Review: The AnCap Revolution Goes to Mexico in The Anarchists

Activists were divided about whether to professionalize the political community or keep it ideologically pure. Sound familiar?


Utopian political communities are hard to get off the ground, regardless of their ideological underpinnings. Trying to create them out of a drug- and booze-fueled conference in a Mexican resort city doesn't make the task any easier.

That's the simple lesson of The Anarchists, a new HBO docuseries that follows a fractious community of American expat libertarians in Acapulco, Mexico, as they work to turn the "Anarchapulco" conference that launched in 2015 from a small, disorganized gathering of like-minded ideologues into a permanent staging ground for the anarcho-capitalist revolution.

Their number includes a rapping crypto enthusiast who works Austrian economics into his lyrics; a husband-and-wife team who want to raise their children Axiom, Meta, and Ira Belle in true freedom; and a drug legalization activist turned fugitive trying to stay one step ahead of the drug-law enforcers.

Together they're able to make Anarchapulco the destination for denizens of the weirder corners of the libertarian movement, from the remnants of the Ron Paul Revolution (the man himself makes a few cameos) to radical unschooling parents and bitcoin evangelists.

There's a lot to find charming in the documentary. We see parents teaching their kids to shout "fuck the state" and we see conference attendees setting up an unregulated, impromptu restaurant in their homes. But soon enough, it all unravels.

Questions divide the group about whether to professionalize Anarchapulco or keep it ideologically pure. A constantly fluctuating bitcoin price kicks off jealousy and drama. Mix in the fact that some of the darker characters attracted to the notion of lawless community start selling cocaine in the cartel-dominated city, and it doesn't take long for tragedy to occur. Marriages dissolve, and one of the Anarchapulcans is murdered.

Outside of name-checking Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard, the documentary doesn't spend too much time fleshing out this movement's ideological underpinnings. Maybe there's a libertarian meta-point in all that. No matter their alleged ideology, individuals and the free choices they make are ultimately what shape social outcomes, for better or sometimes worse.