A colorful and provocative survey of anarchism in America, the film attempts to dispel popular misconceptions and trace the historical development of the movement. The film explores the movement both as a native American philosophy stemming from 19th century American traditions of individualism, and as a foreign ideology brought to America by immigrants.
This documentary features rare archival footage and interviews with significant personalities in anarchist history including Murray Boochkin and Karl Hess, and also live performance footage of the Dead Kennedys.
“Anarchists are those who advocate the absence of the state, arguing that common sense would allow people to come together in agreement to form a functional society allowing for the participants to freely develop their own sense of morality, ethics or principled behaviour. The rise of anarchism as a philosophical movement occurred in the mid 19th century, with its idea of freedom as being based upon political and economic self-rule. This occurred alongside the rise of the nation-state and large-scale industrial capitalism, and the corruption that came with their successes.
Although anarchists share a rejection of the state, they differ about economic arrangements and possible rules that would prevail in a stateless society, ranging from complete common ownership and distribution according to need, to supporters of private property and free market competition.
For example, most forms of anarchism, such as that of anarcho-collectivism, anarcho-communism or anarcho-syndicalism not only seek rejection of the state, but also other systems which they perceive as authoritarian, which includes capitalism, markets, and private property. In opposition, a political philosophy known as free-market anarchism or anarcho-capitalism argues that a society without a state is a free market capitalist system that is voluntarist in nature.
The word “anarchy” is often used by non-anarchists as a pejorative term, intended to connote a lack of control and a negatively chaotic environment. However, anarchists still argue that anarchy does not imply nihilism, anomie, or the total absence of rules, but rather an anti-authoritarian society that is based on the spontaneous order of free individuals in autonomous communities, operating on principles of mutual aid, voluntary association, and direct action.”