Vigilantism is not Anarchism

Anarchism is not vigilantism. Seems that this would be a fairly easy concept to grasp and yet we have anarchists from all over celebrating vigilantism against an alleged perpetrator of sexual violence. This from the Twin Cities Indy Media:

We rolled in with a baseball bat. we pulled his books off his shelves: he
admitted it, not a single one mentioned consent. we made him say it: “i am
a rapist.” we left him crying in the dark on his bed: he will never feel
safe there again.

In this even more recent communique we are told that both traditional and alternative forms of accountability do not work:

As radicals, we know the legal system is entrenched in bullshit – many laws and legal processes are racist, classist, heterosexist and misogynist. Alternative accountability processes, much like the traditional ones, often force the survivor to relive the trauma of the assault and force her to put her reputation – a problematic concept in itself – on the line as “proof” of her credibility. They end up being an ineffective recreation of the judicial process that leaves the perpetrator off the hook, while the survivor has to live through the memory of the assault for the rest of her life (Anonymous communiqué from NYC, 2009). The US legal system and the alternative community-based accountability processes are simply not good enough for survivors, and certainly not revolutionary.

Apparently what is good enough for survivors and revolutionary enough is going to a persons house with a mob and some baseball bats. Why bother to prove your allegations when a baseball bat can say so much more? Why bother to prove your allegations when you can simply force the accused to confess? The comments in this thread give you an idea of where people stand. There’s lots of talk about how dead men can’t rape, suggesting that these vigilantes should upgrade from baseball bats to guns.

This illustrates quite nicely why anarchism continues to be a scene rather than a movement.


  1. Having tried to be an anarchist all my adult life, I’m 76 now, I have never seen a mob and baseball bats as an answer to anything, nor has any of the individuals that I have been involved with. You can’t build a fair and just society on the foundations of violence. I don’t know all the answers to “crime” but blowing their head off and beating the crap out of them with a baseball bat doesn’t sound like an improvement to society. These people are not anarchists, they may wear the badges and wave the flags, but that is where their association with anarchism ends.

  2. Sadly those type of actions are the ones that get the publicity hence the poor image anarchists have with the public. For every baseball swinging nutter with an A on their t-shirt, there is an army of quiet community active anarchists working away at trying to organise and improve things at street level. However so many don’t use the word anarchist so their progresive actions are never associated with the theory of anarchism. I’m all in favour of continually making the connection with anarchism and all those progressive ideas and actions at the community level. I shout the word in the hope that more people will become aware of the rich history and theories of the movement that I am proud to have been involved in all my life..

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