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8 Things I Would Never Do As an Anarchist

For almost two centuries, anarchists have been the highest priority threat to law enforcement the world over. In internal documents and public reports at intelligence agencies and police departments, anarchists are feared for their incorruptible organizing, their commitment to direct action, and the difficulty of thwarting them.

That is because being an anarchist requires more than a political orientation, but an entire modus operandi designed to confront injustice with force while evading surveillance and capture. Anarchist organizing requires anarchists to make choices about their lifestyle and habits to protect them from the legal system.

This means there are a number of conveniences and trends you will likely want to forgo if you plan to get into anarchist organizing. Here are ## things I would never do as an anarchist organizer.

Get Knuckle, Neck, or Face Tattoos

This one is probably gonna make the crust punks mad, but tattoos that you can’t easily cover with clothing are a security risk. I’d honestly avoid anything on your arms too unless you’re good in long sleeves at a summer protest.

Tattoos can be used to identify you in court or on the street. Not only do tattoos provide a better identifier than your bare face to prosecutors, but they can also be used to positively identify your social media presence to nazis.

Plan Through DMs

For the most part, DMs on social media are not encrypted. In fact, many companies scan DMs to determine better ways to advertise to you.

If you communicate via direct messages, you will not have an opportunity to quash a subpoena or warrant before the company that owns your data decides whether to comply with it. A good communication platform stores and transmits messages encrypted, and a great one keeps them in your possession.

Have a Unique Haircut

This kind of goes with the tattoos thing: a unique haircut can be used to identify you. Whether it’s at a protest, online, or in your daily life, a unique haircut poses a risk to your personal safety.

Sure, a haircut might seem easier to cover up than face tattoos, but the thing is you never cover your hair as well as you think you do. And if you do, you will be identified by the great lengths you go to do so.

Go to a Protest Without a Black Mask, Pants, and Boots

Don’t listen to the liberals! They will tell you that dressing for a black bloc marks you to police.

What marks you to police is being able to identify your face at a protest. No face, no case.

Make Personal Social Media Public

Despite its evolution into a tool of propaganda and marketing, social media is still a valuable way that people keep in touch with each other. However, you should maintain a protocol of separation between your political and private life.

Lock down any social media that is not exclusively for broadcasting your public profile, whatever that may look like. There are many handy guides online to help ensure that your security is water tight.

Use Biometric Passwords

Countless spy and heist movies have convinced the public that biometric entry codes such as face, fingerprint, or retinal scans are the highest form of security. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

With a biometric password, an attacker doesn’t need to know what your password is, they just need to physically force you to unlock your device. And courts have ruled that phones unlocked this way by police are admissible as evidence.

Log In to Websites with External Accounts

Okay, this is a weird one, but stick with me. Using Facebook, Google, or any other platform to log in to other (usually less secure) websites poses a huge security risk.

By connecting your accounts, you allow those apps and sites to share your personal data. This means that if either of the sites are hacked, hackers may be able to retrieve your data from both sites.

Have Passwords You Can Read

Knowing how to set a good password requires you to understand how passwords can be hacked. Now, it is possible that someone might initiate a brute force attack where they simply start with aaaaaaaa and then go to aaaaaaab, etc., and this may be the operative method for law enforcement with dozens of replicas of your device’s drive.

More likely is to utilize a combination of cyberstalking and a dictionary to make “smarter” guesses at your password. This means that if you use words or numerical details about yourself, your password will be easier for a hacker to guess.

The solution here is to make passwords a random combination of numbers, symbols, and uppercase and lowercase letters. Some recommend a password generator, but I don’t because that will require you to store or write your password somewhere. Instead, I recommend making passwords memorable by making geometric patterns with your keystrokes.

We Don’t Need More Tragic Heroes

Anarchists often regard mutual aid to political prisoners and memorialization of martyrs as a veneration of capture by the state. This is a mistake.

Being demobilized by law enforcement or fascists through incarceration, injury, or execution limits or excludes you from serving the anarchist cause. A successful direct action is one you get away with.


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