The Netflix “documentary” is a dubious phenomenon and perhaps even an oxymoron. If Netflix’s partnership with the Obamas doesn’t send up a red flag over their institutional priorities, then I suppose you’re exactly the target demo for their products. That said, it doesn’t mean that they’re not well made or devoid of interesting content. As long as you go into it knowing you’re getting an approved narrative, there’s still value to be gleaned.
American Anarchist is William Powell’s look back on his manifesto of paramilitary sedition, The Anarchist Cookbook. The Cookbook has gained infamy for being an alleged inspiration for every atrocity from Columbine to the Oklahoma City bombing. In addition to its white hot revolutionary rhetoric, it has instructions for everything from homemade surveillance and explosives to hallucinogens and firearms. Charlie Siskel spends the entire film acting like some kind of puritanical grand inquisitor trying to extract penance and contrition from Powell.
What’s perhaps most interesting is that Charlie Siskel has assumed the mantle of the pious, reformed nu-Left of the post-Obama world. Where yesterday’s radicals openly embraced revolutionary violence, today’s version doesn’t necessarily need to resort those tactics anymore. They have institutional power. They’re running the universities, the media and Silicon Valley. And most importantly, they run all the major metropolitan areas. Sure, you’ve got some Bernie bros who like to larp as neo-Bolshevik “revolutionaries” in their local Antifa chapter. But now that Coronachan has been rolled out, the necessity for that kind of controlled opposition has likely run its course.
Speaking of controlled opposition, this brings me to my central thesis about Powell, the Cookbook and this film. I suggest that the Cookbook was intentionally released as a long range psychological operation in order to infiltrate and coopt opposition groups. If the subversion and psychological warfare deployed in other countries described by spooks like Miles Copeland Sr. are applicable to the dawn of the counterculture in the US, then it’s entirely reasonable that Powell’s book was part of that long range effort.
Why do I believe that? Because Powell fits the pattern we find in a significant majority of the academic, celebrity and revolutionary class. He is a child of the global establishment. His father, William Charles Powell, was director of the Press and Publications Division [emphasis mine] of the U.N. Office of Public Information. But he was rebelling against his father, you dumb conspiratard! Exactly. Rebellion against the establishment was and is the pathway to the eventual conquest of the establishment. Do you think for one minute that a stooge like Bernie Sanders was ever serious about his “revolution”? Of course not. But man! Did that shit ever go over like gangbusters with the kids! For two election cycles no less!
The two questions that were largely unexplored in the documentary were the Constitutionality of the Cookbook as well as its historical connection to the revolutionary ethos of the founders of the United States.
We now know beyond a shadow of doubt that the Left doesn’t give a single shit about the First Amendment. It applies to their unlimited exercise of speech, but the rest of us can pound sand. Anyone who has a rudimentary knowledge of the 60’s knows that the sanctity of free speech was at the center of the Left’s civil disobedience crusade. If we’re to adopt the naive assumption that the Bill of Rights is still universal and inviolable and Marbury v. Madison is a legitimate decision, then the SCOTUS precedent regarding the 1A we must honor is the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision. Is The Anarchist Cookbook “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” or is it “likely to incite or produce such action”?
Good question. I’m not a constitutional scholar, but it seems like it is.
However, if we take the case that the Cookbook is unconstitutional, then doesn’t that put us at odds with the revolutionary ethos of the Declaration of Independence itself? Isn’t an instruction manual culled from military field manuals exactly the kind of material to which your citizens are entitled if “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish” a tyrannical government?
Another good question. It seems like it is.
It also casts doubt on a purely libertarian worldview which places negative liberty as the highest virtue. There’s simply nothing that binds anyone to the Non-Aggression Principle when generic liberty is placed at the apex of the value scale. Objective moral truth and virtue must be paramount.
So if we have material that’s potentially unconstitutional, yet at the same time, completely consistent with the revolutionary ethos of the country’s foundation, what appeal remains for the paleoconservative, reactionary, or run of the mill law and order civic nationalist?
Even if there is a proper secular response to this question, I suspect we’re past the point of having a mature discussion about it in the political arena.