A Word of Caution to Today’s Anarchists

I recently watched the Netflix documentary American Anarchist. It was a fascinating conversation with author William Powell about his book, The Anarchist Cookbook.

This book was first published in 1971 by the then-young activist. According to his own words, he was angry and alienated. He compiled the book originally to put the means to fight back in the hands of common people rather than just big government, military and violent activists.

It is evident through the film that Powell has remorse for writing the book. He later attempted to have the book removed from circulation. He married, had children and became a high school teacher. He spent his adult life working to help foster communication among youth rather than spark them to violence. Powell died of a heart attack in 2016.

Powell explains that youth get all worked up about perceived (and real) injustices and feel the need to lash out. This need is driven by a lack of power and his book regrettable fed that demon.

The real story isn’t one of an author regretting the words of his youth. It is instead a message to the alt (left and right) groups seemingly hell-bent on fighting for their cause. It is a tale of the wisdom that comes with maturity. It is a cautionary tale to think before you act and talk before you strike out.

In the film, he refers to the cookbook as his “constant companion” in that it marked him as a radical – an outsider – and cost him many jobs. Whether you publish them in a book or an inflammatory post on Facebook, your words have power.

by Chris Doelle

RATING 7 out of 10
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Also published on Medium.