Crimethinc. Look Back at their Childhood

There’s an at-times-interesting and at-times-funny piece by Crimethinc, “Fighting in the New Terrain: What’s Changed Since the 20th Century”, which (if you have the time) is worth skimming, up at

Why amusing? Well, partly just because it’s funny to remember how oblivious these folks could be when they started out, and even more so that to the degree that they now acknowledge this, they still need to frame it as “what’s changed with the terrain”. I.e. the implication being that they were clueless because they didn’t see the changes coming, rather than maybe that they simply didn’t see things properly as they were even at the time. Such as:

The defining provocation of our early years was to take literally the Situationists’ dictum NEVER WORK. A few of us decided to test out on our own skin whether this was actually possible. This bit of bravado showed all the genius of untutored youth, and all the perils.

In the late 20th century, when the majority of people identified with their jobs, refusing to pursue employment as self-realization expressed a rejection of capitalist values. Now erratic employment and identification with one’s leisure activities rather than one’s career path have been normalized as an economic position rather than a political one.

No real acknowledgment here that what they needed today’s economic conditions to notice was being shouted at them by all manner of anarchist well-wishers at the time. They were neither “on the cusp” of unemployment, nor of the debate about work, which goes back further than Marx and the utopian socialists.

That’s what’s a bit irritating about this piece. Under the guise of being humble, it’s really quite self-congratulatory. While Crimethinc may be unpopular amongst many anarchists, may have been criticized by many comrades, that remains unconnected from the fact that today “much of what we proclaimed has become passé”.

However, for those interested in recent anarchist history, this is an important document. It does provide an account of how the changes of the past twenty years have been experienced subjectively by one of the most dynamic sections of the anarchist movement. It also provides insight into the ongoing weaknesses and blind spots of this tradition.

Related: Butch Lee’s review Would You Shoplift “Days of War, Nights of Love”?


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