News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Do anarchists at tea parties really want to kill all politicians?
John Boehner accused tea party anarchists of promoting violence. But the
truth is that anarchists promote peaceful choices, individual freedom,
and opposition to institutionalized aggression.
By Ross Kenyon
August 30, 2010
“I’ve been to my share of tea party events,” House minority leader John
Boehner (R) of Ohio told a Monitor luncheon for reporters this summer.
“Let me tell you about these events. Yep, there are some disaffected
Republicans there. There are always some Democrats there. Always a
couple of anarchists who want to kill all of us in public office.”
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Huh? Anarchists want to kill all politicians?
A peaceful philosophy
Rep. Boehner’s crude attempt at a joke odiously mischaracterized
anarchist philosophy and painted an inaccurate portrait of its core
values. Anarchism is an ideology based on individual freedom and
opposition to institutionalized aggression, not some insane love of
Yes, when people hear the word “anarchist,” they call to mind images of
molotov cocktail-wielding, black bandana-wearing street fighters at G20
That impression is more a product of 200 years of Boehner-style smear
rhetoric than an accurate perception of what anarchism means or what
anarchists do. It’s on par with any other stereotype – the “lazy/violent
Negro” used to justify racist Jim Crow laws, the “potential pedophile”
trotted out to support discrimination against homosexuals and other
sexual minorities, the hopped-up robber or rapist offered up as
justification for the war on drugs.
Yes, there are violent and insurrectionary anarchists, just as there are
people who resemble those other stereotypes. No, those particular people
are not representative of this diverse movement any more than those
other stereotypes are representative of African-Americans, LGBTQ
persons, or recreational drugs users.
Why I attend tea parties
I’ve attended tea parties as an anarchist because I’m a sincere
libertarian who cares about limiting the power, scope, and size of
government and fighting its unjustified intrusion into the lives of
peaceful individuals. Many of my fellow tea party attendees intuitively
and intellectually grasp the danger of the unlimited state and seek to
reduce its influence over their personal lives. Anarchism is the logical
extension of that reasonable impulse, not the nihilist tantrum that
Boehner makes it out to be.
At tea party events, I like to ask questions of people who care about
How is land justly acquired? Most people accept homesteading or
occupancy and use as appropriate justification to call a parcel of land
In reply, I note that the state doesn’t “use” or “settle” the land –
people do. The people who call themselves "the state" merely draw
arbitrary political boundaries and declare that if one lives within
their dominion, one must buy defense and justice services from their
What happens if someone attempts to buy better, cheaper, or more just
services not linked to artificial political borders? Agents of the state
will throw that person in a cage (and kill him if he resists).
The real threat
Market anarchism is such a basic and sensible concept, an idea so in
tune with the values professed by many tea partiers, that it’s only
natural for anarchists to show up and challenge fellow freedom-lovers to
I agree that a consistent philosophy that values and respects the
peaceful choices of the tea partiers and their neighbors is indeed a
threat to Boehner and his ilk, but not a threat of the type he claims.
It’s not a death threat, it’s the threat of a pink slip.
Ross Kenyon is a news analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society and
a senior at Arizona State University, where he’s majoring in American
History and is a member of the ASU Students For Liberty leadership team.
New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
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News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
in charge on this island?
Professor: Why, no one.
Skipper: No one?
Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
-- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"