(Note: I saw a version of this that wasn’t the actual Adbusters cover which I wrote about this afternoon. My comments below are revised to reflect the actual cover of the UK edition.)
Adbusters covers are known for complete provocation, perverting the status quo with a dada-ist twist, and this — giving the cover over to a meditated portrait of the violent anarchist — seems no different. When you onsider Adbusters’ role as the catalyst behind the non-violent Occupy movement, however, it suddenly puts the representation of a a “black bloc,” or violent anarchist in a whole different light.
On any other day, this would demonstrate how enamored Adbusters is with disequilibrium by way of the violent fringe. In this case, though, I think the cover — in a 180º reversal — is not about provocation at all. Instead, I think they actually are holding up this element of society for inspection and examination, asking us to think about a range of issues, including: the media dynamics of “when it bleeds, it leads”; what do you do when violent revolutionaries interject themselves in a more utopian-minded revolution?; and … did these guys do us in?