“Accidental Anarchist” is not your typical blockbuster film. In fact, it’s not a blockbuster film at all. It’s a $2 rental documentary you can only find on Vimeo with production qualities far below that of your favorite Hollywood movies. But what it lacks in budget, it makes up for in staying power.
“Accidental Anarchist”loosely follows the story of Carne Ross, a former British diplomat to the United Nations. Ross gradually becomes disillusioned as he sees the systems of democracy, diplomacy and capitalism in place put decision-making powers in the hands of a few, while disregarding the consequences felt by the many. He goes in search of an alternative democratic model that centers around people, rather than institutions.
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“It was only after taking a break from that system that I began to reflect on what was wrong with that system and the things, including crimes that I had perpetuated as a proponent, as an exponent of the state,” Ross said. “When I had time to reflect on the evidence all around me of the failure of capitalism, and it was through that process really that I came upon anarchism.”
As someone who has seen the inner workings of international diplomacy, Ross offers a unique voice in his critique of the corrupting influence of state governments and other impersonal institutions. His testimony pokes a gaping hole in the prevailing logic governing international politics. The institutions governing society don’t exist to make our lives easier — they exist to perpetuate themselves.
“So not only are (these institutions) dehumanizing, but they therefore override people’s own moral conscience and sense of what is right or wrong, and that’s certainly what I observed in government,” Ross said.
After establishing a theoretical basis for anarchism, “Accidental Anarchist” dives into some recent anarchistic experiments, including the Catalan revolution of Spain in the 1930s. The influence of the Catalan revolution continues to exert on self-sufficiency initiatives in Spain and the current Kurdish revolution in Syria. Not only that, but the pacing of the film inspirationally connects anarchist theory to practice.
Of course, a documentary that’s 90 minutes long won’t be able to explore the nuances of all the topics it covers. But that’s a feature, not a flaw. This film outlines anarchism in a way that many will find accessible even if they haven’t been able to read abstract texts.
“I was looking for a politics that was centered on humans,” Ross said. “What would promote the best of us as humans? Our willingness to cooperate and look after each other, attend to the most vulnerable. anarchism was the answer I found.”
It was the answer I found, too. I think it’s important for people who have little experience with politics watch this film. Heck, even people who don’t like politics. But that’s just my two cents. And your two dollars.
Sam Norton is a senior advertising and psychology dual major. He can be reached at [email protected].