“The Anarchists” is HBO’s chaotic investigation into an attempt at crypto-bridge utopia in Acapulco

Rich people destroy everything. Especially rebellion. None of us need HBO’s “The Anarchists” to deliver that revelation; we live the truth about it. In that sense, Todd Schramke’s documentary series should feel timely.

For those seeking an understanding of the anarchist movement, which demands to ignore the definition that Fox News supports, Schramke’s study provides clarity without necessarily landing on a single crystallized answer. But if you’re looking for a more bizarre TV bump than fiction, beware. Jumping into this story is like sniffing a rail only to discover too late that the fun has been cut with itchy powder. And once those things have settled in your membranes, hey, it’s impossible to flush out.

“The Anarchists” looks like the perfect emotional documentary obsession, give it a go. It may not be explicitly about a crazy cult or an extraordinary cheater, but you will recognize the nuances of each in Jeff Berwick. Admittedly, Berwick lacks the dangerous power of, say, a Ma Anand Sheela, and he’s not even close to qualifying as a scam on a par with Four Festival boss Billy McFarland.

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What Berwick offered was real: a gathering of boots that quickly exploded into a destination for wealthy counterculture tourists engaged in cryptocurrency, including members of the Wu-Tang clan and former Congressman Ron Paul.

Jumping into this story is like sniffing a rail only to discover too late that the fun has been cut with itchy powder.

The slick Canadian liberty brother describes himself on one of his websites as an anarcho-capitalist, libertarian and “freedom fighter against humanity’s two greatest enemies, the state and the central banks”. He presents himself as a gracious “idea” guy, one of dozens who appear on screens and social media feeds with promises of a life worth emulating.

Schramke follows a subgroup of self-proclaimed anarchists who responded to Berwick’s call waving them to Acapulco, Mexico and Anarchapulco, a “freedom conference” he founded in 2015. Conceptualized as a haven designed to bring anarchist communities together and explore the real-world practice of philosophy it quickly ended up being a sell-a-thon sale of cryptocurrency with slogans like “the space of freedom”.

But the core values ​​of anarchy were found among a few like-minded souls who gravitated to Mexico and sought fellowship. Others encountered only disillusionment, violence and death, whether it was the result of falling into the destructive side of a lifestyle that fed their basic impulses, or falling victim to local drug cartels. It does not help that Anarchapulco welcomed a few figures who interpreted anarchy as lawlessness, and gave them the green light to play out their most dangerous impulses.

Berwick’s image does not benefit from this aggressive mainstream of crazy; He is in fact such a common snake oil seller that his presence quickly degenerates from node to annoying. It is clear from the first episode that he will be the last man to stand when everything implodes; he has the generic look of a one-percent with too much hair product, the kind of guy who should definitely not star in a rap video. (Consider it a warning. And make sure you have a pillow nearby to cover your screams.)

In the documentary series, he presents himself as your average millionaire entrepreneur who finds information using an anti-US Reserve conspiracy theory handbook. By digesting its teachings and other anti-central bank texts as he set out on a “100-country party” around the world, he was attracted to Acapulco’s reputation for lawlessness.

He settled there, married an Acapulco native named Kena (who is seen but not heard), and relaunched as a champion of true freedom, founding a conference in 2015 called Anarchapulco.

The anarchistsAcapulco, Mexico – “The Anarchists” (Courtesy of HBO)

“The Anarchists” eventually revolves around three great stories related to Berwick and this event, but before the series finds itself, we are introduced to a number of characters who gather around Berwick, some of whom sincerely believe in anarchy and live by its principles. One of the earliest testimonies from Erika Harris, a black woman tired of the nine-to-five grinder who really seeks a different way of life, comes up with a compelling argument that it is possible to live in some version of a self-directed happiness.

Harris seems genuinely calm, as if she has found out everything, and maintains that aura of lightness every time we see her.

But she is treated more like a balancing act than an individual with a broader story to tell. It may be because she is one of the few “average” stable people who is still part of the anarchist community that still exists in Berwick’s path. She seems like a nice person to spend time with. That does not necessarily make her the right character type for a work like this.

Nathan Freeman and his wife Lisa fit that bill. The couple left the United States to live as anarchists in Mexico for the sake of their children, along with Lily Forester and John Galton the alleged names of a young anarchist couple to flee to Anarchapulco to escape drug charges related to cannabis possession.

If you recognize John Galton’s name, it may be because you are either reading the sacred Conservative text from which it is derived, or some of the international headlines from 2019 about the murder of an American refugee in Mexico. All documentary series of this strip involve a form of crime surrounded by questions of guilt.

The fact that Schramke got to know the couple and filmed them before their shocking tragedy allows the surviving parties to clear up some misconceptions about what happened. Some of it smells like shameless victim accusation to protect the Anarchapulco brand, which is what it really became after its third and fourth year.

Triggering and organizing these narratives requires a certain amount of discipline even before taking into account the oversized role of cryptocurrency in this story.

The anarchists “… reveal that the dividing line between utopia and hell [is] in practice the same as the one that opens up divisive democracies across the globe.

But Schramke’s ability to argue all these narratives into a coherent form proves to be sporadic and limited at best. This may be a product of the filmmaker’s closeness to this tough, densely populated society over six years; a few supposedly key actors appear in archive footage or are mentioned in stories without anyone explaining why it is necessary to mention them.

Perhaps his stylistic goal is to capture the chaos of the period he wrote about, but such choices contribute to the laxity obscuring the key lessons of this warning story, beginning with society failing to agree on a single definition of anarchy.

Near the beginning of the series, Schramke shares his definition as “organizing society on the basis of voluntary cooperation, without political institutions or hierarchical government.”

Berwick declares that Anarchapulco has no leader while positioning himself as the lord of the area. Freemans plays the administrative support of his vision, to a point. Forester and Galton see it as an extension of agorism, which she boils down to “avoiding paying taxes and living off your skills.” The common theme of “tax is fraud” is largely the only part of the concept that everyone is involved in. Everything else is fungible.

Forester and Galton become the soul of this community and this series, and their much-explored stories are the best aspects of later episodes, where the filmmaker gets into the action more often. Through Forester in particular, we gain a greater understanding of how the system fails trauma survivors and why a supposedly stateless way of being will appeal to someone like her.

Meanwhile, experience shows her friend Jason Henza why such societies often turn out to be mirages.

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When “The Anarchists” finds a certain rhythm, it reveals that the dividing line between utopia and hell was the same as the one that opened divisive democracies around the globe – that is, everything falls apart when those who have turned their backs have. -not.

A few years ago, “The Anarchists” may have seemed more captivating than it does now, as the hokumen that was spit out on Anarchapulco’s stage gets heavy play on Fox News and others in the far-right ecosystem. This does not mean that our society tends more towards anarchy, but instead it indicates how normalized conspiracy theories are.

But no matter what pattern it draws, it comes down to something far more basic, explained in the words of Juan Galt (yup, no relation): the dream of anarchy crashes against the reality of human conflict, and drama and s ** t hit the tab. When the last part goes down, you can count on the world’s Berwicks to follow their true truth. “As bad as the world is,” he concludes, “you can just ignore it, really, and work on yourself.”

“The Anarchists” premieres Sunday, July 10 at 10pm on HBO. Watch a trailer via YouTube.

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