William Powell has an editorial in The Guardian this week denouncing his most well-known creation, The Anarchist Cookbook. The book is, as its name suggests, a countercultural primer that provides instructions on how to craft explosives, make illegal drugs such as LSD, and disrupt telecommunications, among other topics. Now, Powell writes, "I have come to understand that the basic premise behind the Cookbook is profoundly flawed."
Powell explains that his work with special needs students over the years has given him a greater understanding of the alienation that students interested in the Cookbook might feel.
The Cookbook has been found in the possession of alienated and disturbed young people who have launched attacks against classmates and teachers. I suspect that the perpetrators of these attacks did not feel much of a sense of belonging, and the Cookbook may have added to their sense of isolation.
I do not know the influence the book may have had on the thinking of the perpetrators of these attacks, but I cannot imagine that it was positive. The continued publication of the Cookbook serves no purpose other than a commercial one for the publisher. It should quickly and quietly go out of print.
The book, written in 1969, has been linked to everything from Timothy McVeigh, to Columbine, to last week's shooting at Arapahoe High School. NBC News reports that, "Just in the last two years, law enforcement has tied the volume to Arizona shooter Jared Loughner, the Boston Marathon bombers, and at least a half dozen alleged terrorists and school shooters."
Powell does not, however, own the copyright to the book. Those rights are currently owned by Billy Blann, who has no plans to take it out of print. According to NBC News, The Anarchist Cookbook amounts to most of his company's $3 million in annual revenue.