Frequently Asked Questions {F.A.Q.}

Some frequently asked questions, answered by CrimethInc. Secret-ary of the Interior Nadia C.

Also, our Site Guide can be useful, and our Ten Year Report may be of interest, or perhaps some of our Selected Primary Texts.

 

Q. Dear CrimethInc. Collective, I wrote you a long letter, and after four months I still havent gotten a reply. I want to participate in the collective, but I dont know what to do! Please tell me!

Q. When was CrimethInc. started? What was its original goal?

Q. How are decisions made inside the CrimethInc.? How are responsibilities divided up?

Q. How many people are involved in CrimethInc.?

Q. What if any are the qualifications for joining?

Q. When I first heard about y’all, and, say, Inside Front, the whole thing came off to me as being a bit cultish. How would you respond to people who say your image is exclusionary and, well, cult-like?

Q. People are generally not credited for their involvement with your organization. What’s the logic behind that, and how do you feel this could effect long-term involvement with CrimethInc.? Do you even worry about long-term involvement?

Q. Does CrimethInc. have a platform or political ideology? If so, what is it?

 

Q. Dear CrimethInc. Collective, I wrote you a long letter, and after four months I still haven’t gotten a reply. I want to participate in the collective, but I don’t know what to do! Please tell me!

A. First, I want to apologize to all the people who have had to wait for responses to their letters. We try to keep on top of the vast amounts of mail arriving at our various addresses, but it's difficult—in order for the orders, for books and literature to get out on time, people who write personal letters have to wait a long time sometimes (although thats the opposite of how it should be, perhaps). I'll let you in on a little secret: this isnt a big organization with an office, a budget, and a forty-hour work week for all the secretaries. Everyone who answers the CrimethInc. mail and email is involved in a hundred other projects. We're not interested in becoming more efficient, because we’re all committed to living full, adventurous lives, without division of labor or acceptance of productivity as a value—rather, we hope to empower others to be able to do everything themselves, so efficiency on our part will be unnecessary. The last thing we want is to have the work here divided up into official tasks for different posts, as if we were employees.

That also means that we don’t have roles waiting for people who want to join CrimethInc. The C.W.C. is totally decentralized. That means if you want to be involved, you should pick something you think CrimethInc. should do, and start doing it. If you need our help with something (getting copies of Harbinger to distribute, getting hints about how to make your own stickers for free, finding addresses of housing collectives you should visit to learn how to organize your own, getting one of our bands to play at your house) we’ll be happy to give it, that’s what this is all about. But it'll be a lot easier for us to offer if you already know what you’re trying to do.

There may come a day, you know, when there is no one answering mail or sending out zines, when every CrimethInc. group becomes a splinter of the CrimethInc. Action Faction (the chapter of the C.W.C. notorious for eschewing all rhetoric and declarations in favor of just doing things, with the medium of activity being the message itself). On that day everyone will be in the streets serving free food or in the communes kissing or playing music, everyone will pronounce himself or herself Commander in Chief of CrimethInc., no one will need to be at the center sending out magazines and books and advice. The sooner that day comes, the better. In the meantime, what we need most are people writing us who know what we should be doing better than we do.

In the end, it is not us, but you who decide your own level of involvement.

On the other hand, please don't be intimidated about writing to us about anything. Just understand why we take so long to write back, and why we may not have all the answers for you. Whose revolution is this, anyway? Yours! [return to top]

 

Q. When was CrimthInc. started? What was its original goal?

A. CrimethInc. began in the mid-1990's. I can't report on the original goals of all the participants, but I can trace my own initial intentions to a discussion among some friends about the revolutionary organization Winston joins in Orwell's 1984. The idea came up that it was actually a branch of the government . . . and from there, we began to consider what the opposite kind of organization would be (one that purported to be a part of the culture industry that rules today, while secretly undermining it), and how to form one. The irony, the margin-walking between contradictions, both were intrinsic to CrimethInc. from the beginning . . . and honestly, I can tell you no better now than I could have then whether we are just indulging reactionary desires by forming yet another "revolutionary organization," or heroically helping humanity to evolve past the despotism of such a thing by detourning/deconstructing the idea of the revolutionary organization. [return to top]

 

Q. How are decisions made inside the CrimethInc.? How are responsibilities divided up?

A. We are different from your average collective in that we do not vote democratically on things, nor do we seek consensus for its own sake. When consensus is sought, it is not to appease other participants, but rather to get their ideas and perspectives. The collective functions like an anarchist village in that individuals within it work on whatever projects they want, seeking help from others when they desire it (which is how responsibilities are chosen and shared, not assigned like they are in some Communist parties); but the really utopian aspect of our dis-Organization is that, unlike in a village in which everyone's survival depends on cooperation and participation, departure from the group/working outside the group have no really negative consequences for anyone. This means that, to date, there has been very little squabbling about what we should do and how... those who have ideas of what they believe CrimethInc. should do work on them together in small teams, in a constantly shifting net of responsibilities. Resources are shared as they are in a gift economy, according to the needs of the various projects. This requires plenty of planning, to make things work out, but thus far not much conflict. Admittedly, power tends to centralize itself in the hands of those who have been involved the longest, but (unlike in a fascist or traditional democratic environment) there is no scarcity of power, since anyone can start her own CrimethInc. group and develop resources and knowledge of her own to share. This reflects my own personal idealistic dream, that we can create a world in which power itself is no more a scarcity resource than food, love, or selfhood. [return to top]

 

Q. How many people are involved in CrimethInc.?

A. That's the most difficult question of all. Since we pretentiously consider ourselves a social phenomenon, rather than a movement or (heaven forbid!) a membership club, we prefer not to answer it. I have personal experience working with a little over a thousand different people on CrimethInc. projects of varying seriousness, from mailing along fliers to be given away to writing and publishing 'zines and books. Of those thousand people, I would describe all of them as being involved in CrimethInc., but only a hundred or so would probably have the admirable audacity to claim CrimethInc. as something of their own the way I do. [return to top]

 

Q. What if any are the qualifications for joining?

A. One doesn't need qualifications for "joining" a social phenomenon—it's something that happens in the course of practice. If someone contacts us to get some posters, wheatpastes them up around town, enjoys it, and designs their own posters for the next wheatpasting, putting the CrimethInc. logo on the posters for whatever reasons of their own, they have effectively "joined" CrimethInc. If they get along with another CrimethInc. "member" who has been doing similar projects for a long time and has a means to steal photocopies available, she will probably provide the photocopying for the next generation of posters, and there you have CrimethInc. organization at work—totally decentralized and autonomous. The criticism that this could result in the "CrimethInc." label being applied to just about anything frequently arises from those used to working in groups that march under a certain ideology. To march under an ideology, you need constant bickering about what the specific goals, motives, logistics, and rhetoric must be, from all involved. But since we are not trying to do that, autonomous action is much simpler. Consider the "anarchist movement" as a whole as another example—what "anarchism" is is basically de facto decided by those who call themselves anarchists. Certain anarchist parties (a phenomenon some see as a contradiction in terms) may agree on particular tenets of their own, but in general the nature of the phenomenon is decided and adjusted at every moment by those who act within it.

In our experience, people come to be involved with CrimethInc. projects through a sort of self-selecting process: those who are interested in or inspired by what we have done before come to us, bringing their own new ideas and inspirations. We want CrimethInc. to be something constantly evolving and changing, to be a vast, beautiful monster that contains the same contradictions within it that we do within ourselves as individuals, so little effort is made to "police" the activities individuals do under the name. The identity of CrimethInc., if it must have one, can thus be described not by a set of characteristics or rules, but rather by the historical process which has been its development as new ideas and activities grew out of the old ones (again, just like in the anarchist community). Incidentally, this was the only way Hume thought the identity of an individual human being could be explained: from birth to death, nothing is constant (as all the cells of the body are constantly dying and being replaced, memories forgotten, mind states shifting...) except for the process of living and evolving, the chain of events which actually goes back far before conception and extends in every other direction throughout the world as well. In the same sense, since CrimethInc. is not the intellectual property of any one group of people, we consider our projects "communalized" as a part of the cosmos—thus, "CrimethInc." can belong to anyone who sees a part of herself reflected within our actions. [return to top]

 

Q. When I first heard about y’all, and, say, Inside Front, the whole thing came off to me as being a bit cultish. How would you respond to people who say your image is exclusionary and, well, cult-like?

A. I hope I've already dealt with the "exclusionary" issue—we actually practice NO exclusion, and although individual members can choose not to associate with others this does not make CrimethInc. itself exclusive. The intellectual language I'm using here to get these ideas across is admittedly exclusive, as all dialects are—but I am to blame for that, not CrimethInc.

As for the charge that, despite our non-exclusive policies, CrimethInc. is cultish . . . perhaps that is true, who knows? Given there are some pernicious things about revolutionary organizations in the first place: they tend to gather glory for themselves (when they are really just myths constructed out of the actions of individuals), they can be as seductive and dangerous to "rally around" as flags or ideologies . . . Our experiment here is, rather than denying our desires to be part of a group with revolutionary pretentions (desires which I feel are negative, dangerous, spawned from living in a world of teams and nations and clubs), to similtaneously indulge and subvert that desire—by participating in a revolutionary organization which is avowedly a myth, which is up front about being anti-organization. My own experience is that beating yourself up (in the best Christian tradition) for having the "wrong" desires does no good—it is much better to find ways to put yourself in new situations which can foster new and different desires within you, and this is our undertaking here. Perhaps we will end up becoming just another reactionary cult, but for us this is a new experiment, and thus worth it. [return to top]

 

Q. People are generally not credited for their involvement with your organization. Whats the logic behind that, and how do you feel this could effect long-term involvement with CrimethInc.? Do you even worry about long-term involvement?

A. For me, one of the primary values of using the CrimethInc. label is the anonymity it provides. In this society, in which any action is seen to glorify the individual at the expense of others (see scenester fame in the punk community for a good example, or celebrities in the mainstream if you need a basic primer in the concept), it is a wonderful thing to have a name I can sign to a project that offers credit for the project to anyone who wants to share that name with me. Thus, I escape being singled out for praise and recognition as someone who does something, the implications of that praise and recognition being that others are not "activists" like myself. In another world this would not be an issue, but we have a "scarcity economy of self" in this society, thanks to our our spectacular economy and the values of competition. Being able to escape being put on a pedestal for my work saves me that embarrassment, and others the humiliation of seeing me as "above" them. There are a thousand other reasons for anonymity, such as doubts about the validity of the concept of "authorship" itself (in a world in which everything is intrinsically connected, especially ideas), but let's not go into those now.

As for worrying about long-term involvement, we don't. The "CrimethInc." label can be set down as instantly as it has been picked up, should it prove unnecessary at some point to any or all of us—assuming we do not fall for our own cover story (as the agent in William Burrough's books always does) and get carried away by the mythical grandeur of our fabrication, that is. [return to top]

 

Q. Does CrimethInc. have a platform or political ideology? If so, what is it?

A. As I've described above, CrimethInc. has no platform or ideology except that which could be generalized from the similarities between the beliefs and goals of the individuals who choose to be involved—and that is constantly in flux. For that reason, you could call it an anarchist organization, if you like, although only in the original sense of the term. [return to top]

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