The Coming Intersection of the Tea Party and Anarchist Movements

Tea party groups are planning another set of nationwide protests and rallies on April 15th, 2010, and this year they may well be confronted with counter-protests, if not also direct action, from the American anarchist movement. Over the weekend a call went out over a number of anarchist news wires calling on activists to "Crash the tea parties!" The release at Anarchist News, Infoshop News and Indymedia, identifies the tea party movement as a coalition of conservative groups and right-wing bogeymen intent on dismantling existing social welfare programs, and urges active opposition at the April 15th demonstrations. We read:
On April 15th thousands of right-wingers will attend rallies in cities and towns across the United States. The organizers of this nationwide day of protest call it a tea party. This tea party movement that emerged only a year ago is a coalition of conservatives, anti-semites, fascists, libertarians, racists, constitutionalists, militia men, gun freaks, homophobes, ron paul supporters, alex jones conspiracy types and american flag wavers. If the tea party movement continues to grow in size and strength there is a big chance they will dominate this country in the near future. If the tea party movement takes over this country they will really hurt poor people by getting rid of social programs like food stamps, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, student aid, free health care, etc. The tea party movement will say these programs must be gotten rid of because hard-working taxpayers cannot afford to pay for these things especially when the economy is in a depression. There are three options we have with the tea party movement:

1. Organize counter-protests against the tea party demonstrations, same time, same place. This is probably the best option. We need to get in the streets on April 15th and show the tea party movement that there are lots of people out there who oppose their agenda.

2. Get individual tea party protesters to leave the right-wing and move to the left politically.

3. Ignore the tea party movement. This is the worst option because without anyone opposing them they could easily gain power.
The piece also directs readers to a number of tea party websites "so you can spy on them." Among these are Tax Day Tea Party, Tea Party Patriots, and Re-Tea Party. Of course, if anarchists really wanted to confound if not also discredit the tea party movement, they might consider joining the tea party protests rather than organizing counter-actions.

It is worth noting here that anarchist groups have been closely watching the tea party movement virtually from its inception, and appear both attracted and repulsed by its overall message. From a report on the tax day tea party protests of 2009 at Portland Indymedia:
Much of what was said and the content of many of the signs would indeed get nods of approval from those on the Progressive side of the aisle. "Stop the Looting, Start Prosecuting;" "Tea Bag the Fed, Declare Oregon Sovereignty;" "Dems, Reps, Wake Up;" "When Injustice Becomes Law, Rebellion Becomes Duty;" "Banks Take Your Loses."

There is much common ground here, yet I did not feel the crowd to be in sympathy with the poor, the homeless, the undocumented immigrant. The rhetoric from the speakers emphasized the many problems which brought them all to the Square, yet few if any solutions were offered. There was a general and overwhelming mood of discontent, with constant reference to the fact that "we the people" could somehow solve the problems, if government would leave us alone.
Arguably, anarchists have already successfully infiltrated tea party events and rallies. From the Twin Cities Indymedia, November 2009:
Forty-five anti-immigration activists held a small rally outside the state capitol on Saturday. Counter-protest from members of Anti-Racist Action, Bash Back, the Minnesota Immigrants' Rights Action Coalition and others was frequent, vigorous and hilarious. ("America is not for Russians! America is not for Germans! Europeans go home!") . . . One activist, under the name "Robert Erickson," managed to get on the list of speakers and riled the crowd into a frenzy about the theft, murder and disease inflicted by illegal immigrants... from Europe, upon indigenous populations. In a "Yes Men" moment, the anti-immigrant crowd sat in silence, trying to figure out what just happened.
"Robert Erickson" continues to stage such actions, having successfully pulled off yet another one just this month in Washington D.C.

On the other hand, tea party activists have begun to delve into recent works calling for anarchist insurrection. Sales of The Coming Insurrection skyrocketed over the last six months, after the book was reviewed by Glenn Beck on his Fox News program. From Beck in July 2009:

As world economies go down the tank and unemployment continues to rise, disenfranchised people are set to explode. The dangerous leftist book that could spark this is "The Coming Insurrection." This is a call to arms for violent revolution, authored anonymously by a French group called the Invisible Committee who want to bring down capitalism.

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported on the resulting spike in sales:

In July, Mr. Beck introduced the book to his three million or so viewers, accompanied by video of burning cars and swarming protesters. “Here is the one thing everyone seems to be missing. The extreme left is actively calling for violence,” he told his audience. “It calls for violent revolution. An anonymous group from France, of all places, called the Invisible Committee, penned it. They want to bring down capitalism and the Western way of life.”

This month, Mr. Beck proclaimed it “the most evil book I’ve read in a long, long time.” The next day, “The Coming Insurrection,” whose authors call themselves the Invisible Committee, rose to No. 54 on Amazon’s best-seller list. In July, the book briefly reached No. 1. And even this weekend the book remained around No. 240.

I have remarked before on conservatives' appropriation of political strategies they themselves deride as "far left" and "radical socialist." Perhaps we will see the adoption of typical anarchist methods and tactics by tea party groups in the near future. Following the passage of Obamacare, the windows of Democratic offices were smashed in towns across the country. Perhaps a tea party black bloc is being organized at this very moment.

Update 4/1/10: Judging from Memeorandum, it seems a number of other bloggers have finally picked up on this story, apparently via Infowars. Left Coast Rebel is "kicking himself." Gateway Pundit indulges in typically absurd duopolist hysteria, with the headline: "Anarchists Plan War on April 15th Tea Parties." Red State is calling the potential anarchist counter-actions a "lefty freakout." Another Black Conservative urges readers "These animals are looking for trouble, don’t give it to them."

The funny thing, of course, is that there are probably very few planned anarchist counter-protests anywhere at this point, otherwise word of them would have gotten out long ago.


Montana said...

Since their inception the Teaparty crowd (not a movement since they do have the numbers or clout) have been “haters not debaters”. In my opinion this is what the small portions of the republican party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” have brought you. They are good at “Follow the Leader” of their dullard leaders, they listen to Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush and Savage and the rest of the Blowhards. Are you surprise at what they do when you know what they think? The world is complicated and most republicans (Hamiliton, Lincoln, Roosevelt) believe that we should use government a little to increase social mobility, now its about dancing around the claim of government is the problem. The sainted Reagan passed the biggest tax increase in American history and as a result federal employment increased, but facts are lost when mired in mysticism and superstition. Although some republicans are trying to distant themselves from this fringe most of them are just going along and fanning the flames. Lets face it the Republicans had 8 years to deal with health care, immigration and financial oversight and governance and they failed. They could not even win one of the two wars they started, the body bags are still coming in. The Republicans wanted to give Obama his Waterloo defeat over healthcare but instead they gave themselves their own Waterloo defeat by not participating in the debate of ideas and by becoming the party of obstructionist. But they now claim they have changed, come on, what sucker is going to believe that?

Left Coast Rebel said...

Interesting stuff, I misinterpreted what this was before, thanks for pointing this out...

Samuel Wilson said...

Apart from the individualist anarchists who most likely share the Tea Partiers' personal-responsibility ethic I see little affinity between the two anti-statist movements because they seem to have fundamentally different views of society. Most anarchists that I'm aware of have a basically cooperative and egalitarian ideal of society, while the personal-responsibility ethic as expressed by the TPs makes a competitive society with its resulting inequality inevitable. Anarchists are opposed to exploitation by the state or by a ruling class, while TPs sometimes seem most worried about being exploited by supposed freeloaders in their own midst. Egalitarianism, in their view, is the exploitation of the rich by the poor. At the same time, cultural factors not necessarily relevant to philosophical anarchism or the personal-responsibility ethic limit the potential for cooperation. There might still be room for both groups to defer their more irrepressible conflicts to another time while cooperating today against a common enemy, but to the extent that the Tea Parties are now identified with, or identify themselves with the "right," the window of opportunity for collaboration across ideological lines may already be closed.

d.eris said...

It does seem like there is likely very little chance of the tea party and anarchist movements allying themselves with one another tactically or strategically. Unless, for instance, tea party groups were to become active in opposition to organizations like the World Bank and the IMF. I have actually long wondered why so many conservative leaning folks are so staunchly critical of the UN, for instance, but often seem to have very little to say in criticism of the WB/IMF. It so happens that the spring meetings of the IMF and WB are the week after tax day, and these meetings are often greeted with protest from anarchist and anti-globalization groups.

publicfrenemy said...

Anarchists + Tea Party = Black Tea Party?

There are obviously irreconcilable differences between Tea Partiers and anarchists. I’m not naive enough to advocate for any kind of Tea Party/anarchist coalition. But as a confrontation that would seem to have no potential for a positive outcome draws near, I worry that these two movements will squander energy that could be focused on legitimate, mutual concerns involving serious threats to freedom that are rapidly emerging because they’ll be too busy arguing with each other.

Full analysis here:

d.eris said...

I share your concern publicfrenemy. But wouldn't Anarchists + Tea Party = Black and Red Tea?