an Anarchist? Well you just don’t call yourself one do you? If you can make it that Politicians must have contracts of Employment just like everyone else and that they must either put up, (by doing exactly what their verbal contract with the Public says) or shut up and go on the dole you will then begin to gain control of them.The best Authority is No Authority or better still , Yourself !

  35. Thus proving why anarchists exist and promote the things they do in the first place. When the government becomes overbearing and oppressive, its up to the people to stop their abuse. By reporting anarchists as terrorists and having them locked up, you’re basically eliminating the people who keep the government from becoming over powered.

  36. Seeing this news this morning made me burst into tears. Today is my 21st birthday. I just spent an hour and a half of it in my local police station. I suited up and put on a V mask, which really freaked out the coppers when I refused to take it off. “HANDS OUT OF YOUR POCKETS” etc. Apparently they don’t understand the value of anonymity, despite the fact that “we’re always suspicious of people” (direct quote). I asked if I was breaking any laws, and said I had information on Anarchism as requested in this Griffin publication. They said they wouldn’t talk to me unless I came in with them, and I couldn’t come in unless I took off the mask. I maintained a high degree of civility the whole time but refused. There was about half a dozen of them around me; eventually a more senior policeman said I could come in with the mask on.

    I hadn’t planned anything beyond showing up, informing them of this Griffin piece, then stating “I’m an anarchist” and see how they respond. What it turned out to be in that room was a nervy but polite, video recorded (by them) session, in which I asked the vast majority of the questions, starting with “Do you know the definition of Anarchy? What do you think it is?” He stuck to the “I can’t state my own beliefs” approach a lot of the time, but my argument carried the weight of logic and widespread evidence – I didn’t really talk about why anarchism is the only ethically correct political system so much as how anarchists are persecuted as scapegoats by the government and in the media. From his body language I think I was convincing. It was a day well spent if I’ve given someone the power to read between the lines when newspaper reports and (more importantly) orders come in, unjustly attacking anarchists. Early on I teased out of him the admission that he would refuse to obey if he was told to lock up Christians for their beliefs, and I think the same is true of him now if (as is looking scarily more and more likely) anarchists are targeted under terrorism laws. “Yes, you can detain people before they’ve committed specific offences”, he admitted, before I asked him if he considered me a threat. Unlike his peers, he said, he did not.

    I quizzed him on the Counter Terrorist Focus Desk’s interest in anarchists, which he knew nothing about, but I directed him to it through this site (rather humorously, he asked if they’d get any viruses by going on it). He tried to play it down, saying that in other editions they probably ask for information on other groups if there’s deemed to be a threat from within it, just as he looks at the politically extreme. At another point, I challenged him with the myth of the violent anarchist and how it is propagated by the media and even in government arms such as the police force where there is supposedly no ideological bent. You could see him try to eat his words when he said of the anarchism mention in the Griffin piece, “It would’ve been judged whether it would spread a fear before it was put out on a document”.

  37. “For dynamite is both the miner’s curse, the outward and audible sign of his enslavement to mineral extraction, and the American working man’s equalizer, his agent of deliverance, if he would only dare to use it. . . . Every time a stick goes off in the service of the owners, a blast convertible at the end of some chain of accountancy to dollar sums no miner ever saw, there will have to be a corresponding entry on the other side of God’s ledger, convertible to human freedom no owner is willing to grant.      “You’ve heard the suggestion that there are no innocent bourgeoisie. One of those French Anarchists, some say Emile Henry as he was going to the guillotine, others say Vaillant when they tried him for bombing the Chamber of Deputies. Answering the question, how can anyone set off a bomb that will take innocent lives?”
    “Long fuse,” somebody hollered helpfully.     
    “Easier with a timer!”     
    “Think about it,” when the remarks had faded some, “like Original Sin, only with exceptions. Being born into this don’t automatically make you innocent. But when you reach a point in your life where you understand who is fucking who—beg pardon, Lord—who’s taking it and who’s not, that’s when you’re obliged to choose how much you’ll go along with. If you are not devoting every breath of every day waking and sleeping to destroying those who slaughter the innocent as easy as signing a check, then how innocent are you willing to call yourself? It must be negotiated with the day, from those absolute terms.”

  38. Well they did lock that guy up for selling copies of the Anarchists cookbook & a collection of crap from under the terror laws.

    Fun fact: sell the cookbook for £6.99

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