Since 2015, I've made an annual trip down to Mexico for the Anarchapulco conference, sometimes staying in the area for many months. I've met some of my best friends at/around the conference, had great opportunities to grow as a speaker, and generally had a good time. I've brought many friends down for the event, sometimes paying for their plane tickets and other times getting friends set up as the musical acts (Alais Clay & Truniversal). Needless to say, this event has been a huge part of my life since for the last 5 years.
Last year, things were very different, for a number of reasons, and I don't think I can justify being part of the event anymore. I already had a handful of reservations about the conference, and managed to rationalize my way out of them because of the things I just mentioned. Things went from being a little screwy here and there, with concerns of my own and second-hand stories into full-blown, completely obvious violations of morality, sovereignty, and the manifesto of the event itself.
I made a video at the end of my time in Acapulco last year, called Anarchapulco: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. In that video, I really just talked about experiences from 2019 that I had and that I witnessed, and mentioned that I likely wasn't going back. Since then, even more has crept up, and since more people have recently been asking me if I'll be going to Anarchapulco 2020, it seems like the right time to explain why I won't be.
This is going to be a somewhat long one, broken into a few sections, so that you can really get a sense of where I'm coming from.
The last 5 years
2015 - The first year of the conference was very much a case study in spontaneous order. Jeff Berwick basically decided he wanted to have a freedom conference in Acapulco, my friend Bruce B named it, jeff booked a conference room at the Copacabana, and asked a bunch of folks to come speak. At the beginning of the event, there was no MC, someone stepped in, and a little after that Ernest Hancock took over. Video was done by someone who just jumped in, some merch got created, and the event was a good time. All of it just sort of unfolded on its own, with people stepping up where needed. After meeting so many amazing humans and realizing that gatherings like this were happening all around the planet all the time, I quit my job and began living on the road just a couple months after the conference.
2016 - The second year of the conference had much more organization, being mostly put together by Nathan Freeman (who also organized 2017 & 2018). I reached out to Nathan & Jeff in the months prior and got Alais on as the musical headliner, connected with some locals, and spent a lot of time that year cooking food for myself and many others at the conference. This was the first year I rented a place (unfortunately a small apartment at that point), and had about 8 of us staying there. The event went off quite well, I connected with lots of great people, and the only thing that seemed screwy (to me) was this guy named Ken Cousins, who was clearly a scam artist trying to convince people to pay his organization thousands of dollars to break away from their strawman. Ryan (one of the long-time volunteers for Anarchapulco) did tons of research on the guy, and it was quite obvious he had super shady ties, and realistically shouldn't have been on stage.
2017 - The third year of the conference things got really big, both for the event, and for me personally. In '17 there were two stages, we moved to a HUGE resort hotel (called the "imperial world", which was a bit sketchy), a massive stage was built, and things were just so much more than they had been. I rented a house (la casa creativa), and we had about two dozen people stay there over the month, I got to give a speech, and was part of the veganism panel. You can see my whole breakdown here. Between having an epic house full of my friends, getting to be on stage, and cooking for the Freemans for many weeks, it was a grand time. I think all together I was in Acapulco for about 3 months.
2018 - The fourth year of Anarchapulco things got even better & bigger! We moved to La Princesa (definitely the most beautiful hotel in Aca), Nathan brought a bunch of friends and I to L.A. to record a commercial for the event, we had the first Anarchaforko, I got to give the very first presentation of the event, we rented the Casa Creativa again, I recorded a 40-part interview series, and certainly had an amazing time. This year, the big thing that many of us found quite sketchy was the fact that BitClub was one of the big sponsors, and probably took attendees for a LOT of money.
2019 - My personal issues were mostly just a bit frustrating, largely having to due with terrible communication from Jessica, but I still gave 5 talks and did a workshop, gave away 1000 booklets of my writing, and enjoyed visiting with my friends from around the globe. Unfortunately, the fifth year of Anarchapulco is where things really went sideways. Nathan stepped out for personal reasons, and Jeff brought in someone named Jessica Kill, whose history in Hollywood & D.C. "Public Relations" and event planning to run things. For the very first time, people were required to have their event badges at all times (every previous year, if you showed up you were allowed to come in), and more than once I saw speakers stuck outside the venue because it was actually impossible to get those badges except during certain times. Vendors and speakers were told that they couldn't sell their products, and many other things gave the appearance that this event had finally gone fully corporate, using anarchy only as the marketing pitch. I'll go into further details down below, because there are a LOT.
2019, what went wrong?
There were SO many things that went wrong with 2019, it's really hard to break it all down. Let's just look at it piece by piece.
- Multiple speakers and vendors who had been part of the event for years were told that they couldn't vend this year (most at the last minute), with the excuse being that the "venue wouldn't allow it". We know for a fact that this isn't true, as the event bought out the whole venue, and at the end of 2018 Nathan made it clear that the event was allowed to do literally whatever we wanted. The guys from State of Anarchy ended up finding a table, setting it up with @dbroze & @elamental, and just vending anyway. Hotel security was called on them multiple times, sent by Jessica, and the only thing that kept them from being kicked out was an email from Jeff Berwick saying they could basically do what they wanted (because they talked Mark Passio into coming). @Elamental did a whole video about this experience.
- At the event, Jeff of the LivingOutsideTheBox YouTube channel was recording many of the great talks, to put online. This is something that has been done every year, by dozens of people, and no official policy change was made by the event. Shortly after the event, every one of his videos was pulled by YouTube due to copyright claims from email@example.com. @dbroze put together a video breaking down this whole ordeal. Even if there had been an announcement that they didn't want people filming (there wasn't), and/or they had asked him to stop (they didn't, and he wasn't hiding it), using the violence of the state is literally the exact opposite of what this event is supposed to be about.
- Macey Tomlin was running an event called AnarchAwakening just before Anarchapulco, and after that event was announced with tons of healers, shamans, etc. from around the world, Anarchapulco decided to call their health & wellness stage "Anarchawaken", in a clear attempt to confuse potential attendees of both events.
- Derrick Broze had a HUGE amount of difficulty with the event, being uninvited and told to "go f&$k himself" at one point. He broke down everything in this video.
These are just some of the highlights of how this event was so very different from previous years; the ones for which I have personal experience and/or evidence.
Who is Jeff Berwick?
The main reason that I was always a little skeptical of the event, despite my amazingly positive experiences there, was the fact that it is run by Jeff Berwick. I've had very few personal experiences with Jeff, but there are a LOT of people who have shared their extremely negative experiences, and even more who haven't gone public. I am all about forgiveness, and giving people second chances, but fifth, sixth, and seventh chances? At what point is the anarchist "community" actually giving our permission and consent to this kind of behavior?
- I know multiple women who have been sexually harassed by Jeff, and the community often just treats it as "he's just drunk" or "that's just how he is." The hard part for me about this is that none of the women I know have gone public with their experiences.
- Jeff was the main promoter of a project called "Galt's Gulch Chile," a project which ultimately led to people losing MILLIONS of dollars. I have no personal experience with this project, but it is well researched by many folks, including STEEM's own @georgedonnelly:
- Hold Jeff Berwick Accountable to his Promise of Transparency in the $10M Galt's Gulch Chile Scam
- Jeff Berwick Breaks Deal for Galt's Gulch Chile Transparency, Calls me "Little Maggot"
- Jeff Berwick and Galt's Gulch Chile: A Regrettable Summary
- Atlas Mugged: How a Libertarian Paradise in Chile Fell Apart
- So the Dollar Vigilante scam ring is going to jail.
- Fraud accusations by his former partner.
- Galt's Gulch Recovery Team Website
- Galt's Gulch Chile: Libertarian Paradise Turned Nightmare
- The Fate of Galt's Gulch Chile
- Jeff has promoted multiple ponzi schemes, including BitClub, which has again been researched by many people over the years, and has been long identified as a scam. Just last month the US Government arrested the folks running it. Here are a couple of Jeff's videos promoting the scam: [1 & 2]
- Investment Warning - BitClub Network Review & Analysis
- The Crypto Show with a closer look at BitClub Network
- BitClub Network Review: Zeek Ponzi veterans at it again…
- [SCAM ALERT] The BitClub Network
- BitClub Network: MLM promises, false testimonials and PoS coin - AVOID
- Scam Alert: BitClub
- Criminals behind Bitclub-Network Investment Scam by @steeme
- Jeff's also ran a fake passport business for many years, which lost people tens of thousands of dollars (each), and has once again been well documented. No apologies, no paying people back, just ignoring and defaming those who spoke out against him.
- Who Is Jeff Berwick? Scam Artist or Businessman? by @Stellabelle
- Jeff Berwick and TDV Passports scam: My story
- Another Passport Scam Bites the Dust
- Second Passport in Paraguay; Too Good to be True?
- Video Alleges Passport Fraud by Jeff Berwick
- Passport Scammer Exposed in Secret Video
- More TDV Passports Complaints & Reviews
- Ripoff Report 1
- Ripoff Report 2
- Ripoff Report 3
- Ripoff Report 4
- Ripoff Report 5
- 2 stars on Trust Pilot
- Jeff Berwick / Dollar Vigilante Passport Scammer?
- You may remember hearing about something called the "Super Shemitah" a few years back? This was supposedly going to be the most epic financial collapse we've ever seen, and was promoted almost solely by Jeff. Don't worry though, the answers to survive the Super Shemitah were yours, as long as you're a paid TDV subscriber... Here's the "Shemitah Whitepaper" and Jeff's video The Super Shemitah, Jubilee and How to Prepare For the Coming Collapse. Of course, the Shemitah never happened, and was thoroughly debunked at the time.
Does Jeff call out the state, the banks, and (some) corporations? Sure. Does he promote alternative currencies like metals & crypto? Yeah, totally. But is he actually living by the principles of anarchism? Is he practicing honesty, transparency, or taking responsibility for his actions? No, definitely not.
Like I said earlier, I don't really know the guy all that well. I've met him a handful of times for events, done 2 interviews (1 for Anarchast and one for my series), and taught his personal chef some vegan recipes a couple years back, during which time we had a couple of conversations. I'm grateful for the good things that have come from his channel and his event, but that doesn't justify turning a blind eye to the way he violates & takes advantage of others.
The Wrap Up, The Important Lesson
I started going to Anarchapulco because it was the only anarchist event I had ever heard of. I've had so many life-changing experiences at the event over the years, but there was always this nagging issue of supporting someone who seems to be a con man without respect for individual sovereignty. Sure, I only paid for the first year (being a speaker, volunteer, chef for the following years), but I did promote the heck out of the event, and I actively brought people down to it. I just kept justifying it because so many great people were there, it was such a great opportunity for me, maybe Jeff had changed, etc etc.
Last year, with Nathan no longer at the helm, it became quite clear that this event is just a business venture, a way to make money off well-to-do anarchists (and people who are only interested in crypto). Remember, "Anarchapulco" is a corporation, registered with the US government, owned by Jeff Berwick.
The response to my and many other peoples' issues were threats (as in Derrick's case), completely discounting the concerns (saying things like "It's like some egotistical bitches got butthurt"), and total ignorance. The beautiful thing about screwing up is the opportunity to own it and move forward. Attacking those who bring those screw ups to light is not a mature way to handle them.
I can totally understand why some people are continuing to be part of the event, either as a platform, to get paid, or simply because they like getting to the sunny beaches in the winter and being around other anarchists. I'm not going to give anyone a hard time for going, and just like I haven't mentioned the event since last year when I made my recap video, you won't be hearing about it from me again. That said, I couldn't just hold my tongue completely, because most folks don't know about any of these issues. I want it to be clear that I'm not making this decision lightly, and that my own difficulties last year are not why I'm avoiding this event, and anything else Jeff is involved in, moving forward.
There are literally hundreds of anarchist/libertarian/freedom-loving/self improvement events every year, all around the world. Anarchapulco isn't the biggest, wasn't the first, and while I will miss many of you, I won't miss the event itself. If you really want to experience the ultimate anarchist event, come to the Rainbow Gathering. Running for almost 50 years, with over 100 separate events each year, no centralization of any kind, no money exchanging hands, and no speaker/attendee divide, there is literally no event that better aligns with these principles.