How an Anarchist ‘Paradise’ Became a Violent Hellscape

“When did you ever feel like you would be happy to see children burning books?” asks a gleeful Nathan Freeman over images of his kids tearing up tomes and throwing them into a beach bonfire at the beginning of Blumhouse Television’s The Anarchists. For most, the answer will likely be: never! Even those embracing an anti-establishment lifestyle, however, achieve little lasting joy in director Todd Schramke’s six-part HBO docuseries (July 10), which focuses on an annual event known as Anarchapulco—held, as its title implies, in Acapulco, Mexico—that brings together men and women who object to governments and their corrupt, authoritarian rules and social norms. It’s a fascinating portrait of against-the-grain dissenters and their pipe dreams of true freedom, commencing with promise and concluding with the age-old lesson that you should be careful what you wish for.

Nathan and his wife Lisa moved to Acapulco after the inaugural 2015 Anarchapulco, whose creator Berwick embraced anarchism following his introduction to G. Edward Griffin’s anti-Federal Reserve book The Creature from Jekyll Island. Berwick comes across as a hedonist with a lot of faux-big ideas and not much in the way of nuanced thinking in The Anarchists, and sights of him being drunk on stage and rapping at nightclub parties only enhance this notion. Nonetheless, Berwick tapped into a revolutionary sentiment felt by marginalized and screwed-up individuals who were angry at the world. Moreover, he was shrewd enough to recognize the disruptive anarchist potential of cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin in particular, and when that market took off in late 2017, so too did Anarchapulco, drawing in thousands of new attendees and becoming a trendy meeting place for those looking to shake up the status quo.

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