“When have you ever felt like you’d be happy to see kids burning books?” a cheerful Nathan Freeman asks over footage of his kids ripping tomes and throwing them into a bonfire on the beach at the start of Blumhouse Television’s The anarchists. For most, the answer will probably be: never! Even those who embrace an anti-establishment lifestyle, however, get little lasting joy in director Todd Schramke’s six-part HBO docuseries (July 10), which focuses on an annual event known as the ‘Anarchapulco, which is held, as its title suggests, in Acapulco, Mexico. – which brings together men and women who oppose governments and their corrupt and authoritarian rules and social norms. It’s a compelling portrait of contrarian dissidents and their chimeras of true freedom, beginning with a promise and ending with the age-old lesson that you have to be careful what you wish for.
Launched in 2015 by entrepreneur Jeff Berwick, Anarchapulco began as an improvised conference attended by a few hundred people and orchestrated with no real structure — a date-worthy tactic grounded in ideals of autonomy and decentralization. Berwick differentiates his ideology from the more traditional view of anarchy (i.e. violent insurrection) by explaining that he and his fellow Ron Paul reverers share a fundamental belief in the injustice of taxation and wickedness. of the central bank. For them, anyone who adheres to the global paradigm of “statism” is a sheep, and the only way out is to unite to form a new community based on unfettered thought and action. Thus, in more than one archival clip, Nathan makes a point of performatively laughing at the word “authorized” because it goes against the guiding ethos of this movement.
Nathan and his wife Lisa moved to Acapulco after the first Anarchapulco in 2015, whose creator Berwick embraced anarchism after his introduction to G. Edward Griffin’s anti-Federal Reserve book. The creature from Jekyll Island. Berwick comes across as a hedonist with lots of false big ideas and little nuanced thinking in The anarchists, and seeing him being drunk on stage and rapping at nightclub parties only reinforces that notion. Nonetheless, Berwick tapped into a revolutionary sentiment felt by marginalized, screwed-up individuals who were angry at the world. Moreover, he was shrewd enough to recognize the disruptive anarchist potential of cryptocurrency, and bitcoin in particular, and when that market took off in late 2017, Anarchapulco followed suit, attracting thousands of new participants and becoming a place trendy dating for those who seek. disrupt the status quo.
Director Schramke has been documenting Anarchapulco since its inception, making The anarchists a comprehensive overview of the event’s build-up. It’s also, simultaneously, an in-depth snapshot of the personalities that dominate its scene south of the border, led not just by Berwick and the Freemans, but also by Lily Forester and her boyfriend John Galton, a pair of dreadlocked anarchos. . “capitalists” who ended up in Acapulco after fleeing the United States due to an arrest for drug trafficking that would have earned them up to 25 years in prison. The two fugitives spread their story (detailed in a 2019 Daily Beast article by Kelly Weill which is briefly highlighted in the docuseries) on social media, and they quickly became local celebrities due to their membership in a far stricter anarchist standard than they believed to be being promoted by Anarchapulco.
Populated with interviews with Berwick, Lisa Freeman, Lily Forester, and Lily’s close friend Jason Henza (who forced his wife to join him for Anarchapulco and was later dumped by her after meeting a crypto-brother residing in a Mexican mansion), The anarchists uses first-hand accounts, archival documents and occasional hand-drawn illustrations to explain the sordid mayhem that ensued, culminating in a gunman attack that left Galton dead and Henza clinging to the life. Rumors have swirled that cartel assassins were behind the murder, and the series strongly suggests that these criminals may have been linked to Paul Propert. A military vet with severe PTSD, Propert first traveled to Anarchapulco in a small yellow school bus to deliver cryptocurrency, an ATM (which predictably never worked ), and he quickly became the unhinged fly of idyllic budding anarchist ointment. Once Forester pointed the finger at Propert for Galton’s death, he responded by posting online death threats to Henza, all as Berwick tried to turn Anarchapulco into a bigger phenomenon by firing the stalwart conference manager. and dedicated Nathan.
“Once Forester pointed the finger at Propert for Galton’s death, he responded by posting online death threats to Henza, all as Berwick tried to turn Anarchapulco into a bigger phenomenon by firing the stalwart conference manager. and dedicated Nathan.”
Chaos ensued, which should have pleased those anarchists, and yet The anarchists features quite a bit of catastrophic lamentation over Anarchapulco’s devolution following Nathan’s departure and Propert’s insane behavior. The fact that none of these strangers can turn to the police – or each other – for help in urgent need makes their story the epitome of the maxim: “You’ve made your bed, now lie down in it”. Although Forester eventually recognizes the downside of living a truly “free” anarchist life – an unsurprising epiphany given that her days and nights have been wracked with grief and fear of impending murder – she is the one of the few. The overall impression that remains is of scattered and alienated loners finding a community for their outside views via the internet, only to realize that such ideas may not be as practical as they hoped, especially in a city like Acapulco where—regardless of Berwick’s comforting claims—crime was rampant and safety was anything but guaranteed.
Suicides, the 2018 bitcoin crash, and Ponzi-style cryptocurrency scandals are all part of The anarchists‘ cookbook, with Schramke evoking the initial enthusiasm of Anarchapulco and, later, a more sober reality about the danger of rejecting all social structures. Like so many docuseries before it, this six-episode affair unnecessarily drags on into its momentum-driven back half. Nonetheless, he accurately identifies his subjects as individuals bound by trauma and anger born of unhappy childhoods and dysfunctional family dynamics. The sad irony of Schramke’s non-fiction series, therefore, is that it resonates as a story about disparate, damaged people who have chosen to face the gaping holes in their lives by further rejecting the world and all that is in it. represents, rather than filling these voids. with the very common things (unity, trust, selflessness, order) that matter most.
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