Part 2 Utopian Nightmares in HBO’s The Anarchist

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Part 2 Utopian Nightmares in HBO’s The Anarchist

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.

 Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels

In episode two, Forking Freedom, of HBO’s The Anarchists we have reached the second year of Anarchapulco on their quest for utopia. The yearly conference has grown and this time it is all about cryptocurrency, more specifically Bitcoin. Not only do they see cryptocurrency as a means to escape government control, but also as a way to get rich. And what’s really the point of creating a utopian society if it doesn’t give you power and wealth? What seemed, at first, like a group of people naively banding together over some vague notion of freedom and a poorly understood ideology now seemed to have honed in on a specific goal, a goal that is bound to corrupt even the purest of ideals. This new focus on Bitcoin creates, surprise, surprise, a rift within the community. Basically, two camps are formed; those who became rich overnight and those who “missed the bus”, so to speak. Who was it again that wrote about the problems that always arise in a capitalist society based on two classes? That Santa-looking fella… I seem to recall his ideas were quite influential… Oh, right, fucking Karl Marx! Marx, and his always-neglected-coauthor Friedrich Engels, claimed that capitalism would eventually collapse due to its inner contradictions. Furthermore, the Marxist critique of private ownership of resources has to do with the control a few people inevitably get over other people’s lives, the same kind of control that the anarcho-capitalists are blaming the State for. To put it simply; the more wealth you have, the more you can own, and the more you own the more you control. Marxism, like any other ideology, is also haunted by idealistic and utopian ghosts, but the critique of capitalism is still very applicable in this case.

Anarchapulco starts to look less like an ideological drinking party and more like a business enterprise with executives at the top calling the shots. The executives, in this case, are Jeff Berwick and a lovely couple of the family of four, ‘The Freemans’, because of course their last name is Freeman. The young couple, Lily Forester and John Galton don’t see eye to eye with Berwick and The Freemans. Lily and John are quite skeptical about how it all seems to be more about ‘the capitalism’ rather than ‘the anarchism’ in anarcho-capitalism. This causes John to say one of the more insightful things said on the show so far: “If we lose sight of our principles, if we lose sight of what got us here, we’re gonna end up being worse than the people we are trying to replace.” But then again, if your principles are flawed, you are doomed from the beginning. John and Lily decide to fork Anarchapulco into Anarchaforko in order to get back to one of the core principles, that of a decentralized movement. Berwick officially gives them his blessing but makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with their “stupid” event.

Dark clouds are rolling in over Anarchapulco. In this episode, we are also introduced to another player in the movement, Paul Propert. Propert is a veteran suffering from PTSD. To say that he comes off as mentally unstable would be an understatement, and his presence seems to alter the overall atmosphere in Anarchapulco. In the first episode, the freedom and party-loving ancaps boast that their ideology is the most peaceful of all ideologies. This all seems to change with the arrival of Propert. Paranoid and utterly convinced that the apocalypse is on the horizon, he wants to teach everyone hand-to-hand combat and start what he calls “the angry hippie dojo”. And sure, it does seem like the apocalypse is coming, but it will probably be a fairly local and contained event. 

Freddie Ross

Freddie Ross

Art Historian
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