The Wrong Hands: Popular Weapons Manuals and Their Historic Challenges to a Democratic Society

By Ann Larabee | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Since the late nineteenth century’s Second Industrial Revolution, a stream of court cases and congressional hearings have featured popular weapons manuals as a threat to the US government’s idealized monopoly on violence, concretely realized in its control over a complex array of military technologies. The production of these manuals is a form of dissent that defies that control and upholds the sovereignty of the individual in the elevation of illicit military crafts made by ordinary hands. The compilers of popular weapons manuals determinedly provoke a powerful government—with vast technological resources for pulverizing enemies—to examine its leakages of information, its questionable covert wars, and its failures at perfect containment and public security. Despite their rare application, limited efficacy, and dated information, popular weapons manuals challenge the government’s protective role and therefore its legitimacy. The discourse alone is enough to spur crackdowns and media panics over the latest public enemies with subversive knowledge and seemingly unprecedented access to dangerous information. In a nation where the right to own high-powered assault rifles is ardently defended, a mass shooter’s ownership of The Anarchist Cookbook is treated as the most suspicious feature: the influence that leads to eruptions of murder and mayhem.

Those who produce popular weapons manuals are well aware of their unsettling effect. They know that even without a stated political intention, the circulation of dangerous information is, in itself, the provocation. They are usually not inventors or even users, but rather compilers and adapters who frame their literary work as unveiling esoteric information and delivering its power to the people. Technical information, they attempt to show, can’t be effectively centralized, authorized, and contained, especially in the long run. On one hand, these texts are directed at readers who will revel in the fantasy of defying massive governmental power by learning its secrets, seeing through its elaborate shams, and demonstrating that handicrafts and popular mechanics can stand against it—fantasy because these works overstate their ability to deliver, and their directions are rough, amateurish, inexact, and extremely

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The Wrong Hands: Popular Weapons Manuals and Their Historic Challenges to a Democratic Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Science of Revolutionary Warfare 15
  • 2 - Sabotage 36
  • 3 - The Anarchist Cookbook 64
  • 4 - Hitmen 90
  • 5 - Monkeywrenching 108
  • 6 - Ka Fucking Boom 131
  • 7 - Vast Libraries of Jihad and Revolution 152
  • 8 - Weapons of Mass Destruction 171
  • Conclusion 185
  • Notes 191
  • Selected Bibliography 221
  • Index 239
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