The Anarchist Cookbook  

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"This book is for the people of the United States of America. It is not written for the members of fringe political groups, such as The Weathermen, or The Minutemen. Those radical groups don’t need this book. They already know everything that’s in here. If the real people of America, the silent majority, are going to survive, they must educate themselves. That is the purpose of this book."[1]


"Effective sabotage, like the practical joke, must employ a grain of truth in a solution of deadly irony. This means that sabotage serves two basic purposes; first of all to weaken the enemy, and second of all to build the morale of the liberation army. Although revolution and sabotage are deadly serious, one should always retain his sense of humor and apply it if possible to the operations used. An example, which can be employed today with the draft system, is to use the weaknesses of the bureaucracy against itself.

When a young man is forced to go down to his local board and register for the draft, he is required to give only a small amount of information. To use this fact effectively against the Selective Service System, a large group of young men must go to a local board and register twice or three times under false names, in addition to their real registration. This will cause the bureaucracy of the Selective Service System to go berserk. They’re already so uptight about people attempting to avoid the draft that they would really flip out if all of a sudden their records showed that several hundreds or thousands of people just didn’t show up. and couldn't be traced. It would never enter their heads to think it might have been a put-on. An interesting theatrical twist to this same idea is to have everyone do his false registrations on the same day, so that many, many pre-induction physicals are due on the same day. Thus the full impact of the missing persons will hit the induction center at one time."[2]

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Anarchist Cookbook (1971) is a 'how to' manual for the manufacture of explosives, rudimentary telecommunications phreaking devices, and other items. The book also includes instructions for home manufacturing of illicit drugs, including LSD. It was written by William Powell at the apex of the counterculture era in order to protest against United States involvement in the Vietnam War. A documentary on Powell and the book, American Anarchist came out in 2016.

Contents

Publication status

The copyright of the book never belonged to its author, but to its publisher Lyle Stuart. Stuart kept publishing the book until the company was bought in 1991 by Steven Schragis, who decided to drop it. Out of the 2,000 books published by the company, it was the only one that Schragis decided to stop publishing. Schragis said publishers have a responsibility to the public, and the book had no positive social purpose that could justify keeping it in print. In December 2013, it was reported that the copyright had been bought in 2002 by Delta Press, an Arkansas-based publisher that specialises in controversial books, and the book is their "most-asked-for volume".

The latest publication date is October 16, 2012 (ISBN 978-1607965237), and the book is available in both paperback and hardback from Snowball Publishing. Reviewers say the copy has its basis in a 2002 revision and shows heavy editing and many items removed over the original 1971 edition.

Author

Since writing the book, Powell converted to Anglicanism in 1976 and attempted to have the book removed from circulation. When Lyle Stuart published the book, its copyright was taken out in the publisher's name, not Powell's, and the current publisher had no desire to remove the book from print. Powell has written his desire to see it removed from circulation, as he stopped advocating what he had written.

On 19 December 2013, William Powell wrote an article in The Guardian to call for the book to "quickly and quietly go out of print". Powell died in July 2016.

Reception

At the time of its publication, one Federal Bureau of Investigation memo described The Anarchist Cookbook as "one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted".

In 2010, the FBI released the bulk of its investigative file on The Anarchist Cookbook.

Anarchism

Advocates of anarchism dispute the association of the book with anarchist political philosophy. The anarchist collective CrimethInc., which published the book Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook in response, denounces the earlier book, saying it was "not composed or released by anarchists, not derived from anarchist practice, not intended to promote freedom and autonomy or challenge repressive power – and was barely a cookbook, as most of the recipes in it are notoriously unreliable".

Online presence

Much of the publication was copied and made available as text documents online through Usenet and FTP sites hosted in academic institutions in the early 1990s, and has been made available via web browsers from their inception in the mid-1990s to the present day. The name varies slightly from Anarchist Cookbook to Anarchy Cookbook and the topics have expanded vastly in the intervening decades. Many of the articles were attributed to an anonymous author called The Jolly Roger.

In 2001, British businessman Terrance Brown created the now defunct website anarchist-cookbook.com and sold copies of his derivative work, entitled Anarchist Cookbook 2000.

Knowledge of the book, or copied online publications of it, increased along with the increase in public access to the Internet throughout the mid-1990s. Newspapers ran stories about how easy the text was to get hold of, and the influence it may have had with terrorists, criminals and experimental teenagers.

Legality

The book was refused classification by the Office of Film and Literature Classification upon release, thus making the book banned in Australia. It was classified RC again on 31 October 2016.

In 2007, a 17-year-old was arrested in the United Kingdom and faced charges under anti-terrorism law in the UK for possession of this book, among other things. He was cleared of all charges in October 2008, after arguing that he was a prankster who just wanted to research fireworks and smoke bombs.

In County Durham, UK in 2010, Ian Davison and his son were imprisoned under anti-terrorism laws for the manufacturing of ricin, and their possession of The Anarchist Cookbook, along with its availability, was noted by the authorities.

In 2013, renewed calls were made in the United States to ban this book, citing links to a school shooting in Colorado by Karl Pierson.

Antecedents

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Anarchist Cookbook" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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