William Powell, author of counterculture manifesto ‘The Anarchist Cookbook’, dies at 66

An enraged 19-year-old, William Powell holed up in the bowels of the New York City Public Library and pored through every shred of mayhem he could find — declassified military documents, Army field guides, electronic catalogs, insurrectionist pamphlets, survivalist guidebooks.

The material formed the bedrock for “The Anarchist Cookbook,” a crude though clever how-to book for aspiring terrorists, troublemakers and would-be revolutionaries.

Published as the Vietnam War continued to boil and the Summer of Love faded in the distance, the book became a bestseller and an instant manifesto of dissent in America, as ubiquitous in a college dorm room as a Che Guevara poster or a copy of the “Whole Earth Catalog.”

But as the decades passed, Powell came to see the book as a misstep, a vast error in judgment.

Confronted late in life by the makers of the documentary “American Anarchist,” Powell seemed to buckle at the thought that his book had been tied to Columbine, the Oklahoma City bombing, and a litany of other atrocities.

But if there was blood on his hands, he didn’t fully acknowledge it.

“I don’t know the influence the book may have had on the thinking of the perpetrators of these attacks, but I cannot imagine it was positive.”

Long an expatriate, Powell died of a heart attack July 11 during a vacation with his wife, children and grandchildren in Halifax, Canada. His death only became public when it was noted in the closing credits of “American Anarchist,” which premiered Friday. . His death was also disclosed on a Facebook page devoted to Powell’s work as a special education teacher in Africa and Asia. He was 66.

“The Anarchist Cookbook,” which has sold at least 2 million copies — printed, downloaded or otherwise — and remains in publication, was originally a 160-page book that offered a nuts-and-bolts overview of weaponry, sabotage, explosives, booby traps, lethal poisons and drug making. Illustrated with crude drawings, it informed readers how to make TNT and Molotov cocktails, convert shotguns to rocket launchers, destroy bridges, behead someone with piano wire and brew LSD.

The book came with a warning: “Not for children or morons.”

In a foreword, Powell advised that he hadn’t written the book for fringe militant groups of the era like the Weathermen or Minutemen, but for the “silent majority” in America, those he said needed to learn the tools for survival in an uncertain time. Powell himself was worried about being drafted and was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and President Nixon.

“This book is for anarchists — those who feel able to discipline themselves — on all subjects (from drugs to weapons to explosives) that are currently illegal or suppressed in this country,” he wrote.

Critics brushed the book off both as “reckless” and “pointless”; the FBI took note but decided any intervention would only stoke further interest in the book. Activists associated with militant groups branded it a transparent attempt to profit off the discord in America.

Powell said he received death threats and retreated to Vermont. He held only one press conference after the book was published, and it had been interrupted when someone hurled stink bombs toward the author.

In more recent publications, the book appears to have grown shorter and readers on Amazon have complained that it has been heavily edited. One reader said he was gravely disappointed to find out that a recipe for napalm had been cut from the book.

Powell eventually found a more conventional life, returning to college, earning a master’s degree in English, becoming a teacher, getting married and raising a family. He also led a nomadic life, teaching special needs children as he roamed the world with his wife and children, traveling from China to Tanzania.

The book itself never made him rich. He conceded years later than the copyright had been held from the start by the book’s original publisher, Lyle Stuart Inc., and that at best he had made $50,000 off the book.

Powell said he became a Christian and found himself increasingly uncomfortable with the book, which had tailed him like a shadow, sometimes standing in the way of a job or testing a friendship. In the late 1970s, he asked the publisher to take “The Anarchist Cookbook” out of publication. His request was rejected.

The author did, though, add a cautionary note to would-be buyers on Amazon, condemning his own book as “a misguided product of my adolescent anger.” He said the book should no longer be in print. He stopped short of urging people not to buy it, though his feelings we clear.

“The central idea to the book was that violence is an acceptable means to bring about political change,” he wrote. “I no longer agree with this.”

In 2013 he wrote a first-person story for The Guardian, again expressing remorse for the book and noting that he had more than atoned for it with decades of teaching and public service in the poorest and least developed countries in the world. He concluded that as a teen, he had accepted the notion that violence could be used to prevent violence.

“I had fallen for the same irrational pattern of thought that led to U.S. military involvement in both Vietnam and Iraq,” he wrote. “The irony is not lost on me.”

On a Facebook remembrance page, filled with condolences and fond memories from students, fellow teachers and family members, there is no obvious mention of the book that made him noteworthy. There is, though, evidence Powell had carved out a far different reputation in the classroom.

If I have made any difference or had any impact on student’s lives since I began teaching overseas it is because Bill was the catalyst,” wrote Kenny Peavy. “He was the first one to take the time to truly see.”



José Vigoa’s War: A Short Discourse on Eco-Extremist Method

The most notable departure that eco-extremism has undertaken in the past year is its increased clarity in organization. While its manner of attack has always been small, disperse, and secretive; and while it has always renounced revolutionary discourse or discussion of a “movement,” only a stark break could make clear that the ethos of eco-extremism is different from that of anarchists and other radical terrorists. In place of the activist, the eco-extremist seeks to emulate the criminal. Instead of the Party, the nihilist individualist builds a “secret society” (often secret even among themselves). Instead of a Movement, those who carry out the extreme defense of Wild Nature advocate a Mafia. If the emergence of eco-extremism signaled the crossing of the bridge to leave the Land of Progress and Enlightenment, the new stage of the management of savagery is setting fire to that bridge and watching it burn.

There are of course theoretical reasons for this. To carry out eco-extremist actions, the actors themselves require utmost autonomy and anonymity, just like criminals. The liberal, the leftist, the anarchist, and the anarcho-primitivist all advocate actions that others can emulate and proclaim along with the Crucified in the Gospel: “Go and do likewise.” They want to “mass produce” a course of action and behaviors developed to fit every possible situation and contingency. Everything is “open source” and out for everyone to see. This meets their need for the democratic ethos, their Faith in the People, their Dogma of the Fundamental Goodness of Human Nature. Even the most sympathetic hyper-civilized readers engage eco-extremist literature and ask, “But what should I DO? How can I apply it to MY OWN LIFE? Etc,” If you have to ask, then there is no answer in your case.

The eco-extremist is an opportunist. He is an individualist. There is no cookie-cutter eco-extremist like there is a cookie cutter communist or anarchist or primitivist. Each one is different, just like each crime is different. The modern activist seeks to limit chaos and contingency: the eco-extremist counts on it, even thrives off of it. The masses of hyper-civilized activists, from pacifists to the Black Bloc, seek to move like a Napoleonic column of troops, with discipline, a common goal, and a State-like force confronting the State in a “dual power” situation. These are only as strong as their weakest link. Eco-extremist action is guerilla warfare in the full sense of the term: not just in practice, but also in purpose. The eco-extremist, just like the criminal, fights only for himself, for his own benefit, and with those who fight similarly if far away; those who laud his actions and seek to emulate them in their own circumstances.

This is why eco-extremism is the “stone of stumbling, and a rock of scandal, to them who stumble at the word.” (1 Peter 2:8) Even those who sympathize, those leftist cheerleaders who want to be a little more militant and think that a few words in support of ITS boost their credibility as “post-leftists,” don’t understand this eco-extremist first principle. Eco-extremism is not about a few militant words that stimulate conversation, or a slightly more violent form of the passive pessimism that pervades progressive if honest intellectual circles. Eco-extremism is about conspiratorial complicity,  violent affinity, and sympathy that leads to illegality. Eco-extremism is not yet another ideological idol that one has on one’s altar along with insurrectionary anarchism, anarcho-primitivism, eco-anarchism, passive nihilism, etc. Eco-extremism is the smashing of idols, even the idol of one’s own “self-realization” and “autonomy” within putrid techno-industrial civilization. It is the holy zeal of the fanatic in the face of the blasphemies against Wild Nature, the covetous lust for violence against the hyper-civilized victim, and the singular patience needed to strike at the enemy at the opportune time. Any similarities to ideologies that came before it are superficial at best.

In order to draw this out further, we will take some lessons from the life of a modern day guerilla raider / criminal, one who had come to similar opinions concerning the legitimacy of criminal activity in a corrupt society. We speak here of José Vigoa, ex-Spetsnaz commando, possible Cuban intelligence officer, drug dealer, and casino robber who was a terror on the streets of Las Vegas during the years 1999 and 2000. During this time, he and his small crew successfully robbed some of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas, including the MGM and the Bellagio. Vigoa also killed two armored car guards who were  trying to play hero during a robbery. We will not dwell on biographical details of Vigoa here, but rather quote passages from John Huddy’s fascinating account, Storming Las Vegas: How a Cuban-Born, Soviet-Trained Commando Took Down the Strip to the Tune of Five World-Class Hotels, Three Armored Cars and Millions of Dollars, and comment on these as appropriate. By this we seek to learn from his rules of engagement and shed light on how individualist attack will happen from now into the future. The future, as much as one can speak of it, belongs to the individualist, to chaos, and to a-morality.

Not that Jose Vigoa thinks well of the determined Brink’s guards as they spoil what could have been his retirement heist. Stupid hero bullshit! Thinks Vigoa as he takes heavy fire from the two guards and retreats to the waiting Rodeo. Vigoa is amazed that the low-paid Brink’s men fight back. If not for the heavy fire now streaming toward him and the crazy American blazing away over the hood of the trunk, Vigoa would tell the guards to their faces how foolish they are: I’m not trying to take the money away from you, or disrespect you, or steal anything from your families. I want to take the money from the fat pig casino owners who have millions and millions and exploit their employees with peanut wages. (16)

Undaunted, Vigoa conducts a debriefing and announces a new policy: “Next time we shoot first and ask no questions of nobody. I didn’t ask the guards for their fucking wristwatches and wallets. Everybody wants to be a hero in this country.” Vigoa later writes in his journal: “In my world, you are either the hunter or the hunted. Vegas makes it, Vigoa takes it. (22)

The opening of the book describes a botched armored car robbery at the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas, when Vigoa and his crew opened fire too early on the guards making a money delivery, thus allowing them to return fire and defend themselves. This would be a theme in Vigoa’s crime spree: that poor guards who had everything to lose and nothing to gain from returning fire defended their bosses’ money anyway. Perhaps here we see that the “hyper-civilized,” far from innocent or exploited, uphold an unjust system out of some sense of pride or habit. Civilization doesn’t suppress animal instincts, but rather harnesses them to its own ends, in this case, to defend the concept of private property and the honest working man’s “job well done.” Could there be more evidence that the hyper-civilized will never turn against the techno-industrial system? (16)

The robberies and small-unit tactics used by the gang reminded police of their own swat training. Marine and army veterans recognize Special Forces guerilla war tactics. Special Agent Brett W. Shields of the FBI realizes that the gang uses classic commando doctrines: (1) clandestine insertion, (2) brief, violent combat, (3) rapid disengagement, and (4) swift, deceptive withdrawal. The cops realize they are up against an organized criminal as colorful and lethal as any old-school hoodlum, but one in possession of exceptional battlefield intelligence, modern-day firepower, and sophisticated small-unit tactics. (25)

This “militarization” of criminal activity is a common theme in our day, as we shall see later.

What Vigoa called the Fiery Demon was stirring now; it would soon be awake. Vigoa could feel its raw power and white heat gathering strength throughout his body. Once he had feared the feeling and thought that it drew him into a life of crime and brutality, but Vigoa knew better now. The Fiery Demon was his shield and salvation, the primal force that kept him alive.

It was awake and growing stronger, and it would soon be free to do its work. (104)

This passage refers to an episode early in Vigoa’s career, but like many individualists and savages before, Vigoa also had a guiding spirit in combat. To be more than what one is as a mere mortal animal, and to strike out, one often needs the inspiration of a spirit, a daemon in ancient Greek belief. It is no wonder then that Vigoa had this, and an anarchist or leftist would scoff at this, as the latter’s power comes from the people according to their humanist beliefs. Those who aspire to inhuman actions must have inhuman help.

Many dealers were also addicts and used their profits to support their habit, but Vigoa did not. His abstinence was not about morality – it was about life and death. “You have to keep the brain clear,” he warned his confederates. “You have to be alert at all times, even when you’re sleeping or making love or with your family. You have to see farther than other men and around corners. You have to see into the hearts of men. You have to read the eyes of your enemy and know they are about to strike, or someday they will try to kill you.” (106)

Vigoa teaches sobriety and vigilance for the same reason that the eco-extremists do: not out of morality but for an individualistic end. The eco-extremist end is attack, and enemies are everywhere. Sobriety and vigilance are always needed. Some would say that this amounts to asceticism: that such a life is an unnecessary embrace of hardship for some sort of inverse moral end. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is hyper-civilized man who expects to be defended by his technology, his buildings, and morality. Even the most a-moral of hyper-civilized egoists relies on civilization and its pomps for his “a-morality”. The real condition of man without civilization is one of constant vigilance: in the jungle, in the forest, on the plain, and on the seas. We are so cut off from our senses and a life of engagement with wild things that we think a life of vigilance and sobriety is one of deprivation. The alternative, however, is the life of the zoo animal: we are under no physical threat because we live in cages. At the very least, the eco-extremist resists the life of the cage, even if only to attack and return to fight another day. The alternative is to try to find freedom in the cage, which is an absurdity.

“In a way, Pedro’s vanishing act was a good thing,” Vigoa says later. “We were tested. After Pedro got chased off from valet parking, we didn’t fall apart or panic. This is the way it is in real combat. There always are surprises. Nothing ever goes the way it is supposed to go, and a plan is only a first step. There always will be an ebb and flow in the fight. It’s how you react to surprises that matter. We did well.” (146-147)

The context for this reflection is the MGM heist that Vigoa’s crew carried out, and the lesson here is obvious. We will move on then.

Although not the most lucrative robbery, the Mandalay Bay heist will be the gang’s model heist- blazing fast, without resistance, and exactly according to plan. The actual robbery of the two Brink’s guards takes less than one minute, and the getaway even less time. By the time police arrive, the gunmen are long gone. No one can agree in which direction the suspects fled, descriptions of the getaway vehicle vary, some witnesses describe the bandits as black men, and there’s no ballistic evidence or fingerprints. (186)

This is a good summary of Vigoa’s crew’s tactics, which emphasized speed and precision in carrying out robberies and getaways.

Like the shark, Vigoa thought he was driven by a primal urge, even addiction, beyond his control. Perhaps his robberies were not about good or evil, money, revenge for past injustices, or even family. They were about power, violence, danger, and the thrill of the hunt. The sharks did what they did without remorse, and so did Vigoa. The police could not possibly comprehend this, Vigoa thought. They have no idea who or what they are dealing with. (158)

It is odd that all of the “green anarchists”, in spite of their efforts at “re-wilding” and anthropological studies of primitive peoples, cannot understand what a common criminal learned so well. That is, violence was not a means to an end in “primitive” life, but often an end unto itself: a way of life. The thrill of the hunt and the raid is not taken up by the re-wilding hippy in our day and age, but by the criminal and the thug, with all of their contradictions and selfishness.

All in all, maybe the Vigoa crew could never function with the precision of the Spetsnaz commandos, but they could be taught to obey simple orders and execute Vigoa’s well-drawn plans. Later he would write: “One of my special skills, in war and in crime, was to drill my men hard by simulating the mission again and again, sometimes twenty or thirty times. There was no room for error. The police and military find this out all the time, Even when you train well, there will be mistakes. In my business, I can commit five successful robberies, but if I make one small mistake or allow my men to become careless and undisciplined, then we will all die or go to prison with long elephant sentences. (161)

This begins a crucial part of the book where Vigoa begins to describe his methodology in more detail. Here we see that Vigoa, because he is a man of action, has no problem with wielding authority. Although eco-extremists tend to be individualists, they have no problem with authority, as it is conceivable that a situation might emerge where a small group will form to carry out a particular action. Unlike the anarchist or leftist, organization is not a function of ideology but of effectiveness in an ad hoc situation where speed and precision are of the utmost importance. Thus, there is no problem with authority in eco-extremism.

And by now the team could recite the Vigoa’s Rules almost word for word:

  • No talking during a job, except when “freezing” the victim (ordering him to stop and drop his weapon). Absolute silence among unit members.
  • Plan A: Disarm the guards. Plan B: Kill them without hesitation if they resist.
  • Vigoa, and Vigoa alone, gives the orders when to retire to the getaway car.
  • The second getaway vehicle (technically known as the first lay-off car) will be within running distance of the job because the armored car driver has been taught to use the truck as a battering ram and could damage the first car at the crime scene.
  • A minimum of three lay-off cars per job. These vehicles, plus the first getaway car – the one whose license plate number everyone writes down in great excitement – make a total of four cars per job.
  • Speed is essential – one minute and out. (When Suarez starts to protest that it will take this much time just to gather up the loot, Vigoa cuts him off: “This is not the movies, chico, people have cell phones, they call 911, and the stupids [the police] will race out of their doughnut shops for a little action.”)
  • No lay-off cars to be stored in casino lots, because security has been writing down plate numbers. Use apartment lots.
  • Chaos is key. (Vigoa to crew: “Who knows what modus operandi means?” Silence. “Good, because we don’t have one. Be unpredictable. This is war. Predictability gets you killed.”)
  • Leave nothing behind.
  • Ski masks and dark clothing. Always wear gloves. Leave the masks on until we reach the third getaway car. (165-166)

In these rules, we see again the emphasis on authority, speed and precision. But we also see a nod to chaos. Eco-extremists seek to be chaos, or Wild Nature, in a domesticated and artificial society. They too have no modus operandi. They want nothing from society except to lash out, so their methods are not that different from their ends: they attack for the sake of attack. This allows them to be unpredictable just as Vigoa sought to be.

I don’t want to kill nobody in my robberies. I didn’t want to kill the guards at the shopping center. But after the Desert Inn, I realize that every American has to be a cowboy. I call this the hero bullshit. You gotta be John Wayne and Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis, and you do stupid things and force me to do what I do, which is not stupid at all because to survive I will blow your fucking brains out. I will send you on the train to hell on a whim. My whim. (223)

This passage describes what happened when Vigoa and his crew attempted to rob an armored car and had to kill both of the security guards because they decided to fight back. Again, the hyper-civilized defend civilization even when it is not in their material interests. Call them what you want, but they are not the friends of the individualist, or of Wild Nature for that matter.

I wasn’t high or drunk, but I was confident. Too confident. It was the mood of the party. I felt good and mellow, almost in a trance. I felt invincible and it was then that I let my guard down. Just like the hotels did when the soft wealthies, lawyers, and accountants took over from the tough Italian gangsters.  (248-249)

Vigoa here describes how being off-guard led to his downfall. During his robbery of the Bellagio, Vigoa wore the wrong hat and was identified by security cameras, leading to his face being shown all over the news. This is also a warning against the double-life: Vigoa was a family man and he let a family party relax him too much and make him lose his focus. Ultimately, this is why he was caught: one part of his double life contaminated the other.

On June 3, 2002, I was ready to touch down, to take off from the Clark County Jail at nighttime. It was to be a good and final gift from me to all the law enforcement people, not to mention publicity for the DA and something to keep the news people busy. But something unexpected and unplanned happened. A friend of mine got caught with prison-made wine. The police asked me if they could come into my cell for a second because someone got caught with wine, and the police wanted to know if I had some. They looked around, and they didn’t find nothing. I had been working that day on the window, doing my last work, but I did not have the metal plates attached very well or disguised, because the cell search was so sudden, and I was so close to checking out – and the new correction officer without experience discovered my work by accident. It was one lucky shot. (335)

After Vigoa was caught, one of his crew was prepared to testify against Vigoa in exchange for leniency. This person, however, ended up hanging himself in his cell under mysterious circumstances. In spite of being on lockdown most of the day, Vigoa was trying to saw through the bars of his windows and escape. This testifies to Vigoa’s indomitable spirit: even when he was on the verge of being condemned to life in prison, he still found it possible to attempt to escape.

The tone of our first and subsequent interviews is businesslike and even cordial. But when Vigoa compares the Ross gunfight and tragic deaths to war, I interrupt. “Robbing people at gunpoint is not war,” I say. “Robbing people at gunpoint for self enrichment and then shooting them when they resist is murder.”

Vigoa’s face darkens. He gives me a hard look, and we lock eyes. There’s a long pause, then he sighs. “You’re right, it’s not war,” Vigoa says. “Well, maybe a little bit like war. In war we kill not only soldiers but innocent people too. But sometimes a man has no choice.” Vigoa is still stunned that the guards at the Desert Inn and Ross risked their lives for someone else’s money. (354-355)

When interrogated by the author of the book, Vigoa resists hyper-civilized morality, and refuses to exclude the “innocent” in his indiscriminate attacks. Again, it is very telling that he understands what so many “learned” people fail to get: that the innocent are not all that innocent, and the person “doing his job” is precisely what is upholding civilization.

“Jose Vigoa is an example of the criminal to be most feared in the future,” Sheriff Bill Young said. “We in American law enforcement know exactly how to deal with the homegrown street thug but are way behind the curve with the foreign born and trained, who are smart and not committing crimes because they are addicted or need money for drugs. We’re seeing more and more of these types in Vegas, particularly from the Middle East, the Baltic states, and South America. Their values are far different from ours, and the ruthless side they display leaves many American cops stunned. Many of these guys have military backgrounds and are sophisticated and well read. It’s going to take a concerted effort on our part to effectively deal with the Jose Vigoas of the world.”

The story of Jose Manuel Vigoa Perez, it turns out, is very much the story of our times. (364)

Thus ends John Huddy’s book on a great individualist prisoner who will spend the rest of his life in a U.S. prison.  From this passage, it is clear that Jose Vigoa was a trend-setter: a foreshadowing of things to come. It is my belief that eco-extremism shares many of the same characteristics that the sheriff describes here: people who are trained (even if self-trained), indiscriminately violent, well read, and committed to the criminal enterprise. As the fabric of society continues to unravel, violence and those who commit it will become increasingly atomized, disorganized (in the institutional sense), and ruthless in their methods. This is not so much a prediction as it is a reading of the inevitable. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…”

The eco-extremist is one who has given him or herself over to the chaos that threatens techno-industrial civilization.  They will learn from Jose Vigoa, from primitive tribes, from fellow terrorists, and from whoever can offer examples on how to carry out a personal war in extreme defense of Wild Nature, even if this defense is merely exacting an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.


Huddy, John. Storming Las Vegas: How a Cuban-Born, Soviet-Trained Commando Took Down the Strip to the Tune of Five World-Class Hotels, Three Armored Cars, and Millions of Dollars. New York: Ballantine Books, 2008


Resist the Internet

Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

So far, in my ongoing series of columns making the case for implausible ideas, I’ve fixed race relations and solved the problem of a workless working class. So now it’s time to turn to the real threat to the human future: the one in your pocket or on your desk, the one you might be reading this column on right now.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true: You are enslaved to the internet. Definitely if you’re young, increasingly if you’re old, your day-to-day, minute-to-minute existence is dominated by a compulsion to check email and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with a frequency that bears no relationship to any communicative need.

Compulsions are rarely harmless. The internet is not the opioid crisis; it is not likely to kill you (unless you’re hit by a distracted driver) or leave you ravaged and destitute. But it requires you to focus intensely, furiously, and constantly on the ephemera that fills a tiny little screen, and experience the traditional graces of existence — your spouse and friends and children, the natural world, good food and great art — in a state of perpetual distraction.

Used within reasonable limits, of course, these devices also offer us new graces. But we are not using them within reasonable limits. They are the masters; we are not. They are built to addict us, as the social psychologist Adam Alter’s new book “Irresistible” points out — and to madden us, distract us, arouse us and deceive us. We primp and perform for them as for a lover; we surrender our privacy to their demands; we wait on tenterhooks for every “like.” The smartphone is in the saddle, and it rides mankind.

Which is why we need a social and political movement — digital temperance, if you will — to take back some control.

“Temperance?” you might object, with one eye on the latest outrage shared by your co-partisans on social media. “You mean, like, Prohibition? For something everyone relies on for their daily work and lives, that’s the basis for our economic — hang on, I just need to ‘favorite’ this tweet …”

No, not like Prohibition. Temperance doesn’t have to mean teetotaling; it can simply mean a culture of restraint that tries to keep a specific product in its place. And the internet, like alcohol, may be an example of a technology that should be sensibly restricted in custom and in law.

Of course it’s too soon to fully know (and indeed we can never fully know) what online life is doing to us. It certainly delivers some social benefits, some intellectual advantages, and contributes an important share to recent economic growth.

But there are also excellent reasons to think that online life breeds narcissism, alienation and depression, that it’s an opiate for the lower classes and an insanity-inducing influence on the politically-engaged, and that it takes more than it gives from creativity and deep thought. Meanwhile the age of the internet has been, thus far, an era of bubbles, stagnation and democratic decay — hardly a golden age whose customs must be left inviolate.

So a digital temperance movement would start by resisting the wiring of everything, and seek to create more spaces in which internet use is illegal, discouraged or taboo. Toughen laws against cellphone use in cars, keep computers out of college lecture halls, put special “phone boxes” in restaurants where patrons would be expected to deposit their devices, confiscate smartphones being used in museums and libraries and cathedrals, create corporate norms that strongly discourage checking email in a meeting.

Then there are the starker steps. Get computers — all of them — out of elementary schools, where there is no good evidence that they improve learning. Let kids learn from books for years before they’re asked to go online for research; let them play in the real before they’re enveloped by the virtual.

Then keep going. The age of consent should be 16, not 13, for Facebook accounts. Kids under 16 shouldn’t be allowed on gaming networks. High school students shouldn’t bring smartphones to school. Kids under 13 shouldn’t have them at all. If you want to buy your child a cellphone, by all means: In the new dispensation, Verizon and Sprint will have some great “voice-only” plans available for minors.

I suspect that versions of these ideas will be embraced within my lifetime by a segment of the upper class and a certain kind of religious family. But the masses will still be addicted, and the technology itself will have evolved to hook and immerse — and alienate and sedate — more completely and efficiently.

But what if we decided that what’s good for the Silicon Valley overlords who send their kids to a low-tech Waldorf school is also good for everyone else? Our devices we shall always have with us, but we can choose the terms. We just have to choose together, to embrace temperance and paternalism both. Only a movement can save you from the tyrant in your pocket.

REVIVAL Resurrecting the Process Church of the Final Judgment

Who is seeking to destroy all esoteric religious movements, starting with The Process Church of the Final Judgement? The Process was the most fascinating innovative cult of the 1960s, then vanished for four decades before being virtually reborn using information technology.

Revival seems to be fiction, yet it’s based on fact and explores the implications of the internet, and the disintegration of conventional faiths. As reported in the author’s anthropological study, Satan’s Power, the Process was polytheistic, asserting the union of Jehovah with Lucifer, and the unity of Christ with Satan. Each Process member was a fragment of a god, with a corresponding personality trait: Jehovah = Discipline, Lucifer = Liberation, Christ = Unification, Satan = Separation.

Before the first page of this book, the computer magician who resurrected the Process Church was murdered. Was this man Christ?

Christianity may be the opposite of what it seems, a Satanic plot that subconsciously preaches, “Release the fiend that lies dormant within you, for he is strong and ruthless, and his power is far beyond the bounds of human frailty. Come forth in your savage might, rampant with the lust of battle, tense and quivering with the urge to strike, to smash, to split asunder all that seek to detain you.” Can the surviving Processeans achieve the hopes expressed in their blessing: “May the life-giving water of the Lord Christ and the purifying fire of the Lord Satan bring the presence of love and unity into this assembly”?

Author William Sims Bainbridge earned his doctorate in sociology from Harvard University in 1975 and  he has published about 300 articles and written or edited 40 books in a variety of scientific fields. Currently, he is Co-Director, Cyber-Human Systems (Human-Centered Computing) at the National Science Foundation.



Traducción al inglés del comunicado número 25 de ITS, esta vez surge un nuevo grupo en la ciudad norteña de Chihuahua y reivindica el certero asesinato del vicerrector del Tec de Monterrey.

En su declaración, hacen ver su profundo odio contra la civilización y se burlan de las autoridades que buscan a los responsables del homicidio.

¡Muerte, heridas y caos para los híper-civilizados!

The Technological Institute of Advanced Studies in Monterrey, better known as Tec de Monterrey, is in mourning. This past Sunday in a robbery attempt, the Vice-Rector of that house of study, Luis Arturo Torres García was murdered in the city of Chihuahua.

The northern state of Chihuahua is in itself a place of extreme violence, where murders with all sorts of motives are counted by the dozens. In fact, this past weekend, the whole state alone recorded up to 20 murders.

Northern society is corroded by violence, criminality is looked upon as just another job, it’s ridiculously easy to acquire a gun on the street, death roams about in the public plazas and in places least expected.

We are a reflection of that society. We are the perverse face of all civilization. Urban and rural darkness in its most realist expression has birthed us. We have grown up on the battle field where blood coagulates on the asphalt, and where shells are festooned all around with little notice.

We are the cruel reality of the modern era. But we are also a reflection of our nomadic ancestors who roamed on these paths barefoot under the burning sun of the desert. We are the disobedience toward the colonizers and the violent response to them. We are the coyote and the deer, the buzzard and the thorns of the mesquite, the biznaga flower and the marble mountains, the cold that burns in winter and the oppressive sun of summer. We are the windstorms, we are Wild Nature and we act like her.

We have no desire to collaborate with this system. We don’t want to be one more alienated person in this farce civilization. We express our disgust toward the alien, the artificial, and if we use technology, it is only to claim responsibility for our actions. Only that, we do not belong to any “movement” nor do we want to be “coherent” with certain political doctrines.

The extreme defense of Wild Nature demands blood, wounds, terror, and death. It is for this reason that by this letter we claim full responsibility for the murder of Luis Arturo Torres García last Sunday, February 26th. This man so devoted to his disgusting Catholic belief was leaving Santa Fe Church when we intercepted and killed him. We had to take his wife’s purse so she would not call the police. The act was interpreted as a robbery, but we clarify its real intention by this letter.

Torres, a professional par excellence, Vice-Rector of Tec de Monterrey, with a degree in computer systems and candidate for a doctorate from the University of Cantabria in Spain, no longer lives. We killed him with one shot from a high caliber pistol.

With this attack, we the Desert Band make our presence known in Chihuahua as one more group of the Individualists Tending Toward the Wild (ITS).

You thought that the Eco-Extremist Mafia was going to stop expanding? We’ve already managed to extend our net to Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Within Mexico, we are in Mexico City, Mexico State, Jalisco, and Coahuila. The rest of the states were not the exception, don’t be surprised if an ITS group comes to a place near or far from you…

We are certain that this society and the Chihuahuan authorities don’t have a clue that this international terrorist group is now in its capital. We encourage them to read up a bit on us so that they know what they’re facing.

A police van has been sent, they are seeking suspects for the attack among the adjacent neighborhoods, harassing people, looking for a snitch they can pay off. By this letter we state that we know that you’re out to get us, the attack that we carried out was a severe hit to public opinion and to the wealthy people of Tec. But fuck you if you think you’ll find us. You’re gonna have to snatch the biggest dumbass you can find, because we’re far away already, fucking assholes.

Maybe to the police of Mexico, who are on the ITS case, this can sound really familiar. Only one shot to the head against a recognized professional? Sounds like the attack on Méndez Salinas in 2011 in Morelos, don’t you think?

Look and keep looking bitches, you know that all who work in the incubators of progress, in this case Tec, are a potential target.

In addition, ITS has already struck this house of studies; on April 19th, 2016, when a bomb exploded on the Tec de Monterrey Campus in Mexico City. On February 3rd of the same year explosives were detonated in the Atizapán campus and in the so-called “Tec Suits.” The most notable attack was on August 8th, 2011 when a package bomb wounded Armando Herrera Corral and Alejandro Aceves Lopez. You should know that this nightmare is not over, and even five years after that act, you’re still in our sights, even outside the center of the country.

Another death for the annals of ITS. We’ve already said that there will be more murders and we are following through with this!

With the pavement still stained with blood.

Individualists Tending Toward the Wild-Chihuahua

-Desert Band

At Daggers Drawn with the Existent, its Defenders and its False Critics

Title: At Daggers Drawn with the Existent, its Defenders and its False Critics
Author: Anonymous
Notes: Translated from Italian by Jean Weir in collaboration with John Moore and Leigh Stracross. Original title: “Ai ferri corti con l’esistente, i suoi difensori e i suoi falsi critici”



Anyone can put an end to tossing about in the slavery of what they don’t know—and refusing the sop of empty words, come to daggers with life.

—C. Michelstaedter.

Life is no more than a continual search for something to cling to. One gets up in the morning to find oneself in bed a mere matter of hours later, a sad commuter between lack of desire and fatigue. Time passes, spurring us less and less. Social obligations no longer seem to break our backs as we have got used to spreading the weight. We obey without even taking the trouble to say yes. Death is expiated by living, wrote the poet from another trench.

We can live without passion or dreams—that is the great liberty this society offers us. We can talk endlessly, particularly of things we know nothing about. We can express any opinion we like, even the most daring, and disappear behind the murmuring. We can vote for the candidate we prefer, demanding the right to complain in exchange. We can change channels at any time should we seem to be getting dogmatic. We can enjoy ourselves at specific moments, traversing sadly identical environments at increasing speed. We can appear to be young hotheads before receiving icy bucketfuls of common sense. We can get wed as often as we like, so sacred is marriage. We can employ ourselves usefully and, if we can’t write, become journalists. We can do politics in a thousand ways, even talking about exotic guerrillas. In careers as in love, if we don’t quite make it to giving orders we can always excel in obeying. Obedience can even make martyrs of us and in spite of appearances, this society needs heroes.

Our stupidity certainly won’t seem any worse than anyone else’s. It doesn’t matter if we can’t make up our minds, we can let others decide for us. Then, we will take a stand, as they say in the jargon of politics and the spectacle. There is never any lack of justification, especially in the world of those who aren’t fussy.

In this great fairground of roles we all have one loyal ally: money. Democratic par excellence, it respects no one in particular. In its presence no commodity or service can be denied us. It has the whole of society behind it, no matter who it belongs to. Of course this ally never gives enough of itself and, moreover, does not give itself to all. But the hierarchy of money is a special one, uniting what the conditions of life set against each other. When you have it, you are always right. When you don’t, you have plenty of extenuating circumstances.

With a bit of practice we could get through a whole day without one single idea. Daily routine thinks in place of us. From work to ‘free time’, everything comes about within the continuity of survival. We always have something to cling to. The most stupefying characteristic of today’s society is the ability for ‘comfort’ to exist a hair’s breadth from catastrophe. The economy and the technological administration of the existent are advancing with irresponsible recklessness. One slips from entertainment to large-scale massacre with the disciplined insensitivity of programmed gestures. Death’s buying and selling extends over the whole of time and space. Risk and brave effort no longer exist; there remains only security or disaster, routine or catastrophe. Saved or submerged. Alive, never.

With a bit of practice we could walk from home to school, the office to the supermarket or the bank to the disco, eyes closed. Now we can understand the adage of that old Greek sage: ‘The dormant also maintain the world order’.

The time has come to break away from this we, a reflex of the only community that now exists, that of authority and commodities.

One part of this society has every interest in its continuing to rule, the other in everything collapsing as soon as possible. Deciding which side one is on is the first step. But resignation, the basis of the agreement between the sides (improvers of the existent and its false critics) is everywhere, even in our own lives—the authentic place of the social war—in our desires and resoluteness as well as in our little daily submissions.

It is necessary to come to daggers with all that, to finally come to daggers with life.


It is by doing things that need to be learned in order to be done, that you learn them.


The secret is to really begin.

The present social organisation is not just delaying, it is also preventing and corrupting any practice of freedom. The only way to learn what freedom is, is to experiment it, and to do so you must have the necessary time and space.

The fundamental premise for free action is dialogue. Now, any authentic discourse requires two conditions: a real interest in the questions brought up to be discussed (the problem of content) and the free search for possible answers (the problem of method). These two conditions should occur at the same time, given that the content determines the method, and vice versa. One can only talk of freedom in freedom. What is the point of asking questions if we are not free to answer? What is the point of answering if the questions are always false? Dialogue only exists when individuals can talk to each other without mediation, i.e. when they relate reciprocally. If the discourse is one-way, no communication is possible. If someone has the power to impose the questions, the content of the latter will be directly functional to this (and the answers will contain subjection). Subjects can only be asked questions whose answers confirm their role as such, and from which the bosses will draw the questions of the future. The slavery lies in continuing to reply.

In this sense market research is identical to the elections. The sovereignty of the elector corresponds to the sovereignty of the consumer, and vice versa. TV passivity is called audience; the legitimation of the power of the State is called sovereign people. In either case individuals are simply hostages in a mechanism that gives them the right to speak after having deprived them of the faculty of doing so. What is the point of dialogue if all you can do is elect one or the other? What is communication if all your only choice is between identical goods and TV programmes? The content of the questions is meaningless because the method is false.

‘Nothing resembles a representative of the bourgeoisie more than a representative of the proletariat,’ Sorel wrote in 1907. What made them identical was the fact that they were, precisely, representatives. To say the same of a right or left wing candidate today would be banal. But politicians do not need to be original (advertising takes care of that), it is sufficient for them to know how to administer that banality. The irony is that the media are defined a means of communication and the voting spree is called elections (which in the true sense of the word means free, conscious decision).

The point is that power does not allow for any other kind of management. Even if the voters wanted it (which would already take us into full ‘utopia’, to imitate the language of the realists), nothing important could be asked of them from the moment that the only free act—the only authentic election—they could accomplish would be not to vote. Anyone who votes wants inconsequential questions, as authentic questions deny passivity and delegation. We will explain better.

Imagine that the abolition of capitalism were to be requested through referendum (putting aside the fact that such a question is impossible in the context of existing social relations). Most of the electorate would vote in favour of capitalism simply because, as they tranquilly leave home, the office or the supermarket, they cannot imagine a world other than one with commodities and money. But even if they were to vote against it nothing would change as, to be authentic, such a question would exclude the existence of voters. A whole society cannot be changed by decree.

The same could be said for less radical questions. Take the example of the housing estate. What would happen if the inhabitants were able (once again, we would be in ‘utopia’) to express themselves concerning the organisation of their own lives (housing, streets, squares, etc.)? Let us say right away that such demands would inevitably be limited from the start, because housing estates are a consequence of the displacement and concentration of the population according to the needs of the economy and social control. Nevertheless, we could try to imagine some form of social organisation other than such ghettos. One could safely say that most of the population would have the same ideas as the police on the subject. Otherwise (that is, if even limited practice of dialogue were to give rise to the desire for a new environment), this would mean the explosion of the ghetto. How, under the present social order, do you reconcile the inhabitants’ desire to breathe with the interests of the bosses of the motor industry? Free circulation of individuals with the fears of the luxury boutique owners? Children’s play areas with the cement of the car parks, banks and shopping centres? The empty houses left in the hands of the speculators? The blocks of flats that look like army barracks, that look like schools, that look like hospitals, that look like asylums? To move one wall in this labyrinth of horrors would mean putting the whole scheme in question. The further we move away from a police-like view of the environment, the closer we get to clashing with the police.

How can you think freely in the shadow of a church? wrote an anonymous hand on the sacred wall of the Sorbonne during May ’68. This impeccable question has wider implications. Anything that has been designed for economic or religious purposes cannot fail to impose anything but economic or religious desires. A desecrated church continues to be the house of God. Commodities continue their chatter in an abandoned shopping centre. The parade ground of a disused barracks still contains the marching of the soldiers. That is what he who said that the destruction of the Bastille was an act of applied social psychology meant. The Bastille could never have been managed as anything other than a prison, because its walls would have continued to tell the tale of incarcerated bodies and desires.

Subservience, obligation and boredom espouse consumerism in endless funereal nuptials. Work reproduces the social environment which reproduces the resignation to work. One enjoys evenings in front of the TV because one has spent the day in the office and the underground. Keeping quiet in the factory makes shouting in the stadia a promise of happiness. Feelings of inadequacy at school vindicate the insensate irresponsibility of a Saturday night at the disco. Only eyes emerging from a McDonald’s are capable of lighting up when they see a Club Med billboard. Et cetera.

You need to know how to experience freedom in order to be free. You need to free yourself in order to experience freedom. Within the present social order, time and space prevent experimentation of freedom because they suffocate the freedom to experiment.


The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

—W. Blake

Only by upsetting the imperatives of time and social space will it be possible to imagine new relations and surroundings. The old philosopher said one can only desire on the basis of what one knows. Desires can only change if one changes the life that produces them. Let’s be clear about this: rebellion against the organisation of time and space by power is a material and psychological necessity.

Bakunin said that revolutions are three quarters fantasy and a quarter reality. The important thing is realising where the fantasy that leads to the explosion of generalised rebellion originates. The unleashing of all evil passions, as the Russian revolutionary said, is the irresistible force of transformation. For all that this might make the resigned or the cold analysts of the historical movements of capital smile, we could say—if we did not find such jargon indigestible—that such an idea of revolution is extremely modern. Passions are evil, in that they are prisoners suffocated by that gelid monster, normality. But they are also evil because the will to live rather than shrink under the weight of duty and masks, transforms itself into quite the opposite. When restricted by daily duties, life denies itself to reappear in the guise of a servant. Desperately searching for space, it manifests itself as an oneiric presence, a physical contraction, a nervous tic, idiotic, gregarious violence. Does not the massive spread of psychotic drugs, one of the latest interventions of the welfare State, denounce the unbearableness of the present conditions of life? Power administers captivity everywhere in order to justify one of its own products: evil. Insurrection takes care of both of them.

If they do not wish to deceive themselves and others, those struggling for the demolition of the present social edifice must face the fact that subversion is a game of wild, barbarous forces. Someone referred to them as Cossacks, someone else hooligans; in fact they are individuals whose anger has not been quelled by social peace.

But how do you create a new community starting from anger? Let us put a stop to the conjuring tricks of dialectics. The exploited are not carriers of any positive project, be it even the classless society (which all too closely resembles the productive set up). Capital is their only community. They can only escape by destroying everything that makes them exploited: wages, commodities, roles and hierarchies. Capitalism has not created the conditions of its overcoming in communism—the famous bourgeoisie forging the arms of its own extinction—but of a world of horrors.

The exploited have nothing to self-manage but their own negation as such. That is the only way that their bosses, leaders and apologists in various guises will disappear along with them. In this ‘immense task of urgent demolition’ we must find joy, immediately.

For the Greeks the word ‘barbarian’ did not only refer to the stranger, but also to the ‘stammerer’, he who did not speak the language of the polis correctly. Language and territory are inseparable. The law fixes the borders enforced by the order of Names. Every power structure has its barbarians, every democratic discourse its stammerers. The society of commodities wants to banish their obstinate presence—with expulsion and silence—as though they were nothing. It is on this nothing that rebellion has founded its cause. No ideology of dialogue and participation will ever be able to mask exclusion and internal colonies completely. When the daily violence of the State and the economy causes the evil part to explode, there is no point in being surprised if someone puts their feet on the table and refuses to accept discussion. Only then will passions get rid of a world of death. The Barbarians are just around the corner.


We must abandon all models, and study our possibilities.

—E.A. Poe

The necessity of insurrection. Not in the sense of inevitability (an event that must take place sooner or later), but in the sense of a concrete condition of possibility. The necessity of the possible. Money is necessary in this society. Yet a life without money is possible. To experience this possibility it is necessary to destroy this society. Today one only experiences what is socially necessary.

Curiously, those who consider insurrection to be a tragic error (or an unrealistic romantic dream) talk a lot about social action and areas of freedom for experimentation. One only has to squeeze such arguments a little, however, for all the juice to come out of them. As we said, in order to act freely it is necessary to be able to talk to each other without mediation. And about what, how much, and where can one engage in dialogue at the present time?

In order to discuss freely one must snatch time and space from social obligations. After all, dialogue is inseparable from struggle. It is inseparable materially (in order to talk to each other it is necessary for us to take time and seize the necessary space) and psychologically (individuals like talking about what they do because that is how words transform reality).

We forget we are all living in a ghetto, even if we don’t pay rent and every day is a Sunday. If we are not capable of destroying this ghetto, the freedom to experiment will be a poor thing indeed.

Many libertarians believe that social change can and must come about gradually, without any sudden rupture. For this reason, they talk of ‘areas free of the State’ in which to elaborate new ideas and practices. Leaving aside the decidedly comical aspects of the question (where does the State not exist? how do you put it in parentheses?), you can see that the point of reference for such questions remains the self-managed federalist methods experimented by subversives at particular times in history (the Paris Commune, revolutionary Spain, the Budapest Commune, etc.). What one omits to say, however, is that the possibility of talking to one another and changing reality was taken by the rebels with arms. In short, a small detail is left out: insurrection. You cannot remove a method (neighbourhood meetings, direct decision-making, horizontal linking up, et cetera) from the context that made it possible, or even draw it up against the latter (e.g. ‘there is no point in attacking the State; we must self-organise, make utopia concrete’). Before thinking about what the proletarian councils signified for example—and what they could signify today—it is necessary to consider the conditions under which they existed (1905 in Russia, 1918–21 in Germany and Italy, et cetera). These were insurrectional times. Will someone please explain how it would be possible for the exploited to decide in first person on questions of any importance today without breaking social normality by force? Only then will you be able to talk about self-management or federalism. Before discussing what self-managing the present productive structures ‘after the revolution’ means, it is necessary to be aware of one simple thing: neither the bosses or the police would agree to it. You cannot discuss a possibility while omitting the conditions required to make it concrete. Any idea of freedom implies a break with the present society.

Let us see one last example. Direct democracy is also talked about in libertarian circles. One could retort that the anarchist utopia opposes itself to the method of majority decision. Right. But the point is that no one talks about direct democracy in real terms. Leaving aside those who pass it off as quite the opposite, i.e. the constitution of civic lists and participation in the municipal elections, let us consider those who imagine real citizens’ assemblies where people talk to each other without mediation. What would the so-called citizens be able to express? How could they reply differently, without changing the questions? How make a distinction between so-called political freedom and the present economic, social and technological conditions? No matter how you twist things, you cannot escape the problem of destruction, unless you think that a technologically centralised society could at the same time become federalist, or that generalised self-management could exist in the true prisons that the cities of the present day have become. To say that all the changes that are necessary could be done gradually merely confuses the issue. Change cannot even begin to take place without widespread revolt. Insurrection is the whole of social relations opening up to the adventure of freedom once the mask of capitalist specialisation has been torn off. Insurrection does not come up with the answers on its own, that is true. It only starts asking questions. So the point is not whether to act gradually or adventuristically. The point is whether to act or merely dream of acting.

The critique of direct democracy (to stick to the same example) must be concrete. Only then is it possible to go beyond and think that the social foundations of individual autonomy really exist. Only then is it possible for this going beyond to become a method of struggle, here and now. Subversives need to criticise other people’s ideas and define them more precisely than those who swear by them.

The better to sharpen their daggers.


It is an axiomatic, self-evident truth that the revolution cannot be made until there are sufficient forces to do so. But it is an historical truth that the forces that determine evolution and social revolutions cannot be calculated with the census lists.


It is out of fashion to believe that social transformation is still possible. The ‘masses’, it is said, are in a deep trance and fully integrated within the social norms. At least two conclusions can be drawn from such a remark. That rebellion is impossible or that it is only possible in small numbers. This either becomes an openly institutional discourse (the need for elections, legal conquests, etc.) or one in favour of social reform (union self-organisation, struggle for collective rights, etc.). The second conclusion can become the basis of the classical vanguardist discourse or of an anti-authoritarian one in favour of permanent agitation.

Here it can be said that throughout history ideas that were apparently in opposition to each other actually share the same roots.

Take social democracy and bolshevism for example: they clearly both came from the supposition that the masses do not have any revolutionary consciousness, so need to be led. Social democrats and Bolsheviks differed only in the methods used—reformist party or revolutionary party, parliamentary strategy or violent conquest of power—in the identical programme of bringing consciousness to the exploited from outside.

Let us take the hypothesis of a ‘minoritarian’ subversive practice that refuses the Leninist model. In a libertarian perspective one either abandons all insurrectional discourse (in favour of a declaredly solitary revolt), or sooner or later it becomes necessary to face the problem of the social implications of one’s ideas and practices. If we don’t want to resolve the question in the ambit of linguistic miracles (for example by saying that the theses we support are already in the heads of the exploited, or that one’s rebellion is already part of a wider condition) one fact remains: we are isolated, which is not the same as saying we are few.

Not only does acting in small numbers not constitute a limit, it represents a totally different way of seeing social transformation. Libertarians are the only people to envisage a dimension of collective life that is not subordinated to central direction. Authentic federalism makes agreements between free unions of individuals possible. Relations of affinity do not exist on the basis of ideology or quantity, but start off from reciprocal knowledge, from feeling and sharing projectual passions. But projectual affinity and autonomous individual action are dead letters if they cannot spread without being sacrificed in the name of some claimed higher necessity. It is the horizontal link that concretises the practice of liberation: an informal link, of fact, without representation. A centralised society cannot exist without police control and a deadly technological apparatus. For this reason, anyone who is incapable of imagining a community without State authority is devoid of instruments with which to criticise the economy that is destroying the planet. Anyone who is incapable of imagining a community of unique individuals has nothing to put in the place of political mediation. On the contrary, the idea of free experimentation in a coming together of like-minded people, with affinity as the basis for new relations, makes complete social upheaval possible. Only by abandoning the idea of centre (the conquest of the Winter Palace or, to bring things up to date, State television) does it become possible to build a life without imposition or money. In such a direction, the method of spreading attacks is a form of struggle that carries a different world within it. To act when everyone advises waiting, when it is not possible to count on great followings, when you do not know beforehand whether you will get results or not, means one is already affirming what one is fighting for: a society without measure. This, then, is how action in small groups of people with affinity contains the most important of qualities—it is not mere tactical contrivance, but already contains the realisation of one’s goal. Liquidating the lie of the transitional period (dictatorship before communism, power before freedom, wages before taking the lot, certainty of the results before taking action, requests for financing before expropriation, ‘ethical banks’ before anarchy, etc.) means making the revolt itself a different way of conceiving relations. Attacking the technological hydra right away means imagining a life without white-coated policemen (i.e. without the economic or scientific organisation that makes them necessary); attacking the instruments of domestication by the media now means creating relations that are free from images (i.e. free from the passivity that fabricates them). Anyone who starts screaming that it is no longer—or not yet—time for rebellion, is revealing the kind of society they want in advance. On the other hand, to stress the need for social insurrection now—an uncontainable movement that breaks with historical time to allow the emergence of the possible—simply means: we want no leaders. Today the only real federalism is generalised rebellion.

If we refuse centralisation we must go beyond the quantitative idea of rallying the exploited for a frontal clash with power. It is necessary to think of another concept of strength—burn the census lists and change reality.

Main rule: do not act en masse. Carry out actions in three or four at the most. There should be as many small groups as possible and each of them must learn to attack and disappear quickly. The police attempt to crush a crowd of thousands with one single group of a hundred cossacks.

It is easier to defeat a hundred men than one alone, especially if they strike suddenly and disappear mysteriously. The police and army will be powerless if Moscow is covered in these small unseizable detachments[…] Do not occupy strongholds. The troops will always be able to take them or simply destroy them with their artillery. Our fortresses will be internal courtyards or any place that it is easy to strike from and leave easily. If they were to take them they would never find anyone and would lose many men. It would be impossible for them to take them all because they to do this they would have to fill every house with cossacks.

—Warning to the Insurgents, Moscow, December 11 1905.


…poesy, … is referred to the Imagination, which may at pleasure make unlawful matches and divorces of things.

—F. Bacon

Think of another concept of strength. Perhaps this is the new poetry. Basically, what is social revolt if not a generalised game of illegal matching and divorcing of things.

Revolutionary strength is not a strength that is equal to and against that of power. If that were the case we would be defeated before we start, because any change would be the eternal return of constriction. Everything would be reduced to military conflict, a danse macabre of standards. Real movements escape the quantitative glance.

The State and capital possess the most sophisticated systems of control and repression. How can we oppose this Moloch? The secret lies in the art of breaking apart and putting together again. The movement of intelligence is a continual game of breaking up and establishing correspondences. The same goes for subversive practice. Criticising technology, for instance, means considering its general framework, seeing it not simply as an assemblage of machinery, but as a social relation, a system; it means understanding that a technological instrument reflects the society that produces it and that its introduction changes relations between individuals. Criticising technology means refusing to subordinate human activity to profit. Otherwise we would be deceiving ourselves as to the implications of technology, its claims to neutrality, the reversibility of its consequences. It then becomes necessary to break it up into its thousand ramifications, the concrete realisations that are increasingly mutilating us. We need to understand that the spreading of production and control that the new technologies allow makes sabotage easier. It would be impossible to attack them otherwise. The same goes for schools, barracks, and offices. Although they are inseparable from the whole of hierarchical and mercantile relations, they still concretise themselves in specific people and places.

How—when we are so few—can we make ourselves visible to students, workers, unemployed? If one thinks in terms of consensus and image (making oneself visible, to be precise), the reply can be taken for granted: unions and cunning politicians are far stronger than we are. Once again what is lacking is the capacity to put together and break apart. Reformism acts on detail, quantitatively: it mobilises vast numbers of people in order to change a few isolated aspects of power. A global critique of society on the other hand allows a qualitative vision of action to emerge. Precisely because there are no centres or revolutionary subjects to subordinate one’s projects to, each aspect of social reality relates back to the whole of which it is a part. No matter whether it is a question of pollution, prison or urban planning, any really subversive discourse ends up putting everything in question. Today more than ever a quantitative project (of assembling students, workers or unemployed in permanent organisations with a specific programme) can only act on detail, emptying actions of the strength of putting questions that cannot be reduced to a separation into categories (students, workers, immigrants, homosexuals, etc.). All the more so as reformism is less and less capable of reforming anything (think of unemployment and the way it is falsely presented as a resolvable breakdown in economic rationality). Someone said that even the request for nontoxic food has become a revolutionary project, because any attempt to satisfy it would involve changing the whole of social relations. Any demand that is addressed to a precise interlocutor carries its own defeat within it, if for no other reason than that no authority would be capable of resolving a problem of general significance even if it wanted to. To whom does one turn to oppose air pollution?

The workers who, during a wildcat strike, carried a banner saying, ‘We are not asking for anything’ understood that the defeat is in the claim itself (‘the claim against the enemy is eternal’). There is no alternative but to take everything. As Stirner said: ‘No matter how much you give them, they will always ask for more, because what they want is no less than the end of every concession’.

And then? Then, even though you are few you can think of acting without doing so in isolation, in the knowledge that in explosive situations a few good contacts are more useful than large numbers. Sadly, it often happens that rights-claiming social struggles develop more interesting methods than they do objectives (for example, a group of unemployed asking for work ends up burning down a dole office). Of course one could remain aloof, saying that work should not be asked for, but destroyed. Or one could try to link a critique of the whole economy to that so passionately burned office, or a critique of the unions to an act of sabotage. Each individual objective in the struggle contains the violence of the whole of social relations ready to explode. The banality of their immediate cause, as we know, is the calling card of revolts throughout history.

What can a group of resolute comrades do in such situations? Not much, unless they have already thought (for example) about how to give out a leaflet or at what points of the city to widen a protest; and, what is more, if a gay and lawless intelligence makes them forget numbers and great organisational structures.

Without wanting to revive the myth that the general strike is the unshackling of insurrection, it is clear enough that the interruption of all social activity is still decisive. Subversive action must tend towards the paralysis of normality, no matter what originally caused the clash. If students continue to study, workers—those who remain of them—and office employees to work, the unemployed to worry about employment, then no change will be possible. Revolutionary practice will always be above people. Any organisation that is separate from social struggles can neither unleash revolt nor extend and defend it. If it is true that the exploited tend to line up behind those who are able to guarantee economic improvements during the course of the struggle—if it is true, in other words, that any struggle to demand better conditions is necessarily of a reformist character—libertarians could push through methods (individual autonomy, direct action, permanent conflictuality) that go beyond making demands to denying all social identities (teacher, clerk, worker, et cetera). An established libertarian organisation making claims would merely flank the struggles (only a few of the exploited would choose to belong to it), or would lose its libertarian characteristics (the trades unions are the best qualified in the field of syndicalist struggles). An organisational structure formed by revolutionaries and exploited is only really in conflict if it is in tune with the temporary nature of one specific struggle, has a clear aim and is in the perspective of attack. In a word, if it is a critique in act of the union and its collaboration with the bosses.

We cannot say that subversives have a great capacity to launch social struggles (anti-militarist, against environmental toxicity, et cetera) at the moment. There remains (for all those who do not maintain that ‘people are accomplice and resigned’) the hypothesis of autonomous intervention in struggles—or in the fairly extensive acts of rebellion—that arise spontaneously. If we are looking for a clear expression of the kind of society the exploited are fighting for (as one subtle theoretician claimed in the face of a recent wave of strikes), we might as well stay at home. If we simply limit ourselves—which is not very different—to ‘critical support’, we are merely adding our red and black flags to those of the parties and unions. Once again critique of detail espouses the quantitative model. If we think that when the unemployed talk about the right to work we should be doing the same (making the obvious distinction between wages and ‘socially useful activity’), then the only place for action seems to be streets full of demonstrators. As old Aristotle was aware, representation is only possible where there is unity of time and place.

But who said it is not possible to talk to the unemployed of sabotage, the abolition of rights, or the refusal to pay rent (whilst practising it at the same time)? Who said that when workers come out into the streets on strike, the economy cannot be criticised elsewhere? To say what the enemy does not expect and be where they are not waiting for us. That is the new poetry.


We are too young, we cannot wait any longer.

—A wall in Paris

The force of an insurrection is social, not military. Generalised rebellion is not measured by the armed clash but by the extent to which the economy is paralysed, the places of production and distribution taken over, the free giving that burns all calculation and the desertion of obligations and social roles. In a word, it is the upsetting of life. No guerrilla group, no matter how effective, can take the place of this grandiose movement of destruction and transformation. Insurrection is the light emergence of a banality coming to the surface: no power can support itself without the voluntary servitude of those it dominates. Revolt reveals better than anything else that it is the exploited themselves who make the murderous machinery of exploitation function. The wild, spreading interruption of social activity suddenly tears away the blanket of ideology, revealing the real balance of strength. The State then shows itself in its true colours—the political organisation of passivity. Ideology on one side, fantasy on the other, expose their material weight. The exploited simply discover the strength they have always had, putting an end to the illusion that society reproduces itself alone—or that some mole is clawing away in their place. They rise up against their past obedience—their past State—and habits established in defence of the old world. The conspiracy of insurgents is the only instance when ‘collectivity’ is not the darkness that gives away the flight of the fireflies to the police, or the lie that makes ‘common good’ of individual ill-being. It is what gives differences the strength of complicity. Capital is above all a community of informers, union that weakens individuals, unity that keeps us divided. Social conscience is an inner voice that repeats ‘Others accept’. In this way the real strength of the exploited acts against them. Insurrection is the process that unleashes this strength, and along with it autonomy and the pleasure of living; it is the moment when we think reciprocally that the best thing we can do for others is to free ourselves. In this sense it is ‘a collective movement of individual realisation’.

The normality of work and ‘time off’, the family and consumerism, kills every evil passion for freedom. (As we write these words we are forcibly separated from our own kind, and this separation relieves the State from the burden of prohibiting us from writing). No change is possible without a violent break with habit. But revolt is always the work of a minority. The masses are at hand, ready to become instruments of power (for the slave who rebels, ‘power’ is both the bosses’ orders and the obedience of the other slaves) or to accept the changes taking place out of inertia. The greatest general wildcat strike in history—May ’68—involved only a fifth of the population of a State. It does not follow from this that the only objective can be to take over power so as to direct the masses, or that it is necessary to present oneself as the consciousness of the proletariat. There can be no immediate leap from the present society to freedom. The servile, passive attitude is not something that can resolve itself in a few days or months. But the opposite of this attitude must carve out a space for itself and take its own time. The social upheaval is merely the necessary condition for it to start.

Contempt for the ‘masses’ is not qualitative, but ideological, that is, it is subordinated to the dominant representation. The ‘people’ of capital exist, certainly, but they do not have any precise form.

It is still from the anonymous mass that the unknown with the will to live arise in mutiny. To say we are the only rebels in a sea of submission is reassuring because it puts an end to the game in advance. We are simply saying that we do not know who our accomplices are and that we need a social tempest to discover them. Today each of us decides to what extent others cannot decide (it is the abdication of one’s capacity to choose that makes the world of automaton function). During the insurrection choice elbows its way in, armed, and it is with arms that it must be defended because it is on the corpse of the insurrection that reaction is born. Although minoritarian (but in respect to what unit of measure?) in its active forces, the insurrectional phenomenon can take on extremely wide dimensions, and in this respect reveals its social nature. The more extensive and enthusiastic the rebellion, the less it can be measured in the military clash. As the armed self-organisation of the exploited extends, revealing the fragility of the social order, one sees that revolt, just like hierarchical and mercantile relations, is everywhere. On the contrary, anyone who sees the revolution as a coup d’état has a militaristic view of the clash. An organisation that sets itself up as vanguard of the exploited tends to conceal the fact that domination is a social relation, not simply a general headquarters to be conquered; otherwise how could it justify its role?

The most useful thing one can do with arms is to render them useless as quickly as possible. But the problem of arms remains abstract until it is linked to the relationship between revolutionary and exploited, between organisation and real movement.

Too often revolutionaries have claimed to be the exploited’s consciousness and to represent their level of subversive maturity. The ‘social movement’ thus becomes the justification for the party (which in the Leninist version becomes an elite of professionals of the revolution). The vicious circle is that the more one separates oneself from the exploited, the more one needs to represent an inexistent relationship. Subversion is reduced to one’s own practices, and representation becomes the organisation of an ideological racket—the bureaucratic version of capitalist appropriation. The revolutionary movement then identifies with its ‘most advanced’ expression, which realises its concept. The Hegelian dialectic of totality offers a perfect system for this construction.

But there is also a critique of separation and representation that justifies waiting and accepts the role of the critic. With the pretext of not separating oneself from the ‘social movement’, one ends up denouncing any practice of attack as a ‘flight forward’ or mere ‘armed propaganda’. Once again revolutionaries are called to ‘unmask’ the real conditions of the exploited, this time by their very inaction. No revolt is consequently possible other than in a visible social movement. So anyone who acts must necessarily want to take the place of the proletariat. The only patrimony to defend becomes ‘radical critique’, ‘revolutionary lucidity’. Life is miserable, so one cannot do anything but theorise misery. Truth before anything else. In this way the separation between subversive and exploited is not eliminated, only displaced. We are no longer exploited alongside the exploited; our desires, rage and weaknesses are no longer part of the class struggle. It’s not as if we can act when we feel like it: we have a mission—even if it doesn’t call itself that—to accomplish. There are those who sacrifice themselves to the proletariat through action and those who do so through passivity.

This world is poisoning us and forcing us to carry out useless noxious activity; it imposes the need for money on us and deprives us of impassioned relationships. We are growing old among men and women without dreams, strangers in a reality which leaves no room for outbursts of generosity. We are not partisans of abnegation. It’s just that the best this society can offer us (a career, fame, a sudden win, ‘love’) simply doesn’t interest us. Giving orders disgusts us just as much as obedience. We are exploited like everyone else and want to put an end to exploitation right away. For us, revolt needs no other justification.

Our lives are escaping us, and any class discourse that fails to start from this is simply a lie. We do not want to direct or support social movements, but rather to participate in those that already exist, to the extent to which we recognise common needs in them. In an excessive perspective of liberation there are no such things as superior forms of struggle. Revolt needs everything: papers and books, arms and explosives, reflection and swearing, poison, daggers and arson. The only interesting question is how to combine them.


It is easy to hit a bird flying in a straight line.

—B. Gracian

Not only do we desire to change our lives immediately, it is the criterion by which we are seeking our accomplices. The same goes for what one might call a need for coherency. The will to live one’s ideas and create theory starting from one’s own life is not a search for the exemplary or the hierarchical, paternalistic side of the same coin. It is the refusal of all ideology, including that of pleasure. We set ourselves apart from those who content themselves with areas they manage to carve out—and safeguard—for themselves in this society even before we begin to think, by the very way we palpate our existence. But we feel just as far removed from those who would like to desert daily normality and put their faith in the mythology of clandestinity and combat organisations, locking themselves up in other cages. No role, no matter how much it puts one at risk in terms of the law, can take the place of the real changing of relations. There is no short-cut, no immediate leap into the elsewhere. The revolution is not a war.

In the past the inauspicious ideology of arms transformed the need for coherence of the few into the gregariousness of the many. May arms finally turn themselves against ideology!

An individual with a passion for social upheaval and a ‘personal’ vision of the class clash wants to do something immediately. If he or she analyses the transformation of capital and the State it is in order to attack them, certainly not so as to be able to go to sleep with clearer ideas. If they have not introjected the prohibitions and distinctions of the prevailing law and morals, they draw up the rules of their own game, using every instrument possible. Contrary to the writer or the soldier for whom these are professional affairs so have a mercantile identity, the pen and the revolver are equally arms for them. The subversive remains subversive even without pen or gun, so long as he possesses the weapon that contains all the others: his own resoluteness.

‘Armed struggle’ is a strategy that could be put at the service of any project. The guerrilla is still used today by organisations whose programmes are substantially social democratic; they simply support their demands with military practice. Politics can also be done with arms. In any negotiation with power—that is, any relationship that maintains the latter as interlocutor, be it even as adversary—the negotiators must present themselves as a representative force. From this perspective, representing a social reality means reducing it to one’s own organisation. The armed clash must not spread spontaneously but be linked to the various phases of negotiation. The organisation will manage the results. Relations among members of the organisation and between the latter and the rest of the world reflect what an authoritarian programme is: they take hierarchy and obedience seriously.

The problem is not all that different for those aiming for the violent conquest of political power. It is a question of propagandising one’s strength as a vanguard capable of directing the revolutionary movement. ‘Armed struggle’ is presented as the superior form of social struggle. Whoever is more militarily representative—thanks to the spectacular success of the actions—constitutes the authentic armed party. The staged trials and people’s tribunals that result are acts of those who want to put themselves in place of the State.

For its part, the State has every interest in reducing the revolutionary threat to a few combatant organisations in order to transform subversion into a clash between two armies: the institutions on the one hand, the armed party on the other. What power fears most is anonymous, generalised rebellion. The media image of the ‘terrorist’ works hand in hand with the police in the defence of social peace. No matter whether the citizen applauds or is scared he is still a citizen, i.e., a spectator.

The reformist embellishment of the existent feeds armed mythology, producing the false alternative between legal and clandestine politics. It suffices to note how many left democrats are sincerely moved by the figure of the guerrilla in Mexico and Latin America. Passivity requires advisors and specialists. When it is disappointed by the traditional ones it lines up behind the new.

An armed organisation—with a programme and a monogram—specific to revolutionaries, can certainly have libertarian characteristics, just as the social revolution desired by many anarchists is undoubtedly also an ‘armed struggle’. But is that enough?

If we recognise the need to organise the armed deed during the insurrectional clash, if we support the possibility of attacking the structures and men of power from this minute on, and consider the horizontal linking of affinity groups in practices of revolt to be decisive, we are criticising the perspective of those who see armed action as the transcendence of the limits of social struggles, attributing a superior role to one form of struggle. Moreover, by the use of monograms and programmes we see the creation of an identity that separates revolutionaries from the rest of the exploited, making them visible to power and putting them in a condition that lends itself to representation. In this way the armed attack is no longer just one of the many instruments of one’s liberation, but is charged with a symbolic value and tends to appropriate anonymous rebellion to its own ends. The informal organisation as a fact linked to the temporary aspect of struggles becomes a permanent and formalised decision-making structure. In this way what was an occasion for meeting in one’s projects becomes a veritable project in itself. The organisation begins to desire to reproduce itself, exactly like the quantitative reformist structures do. Inevitably the sad trousseau of communiques and documents appear, where one raises one’s voice and finds oneself chasing an identity that exists only because it has been declared. Actions of attack that are quite similar to other simply anonymous ones come to represent who knows what qualitative leap in revolutionary practice. The schema of politics reappears as one starts flying in a straight line.

Of course, the need to organise is something that can always accompany subversives’ practice beyond the temporary requirements of a struggle. But in order to organise oneself there is a need for living, concrete agreements, not an image in search of spotlights.

The secret of the subversive game is the capacity to smash deforming mirrors and find oneself face to face with one’s own nakedness. Organisation is the whole of the projects that make this game come alive. All the rest is political prosthesis and nothing else.

Insurrection is far more than ‘armed struggle’, because during it the generalised clash is at one with the upsetting of the social order. The old world is upturned to the extent to which the insurgent exploited are all armed. Only then are arms not the separate expression of some vanguard, the monopoly of the bosses and bureaucrats of the future, but the concrete condition of the revolutionary feast: the collective possibility of widening and defending the transformation of social relations. Subversive practice is even less ‘armed struggle’ in the absence of the insurrectional rupture, unless one wants to restrict the immensity of one’s passions to no more than a few instruments. It is a question of contenting oneself with preestablished roles, or seeking coherency in the most remote point, life.

Then, in the spreading revolt we will really be able to perceive a marvellous conspiracy of egos aimed at creating a society without bosses or dormant. A society of free and unique individuals.


Don’t ask for the formula for opening up worlds to you in some syllable like a bent dry branch. Today, we can only tell you what we are not, what we don’t want.

—E. Montale

Life cannot simply be something to cling to. This thought skims through everyone at least once. We have a possibility that makes us freer than the gods: we can quit. This is an idea to be savoured to the end. Nothing and no one is obliging us to live. Not even death. For that reason our life is a tabula rasa, a slate on which nothing has been written, so contains all the words possible. With such freedom, we cannot live as slaves. Slavery is for those who are condemned to live, those constrained to eternity, not for us. For us there is the unknown—the unknown of spheres to be ventured into, unexplored thoughts, guarantees that explode, strangers to whom to offer a gift of life. The unknown of a world where one might finally be able to give away one’s excess self love. Risk too. The risk of brutality and fear. The risk of finally staring mal de vivre in the face. All this is encountered by anyone who decides to put an end to the job of existing.

Our contemporaries seem to live by jobbing, desperately juggling with a thousand obligations including the saddest of all of them—enjoying themselves. They cover up the incapacity to determine their own lives with detailed frenetic activity, the speed that accompanies increasingly passive ways of behaving. They are unaware of the lightness of the negative.

We can choose not to live. That is the most beautiful reason for opening oneself up to life with joy. ‘There is always time to put an end to things; one might as well rebel and play’—is how the materialism of joy talks.

We can choose not to act, and that is the most beautiful reason for acting. We bear within ourselves the potency of all the acts we are capable of, and no boss will ever be able to deprive us of the possibility of saying no. What we are and what we want begins with a no. From it is born the only reason for getting up in the morning. From it is born the only reason for going armed to the assault of an order that is suffocating us.

On the one hand there is the existent, with its habits and certainties. And of certainty, that social poison, one can die.

On the other hand there is insurrection, the unknown bursting into the life of all. The possible beginning of an exaggerated practice of freedom.

Conspiracy of Cells of Fire – Nemesis Project – Act 2 (Parcel-bomb attack against the German Minister of Finance)

Conspiracy of Cells of Fire – Nemesis Project – Act 2

Nine Years after the first appearance of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire in January 2008.

After more than 300 attacks against targets of domination that resulted in tens of millions of euros in damage and the transferring of fear to the camp of power.

After more than 60 arrests of comrades and other individuals over the years who have been accused of being our members and the thousands of years of imprisonment imposed upon them.

After so many times that Ministers and Police Chiefs have declared in the media that they have managed to ‘dismantle’ us and that “the CCF is finished.”

After the inclusion of the CCF in lists of ‘terrorist’ organizations by the State Department in the US and by Europol in the EU.

…we continue even louder.

With the creation of an international conspiratorial network of FAI and CCF cells in dozens of countries that have carried out and continue to carry out guerrilla attacks.

With even greater passion and tenacity to not only attack the infrastructure of the system but also the people in power.

Always against social apathy.

Always against the oppressors of our lives.

Still they cannot understand that the CCF is an idea and that the idea cannot be imprisoned because it is like the Hydra. For each comrade that is imprisoned, new comrades are ready to take their place and continue on the path of attack.

We still have the rage…

We sent a booby-trapped parcel bomb to the German Minister of Finance within the context of the campaign of the second act of Project Nemesis.

A communique will follow in the coming months.

Comradely greetings to the FAI direct action groups in Chile and Greece for their contributions to Project Nemesis.

Rebellious greetings to the FAI comrades in Italy and the imprisoned members of CCF in Greece who remain unrepentant.

Forward for the Black International of Anarchists of Praxis.

Nothing has ended, everything continues.


Conspiracy of Cells of Fire / FAI

(via Athens IMC, translated by Insurrection News)

Anarchist terror threat emerges across Europe after parcel bombs sent to French and German officials

Conspiracy of Cells of Fire militants vow to continue attacks on European ‘oppressors’ 

Government agencies and financial institutions are on alert across Europe amid fears a Greek anarchist group that sent parcel bombs to French and German officials will strike again.

The Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF) vowed to widen their attacks on “oppressors” after claiming responsibility for an explosive device intercepted before it reached the German finance minister.

The following day, another parcel bomb exploded when it was opened by an unsuspecting secretary at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters in Paris.

Explosion at IMF offices in Paris

She suffered burns to her face and hands, as well as a damaged eardrum in the blast, which sparked a security lockdown in the French capital’s affluent 16th arrondissement.

French prosecutors said the package bomb had been posted from Greece, with fragments of stamps found at the blast site, and Francois Hollande noted similarities with the anarchist attack in Berlin.

“We are trying to establish the causes of what happened as part of an international investigation,” the President added.

An official in Greece’s public order ministry said anti-terror investigators had taken charge of the case, which is feared to be a repeat of a Europe-wide CCF campaign more than six years ago.

“It is very likely that they were sent by the same organisation,” he added, saying there were concerns over the potential distribution of more parcel bombs. ”It looks as if it could be a repeat of 2010.”

The Hellenic Police are now attempting to prevent any more explosive packages being sent out via the Greek postal service, which is investigating how they evaded airport security checks in Athens.

Greece’s deputy minister for public order, Nikos Toskas, said the Paris bomb was falsely sent in the name of a senior Greek conservative politician, Vassilis Kikilias, and “the address of an office that is no longer in use.”

French police officers take position after a parcel bomb exploded at the French office of the International Monetary Fund in Paris on 16 March (AP)

The device intercepted at the German finance ministry on Wednesday was under the name of another politician from the New Democracy party, Adonis Georgiadis.

Mr Toskas acknowledged that the incidents would require a “re-evaluation” of procedures in Greece and abroad, adding: “Clearly they are from the same source, the same organisation…the leftovers of the CCF.”

Greek investigators believe the group is the most likely culprit for both bombings, while a source close to the French inquiry said it was focusing on “an anarchist group”.

The homemade devices were compared to “big firecrackers” by authorities, who said they used explosives normally seen in pyrotechnic manufacturing, crammed inside packages designed to trigger when opened.

A previous parcel bombing campaign by the CCF forced authorities to suspend international post leaving Greece for 48 hours in 2010, when devices were sent to targets including Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Europol and international embassies.

The campaign resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of several anarchists but the group ridiculed police claims it had been “dismantled” in a propaganda statement.

Police crackdowns have resulted in a series of arrests and prosecutions but a message posted online on Thursday claimed the group’s “comrades” would continue their violent struggle.

The CCF, which emerged in 2008 during the Greek financial crisis, hailed the launch of a new phase of “Operation Nemesis” – a campaign of attacks in revenge for the imprisonment of activists.

“For each comrade in prison, new comrades are ready to take his place and continue the path of attack,” said a Conspiracy of Fire Cells statement, signed off with the phrase “LONG LIVE ANARCHY”.

“We sent parcel bomb to the German finance minister as part of the second act of the Project Nemesis campaign.

“Watch for more announcements in the future.”

The bomb in Berlin was addressed to German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a day before he was due to host his new American counterpart, Steven Mnuchin, while the Paris device was intended for the IMF’s Europe director, Jeffrey Franks.

The attempted attacks followed previous targeting patterns focusing on financial authorities and countries linked to Greece’s controversial bailout programme.

Many Greeks resent the austerity measures imposed by the IMF and EU in exchange for Athens to receive billions of euros, while anarchists additionally oppose state and international financial systems.

The CCF characterised its campaign as attacks on “tyrants” supported by militants in Chile and Italy.

“CCF is an idea that cannot be contained because it is like the Hydra,” said a statement.

A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council urged authorities to remain alert, although it was not aware of any parcel bomb threats in Britain.

“We are not aware of any incidents of this nature in the UK but we always remind people to be vigilant,” a spokesperson told The Independent.

End-to-End Encryption 101

And do the Vault 7 Revelations Mean Encryption Is Useless?

If you’ve used the internet at any point since May 2013, you’ve probably heard that you should use encrypted communications. Edward Snowden’s revelation that the National Security Agency logs all of our calls, texts, and emails sparked a surge in the development and use of encryption apps and services. Only a few years later, encryption is widely used for daily communication. If you use any of these encryption tools, you’ve probably also heard the phrase “end-to-end encryption,” or “E2EE.” The name seems straightforward enough: end-to-end means content is encrypted from one endpoint (generally your phone or computer) to another endpoint (the phone or computer of your message’s intended recipient). But what level of security does this promise for you, the user?

Since the beginning of Trump’s administration, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has stepped up its invasions of travelers’ privacy. The CBP has been demanding that both US citizens and visitors log into their phones and laptops and hand them over to the CBP for inspection. They’ve also demanded that travelers provide their passwords or log into their social media accounts. Travelers who don’t comply face the threat of being denied entry.

Yesterday, Wikileaks publish a trove of leaked CIA documents including knowledge of security vulnerabilities and exploits that the CIA paid for and kept secret from the general public. Now that this information has leaked, it’s no longer just the CIA that knows these vulnerabilities—it’s everyone. The New York Times and others misreported that the CIA had broken the encryption in apps like Signal and WhatsApp, when in fact what the CIA did was target and compromise specific people’s Android devices.

In short, this revelation confirms the importance of using end-to-end encrypted communications, which hinder state-level actors from performing broad spectrum dragnet surveillance. E2EE is still important.

Many reports around Vault 7 have given the impression that encrypted apps like Signal have been compromised. In fact, the compromise is at the device level—at the endpoint. There is no reason to believe the encryption itself does not work.

Limitations: Plaintext Endpoints

First, it’s important to understand that if you can read a message, it is plaintext—that is, no longer encrypted. With end-to-end encryption, the weak links in the security chain are you and your device, and your recipient and their device. If your recipient can read your message, anyone with access to their device can also read it. An undercover cop could read your message over your recipient’s shoulder, or the police could confiscate your recipient’s device and crack it open. If there is any risk of either of these unfortunate events taking place, you should think twice before sending anything you wouldn’t want to share with the authorities.

This particular limitation is also relevant to the recent “Vault 7” reveals, which demonstrate how apps like Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram may not be useful if an adversary (like the CIA) gains physical access to your device or your contact’s device and is able to unlock it. Many reports around Vault 7 have been somewhat misleading, giving the impression that the apps themselves have been compromised. In this case, the compromise is at the device level—at the endpoint. The encryption itself is still good.

Limitations: Targeted Surveillance

Considering that you can’t control the security conditions of your message’s recipient, you should consider the possibility that any message you send them might be read. While rare, there are cases of state powers targeting people with direct surveillance. In these cases, targets may be working with malware-infected devices intended to log all of their incoming and outgoing communications. This compromise functions at the endpoint level, rendering E2EE useless against these specific adversaries. Because it is difficult to know whether you (or your message recipient) are the target of this type of attack, it is always best to default to not sending overly-sensitive information via digital communications. Currently, such attacks appear to be rare, but one should never take risks needlessly.

The third thing you should know about E2EE is that it doesn’t necessarily protect your metadata. Depending on how communications are transmitted, logs may still show the time and size of communication, as well as the sender and recipient. Logs may also show the location of both sender and recipient at the time of communication. While this is not typically enough to land someone in jail on its own, it can be useful in proving associations between people, establishing proximity to crime scenes, and tracking communication patterns. All these pieces of information are useful in establishing larger behavioral patterns in cases of direct surveillance.

So… Why?

So, if end-to-end encryption doesn’t necessarily protect the content of your communications, and still gives up useful metadata, what’s the point of using it?

One of the most important things E2EE does is ensure that your data never hits someone else’s servers in a readable form. Since end-to-end encryption starts from the moment you hit “send” and persists until it hits your recipient’s device, when a company—like Facebook—is subpoenaed for your logged communications, they do not have any plaintext content to give up. This puts the authorities in a position in which if they wish to acquire the content of your communications, they are forced to spend a significant amount of time and resources attempting to break the encryption. In the United States, your right to a speedy trial may render this evidence useless to prosecutors, who may not be able to decrypt it quickly enough to please a judge.

Mass Surveillance

Another use of E2EE serves is to make dragnet surveillance by the National Security Agency and other law enforcement agencies much more difficult. Since there is no point in the middle at which your unencrypted communications can be grabbed, what is grabbed instead is the same encrypted blocks of text available by subpoena. Dragnet surveillance is generally conducted by collecting any available data and subjecting it to automated sorting rather than individual analysis. The use of encryption prevents algorithmic sifting for content, thus making this process much more difficult and generally not worthwhile.


In addition to NSA’s data collection, federal and state law enforcement agencies around the country have, and frequently use, cell site simulators known as “IMSI catchers” or “Stingrays.” IMSI catchers pretend to be cell towers in order to trick your phone into giving up identifying information, including your location. Cell site simulators also grab and log your communications. As with other methods of interception, encryption means that what is retrieved is largely useless, unless the law enforcement agency is willing to go to the trouble to decrypt it.

Encryption At Rest

In addition to using end-to-end encryption to protect the content of your messages while they’re being sent, you can use full-disk encryption to protect your information while it’s stored on your device. Proper full-disk encryption means that all of the information on your device is indecipherable without your encryption key (usually a passphrase), creating a hardened endpoint which is much more difficult to compromise. Although encrypting your endpoints is not necessarily protection against some of the more insidious methods of surveillance, such as malware, it can prevent adversaries who gain possession of your devices from pulling any useful data off of them.

End-to-end encryption is by no means a magical shield against surveillance by nation states or malicious individuals, but Vault 7 highlights how using it can help force a procedural shift from dragnet surveillance to resource-intensive targeted attacks. When paired with good sense, encrypted devices, and other security practices, E2EE can be a powerful tool for significantly reducing your attack surface. Consistent, habitual use of end-to-end encryption can nullify many lower-tier threats and may even cause some higher-level adversaries to decide that attacking you is simply not worth the effort.

Further reading

— By Elle Armageddon