Thursday, January 19, 2006

An Academic Look At Anarchists

Readers of this site have no doubt picked up on my distain for academia and its theoretical pretensions. I must however admit that this paper, penned by a professor of mental health and an Oregon cop and published in an academic journal, is an exception. The authors sought to conduct a threat assessment by which law enforcement officers could better gauge the potential for violence when dealing with anarchists. The paper brings up a couple of interesting points:

The authors suggest that authorities should be cautious of a potential alliance between far left and far right groups acting towards the common cause of overthrowing the existing government (p. 9). Although lots of radicals on both sides of the political spectrum have suggested such an alliance, it seems very unlikely to come about. Extremists have in the past always put their own petty personal differences above the needs of the revolution, and are therefore unlikely to work with people whom they politically despise, even if doing so might help to forward their cause.

This paper introduced me to the term “Anarchist Berserker” (p. 9). That would be the all time coolest name for a punk band.

The example of an anarchist berserker used in the paper is Andrew McCrae (p. 9), an individual I was not previously familiar with. McCrae shot and killed a cop in 2002 in an effort to bring attention to “police state tactics”. The nitwit then posted a full confession and manifesto on the San Francisco Indy Media site. It makes for chilling reading.

Finally, the authors make some very valid points on why people become anarchists in the first place (p. 5-6). They note that most people join primarily out of a need for social contact and a surrogate family rather than true ideological commitment. They also suggest that the anarchist groups who ceaselessly travel the country looking for confrontations with law enforcement are behaving in a manner similar to that of youth street gangs. It all kind of gets back to one of my main conclusions regarding political beliefs in general and extremists in particular: Most of us don’t consciously choose our political ideologies. Rather, they come about as the result of a need to satisfy an emotional or psychological desire within ourselves.


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