The series follows the growth of, and conflict within, the annual “Anarchapulco” conference in Acapulco, Mexico. Founded by entrepreneur and long-winded YouTuber Jeff Berwick in 2015, Anarchapulco caters to middle-to-upper class mostly white American expats who promote “free market” libertarian capitalism, as theorized by far-right thinkers like Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard. In their view, governments should be abolished and everything should be privatized. Police officers would be replaced by private security forces, and public schools would become for-profit charter schools.
“The Anarchists” filmmaker Todd Schramke is friendly with Berwick, and has said in the past that he is influenced by public figures like Stefan Molyneux, a white supremacist infamous for amplifying disproven theories of eugenics and “scientific racism.” In addition to more traditional libertarian capitalists, Berwick’s Anarchapulco has more recently become a home for cryptocurrency and “web3” enthusiasts, who are hawking digital assets like NFTs and even trying to, uh, monetize colors.
So-called Anarchist capitalists, or “ancaps” as they are sometimes called, have long battled with anti-capitalist anarchists over the use of the term “libertarian” which was historically associated with anti-capitalist anarchist politics as far back as 1858. That is until the 1970s, when laissez faire capitalists in the United States co-opted the term by forming the hyper-individualist Libertarian Party.
Berwick’s conception of libertarianism is clearly of the individualist bent. He chose Acapulco, Mexico as a landing pad for what some attendees call their “tribe” because it “seemed anarchist” to him. “The buses were all private, they race to get you. They got the music,” he says to the camera with a grin in the first episode. “Everyone is drinkin.’ All the girls are sayin’ hi.”
Anarchapulco guests stay in a luxury hotel, worship bitcoin and mingle with others who lament the statist American sheeple and their bloodsucking central banks. They seem to be suburbanites who are understandably bored by, and wish to flee, the mind-numbing grind of American life. Some who decide to stay for the long haul live out their fantasies in mansions together, a power dynamic anti-capitalist anarchists consider colonialist.
“One major thing that immediately stuck out to me, especially in episode one, as they were getting into people’s backstories as to how they ended up in Anarchapulco, was this dynamic of expats moving to Mexico, making a village and not really interacting with locals, just straight up being colonizers in every humanly possible way,” Robin Young, an anarchist with Black Rose who lives in Miami, told Motherboard.
“They have little to no interest in or regard for the local population at all, which, in any case, are to be but material resources to further develop settlers’ communities,” she continued. “They consider themselves an entitled ‘vanguard’ tasked with developing the ‘land’ of ‘uncharted’ financial freedom as a way to gain social liberties. Acapulco, as part of Mexican territory, is the ‘new’ land where this can be done—not for the sake of this territory, which is regarded as a pure source for resources.”
“That obviously, makes us very different from what the so-called libertarians believe,” Pádraig explains, “but it also makes us very different from what the State Socialists believe, because the State Socialists believe that you need to have an economy that is controlled on behalf of the working class through the managers of the state.”
“The ancaps’ idea of freedom is freedom from anybody interfering or talking to or being around them that isn’t like, in their cult, or whatever,” said Rogue, the anarchist from Austin. “And to me, my idea of liberty is for everyone in my community to have everything they need to be the best version of themselves.”