Anarchism in America

Anarchism in America / 2006 MVD / 132 Minutes / / Reviewed 22 August 2006

I can understand if you are trying to fight an anarchist revolution against the Imperial dogs of the American government, but do you really need to fight an anarchist revolution against aesthetics? I mean, the opening menu screen for “Anarchism in America” is perhaps one of the ugliest things I’ve seen since 1996 Geocities sites (all of them). There are two videos on this DVD: “Anarchism in America” and “Free Voice of Labor – The Jewish Anarchists”. I like the fact that videos that would normally otherwise be lost for history are being brought back in a convenient form (DVD, for example), but I had a few questions about the reasons that these videos were unearthed in the first place. The disc has cost; is the cost an estimate of the amount that obtaining the rights to the video cost, or will this line an organization’s pockets, allowing them to do something else. I would really like to know, because it does not seem right to be supporting individuals that are just looking to raise money for themselves when these videos portend to show “Anarchism in America”. A better description of this (preferably on-disc) would be something that would assuage any fears I would have as a prospective buyer of this disc.

The videos look exactly as if they were transferred fro the original film reels or tapes that they first resided on. While the videos date back to the seventies, they are still watchable (if not a little bit gritty). The DVD is very strong in showing current anarchists what the movement looked like in the seventies, instead of trying to construct some reality from second-half papers and stories, many of which can be seen through rose-colored glasses. Of course, there is some agenda behind these videos, but this provides a more fluid and dynamic look of the groups and the individuals of the time. There does not need to be much of anything present in regards to extras. These two videos are all that is needed in showing current and future anarchists (or leaders of any form) what is needed to make a group successful and what might have been forgotten in the past.

The videos might not resound on exactly the same level as current documentaries do, but they are very valuable in creating a narrative of resistance, one that is too often swept under the rug as dominant revisionists try to downplay alternatives to the “rule”. I would like to see other videos dug up and transferred to DVD. I am sure there are literally thousands of miles of film just degrading, waiting for an individual to go through and transfer to a more hearty media. If these videos can be provided free of charge (except for the labor in transferring them to this format), then future volumes will be the best thing to bolster an anarchist movement that could always use more in the way of workers. Give this DVD a go if it sounds interesting in the least

Rating: 7.2/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

One thought on “Anarchism in America”

  1. In answer to your question about who put the DVD out, and whose pockets were being lined: it was re-released by AK Press (, a worker-run collective that puts out lots of anarchist-related books, CDs and DVDs. It’s definitely not a case of some corporate behemoth making a profit off anarchism. They’re a small anarchist collective who do what they do out of political commitment, not in order to get rich.

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