The FBI on The Anarchist Cookbook

Julia Child, terroristThe Anarchist Cookbook (1971) is infamous in some circles because it is filled with recipes for drugs and explosives; it is infamous in other circles because so many of the recipes are rubbish. But what, you might wonder, did the Federal Bureau of Investigation think about it?

Apparently it thought the cookbook "has to be one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted." The quote comes from a memo in the FBI's files on the book, which have been released and posted online [pdf]. The cache also includes worried letters from concerned Americans ("Mr. Hoover, this is not a cookbook!"), replies signed by J. Edgar Hoover ("With respect to your question, the FBI has no control over material published through the mass media"), summaries of the book's contents, inquiries into whether the book violates the law, reports on which stores stock the book, and more. There is also some discussion of one of the unrelated online Anarchist Cookbooks, which the FBI acquired on a floppy disc; the files duly include photocopies of the disc. All in all, a collection far more interesting than the book itself.

[Via Slashdot.]

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Paul||

    With respect to your question, the FBI has no control over material published through the mass media"),

    So you're saying I should start longing to return to the time of a J. Edgar Hoover-run FBI where freedom of speech and the press was respected and remained un-molested by overzealous government agencies?

    Holy shit, this is the shock of the day.

  • Corduroy||

    This

  • Ska||

    Agreed, kind of what to show this quote to a lot of people.

  • ||

    J. Edgar Hoover ("With respect to your question, the FBI has no control over material published through the mass media")

    Yea, verily, we have fallen so far that J. Edgar Hoover now qualifies as a civil libertarian.

  • ||

    +1

    There's potential for a good Twilight Zone episode: "It's not a cookbook!!!"

  • Spiny Norman||

    J. Edgar Hoover knew how to serve man.

  • Matt Groening||

    If this is anyone but Rod Serling you're stealing my bit!

  • ||

    Actually, J. Edgar Hoover turns out to be a far more complex character than most of his enemies credit him with being.

    He was one of the few public figures who opposed the internment of Japanese-Americans on the west coast. His position was pretty much that it was far too draconian to victimize a generally loyal community for the sake of a few potential spies (which certainly did exist) that the FBI was quite up to the task of finding.

    He also resisted, on constitutional grounds, political pressure on more than one occasion to turn the FBI into a national police force insisting that the Bureau only had authority to act as an investigative body. His grandstanding as a kind of supercop over John Dillinger and other prominent bank robbers expose him for the contradiction filled individual that he was.

  • Old Mexican||

    it is infamous in other circles because so many of the recipes are rubbish[...]


    Awwwwww!!!

  • Hugh Akston||

    the files duly include photocopies of the disc.

    Can anybody explain why the terrorists would want to bother destroying this country?

  • Paul||

    In a tepid defense of this country, the terrorists are largely a group of people who think that we can be brought down through the dessemination (or threat thereof) of explosive devices on mass-transit systems.

    Hmm... now that I think about it, that might be why Democrats want so badly to "get people out of their cars", expand the nation's public transit systems, and get us all on high speed trains.

  • Paul||

    *dissemination*

    If typos were explosives, I'd be a terrorist.

  • sounds real good||

    You might have something here.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So it's idiots all the way down.

    Check.

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    You are on to something Paul: Russia, train station attack; Japan, train station attack; Madrid, train station. And so on and so forth.

    I see a possible pattern here.

  • Tim||

    High Speed Rail!

  • BakedPenguin||

    Florida is now safe. Thanks, Governor Scott!

  • Hugh Akston||

    SRSLY though, the terrorists will bring down the US, just not in the way they probably imagine.

    The bombs that they detonate won't keep the US from invading their countries, nor will they cause mass conversions of American infidels to the light of Allah (praise be His name).

    But the actual, perceived, and wholly imagined actions of terrorists will provoke ever more desperately authoritarian responses from the government, which will ultimately both undermine any remaining credibility the government has, and make it difficult or impossible for Americans to live their lives.

    The US government has long been any terrorists greatest ally.

  • Paul||

    That's kind of my point. Imagine if the Terrorists dumped their 14th century romantic notions and actually decided to use, you know, TERROR as their actual weapon, instead of recruiting half-wits to try to bring down airliners who place slightly flammable materials in their pants? You think our government went apeshit over 911?

  • Paul||

    I mean imagine further, if you will, a TSA-like organization searching you before you entered any school, grocery store, movie theater or building, public or private in the land-- because the terrahrists realized that they could attack any target, not just an airliner or the various green-jobs programs such as high speed trains and the like.

    I'm beginning to think that the terrorists essentially think like Progressives. That's not to say that I think that Progressives are terrorists...not at all. What I mean to say is that like Progressives, they have a strangely arcane and romantic, centralized view of the world. They believe that the core of civil-society is coalesced through centralalized planning institutions and therefore can be brought down by threatening those same institutions.

    If and when they finally get the idea that they can threaten everyone-- or at the least make everyone feel threatened, then they can do some real damage. And of course, we will do the damage to ourselves by thinking that we can control the threat via central planning institutions-- and our entire nation will simply suffer from a kind of sclerosis brought upon by a government that thinks it can contain every threat within its borders.

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    This strategy is referred to as: "Death by a Thousand Cuts."

    In Star Wars speak, it would be the Tarkin Doctrine: "Rule through the fear of force, rather than force itself."

  • ||

    the files duly include photocopies of the disc

    Please tell me they didn't put the floppy on a copier and press the "Copy" button.

  • Nephilium||

    It's better then getting a faxed copy of a disk.

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    Even better than a mimeograph.

  • ||

    Or a lead etching.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Or a woodcarving.

  • Officer Birk||

  • Woodcarver||

    I'm not dead yet.

  • Clay Tablet||

    Slackers.

  • ||

    Please tell me they didn't put the floppy on a copier and press the "Copy" button.

    Don't worry. Remember the guy in the Stagliano trial who downloaded one of his movies as evidence but fucked it up in the process? He is in charge of the whole thing.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Apparently it thought the cookbook "has to be one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted."

    Plus, the story's protagonists were as one-dimensional and predictably pedestrian as its antagonists.

  • Tim||

    Let's not forget the ill fated 1980 Broadway adaptation.

  • ||

    I'll stick with Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing.

  • FreeLibertine||

    Trust me, smoking bananas peels does not get you high.

  • ||

    Mellow, it's so mellow.

  • Tim||

    It's the tarantulas crawling up your arms to escape the flames that fool people into thinking they're hallucinating...

  • ||

    Neither does smoking boiled lettuce cores.

  • Pip||

    Apparently it thought the cookbook "has to be one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted."

    I guess they've never read Weigel's work.

  • Tim||

    I remember seeing an actual copy back in the day. The main thing I remember is the author extolling the Browning Hi-Power and that all good anarchists should own two.

  • mofo||

    Whats wrong with the browning Hi-Power?

  • ||

    The Hi-Power's a good gun. But he was wrong. You should own 10.

  • Spiny Norman||

    I had this book when I was a kid. I brought it to church with me. My friend and I collected gunpowder from caps to try to get enough for something that would make a really cool explosion, but we didn't get very far.

    I don't remember anyone being even slightly worried about any of this.

  • jasno||

    Yeah, but now we live in a world where letting off a dry-ice 'bomb' causes children to be labeled terrorists.

    I can't say enough how glad I am that my wife and I are blessed with infertility.

  • Paul||

    I remember in the days of my carefree youth, finding fliers on the downtown streets about Lyndon Larouche. A man I still know almost nothing about. This reminds me of those.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Some of his idiot disciples used to go to nursing homes. My grandmother got a flyer and a button.

    Since she didn't know English, she couldn't read either, but since they were from LaRouche, I'm not sure that mattered.

  • ||

    What's SUBVERSIVED ?

  • Disciple of Herc||

    WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    The same FBI that wasted time investigating "bonsai kittens".

  • Ska||

    If those are anything like sweater kittens, it's not a complete waste.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    now that shit was FUNNNY!

  • ||

    And don't forget jenkem. I bet they had a whole department looking into that menace.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Dudes, I'm cheesed.

  • ||

    The book Fight Club gives a pretty good overview of how to make Nitroglycerin. It doesn't tell you specifically but it does point one so inclined in the right direction.

    I wonder if the FBI has a file on that book?

  • Patty O'Furniture||

    Let me answer that question by posing another.

    I wonder if the FBI has a file on joshua corning?

  • FBI||

    We do now.

  • jasno||

    Wasn't there an old SNL skit where everyone who requested their records under the FOIA had a file opened on them?

  • Mr Whipple||

    I prefer Uncle Fester's and Alexander Shulgin's books.

  • ||

    The Kurt Saxon Poor Man's James bond series of books were much better than The Anarchist Cookbook. Not that that is saying too much.

  • Joel Schlosberg||

    Hey, that link to Flag is to an article from an SEK3 publication! The site's pretty friendly to agorism as left-anarchist sites go, it has the New Libertarian Manifesto and a couple of MLL pamphlets ("While the U.S. "Libertarian Party" heads down the political path of marginalization, the MLL re-affirms their Anarchism"), but I didn't notice the SEK3 connection to that article until now.

  • Mr Whipple||

    There seems to be an "alliance" forming between Agorists/Voluntaryists, and anarcho-syndicalists/Mutualists. Personally, I don't like it. I think the Proudhon Mutualists are just "reformed" Bakunin/Kropotkin Communists who realized that they need a viable economic model and latched onto Rothbardian anarcho-Capitalism and Konkin's "underground economy".

    I've read some of Kevin Carson's work. It seems to be heavily in favor of unionization, and very light on entrepreneurship. His knowledge, and interpretation of ABCT is poor, at best. Going as far as to equate Joseph Schumpeter as a "big government", central planner. Granted, Schumpeter wasn't a "true" Austrian, but Carson was just so far off-base, I couldn't read any further. Sheldon Richman needs to reevaluate his association with Carson, IMHO.

  • ||

    Hey, i have to agree (to a finite point) with the above article. When it says the book "has to be one of the crudest, low-brow, paranoiac writing efforts ever attempted". Ive read alot of it, and it seems like someone is just attempting to gather some form of ... ghetto fighting force.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement