Three years in the making, Recipes for Disaster is the long-awaited follow-up to the CrimethInc. collective’s notorious first book, Days of War, Nights of Love. This 400-page manual complements the romance and idealism of that earlier work with practical information and instruction. Over thirty collectives collaborated in testing, composing, and editing the book’s 62 sections, which range from Affinity Groups, Coalition Building, and Mental Health to Sabotage, Squatting, and Wheatpasting. These are illustrated with extensive technical diagrams and first-hand accounts, and prefaced with a thorough discussion of the diverse roles direct action can play in social transformation. If you’re looking for a tactical handbook for revolutionary action, look no further.
This second edition, released in Fall of 2012, is comprised of the same content as the first edition, and boasts a new larger 7” x 10” format; photos and diagrams that are 77% and 164% larger, respectively; twenty-one new photos and a new introduction; improved typography and readability; and a more durable layflat binding. Read a detailed blog post about the improvements and their history here.
It deserves to be read beyond the circular networks of true believers, for in the grace of its plain-spoken sedition it succeeds as a master-piece of radical propaganda … Each recipe is a viral revolt.
— Clamor, spring 2006 issue (#36)
The book nicely balances tactics for empire-smashing with ones for community-building… A testament to CrimethInc.’s eclectic, undogmatic approach … This book will become a classic.
Fifth Estate, spring/summer 2005 issue
CrimethInc. Declassifies Top Secret Anarchist Tactics
“Why give away our secrets? Because if they stay secrets, we’re fucked.”
For ten long years, our operatives have honed their skills, testing their wits and mettle against the global capitalist empire, the most formidable adversary in the history of life on earth. We have learned how to redecorate the walls of cities occupied by armies of riot police, to transform random groups of damaged, isolated individuals into loving communities capable of supporting one another through the most severe bouts of repression and depression, to shut down corporate summits and franchises armed with little more than plastic piping or eyedroppers of glue. Now, the notorious CrimethInc. ex-Workers’ Collective has compiled many of the techniques that made these feats possible into a 624-page manual entitled Recipes for Disaster.
For those who have been bewildered by our earlier publications, wondering what purpose it could possibly serve for us to tantalize the beleaguered masses with utopian dreams of life unfettered by state, moral, or economic laws, it may come as a surprise that we’ve had a plan all along: offer visions of other possible worlds, then share concrete means for departing from this one. For those who gambled that CrimethInc. was nothing more than a joke, a fad or fantasy that could be shrugged off, we hope now it will turn out that it is a practical joke.
So what’s in this book, and how was the content selected? The sixty-two recipes run the gamut from Affinity Groups to Wheatpasting, stopping along the way at topics as disparate as Hitchhiking, Sabotage, and Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence. Each recipe is illustrated as necessary with photographs, technical diagrams, and firsthand accounts—culled, of course, from anonymous sources—of times the particular method or tactic was applied.
Choosing and editing the content for such a work is a difficult challenge, and it took an assembly of more than thirty collectives nearly three years to complete Recipes for Disaster. Content was selected and perfected according to three basic criteria. First, for the sake of safety and precision, subject matter was limited to methods with which the authors had extensive experience. Second, submissions were given preference according to how much material was already available on the subject: Recipes for Disaster includes very little on herbal remedies, as extensive literature has already been published about them, but features a full thirty-five pages on organizing black blocs and similar forms of anonymous mass action, since little resource material exists for those who would apply this potentially dangerous yet often useful strategy. Finally, as much as possible, the recipes are presented from a nonpartisan angle, with an emphasis on sharing concrete skills rather than spreading any ideological agenda, so the book might be of use to the widest possible range of readers working towards liberation in all its forms.
Inevitably, as we’ve learned all too well from experience, those who take on ambitious, public projects are subjected to the twin scourges of fan worship and vindictive, unconstructive criticism. As before, we urge admirers to nurture in themselves whatever worthy qualities they mistake us for having, and critics to complement our efforts with efforts of their own rather than passive disparagement. No one work on the subject of direct action can possibly be complete, but this book might serve a useful purpose if others supplement it with the projects they think we should have undertaken. In publishing this incomplete, imperfect book, we hope to provoke others into undertaking more projects of their own, not freeze them into adulating or offended spectatorship of our activities.
One might ask of the publishers of this new anarchist cookbook, as Emmett Grogan demanded of Abbie Hoffman upon the publication of Steal This Book!, whether it has occurred to us that making all these secret methods public knowledge might hurry them into obsolescence. In limited cases, this might be true, though we’ve made an effort to slant the content towards long-term skills, such as stencil-making, that never go out of date. At any rate, our answer to this charge is that these skills and the struggle for which they are useful must both be extended to much broader circles, or else they are doomed to obsolescence anyway. The narrow, comparatively small explicitly anarchist community of today is a poor match for the assembled power of the global empire; for massive change to be possible, anarchist skills and approaches need to be generalized to a much broader social spectrum. In limited cases, yes, the powers that be will be able to use our book to prepare themselves for our efforts to contest their control, but we hope that this drawback will be outweighed by the ways in which this work can help equip new generations to strike blows for freedom from unexpected directions and in unpredictable ways.
In short, why give away our secrets? Because if they stay secrets, we’re fucked. If you associate yourself with the struggle for a better world, consider how you can do your part to get these tools into unlikely hands.
And lest we miss this chance to make a challenge of our own, we ask certain paragons of the anarchist community, so pleased with themselves for perfecting their abilities in rhetoric and disputation while others have been quietly working on actually changing the world, to come over to our side of the barricades. It matters little how insightful a critique is if it is not put into practice, and by the same token a critique not born of practice is not likely to contain much insight. Talk without action only sets a precedent for more of the same; actions themselves can be eloquent, on the other hand, in ways that words rarely can. Some anarchists seem to conceive of the process of anarchist organizing as consisting of a long phase of debate over what constitutes effective tactics, followed by agreement upon and application of one approach, but such loquacious deferral of action is pointless: one need only demonstrate an effective tactic, and share the skills it requires, for others to see its worth and adopt it for themselves. As a dadaist wrote long ago, one is only entitled to those ideas which one puts into practice. You don’t become wise by having a lot of ideas, but from trying them out.
Ultimately, as usual, the important question is how you can make use of an inert commodity like this in your own efforts to live with passion and dignity, and that is something none of us could help you with from this distance. Hopefully, however, the legions of aspiring adventurers who have written us over the past five years asking how they can join the CrimethInc. collective will finally have their answer, in the form of this book: if you want to be a part of this crazy undertaking, just pick a recipe, or come up with an idea of your own, and try it out. As the folk singer croons, to fight for something is to make it your own.
All the best in all the beautiful, dangerous ventures you’re involved in already, friends. May your every dream come true,
—CrimethInc. Agents Provocateurs, chilly December 2004
Table of Contents
- Affinity Groups
- Antifascist Action
- Asphalt Mosaics
- Banner Drops and
- Banner Hoists
- Behavioral Cut-ups
- Bicycle Collectives
- Bicycle Parades
- Billboard Improvement
- Blockades and Lockdowns
- Blocs, Black and Otherwise
- Classroom Takeover
- Coalition Building
- Corporate Downsizing
- Distribution, Tabling, and Infoshops
- Dumpster Diving
- Food Not Bombs
- Guerrilla Performances
- Health Care
- Hijacking Events
- How to Build a Rocketstove
- How to Make a Bicycle into a Record Player
- Independent Media
- Legal Support
- Mainstream Media
- Marches and Parades
- Mental Health
- Musical Instruments
- Newspaper Wraps
- Non-Monogamous Relationships
- Painting by Bicycle
- Pie Throwing
- Portrait Exchange
- Reclaim the Streets
- Security Culture
- Smoke Bombs
- Spell Casting
- Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence
- Surviving a Felony Trial
- Undermining Oppression
- How to Join CrimethInc.
- About the Authors
- Further Reading
- Conversion Tables