Anarchists Respond to Senator Feinstein’s Call to Ban The Anarchist Cookbook

April 8, 2015

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Anarchists Respond to Senator Feinstein’s Call to Ban The Anarchist Cookbook

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) is calling for a ban of The Anarchist Cookbook, published in 1971, following the arrest of two women in New York. After the pair allegedly conspired to build an explosive using the book, Senator Feinstein called for the book to be taken off of the internet—but she has made no move to curtail her own government’s production and distribution of weapons of mass destruction around the world, many of which are now in the hands of ISIS.

“Senator Feinstein should surely be aware that American policies in the Middle East are one of the precipitating factors in these sorts of cases,” says Rae Valentine of Agency. “Feinstein’s call to ban The Anarchist Cookbook seems meant to distract the public from considering the root causes of why someone would express dissent, especially since it won’t solve the problem of people having access to such information.”

The instructions in William Powell’s now infamous book come primarily from freely available public documents. Harper’s Magazine recently published a lengthy piece on Powell by Gabriel Thompson, called “Burn After Reading,” in which Thompson says of The Anarchist Cookbook, “The Internet has also rendered the book’s instructions mostly superfluous.”

“Despite the title, there is nothing about anarchism as a political theory in the book, which focuses on drugs, surveillance, weapons, and explosives,” says Thompson. In fact, modern day anarchists mostly find the book irrelevant.

“It has as little—or as much—to do with anarchism as a Betty Crocker cookbook,” says Charles Weigl of the anarchist publisher and book distributor, AK Press. However, anarchists and anarchist publishers are concerned still that banning this book would set a dangerous precedent. Weigl adds, “As for banning it, or any book? Who would be doing the banning? The US government, who builds and regularly uses bombs a thousand times more powerful than any of the stupidity in The Anarchist Cookbook? It’s a bit absurd. However, if the government bans one book, will it stop there? Banning books is a dangerous and slippery slope.” For more information on AK Press, see:

The anarchist collective CrimethInc. released Recipes for Disaster: an Anarchist Cookbook in 2004 on the grounds that the original Anarchist Cookbook was outdated, unreliable, and insufficiently anarchistic. Recipes for Disaster was the long-awaited follow-up to the CrimethInc. collective’s top-selling first book, Days of War, Nights of Love. The 400-page manual provides practical information and instruction in the book’s 62 sections, which range from Affinity Groups, Coalition Building, and Mental Health to Sabotage, Squatting, and Wheatpasting. Their book was updated and re-released at the end of 2012. For more information on Recipes for Disaster, see:

“It’s absurd that a senator of one of the most violent superpowers in history is worried about homemade bomb recipes,” said CrimethInc. spokesperson Jane E. Humble. “If you’re genuinely concerned about bomb-making, take the US government offline, and then we can talk. In the meantime, we’ll be equipping people to defend themselves from invasive, out-of-control bureaucracies.”

Clearly contemporary anarchists do not feel that anything in The Anarchist Cookbook actually represents them. But what is anarchism?

“Anarchism is a longstanding political, economic, and social tradition based in struggle against top-down systems and institutions, such as states, capitalism, and racial and gender domination,” explains Valentine of Agency. “Anarchists aim to build an ecologically sustainable and deeply participatory society in which all people have access to the things they need, decisions are made by those most directly affected by them, and all people are free and equal. Some of the core tenets of anarchism are mutual aid, direct action, voluntary association, decentralization, and self-determination.”

With heightened interest from the general public in anarchist ideas and increased police scrutiny of anarchists during the Black Lives Matter protests, and now with Senator Feinstein calling for a ban on The Anarchist Cookbook, anarchists and other social justice advocates anticipate more efforts to silence anarchists and repress political dissent in the near future.


Agency is an anarchist PR project that helps the media and public access a multitude of contemporary anarchist perspectives through commentary, media relations, and educational campaigns. For more information, go to:





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