In COINTELPRO, FBI used anarchism to ‘disrupt left’, attack Vietnam & USSR

Benjamin Norton
3 min readOct 15, 2021

In COINTELPRO, the FBI created an anarchist underground zine, boasting “the anarchist point of view is the most disruptive element in the New Left” and could be used to attack Vietnam and the USSR.

A cartoon in the FBI’s anarchist zine

US police used anarchist talking points and ideology to “disrupt” the left and demonize Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and other targets of imperialism, according to internal FBI documents released through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

“The anarchists point of view is the most disruptive element in the New Left and should be capitalized on in the most confusing ways,” the FBI wrote.

In its Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), which aimed to destabilize and destroy the socialist, anti-imperialist left in the United States, the FBI realized that anarchism and other ultra-left movements could be an effective weapon.

The FBI impersonated anarchists and even created its own underground newspaper or zine.

The FBI’s anarchist publication was titled The Workshop. It proposed to base the newspaper in Washington, DC, with correspondents across the United States.

The FBI’s anarchist zine

In internal documents, the FBI stressed that “the publisher and the writers should be strictly anarchist.” Why? Because the cops recognized that “the anarchist position could take any direction, such as an attack on Vietnam policies as well as an attack on the Soviets in Czechoslovakia.”

“The anarchists point of view is the most disruptive element in the New Left and should be capitalized on in the most confusing ways,” the feds added.

The FBI recognized that anarchist ideology could be used to de-politicize the leftist struggle, writing that the publication would “reach wider circulation if it were not so political as to be tied to dogma such as the line of MAO or CHE GUEVARA.”

In the same vein of de-politicizing the struggle, the FBI also recognized it could weaponize culture against the left. It insisted that the anarchist paper should cover lurid topics, just as VICE magazine made its name.

The cops wrote that “the newsletter should also cover vigorously such aspects of the New Left as underground cinema, music, sex, dope, humor and so on,” in order to “increase reader interest.”

The FBI also planned to use the anarchist newspaper to attack leftist Black nationalist and pan-Africanist leaders, singling out Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture).

These internal FBI documents were disclosed by Robert Skvarla. He also credited researcher Dale M. Brumfield.

Skvarla showed that the FBI created another underground newspaper in 1968, titled Armageddon News. This was used to attack and destabilize the movement against the US war on Vietnam.

“We students are concerned for the need for truth within our antiwar movement,” the feds wrote, before going on to demonize communists.

The FBI office in San Antonio wrote in a memo to the bureau’s director that “steps can be taken to cause disruption within the ranks of the New Left.”

The feds also created a Maoist, staunchly anti-Soviet newspaper called Chevara News. This later turned into a right-wing, Ayn Rand-adoring objectivist publication under the name The Rational Observer.

This is just one piece of evidence showing how US cops and feds use anarchism and ultra-left ideology to disrupt the socialist movement and disguise imperialist talking points as “left-wing.”



Benjamin Norton

Benjamin Norton is an independent journalist reporting on geopolitics. // Benjamín Norton es un periodista independiente informando sobre la geopolítica.