The world is changing rapidly. One fascinating measure of the multidimensional shift in human affairs is the growth of Anarchapulco, the world’s largest anarchist conference. Held in Acapulco every February, Anarchapulco draws in people of all sorts, united by their belief that no one should use aggressive force against others, and opposed to the atrocities committed by governments who make exceptions to this rule for themselves. When the conference began in 2015, only 150 attended. The next year the size doubled. Then in 2017, it doubled again. And 2018? Over twelve hundred people came to Mexico to be part of this discussion on liberty, blockchain technologies, alternative media and covered up history.
Many of these ideas have been laughed at in the past, but the community is growing exponentially, and it reveals a trend in the world at large. People are fed up with corrupt governments and rulers, and new technologies have made their scams more or less obsolete. Major social, technological, and economic changes are afoot, and if you blink, you’ll miss big pieces of what is happening. Going to an event like Anarchapulco is like getting a rapid download of all the cutting edge projects that people are working on. We find there a broad sampling of the many strategies people are employing to develop thriving communities and free market exchange, while sidestepping as best they can the interference of governments, banks, and bureaucrats.
So for those of you who don’t know about Anarchapulco, this will serve as a glimpse into the reality that has been growing through the cracks of the broken down institutions of the modern world. I spent ten days in Acapulco this year, seldom taking even a short moment of rest, so full was each day with activities and conversations. This was my third year to attend, and I’ve been watching the scene grow and evolve. It’s really starting to feel like a community, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
In reality, this year’s conference was several events rolled into one. It started with a Health and Wellness Retreat, where attendees practiced yoga and meditation and heard speakers on natural health, permaculture, and many other topics that are becoming a big part of the conversation about doing away with forceful institutions. Cleaning up our own lives and getting healthy within ourselves is crucial if we hope to have any effect on the world at large.
After the Health and Wellness Retreat came the Anarchapulco conference. Three days of lectures and presentations by some of the leading voices in the movement. Conference by day, concerts and parties by night. A whole lot goes on during that four day window.
The final day was Cryptopulco. The dramatically successful year crypto had in 2017 seems to have attracted a whole lot of new people to Anarchapulco. Not just the usual crypto folks (many of whom didn't even attend this year) but also a good showing from the investor class, people who were not otherwise associated with the movement.
I think it’s great that Anarchpulco has grown to encompass more people, and I think it should be obvious that the decentralization of money goes hand in hand with voluntaryism and agorism, terms that are commonly used to convey they idea anarchism. No rulers, is all that is it means. Corrupt political and financial institutions are no longer necessary, and emerging technologies can help us to free ourselves from their stranglehold. The alliance between the crypto movement and the liberty movement is crucial, but they really are two very separate conversations.
This year was a doozy of an event. Along with the Anarchapulco regulars like Larken Rose, Roger Ver, Luke Rudkowksi, Dayna Martin, and Dan Dicks, we had Mark Passio and Ron Paul for keynote speakers. We were also given quite a surprise when Jeff Berwick announced that a couple of guys from the Wu Tang Clan had called him saying they wanting to come to the event.
Wednesday was the last day of the Health and Wellness Retreat, which I looked in on, since I was there. I didn't buy a ticket for it, so I didn't feel right attending the whole thing, but I sat in on parts, and I really enjoyed the talks I heard. I heard Paul Harris discussing a machine he invented called the Thera Phi, which was set up in the back room available for sessions. It emits counter-rotating torroidal fields at either end of the body for healing purposes, and a short session is said to give a great feeling pf peace and relaxation, as one would feel after a long mediation. I didn't try the treatment, but my friend Paulo did, and he said he could very much feel the effect.
Another interesting talk was given by Ken and Janine Jordan, who have a permaculture project in Costa Rica. The have built an incredible jungle home and started such a wide variety of edible plants that they have made really good inroads to self-reliance. They utilize solar electric and water catchment and they have an impressive market herb garden and a growing food forest.
An ecstatic dance was scheduled for that night, which I made sure to attend. I love ecstatic dances. I was curious what sort of caliber they’d found for this one. Ecstatic dancing can be amazing, but it can also be rather blasé. Depends on the DJ, and the energy of the crowd.
When I arrived at the dance I was pleased to see it was being held outside on some grass. Tables surrounded the dance floor and waiters roved about bringing drinks. Few people were dancing when I arrived, and the music was quiet and slow. Intrigued by the sitar player, I went close to the stage to size up the music. They had a DJ, as well as live instrumentals and vocalists, some of whom were also mingling about the party, so it was hard to tell who all the performers were. The show was just getting started.
It was a nice warm night, still light out, but quickly fading. I chose not to bring my camera, so as to not have to worry about it. I wanted to dance unencumbered. So I dropped my shirt and flip flops by a tree and went on out. I remember for a while it was just Nathan Ribble and one other guy and I dancing, not really paying much attention to each other of course, just grooving. After what felt like close to an hour of mellow dancing, the music started to swell. More people got out into the grass. Still few enough so where we all had some room to move around, but twenty thirty people now. It was a good dance. The music was awesome. One of the better dances I’ve been to, without a doubt. As the music came to crescendo, everyone was moving together, and then a vocalist got on the mike and started with some really cool melodies, almost chants.
I learned that his name is Joem Mata, from Spain, and that he is a yoga and chi kung practitioner, and rather highly developed. One afternoon later in the event I saw him doing a bit of his practice in the grass, performing some advanced poses with apparent ease. No wonder that dance was so awesome! With Sidartha Siliceo playing sitar sitar, and with the beautiful Malu Bus joining in with enchanting vocals, they really got the energy up, and what they were doing was less a performance than it was a guided meditation. Almost like an aerobics instructor would, Joem exhorted us to smile, breathe deep, touch the earth with our hands, and feel gratitude. The crowd got pretty into it, and we all shared in that beautiful moment of connection through music and awareness of our bodies and the earth. At the end we were all in a big circle holding hands. It was a powerful dance, and I worked up quite a sweat over the two or three hours that it lasted.
An offhand comment from a non-dancing party-goer nearby made me smile. “Where did all these hippies come from?”
That’s right, anarchists. The hippies are showing up now, because the liberty movement is taking off, we are all on to the same truth. That truth, the natural law of liberty, is bigger than our sub-cultures and cliques, and the more we intermingle with folks who we would otherwise never be around, the more we discover whole new avenues of pursuing our goals.
The first day of the event opened with an introduction from Jeff, followed by Derrick Broze, one of my favorite figures in the movement. Derrick is a true activist and a highly effective organizer, and his books have helped a lot of people wrap their heads around the nature of the system we’re in and what exactly we can do about it.
In order to have such a broad reach, the conference organizers invite a large number of speakers, which means up to eight speakers a day, with fifteen minute breaks every few hours. Choosing how to spend each day is always a hard call, because there are always awesome speakers you want to check out, but there’s also so much going on outside the main hall, with numerous booths and people mingling.
Some of the best connections often get made during this in between time, and there’s always a tough choice to be made whether to invest time in the speakers or the networking. I have always been pretty good about listening to most of the speakers, getting most of the networking done at night. You have to burn the candle at both ends to get the full effect of Anarchapulco.
The parties go all night. Thursday night, after first day of the conference, a hip hop show was held at a swanky club downtown called the Palladium, which had been entirely rented out for our party. Here we would hear from Alais Clay, Backwordz, and of course, Prodigal Sun and Killah Priest of the Wu Tang Clan.
Alais kind of stole the show. She is one of my favorite rappers, and she performed several songs off her new album, Elevated Frequencies. I was fortunate enough to get an early copy so I could listen to it and write a review, so I knew several of the songs she performed, which made the show extra fun. Alais is so passionate and direct, so clear in her understanding of the system that enslaves us, and so strong in her exhortation to rise above it, that it truly moves the anarchist soul to listen to her message. Check out her music at her website!
When Backwordz came on, I recalled how the previous year we left the show during their set because we were there with our kids and it was a bit late at night for anarchist heavy metal. My kids love to dance, but that wasn’t their scene, and in truth, I’ve never gotten too into that genre of music either. But that night at the Palladium, I finally began to understand the appeal.
I was right out front in the standing room willing to give the music a listen. As soon as the song got to the heavy fast part, an all out mosh pit broke out, and it was the craziest thing I’ve ever been part of, at least in the realm of dancing. It was a small pit, with maybe twenty of us in there, but wow, it was a melee of flailing limbs and heavy colliding torsos. We were slamming the crap out of each other, and sometimes you’d be sent flying up onto the stage or backwards into the crowds of people who had to start backing up.
It was my first mosh pit. It was exhilarating, with a tinge of extreme sport adrenaline, because it actually is quite dangerous. It feels like being in a fight with opponents on all sides, and it’s absolutely exhausting trying to stay on your feet and not get laid out.
The mosh continued throughout Backwordz’s set, ebbing and flowing between hard rock dancing and all out moshing. I took a few breaks but spent most of the time right in there, having a grand old time. It was really cool seeing guys like David Rodriguez jump in or watching Derrick Broze go flying by. I even saw Mear One, the painter who creates brilliant, enormous paintings at every event near the main stage.
It dawned on me that a mosh pit is a form of voluntary aggression, and thus perfectly within the parameters of anarchy. It also gave me a chuckle to think that the only time anarchy actually equals chaos is in a mosh pit. Yet even the mosh pit wasn’t totally chaotic. If someone fell, he was helped up immediately by everyone around, and in spite of the violent crashing, great care was being taken to make sure no one fell too hard and got seriously hurt.
Wu Tang went on last, and they put on one hell of a show. At one point they lit up a whole display of pyrotechnics right outside the massive wall length windows behind the stage. The whole club overlooks the bay with a great view of the city, but when these fireworks started raining sparkling light down the windows like a waterfall, it really got the crowd going. During the performance, several good looking ladies just hopped up on the stage behind the performers (climbing atop some boxes that seem to have been made for this purpose) and started dancing. They were great, and it really added a flare that seemed appropriate for the show.
On Friday we had another full schedule of speakers. I cannot possibly go over all of them or what they spoke about in this article, but I am including a slideshow of all the speakers I was present for throughout the event. We had some really good speakers this year, several of whom I had not heard of before.
Right at the end of Jim Bell’s talk, a commotion arose near the doors. The show stopped and everyone tried to figure out what was going on. I thought it might be a fight, but then I heard someone call out “earthquake!” Some one else stated that we should probably get outside. I just looked down at the floor, and right at that moment I could feel the waves. The floor rolled gently underneath me, and I could actually see myself moving in relation to it. It was a gentle side to side thing, and it lasted only ten seconds or so.
I thought it was really neat! I have always wanted to experience an earthquake, and now I have. I felt bad for Jim, who’s presentation was cut short by the commotion the quake caused, but it certainly electrified the room. And many of us needed it. Anarchapulco can keep you up for long hours, and like many people there, I had been operating on about three or four hours of sleep for the last three nights. I had a really hard time staying awake during several of the speeches, despite my interest in the topics. But after that earthquake I was wide awake.
And it’s a good thing, because three of the presentations that afternoon were particularly important, in that they all covered an issue that is at the very heart of the liberty movement: children. The education of children is the biggest factor in what kind of a world we will have in the future. I don’t know if it was planned this way, but I found it to be a very powerful combination of perspectives in one block, which came right after the earthquake.
David Rodriguez is an educational activist and children's rights advocate who coaches parents on unschooling, helping them set up real life educational opportunities in their communities. Apprenticeships, homeschool co-ops, and free public programs are all utilized to custom build a curriculum that goes beyond academics alone. Voluntaryism, the right of the child to choose, to not be forced, is at the core of the philosophy. David is an excellent public speaker, and he gave a good glimpse into what is possible in the realm of creative educational programs.
Fitting then that his speech was in the same block as Dayna Martin, who is the leading advocate of peaceful parenting and unschooling, as far as such movements have leaders. Dayna and her unschooled family have had lots of mainstream media exposure, and her book Radical Unschooling has helped many people understand how forcing children to do things damages them, and she works with parents to help them develop an entirely different approach. Long before she was affiliated with the liberty movement, Dayna has been practicing and teaching a form of voluntaryism that goes way deeper than most would think to take it. Everyone wants liberty for himself, but for kids? Even for anarchists it’s a big jump of logic to think that if we don’t like being told what to do, then maybe we shouldn’t constantly tell children what do and punish them if they don’t comply.
The main premise of unschooling - non-coercive relationships - is a complex topic that merits thorough consideration, and it’s not, in my mind, as simple as saying “kids are free to do whatever they want,” because I think that this can lead to just as many problems as being overly controlling. I believe children need direction, and that they naturally look to us to lead the way. I also believe that sometimes children really don’t know what’s going on or what is best, and that sometimes parents have to take charge and do what’s right, even if the kid doesn’t like it. But there are ways to go about this without having to be authoritarian or squelching a child’s freewill. It’s a delicate art, and if you read Dayna’s work, you will get a glimpse into how it can be done. I hope to talk more about this in future articles, and I have touched on the subject already in past articles, particularly Unschooling/Worldschooling.
Even Ron Paul, the keynote speaker of the conference, spoke on the topic of children, and the importance of educating them with the principles of liberty. Dr. Paul has helped to create a homeschool curriculum with a wide variety of children's literature. He didn’t speak of this program specifically, but he emphasized the importance of liberating children from the “educational” system. I thought it was neat that three speakers in a row all had something to say on the topic of raising children, and I think it’s a conversation that should continue.
Dr. Paul was the last speaker of the day, filling the already well populated room to capacity and beyond. I am pretty sure his speech was the most highly attended moment in Anarchapulco history. People love Ron Paul! And it’s easy to see why. His smile is so genuine, and his demeanor is like that of a friendly grandparent, yet his message is beyond potent. In the gentlest way possible, he imparts the most radical message possible within the paradigm of politics, and though he didn’t specifically say he is an anarchist, he left no room for doubt where he lands on that issue.
Ron Paul’s political platform is compelling, and the American public’s reaction to it is even more fascinating. His most controversial initiatives (ending the Federal Reserve, ending our occupations and bringing home the troops) are but reiterations of principles specifically laid out by the founders of our nation. No foreign entanglements. Only Congress shall have the power to issue money. A nation of free people was a radical idea in the eighteenth century, but it is, in many ways, even more radical now. Our nation has become so far from free that it’s laughable, and few politicians are able to grapple with that fact in public discourse. Ron Paul has always just come right out with it.
Dr. Paul got a lot of people’s attention during that election because he said things that no one else would say, but that a whole lot of us had been thinking. Such as why don’t we just bring all the troops home and employ them to rebuild America’s infrastructure? He said things you weren’t supposed to say, and people loved it. Even people who didn’t like it or agree watched it, intrigued. Who was this Ron Paul guy, and how did he get so far into this race? (It’s quite possible that the Trump campaign modeled some of its strategy from the success of the Ron Paul campaign in 2012.)
Ron Paul got as far as he did because he actually had something to say. His message resonated with millions of people, and even though the whole setup was rigged against him, he won lots of votes officially and gained even more support outside of political process. He didn’t just gain support for himself; he brought people over from statism and into the liberty movement in droves. So thank you Dr. Paul, for the power and persistence of your work.
It was Friday evening. The energy was high as people mingled outside the main conference room in the open-air colonnade. Dr. Paul had really gotten everyone revved up, and the crowd was larger than usual. I had debated with myself about whether I should attend the Gala dinner with Dr. Paul, and I ended up choosing not to. As much as I hoped for a chance to meet him and get a picture with him, I knew that I would be one of a thousand and it wouldn’t mean as much. Plus, with $150 ticket prices, I figured I'd need that money for something else. So I chose to head back to my apartment to make my own dinner before going to the party Michael Nimetz hosts every year at his house up in the hills. Last year I took the whole family up there and we had a great time.
I enjoy the intimate environment of Mike's parties, as he can only invite so many people. Mike throws a great party, with a huge snack room that is regularly refilled with nachos and tacos, a full bar, and staff to serve. The views over the bay are incredible, and atmosphere is always very chill. I have no idea how late it was when we finally left, but this was the third night in a row that I would be going to bed past 4, still waking up by 8. I knew it had to be taking its toll, but I still felt pretty good.
Saturday had another great lineup of speakers. I wish I could write a little something about all of the talks given, but this article is already long enough! I particularly enjoyed Jefferey Tucker, Max Igan, Derrick Broze, Sterlin Luxan, Luis Fernando Mises, Benny Wills, and Ben Swann. Below is a slideshow of all the speakers I managed to photograph during their talks. (You have to click or arrow key your way through the slideshow. This format does not make that obvious enough, it seems to me.)
On Saturday night, surprise surprise, there was another party. There were actually several parties, but I chose to go to the one being held on the beach, at the turtle hatchery where they release baby sea turtles to the ocean. I went there last year with the family as part of the Free Your Family workshop with Dayna Martin, and it's a really cool place. The beach party was amazing, a story unto itself. They did another big release of baby turtles, though it was harder to see them at night. A big bonfire was blazing on the beach, and some of the hip hop crew set up a sound system so different folks could perform. I was enjoying myself so much that I didn't even realize how late it was getting. By the time I got all my stuff together and found Jay, Flynn, and Amy, we barely made the last shuttle back to the hotel. Jay and Amy were staying in the penthouse suite of the Princess and they invited us up. This is the same penthouse apartment where Howard Hughes lived until the end of his life. What a night we had up there! We ordered room service in the middle of the night, talked for long hours, and stayed up for the sunrise, looking out over the ocean as the clouds lit up with pink hues.
I didn't go home at all that night. We finally fell asleep around nine, and I slept until almost one in the afternoon. I missed most of the speeches on the final day of the conference, but that was okay with me. I had been conferencing hard, and I enjoyed just hanging around in the grass near Verde Vegan, talking with different folks and being lazy.
I spent very little time in my apartment while in Acapulco, but it was super useful to have. It was a mile from the hotel, but it was only a three minute car ride, and it was a cheap cab fare if you went from the apartment to the hotel. The cabs leaving the hotel were always way overpriced, so I usually walked at least as far as the main road, where you could find more reasonable cabs, or collectivos, which are basically like buses that are run out of people's cars or vans. You pay the equivalent of fifty cents to go as far as you need to go. Way more economical, but they fill them to the brim, and sometimes they actually ask you to share a seat with someone. Seven people in one five seater car is no sweat for them. I usually only took the van collectivos, which had benches in the back and never seemed to get too full.
As always, I met lots of new folks this year. I enjoyed getting to know Cameron and Jennifer, from Taos, New Mexico, who rented a room in the apartment I got. They were super cool folks, and we ended up hanging out at several of the parties, even though we didn’t spend a whole lot of time together at our place. My friends Brian and Alma also rented a room at the apartment. They now live in a sailboat, and they came into the country without any paperwork for their kids, who are undocumented. It was great to meet their littlest, a sweet girl of less than a year. Brian and Alma are quite involved in the movement, as organizers of the Jackelope Festival in Arizona among other things. It was great to catch up with them.
So many great folks at Anarchapulco. And it seems like the conversations really start getting going as the conference itself winds down. I made plans to be part of a round table discussion on Monday, and there was another party happening on Tuesday night. I had my place until Wednesday, so this worked out for me. I only made it to two speakers that Sunday. First was Jeff Berwick, who made some surprisingly derogatory comments about BTC (bitcoin core). I knew that he’s aligned with BCH (bitcoin cash), as Bitcoin.com was the major sponsor of the conference, but it seemed strange that he spent half an hour talking about it.
The other speaker I made sure to catch was Mark Passio. Not everyone has heard of Mark, but those who know him know what a big deal it is that he came to Acapulco. He is not one to travel often, or one to seek the spotlight. Mark has been doing very important work for many years, researching deep into the mystery of how our society functions and revealing things from behind the veil. It’s a heavy and complex subject, far more than I can explain in an overview of the whole conference. Even in a forty five minute talk Mark was barely able to scratch the surface of all the information he covers. His full lectures on these topics are hours long, in multiple installments. He is very well informed though, and his insights are highly valuable for anyone seeking the deeper truth.
That night, for the first time on this whole adventure, I went home and went to bed early. It felt great to sleep all night. The conference was officially over, but there was more going on for the next several days. I enjoyed getting to spend time with some people I’d met in previous years, and new folks like Paulo, who was kind enough to drive me all the way downtown on his motorcycle so I could buy a bus ticket up to Guadalajara. It is possible to buy bus tickets online in Mexico, but it can also end up in failure and wasted money, so I always prefer to go ahead and get the ticket at the station the day before, even though it involves two long trips across the city to the opposite end of the bay.
Paulo joined me on an urban walk through the city, which was fun. We drank coconuts and walked down to the beach, and we cruised all around the main area of downtown Acapulco. It’s an interesting city.
Tuesday was my last night in town, and it was well timed. Mackenzie Wolfe, who had been leading yoga at the Health and Wellness Retreat, hosted a party at a house she had rented for a month. I knew Mackenzie from previous conferences, but this year she brought two separate tables for the conference and came with a whole bunch of friends and business associates from Colorado, where their organization is based. Since I wasn't staying at the hotel and I was barely sleeping, I never made it to the morning yoga sessions they offered, but before the party got started Mackenzie offered to lead some yoga on the beach, so a small group of us went down and did a quick sunset routine. Mexico’s beaches are incredibly beautiful.
That party was a great way to spend my last night in town. I enjoyed getting to know the whole crew of folks who came down from Colorado, many of whom were involved in Warriors of the Rainbow Lodge, a community networking organization. I got a pretty good download of their vision over the course of the meeting the day before and the party that night. I also got to know some good folks. And, I got to see my friend Damian, finally! We had both been at the conference, but we never once ran into each other, even though we talked online and agreed to look for each other. That’s the downside of the event getting so big. But I was glad to have a little time with Damian, and to learn that his family was doing well. Last year our families hung out both in Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, and our youngest daughters loved each other. We had both left our families at home this year, and probably for the best. It was such a fast paced, high energy year. I couldn't have met so many people and gotten tuned in to so many projects if I hadn't been neglecting my own personal time and just grabbing food and sleep here and there. With a family, that kind of lifestyle doesn't work.
The highlight of the night was the jam. It was one of the most fun jams I’ve ever taken part in. It was so good it brought two separate parties together. At one point a few of us went over to Macey and Geliqua’s house, where there was another party going on. They were jamming too, and they were going hard. Anthony and this other guy named Marc were playing some sweet rock, covering everything from Rage Against the Machine and Marylin Manson to Stone Temple Pilots and Pete Seger.
We jammed there for a while, but eventually the decision was made to take the guitars back to the other house, where even more people had arrived, and now with another whole party showing up the numbers practically doubled. In the main living area, a large circle of people formed up with guitars and empty water jugs for drums. Over the next three hours, the jam flowed between covers with everyone singing along, to ballads sung by individuals, to open jams with freestyle verses and melodies taken in turn. Macey Tomlin broke out her violin and that really took it up a notch. She was good! Everybody there was, and it was amazing. Every so often it would get so full and powerful that I would be drawn in from outside to dance on the periphery or sing along. We had some beat boxing going for a while and several of us took a freestyle verse. So much fun. Especially when it flows so well.
It was another night with little sleep, but it was a good way to finish out my trip. At least that section of it. I had more adventures to come in Guadalajara, which will have to be another article. A couple days before I had the chance to sit down with Leandrew and Kelsie, friends from previous years at the conference. They have moved to Guadalajara, and they welcomed me to come visit. Since I was returning to Texas by bus, I figured breaking up the trip and having some more time to catch up with them would be nice.
I said goodbye to Alma and Brian the next morning, and had one last conversation with Mackenzie, who was able to give me a ride to the bus station for my afternoon departure. She assured me that I would be welcome in Boulder if I were to pass through later in the year, which was indeed my plan.
I made mo many valuable connections at Anarchapulco 2018. Not only did I meet some awesome new people, I strengthened some old relationships that have been building slowly over years from a distance. It is becoming clear to us that the time is now upon us to start acting on some of these awesome ideas and connections that we’ve been developing. I was already planning to head to the west coast for some work after the conference, so it worked out for me to turn that trip into another mini-tour and visit as many of the people I’d been connecting with as possible.
Anarchapulco 2018 was definitely a success. Not that there were no difficulties or problems, but overall, it went off very smoothly, and just about everybody I talked to had a great time. It’s hard to predict what all will change in the world because of these convergences of motivated thinkers and creators, but I am certain that changes are already underway, and so much more is sure to come. It’s exciting to be part of such a thing!