CrimethInc. "hand" logo
|Purpose||The "pursuit of a freer and more joyous world"|
CrimethInc., also known as CWC ("CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective" or "CrimethInc Ex-Workers Ex-Collective"), is a decentralized anarchist collective of autonomous cells. CrimethInc. emerged in the mid-1990s, initially as the hardcore zine Inside Front, and began operating as a collective in 1996. It has since published widely read articles and zines for the anarchist movement and distributed posters and books of its own publication.
CrimethInc. cells have published books, released records and organized national campaigns against globalization and representative democracy in favor of radical community organizing. Less public splinter groups have carried out direct action (including arson and hacktivism), hosted international conventions and other events, maintained local chapters, sparked riots and toured with multimedia performance art or hardcore anarcho-punk musical ensembles. The collective has received national media and academic attention, as well as criticism and praise from other anarchists for its activities and philosophy. CrimethInc. has an association with the North American anarcho-punk scene due to its relationship with artists in the genre and its publishing of Inside Front. It has since expanded into the contemporary anti-capitalist movement.
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Activities by CrimethInc. cells have included publishing radical literature and music, while less-public splinter groups have carried out direct action, hosted international conventions and other events, maintained local chapters, sparked riots and toured with multimedia performance art and/or hardcore anarcho-punk musical ensembles. In 2002, a cell in Olympia, Washington staged a five-day film festival with skill-sharing workshops and screenings. Cells have also supported various large-scale campaigns with publicity work, including the "Unabomber for President" and the "Don't Just (Not) Vote" election campaigns as well as the protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas of 2003 in Miami, Florida. Individuals adopting the CrimethInc. nom de guerre have included convicted ELF arsonists, as well as hacktivists who successfully attacked the websites of DARE, Republican National Committee and sites related to U.S. President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. These activities have earned the collective irregular attention from the mainstream news media. In 2010, several CrimethInc. cells worked in collaboration with other anti-capitalists and anarchists to launch international Steal Something From Work Day, which coincides with the United States Tax Day.
The creation of propaganda has been described as the collectives' core function. Among their best-known publications are the books Days of War, Nights of Love, Expect Resistance, Evasion, Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook and the pamphlet Fighting For Our Lives (of which, to date, they claim to have printed 600,000 copies), the hardcore punk/political zine Inside Front, and the music of hardcore punk bands. Several websites are maintained by individual cells, including Crimethinc.com, operated by the Far East Cell, which hosts propaganda, excerpts from available publications, and a blog of the activities of other cells. CrimethInc. is connected to publishing collectives/organizations with similar ideas, notably the Curious George Brigade, which has written a number of publications including Anarchy in the Age of Dinosaurs. In 2005, they began publishing a half-gloss journal, Rolling Thunder, with the byline "An Anarchist Journal of Dangerous Living", which released its eighth issue in 2009. CrimethInc. texts have received wide coverage in the anarchist media and in academic publications, and have been used as reading materials for university courses on anarchism.
In 2011 numerous publications were released, including Jesus Sepulveda's The Garden of Peculiarities, from its South African based cell. These publications formed part of a project entitled the Missing Shelf, in which otherwise regular book stores were able to stock DIY produced radical literature.
Since the summer of 2002, CrimethInc. has hosted annual conventions, termed "convergences", open to anyone. Typically featuring the performances of traveling theatrical troupes, musicians, direct-action and mutual-aid workshops from individual participants, the few-days-long camping trips have attracted coverage in newspaper articles, initiated multiple Reclaim the Streets actions, mobilized large Critical Mass events, and catalyzed many other activities.
The 2007 convergence in Athens, Ohio saw an impromptu street party which resulted in arrests on minor charges. The Athens News characterized the convergence as "a sort of networking, resume-swapping opportunity for would-be radicals, free-thinkers, Levellers, Diggers, Neo-Luddites and other assorted malcontents." It is typical of these gatherings to demand that all attendees have something to contribute to the momentum: whether it is bringing food or equipment to share, leading a discussion group, or providing materials with which to write to political prisoners. There has been a pattern of promoting convergences as festivals, reminiscent of barnstorming flying circuses and traveling sideshows.
Several hundred young anarchists from around the country had train-hopped and hitchhiked there to attend the annual event known as the CrimethInc Convergence...Grimy and feral-looking, the CrimethInc kids squatted in small groups around a clearing....[they] were in the middle of several days of self-organized workshops, seminars, and discussions, ranging from the mutualist banking theories of the nineteenth-century anarchist philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, to an introductory practicum on lock-picking, to a class on making one's own menstrual pads....CrimethInc's adherents had come together there because they wanted to live their lives as some sort of solution. They saw 'the revolution' not as a final product but as an ongoing process; they wanted not just to destroy the capitalist system but to create something livable in its place.—Matthew Power, Harper's Magazine, March 2008
These convergences have been hosted by different groups within the collective each time, typically based on the initiative of local enthusiasts. Every year a different set of policy requests is released from locals in the field, typically encouraging a sober, consensus-based space in which no financial transactions are made. The one firm rule has been "No police informants," a regulation which has been ignored by the FBI. Information gathered by FBI informants at CrimethInc. convergences (in 2004, 2005, and 2008) contributed to the convictions of Eric McDavid and his associates, as well as 2008 Republican National Convention protester Matthew DePalma.
In 2010, CrimethInc. announced the We Are Everywhere campaign of national tours and events in lieu of the traditional convergence.
Crimethought is not any ideology or value system or lifestyle, but rather a way of challenging all ideologies and value systems and lifestyles—and, for the advanced agent, a way of making all ideologies, value systems, and lifestyles challenging.—Crimethinc.com
CrimethInc as a loose association represents a variety of political views; the CrimethInc. FAQ asserts that it has "no platform or ideology except that which could be generalized from the similarities between the beliefs and goals of the individuals who choose to be involved—and that is constantly in flux." "CrimethInc." is an anonymous tag, a means of constructing dynamic networks of support and communication within the anarchist movement, and as such anyone can publish under the name or create a poster using the logo; each agent or group of agents operate autonomously. As well as the traditional anarchist opposition to the state and capitalism, agents have, at times, advocated a straight edge lifestyle, the total supersession of gender roles, violent insurrection against the state, and the refusal of work.
CrimethInc. is influenced by the Situationist International, and has been described by scholar Martin Puchner as "inheritors of the political avant-garde", Ken Knabb has criticized CrimethInc. for presenting simplistic and in some cases false accounts of history in their manifesto Days of War, Nights of Love, and for mythologizing themselves as "a pole of international subversion". For their part, the authors of the book criticized the "exclusive, anti-subjective" nature of history as "paralyzing", advocating in its place a non-superstitious myth. The collective has expressed a strident anti-copyright stance and advocacy of the appropriation of texts and ideas of others, which has attracted criticism from academic philosopher George MacDonald Ross as an endorsement of plagiarism.
The active participants of CrimethInc. characterize it as a mindset and a way of life first and foremost, rather than as an organization per se. Its main goal is to inspire people to take more active control of their own lives, becoming producers of culture and history instead of passive consumers. Those who ascribe to the CrimethInc. philosophy advocate radical ways of living one's life to the end of eliminating the perceived inequities and tyrannies within society. Contributors to publications are generally not credited in respect of an anonymity asserted by participants to be one of the organization's primary values. The name "CrimethInc." itself is a satirical self-criticism about the hypocrisy of revolutionary propaganda (and other "margin-walking between contradictions") and a direct reference to the concept of "thoughtcrime" developed in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Reception amongst radicals
Since its inception in the mid-1990s, CrimethInc.'s activities and in particular its philosophy have proved controversial among anarchists. Anarchist anthropologist David Graeber and Andrej Grubacic lauded the collective in 2004 as "the greatest propagandists of contemporary American anarchism". Upon the release of CrimethInc.'s third book, Expect Resistance (2007), Chuck Munson identified the group as "one of the more important anarchist projects happening in North America over the past decade", asserting that in its activities the collective had set the standard for "publishing, organizing, instigating, and activism".
The collective's perceived focus on the "terminal boredom of consumer culture" at the expense of the real world condition of the working class, and fetishizing of "the narcissistic side of the 1960s" (Clamor) has led others in the anarchist movement, such as Libcom.org, to decry the collective as "lifestylists".
CrimethInc begins with the brand name, and ends with the relentless merchandizing of "radical" products on their website. In between there is...an individualist, selfish, and inchoate rebel ideology that eschews work, political organizing, and class struggle. In a world at war and facing terminal crisis, CrimethInc's transcendental philosophy and ahistorical lightness is a form of intellectual masturbation. Like rootless ex-pats unconnected to the daily life around them, CrimethInc's lifestylism is a form of self-imposed exile within their own society.
Red Emma's infoshop has claimed that regardless of the group's politics, "you have to give them credit for helping revitalizing two very vital traditions of radical writing: on the one hand, they've kicked out enough all-encompassing, no-holds-barred, just barely still prose polemical manifestos to make Guy Debord proud, on the other hand, they've also produced some stunning personal narratives of living free in the boxcars and margins of late capitalism."
Footnotes and references
- "CrimethInc. Ex-Workers' Collective : Home". Crimethinc.com. Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- The CrimethInc Ex-Workers Ex-Collective Revolutionary Task Force on Terrorism. "After the Fall: Analysis of the Events of September 11th 2001". Crimethinc.com. Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- Gordon, Uri (27–28 May 2005). "Liberation Now: Present-tense Dimensions of Contemporary Anarchism". Thinking the Present : The Beginnings and Ends of Political Theory. University of California, Berkeley.
- Thompson, Stacy (October 2004). "Crass Commodities". Popular Music & Society 27 (3): 307–322(16). doi:10.1080/03007760410001733152. Archived from the original on January 1, 2008. Retrieved 2007-07-08.[dead link]
- Ludwig, Mike (2007-07-30). "Melee breaks out uptown at end of anarchist confab". The Athens News. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Crimethinc.com. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- Thompson, Stacy (2004). Punk Productions: Unfinished Business. Albany: SUNY Press. p. 109. ISBN 0-7914-6187-4.
- Brandt, Jed. "Crimethinc: In Love With Love Itself". Clamor. Archived from the original on February 11, 2009. Retrieved January 14, 2008.
- Patterson, Jesse (2002-10-08). "Punk show rocks Student Union". The Daily Campus. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
- Raihala, Ross (2002-12-12). "The heArt and Film Festival". The Olympian.
- Days of War, Nights of Love (2001) , Crimethinc.Workers Collective, p. 221 ISBN 0-9709101-0-X
- Andersen, Mark (2004). All the Power : Revolution Without Illusion. Punk Planet Books. ISBN 978-1-888451-72-6.
- "3 plead guilty in attempts at arson". The Sacramento Bee. 2005-10-15.
- Schachtman, Noah (2004-08-17). "Hackers Take Aim at GOP". Wired. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- Deagon, Brian (2004-10-22). "GOP Sites Hit By Denial Of Service Attack; Hard To Tell Who Culprits Are". Investor's Business Daily.
- Whitehead, Chris (2007-04-13). "How do you say 'dese, dem, dose' in Chinese?; The Mayor's Office of". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on January 8, 2008. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
- Childress, Sarah (August 2004). "'Hacktivists' Log On". Newsweek. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
- Sege, Irene (2008-03-10). "Pay phones may appear to be gathering dust, but some still use them". The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2008-03-16.
- Power, Matthew (March 2008). "Mississippi Drift" (PDF). Harper's Magazine: 54–63. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- pfm (2008-05-28). "Fourth FFOL Printing Hits the Streets". CrimethInc. Far East Blog. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
- Clark, Dylan (2004). "The Raw and the Rotten: Punk Cuisine". Ethnology 43.
- Doy, Gen (2004). Picturing the Self. London: I. B. Tauris. ISBN 1-85043-413-1.
- Edwards, Ferne; Mercer, David (November 2007). "Gleaning from Gluttony: an Australian youth subculture confronts the ethics of waste". Australian Geographer (Routledge) 38 (3): 279–296. doi:10.1080/00049180701639174.
- Dunne, Stephen; Karamali, Eleni; Shukaitis, Stevphen (2005). "Inscribing Organized Resistance". Ephemera 5 (4): 562–567. ISSN 1473-2866.
- Nicholas, Lucy (Spring 2007). "Approaches to Gender, Power and Authority in Contemporary Anarcho-punk: Poststructuralist Anarchism?" (PDF). ESharp (9). ISSN 1742-4542. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- Conger, Chloe (2002-04-29). "Student leads course on anarchy". The Stanford Daily. Retrieved 2008-07-24.[dead link][dead link]
- Goussetis, Elizabeth (2007-07-31). "Anarchist answers to riot charge". Athens Messenger. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- "Athens, Ohio: Police attack Crimethinc conference". Infoshop News. Infoshop.org. 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
- Phillips, Jim (2007-09-04). "Good going; you left town for the summer and missed everything". The Athens News. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
- "Confidential Source "Anna"-issued affidavit" (PDF). United States District Court Eastern District of California. Archived from the original (.pdf) on 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
- "All Traveler Kids Purged From CrimethInc. Membership". Crimethinc.com. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
- Sims, Francwa (2006). The Anacostia Diaries as It Is. ISBN 1-4116-1888-2.
- "Let Me Light My Cigarette on Your Burning Blockade". Crimethinc.com. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- D., Brian. "How I Spent My Permanent Vacation". Crimethinc.com. Retrieved 2008-01-13.
- Lang, Daniel (May 2007). ""Give Us the Dumpsters -Or- Give Us Life": Res Derilictae and the Trash of Free Trade". Cultural Recycling (Other Voices) 3 (1).
- Puchner, Martin (2005). Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos and the Avant-Gardes. Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford. 320pp., ISBN 978-0-691-12260-1.
- Knabb, Ken. "Comments on CrimethInc. by Ken Knabb". Libcom.org. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
- Days of War, Nights of Love (2001) , ISBN 0-9709101-0-X, p. 111–114
- MacDonald Ross, George (2004-05-10). "Plagiarism really is a crime:a counterblast against anarchists and postmodernists (and others)" (PDF). Plagiarism: Prevention, Practice and Policies 2004 Conference. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
- Summerisle (2005). Times of Hate, Times of Joy, Lost Highway, Volume 1. Morrisville, NC: Lulu. ISBN 978-1-4116-6506-4.
- "About CWC: Index". Crimethinc.com. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Graeber, David; Grubacic, Andrej (2004-01-06). "Anarchism, or the Revolutionary Movement of the Twenty-First Century". Dissident Voice. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- Munson, Chuck, "New CrimethInc sequel to Days of War due out soon", 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2008-02-17.
- Lee, Butch (2002-11-07). "Would You Shoplift Days of War, Nights of Love?". Kersplebedeb.com. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- ""Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness" - washing... and brainwashing — CrimethInc. | libcom.org". Libcom.org. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- Ryan, Ramor (2004) Days of Crime, Nights of Horror, Perspectives on Anarchist Theory. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- "Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse : Expect Resistance: A Crimethinc Field Manual". Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to CrimethInc..|
- CrimethInc.com—maintained by the Crimethinc. Far East cell
- CrimethInc. Great Lakes
- CrimethInc. West Coast
- CrimethInc. International
- IdeozloCin—based in Prague, Czech Republic
- Guerrilla Latina CrimethInc.
- Crimethinc in Spanish
- "Rethinking CrimethInc."—pseudonymous critical consideration published by Anarkismo.net
- Interview with self-identified CrimethInc. operative by Erika Ransom of the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair
- French translations of some of CrimethInc's writings on Bloom02