TV documentary airs 100 years late

TheSecretAgentDid you think that it’d been a while since there was some ill-informed attempts to smear anarchism on your TV? Your wait is over, apparently, with a Channel 4 documentary spuriously linking contemporary Islamist terrorism with 19th century propaganda-by-the-deed-ism.

The Anarchist Federation are quick off the mark with knocking down the strawman with a statement here. Key points:

this is not just a case of setting the historical record straight. We have been expecting the state and the media to find new ways to attack anarchism now that the process of creating a culture of resistance and a mass revolutionary movement is underway, and people all over the world are rejecting capitalism and the state as never before. There are three further, very serious points to make about the current media slandering of our movement.First, this Channel Four documentary follows on the heels of some incredibly poor research linking Islamic extremism to anarchist ideas, taken up by The Economist and in 2005. Essentially, whilst this is the sort of story journalists wet their pants over, the media is being sloppy, lazy and misleading in implying that there survives a residual and sinister undercurrent in anarchism when it is long dead and buried.

Second, we are the enemies of what gets termed ‘radical’ or ‘extremist’ Islamic groups. Their doctrine holds the revolution back. Whilst we are aware that Muslims too have been the victims of media vilification, there is indeed a justification of indiscriminate terror on the part of some groups. Whilst we know that support for these ideas has been the result of the actions of the state, not least its wars, we oppose disaffected Muslims who take up these ideas. The beliefs of the likes of al-Qaeda and the groups they support are revolting, and reactionary, and hold back a culture of genuine resistance. Our enemy’s enemy is NOT our friend. We have nothing in common with these people and their authoritarian, misogynist and anti-Semitic ideals. Furthermore, any use some of them may make of century-old ideas as a basis for their activity, instead of critiquing the present system originally and on its own terms, is sad, frankly. Bakunin and Kropotkin must be turning in their graves at such stupidity. Recent academic texts are rightly being criticised for connecting historical anarchism and modern day terrorism when the ideas behind them are incompatible.

Finally, this sort of misinformation about anarchism has serious consequences for real people criticising the state, obviously, because it can be used by governments to justify our repression. This is happening right now in Serbia, where six anarchists are currently incarcerated on the flimsiest pretext link. A petrol bomb was thrown at the wall of the Greek embassy in Belgrade. It was by a protest group that the six have no connection to. But, because anarchists supposedly throw bombs, the bomb must have been thrown by an anarchist, say the Serbian government. This kind of illogical reasoning, justifying the imprisoning of working class activists, is the result of the kind of ill-informed journalism in the Economist and on Channel 4 tonight. On their consciences be it.