Thoughtcrimes R Us
November 30, 2005 5:10 PM   Subscribe

The CrimethInc Reading Library offers essential dissident reading material including Your politics are as boring as fuck and Days of War, Nights of Love. Also available as free downloads are printable anarchist pamphlets, magazines, and posters. (Any remaining supporters of the Bush regime will be sure to appreciate this and this). There's also a collaborative blog. (An earlier incarnation of the CrimethInc publishing organization was previously discussed here.)
posted by cleardawn (28 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Funny to see these guys back on the blue. It's kinda paradoxical for them because they despise the mainstream but love the coverage!
posted by snsranch at 5:59 PM on November 30, 2005

I knew guys like this in high school. They're lawyers now.
posted by bardic at 6:10 PM on November 30, 2005

I knew guys like Bardic in high school. They haven't changed at all.
posted by cleardawn at 6:25 PM on November 30, 2005

Q) How many Crimethinc Kids does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A) There were four of us, squatting in some old coffee shop, draped in the darkness of our own ignorance. We made love. It was beautiful.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 6:36 PM on November 30, 2005 [2 favorites]

This world, the so-called “real world,” is just a front. Pull back the curtain and you’ll see the libraries are all filled with runaways writing novels, the highways are humming with escapees and sympathizers, all the receptionists and sensible mothers are straining at the leash for a chance to show how alive they still are. . . and all that talk of practicality and responsibility is just threats and bluffing to keep us from reaching out our hands to find that heaven lies in reach before us.
posted by stirfry at 6:48 PM on November 30, 2005

Ok then,

Q) How many gutter punks does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A) They don't screw in light bulbs, they screw in dumpsters

But anyway...
posted by horsemuth at 7:03 PM on November 30, 2005

Oh lordy...blast from the past... I went to Evergreen with a bunch of Crimethinc kids... they used to shoplift shitty wine and organic polenta from Bayview Thriftway, and get friends who worked at the Kinko's to crank out shittons of copies after hours.

They were mostly lameass upper middle class white kids from southern California and the east coast. Drove their Volvos up to the rainy PNW to get edjamacated, get out of their parents' hair for a few years, and pretend to be living in some Hemingway short story where everyone is a sexy but dedicated marxist revolutionary about to blow up a bridge.

Those kids wear their politics like a gap sweatshirt, and with as much conviction.

I do have a copy of Days of War/ Nights of Love sitting right here on my desk though. Once you get past the self-consciously hip posery, there's actually some good stuff in there.

Bardic is correct however. Many of those kids I knew circa 98 are indeed back in Chicago or Costa Mesa or wherever, rocking the "haircut and a real job" tip.

My point is... what were we talking about again?
posted by stenseng at 7:09 PM on November 30, 2005

I have to admit I liked this one.

You've tuned in to my station for once.
posted by jonmc at 7:12 PM on November 30, 2005

they used to shoplift shitty wine and organic polenta... they were mostly lameass upper middle class white kids...

If you're going to shoplift wine, then surely the good stuff fits just as easily under your coat?

Similarly, when you're insulting people and their ideas quite explicitly because of their skin color (and their parents' social class), you should probably hide that under your coat, too, stenseng. It's a little too blatant as you phrased it there. Ad hominem racist/classist attacks against unnamed scruffy teenage anarchists are all very well in mainstream newspaper articles, but here on MeFi, we have standards.
posted by cleardawn at 7:37 PM on November 30, 2005

Ad hominem racist/classist attacks against unnamed scruffy teenage anarchists are all very well in mainstream newspaper articles, but here on MeFi, we have standards.

Actually, it's a legitamite criticism. People with with little at stake tend to have less commitment. And if a parentally supported college kid who dosen't need to work steals from a struggling shopkeeper, who's the real victim, politically speaking?

Legitamite questions.

If you're going to shoplift wine, then surely the good stuff fits just as easily under your coat?

In my experience, and I've drank [cough] my share, the cheap stuff tends to come in bigger containers.
posted by jonmc at 7:46 PM on November 30, 2005

You can come down from your high horse cleardawn. I actually grew up poor, and I actually AM a committed leftist political activist, so I carry a bit of a grudge agaist faux-anarchist trustafarian poseurs who wear their "beliefs" as the style of the week, thanks.

(reminds me of an Evergreen joke ;)

Q: How do you keep a trustafarian from racking up daddy's credit card?

A: Hide it under the bar of soap.
posted by stenseng at 9:19 PM on November 30, 2005

I was about to say I think CrimethInc-types are poseurs but now I don't have to. I especially mean the heavily tattooed-and-pierced be-dreaded "anarchist-looking" ones; how sad for them that they'll outgrow their "lifestyle" before they can afford tattoo removal.
posted by davy at 9:39 PM on November 30, 2005

I've known a handful of true anarchists, and they never look like "anarchists"...
posted by stenseng at 9:44 PM on November 30, 2005

Many of those kids I knew circa 98 are indeed back in Chicago or Costa Mesa or wherever, rocking the "haircut and a real job" tip.

Oh, dearie, dearie me.

And there I was, thinking it was just us boomers who did that shit....
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:08 AM on December 1, 2005

I currently go to Evergreen with a bunch of these guys. I first found out about them 4 or 5 years ago when I found a copy of Fighting for our Lives.

Everyone should read Fighting for our Lives. It's pretty fucking amazing.

Their stuff may seem like stereotypical 'anarco-whateverist' crap at first glance, but they've got some real depth to them. They aren't at all like the typical douchebags who get involved in politics.

Q: Why did the Evergreen student cross the road?
A: To get 16 credits!
posted by blasdelf at 3:32 AM on December 1, 2005

I like their posters. As a mid-30's be-dreaded, poor somewhat-non-white anarcho-whateverist.
posted by melt away at 5:45 AM on December 1, 2005

I see that rather than answer legitamite questions, we've continued the clique warfare. Life is a big high school cafeteria.
posted by jonmc at 7:00 AM on December 1, 2005

I remember encountering the Crimethinc people a few years ago when they were trying to convince me that wearing deodorant was part of a mass cancer-causing conspiracy.
posted by trey at 7:24 AM on December 1, 2005

I started reading "Your Politics Are Boring As Fuck", but (no kidding) it was just too damn boring to read. They use tired rhetoric to attack other people for using tired rhetoric, they seem to inhabit the "Smash the state! Anarchomarxism forever!" stereotype of Rick from the Young Ones, while railing against other folks for being so stereotypical.

I hope there's something more, and better, to them.
posted by Bugbread at 7:30 AM on December 1, 2005

I think it's easy to look down ones nose as the lifestyle politics of a "trustafarian" and I can say (In my job I work with, for and alongside, activists, anachists, commies, socialists and labor types of all varieties) that the ones that are truely committed don't wear their politics on their sleeves and faces, nor do the embrace the kind of simpleminded absolutism and "party" revolution of stickering, "subvertising" and shoplifting, mainly becuse those kind of things are counterproductive and offputting.

The committed ones do retain the sense of humor, fun and dogged determination that the crimethinc/black balaklava types aspire too however and small portion of those people will go on to do serious and powerful work. It's the same with any cultural or political vocation, many people are in it for a place to channel their rage and validate their feelings of exceptionalism, others for the long slog.

Personally I can do about five minutes in the presence of most young wooly anarchists before their tedious, holier than thou monomania drives me away. but if you meet one who can laugh at themselves and express an interest in other aspects of life, hang out with them, they're fun.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:41 AM on December 1, 2005

Wow. I've never met these filthy "Crimethinc people" you describe. They sound like hideous creatures, spoiled brats the lot, and I'll be sure to think twice should I ever have the misfortune to be offered some of their cheap, shoplifted wine. Eh, who'm I kidding, free drinks rock.

That being said, I have read some of the books and newspapers (does Harbinger still come out?) and found them significantly less, well, stupid than I had initially imagined. Crimethinc stuff is collectively written, and so it can vary greatly in quality and ideology. And though it's easy to poke fun at manifestos (and stereotypical "anarchist-style" kids), there are a lot of ideas in their stuff that I think are useful, sincere, and great:

1. That having fun and enjoying yourself doesn't depend on having money.
2. That doing and making things is oftentimes more fun than watching and buying them.
3. That no one likes a self-righteous asshole unless one agrees with him/her, though they could probably take their own advice on this.
4. That people are inherently good and to be trusted until proven otherwise.
5. That a lot of the time, on a very basic level, each individual has the freedom to choose the way that s/he lives in this world, and that people seem to forget this a lot.

There is a lot of their writing that I disagree with (especially when it comes to their views on science, and, you know, when they get judgmental), but overall I support the mindful approach to life that they often present.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:50 AM on December 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

Good points, I agree.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:02 AM on December 1, 2005

Ha! I was just about to post "what Divine_Wino said". Leave it to the Park Slopers to have a complicated relationship with anarchism, I guess.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:09 AM on December 1, 2005

See, I liked "Your Politics Are Boring As Fuck," but it struck me as disingenuous:
“When you separate politics from the immediate, everyday experiences of individual men and women, it becomes completely irrelevant.” - Is true.
Spending an afternoon collecting food and serving it to hungry people is NOT “good political action” however. It’s charity. It’s outstanding. It’s time well spent, but it’s charity.
Political action would be altering the paradigm that allows for those people to go hungry. Of course, that is dangerously near economic action, but the two are often bound.
The best way to get people to see how politics affects their every day lives is to get them to try to do something. Get them involved. Get them to give a shit about something. Once they do, they will find the limits of their will and see how arbitrary some of those limits are. I’ve moved from giving homeless folks change (non-political), to seeing how immediate the problem is and trying to help that (non-political) to eventually trying to get some shelters built. It is here where you run into politics. NIMBY and so forth.
No one has a problem with just feeding someone. But try to “teach a man to fish” and now we’re talking politics. People won’t recognize that politics (power) is the modulation of compassion and economics (often in ignorance) unless they’re smashed up against it.

I’m enough of an individualist that I appreciate anarchism. I just think public transporation is a nice idea. Even Jelo Biafra said you have to become the system to defy the system: “Don't hate the media. Become the media.”

(It’s just good fun talking to kids bagging in checkout lines about the Dead Kennedys, The Melvins, The Exploited, Crass, etc. Me in a suit, short back and sides. Them in metal studs, liberty spikes/mohawk, dye job du jour. It’s tough to freak the norms anymore, but that does a nice job on the other suburbanites.)

bugbread I don’t know that there is something more. Most of them seem to be smart kids with open minds who are disillusioned by that ignorance part of the equation and get angry when the discover that it’s willful ignorance. Some of them will become accountants or whatever sure, but it’s good practice in thought. Maybe someday one or two of them get their legs under them and put ideas into action.
Or not.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:13 AM on December 1, 2005

Smedleyman : "bugbread I don’t know that there is something more."

Well, unknowncommand kind of assuaged my fears, by pointing out that the manifestos may not be of the same quality as the rest. Just my luck that my first impression was a manifesto...
posted by Bugbread at 10:23 AM on December 1, 2005

Quitting your job was about having more time to do what needs doing, not just isolating yourself from the rest of humanity—wasn’t it?

If one makes propaganda extolling what is revolutionary about shoplifting, one is not necessarily trying to get would-be revolutionaries to shoplift so they can be “more revolutionary” [obviously a stupid approach if there ever was one—although exploring the tactical benefits of shoplifting for a class of people looking to do less buying might make sense]—one might instead be trying to identify for shoplifters what is already insurrectionary in their actions, so they can broaden their analysis of their own lives.

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. It is not crimethought just to survive without a job by dumpstering, squatting, and hitchhiking; it is crimethought to realize that this lifestyle provides resources that can be used to revolutionize demonstration activism, or underground literature. It is not crimethought simply to distribute propaganda attacking the monotony and limited options of traditional employment; it is crimethought to create situations in which both workers and ex-workers benefit from each others’ different experiences, and consequently discover new options and new adventures that were previously obscured.

The Stalinists, Surrealists, Situationists, and even Southern Baptists all had their bloody purges and internal dissensions, so why can’t we, too? Having no membership should be no obstacle: we can still hold exclusions from time to time, just to be sure everyone remembers.
posted by blasdelf at 8:56 PM on December 1, 2005

Truthfully, I admire these people.
posted by washburn at 11:14 PM on December 1, 2005

Jonmc, at the risk of being called a middle class elitist (and worse), I feel I have to tell you that the word is spelled "legitimate".

As for the question about whether white, middle class kids should feel bound by a different, more restrictive morality than other groups of people, I'll stick my neck out and say I think the answer, broadly, is "no."

Ethical values are, or should be, independent of race and class. To think otherwise is to hold a classically right-wing view; which many people do, of course, but it doesn't stand up to much scrutiny.

The question "Do you think that black people (or: middleclass people) have more right, or less right, to steal and kill than white (or: upper class) people?" is a good, legitimate question to ask anyone who offers such rightwing arguments about different ethics for different races. I don't expect they'll be able to answer it in any way other than to admit that the ethical issues are the same for all races and all classes.

But even after removing the false dichotomies of race and class, ethics are still infinitely complex. Stealing from your hypothetical "struggling shopkeeper", for example, is clearly a Bad Thing, irrespective of whether you're white or middleclass. OTOH, few could disagree that stealing from a billionnaire who owns a chain of supermarkets (especially if you have no food or money) is a different kettle of marbles.

CrimeThinc offers a wide variety of different ideas on such ethical questions - some foolish, some wise - many of which don't appear in the corporate media (including schoolbooks) for obvious reasons. Such material is hidden from us as children, and hence it's essential reading for all adolescents - and does adolescence ever really end?
posted by cleardawn at 8:35 PM on December 2, 2005

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