Rags Magazine: An Underground Style Mag from 1970

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A part of the underground press movement Rags was published for a year, 1970-71. It covered the worlds of counter-culture fashion with street fashion reports, groovy adverts and a very liberated sense of style. As far as I can tell its print run was all b/w on rag paper.

The December 1970 issue includes “Revolution” (with models acting out scenes from peoples history),”Life Amongst the Amazon Today” (on body modification in Amazonian tribes), “If God Hadn’t Wanted You To Wear a Bra He Wouldn’t Have Invented the Contour Council” (all about “the bra” with super hip writing!!) and “Raggedy Robin Raggedy Jane” (a profile of a Haight Ashbury clown couple).

The SF Diggers went to bat against the hip capitalists in SF but the innocence, creativity and DIY styles displayed in this publication, which seems to have been distributed primarily in underground boutiques, is charming nonetheless. A mystery in its masthead is the listing of “commidify your dissent” artist Barbara Kruger. That name appears as one of two art directors.

Cassandro Tondro has a blog uploading pdf’s of her collection of Rags. Check it out!

ARTHUR FOR EVERYBODY ELSE

If you are one of our 120,000+ readers who enjoys Arthur for free, please consider giving others the same privilege. Announcing our online drive to provide one-year subscriptions to Arthur for everybody else…

PRISONERS
In lieu of a proper education system America has instituted a special school for people of color called prison. Students learn a lot in prison, but are propagandized solely by corporate media, whose rotten message grows even more virulent in the nightmare that is life inside. As a consequence, Arthur regularly receives pleas from these captives to provide them with an untainted diversion at least.

Over two million people – one out of every 142 Americans – is now in prison. Almost 500,000 Americans are in jail for drugs-only offenses, and if they try to go to a record store or coffeehouse or nightclub to pick up a copy of Arthur, they will be shot and bit by dogs. These starving minds have got to get Arthur sent to them in a warden-approved manner, which costs thirty dollars a year. With your kind donation, Arthur will be able to give a lucky prisoner and their cellblock a free one-year subscription. Provide a beacon for a guy who got caught today.

PUBLIC LIBRARIES
America’s public libraries are criminally underfunded. You can probably guess why. When you buy a subscription to Arthur on behalf of a public library, you help to expand the public’s consciousness while also providing vital financial support to the magazine itself, enabling it to continue its mission. Not too shabby for 30 bones!

MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES
Because people waiting for their medicine need something to read.


ENTERTAINERS; we present the Armed Forces Offices of Public Outreach.

You know these guys… they’re the ones responsponsible for “Patriotism!” Anyone watch Transformers or play America’s Army or go to some military sponsored event? Well the flacks responsible for foisting this garbage on your imagination have offices too, and they’re willing to work with you if you have got the right stuff.

On the West Coast you can find all of the armed forces public affairs liasons and propagandists (including army outreach who proudly serves as a center of influence on the West coast with direct links to the motion picture entertainment industry ) convieniently located in one building in the heart of Westwood at 10880 Wilshire Boulevard Suite 1250 Los Angeles, California 90024-4101.

Stop by for a visit to see what kind of magic you can make.

ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY interviewed by Mark Pilkington

Alejandro Jodorowsky
A brief meeting with the magus of cinema
By Mark Pilkington for Fortean Times

A legless gunslinger crosses the desert atop an armless man’s shoulders; a thirsty hippo quenches itself at the fountain of youth; the invisible man wrestles an enormous anaconda in a mobile pharmacy: every great Jodorowsky film confronts the viewer with a riotous cavalcade of symbols drawn from the collective unconscious. Or at least the collective unconscious as imagined by Jodorowsky…

These days, aged 77, he’s busy writing and directing plays, writing comic books, performing his Psychomagikal healings, reading tarot cards in a Paris café and, when I caught up with him, promoting the new, extremely welcome, box set of his first three films: Fando y Lis (1967), El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973).

Given the brief window of time available, and the fact that there’s plenty of information about his career available elsewhere, I tried to steer conversation – as much as it is possible to steer a conversation with Jodorowsky – in other directions…

MP: You’ve described your films as ‘initiation cinema’ and ‘healing cinema’, can you talk about what this means.

AJ: In order to talk about initiation and healing cinema, we need to talk about the ‘industry’ of movies. The movie industry is a business for entertainment. And who controls this business?… The tastes and demands of normal people, no? But normal people represent mediocrity, not art; their entertainment is vulgar and gives you nothing with which to change your life. It’s like a cigarette; you smoke tobacco, and it gives you nothing, unlike marijuana, which always gives you something. That is the industrial picture.

In order to think about the ‘initiatic’ picture, we need to break with industry. The goal of industry is to make a lot of money – this is the measure of a film’s art. Three hundred million dollars – it’s a masterwork! If it doesn’t make money, it’s an awful picture, a failure. But the initiatic picture doesn’t work with money, it works with soul, with spirituality. A lot of spirituality is a good picture, lack of spirituality is a bad picture. It’s different.

And then, what is it to heal somebody? In reality, the biggest illness is not to be what you are but to be what the other wants you to be – the family, the society, the culture. They tell you “You need to be like this, with these morals, with these feelings, with this economy, with this political thing, with this religion”. And then, you go and sign a form that puts you into a spiritual jail for your entire life. The initiation, initiatic cinema, frees you from all these forms, from the artificial world where you started out in the belly of your mother.

Initiating – the art initiation – reveals to you the hell, this prison, and shows you how to escape from it. And to heal you is to give you the opportunity to be yourself and to have your own opinion. Hitchcock, in movies, is an ill person. Why? Because he has disguised himself as a genius of movies, but in reality, he’s making his movies in jail, because he’s saying, “That is a system that will make terror. This, the public will love. There, they will be anguished.” He’s directing your emotions; everything is done to hypnotize you in order to react in a certain way.

In a healing picture, they don’t say you need to react like that. You will react as you react!

MP: So, Hollywood film is mind control?

AJ: Yes, mind control. And all American pictures are US propaganda, it’s a form of imperial power.

Look at 300. First it is propaganda against Iran. Second, it deifies physical strength. It is preparing the young person to kill for his country in the anti-Islamic kamikaze! 300 is also racist towards black people – the bad people are monsters and black. And the emperor of the bad guys is also gay! Your initiation comes when you begin asking “Why? Why?! Why a gay? Why [is he] the biggest black person? The Persians are not like that! Why?!” It’s a critical initiation; that is when you start to know the limits of the jail we are born into.

But we need to go in another direction – we need to go see The Holy Mountain after that, The Holy Mountain criticizes, but then it proposes a possible path to liberation.

MP: Do you think ‘The Holy Mountain’, ‘El Topo’, ‘Fando y Lis’ – could have been made at all today? Is it even possible to make films like that anymore?

AJ: People say, ‘Ah, it was nice back in the day, because you could make films like this.’ But, actually, it was worse than today. Making Fando y Lis I almost got killed, really killed. The Mexican Minister of Defense called to threaten me, saying he wanted to kill me, I had to escape, they wanted to lynch me. It was not easy, but I did it. But if someone [like me] at 40 years old, 30 years old wants to do that, he will do something like that, but he needs to have enough courage and enough desire to make art as I have.

MP: And do you see anybody doing this today?

AJ: It’s difficult because my friends who are big talents get destroyed by Hollywood. Guillermo del Toro, I like him because he’s the next generation, but I knew him before his recent success – he’s full of talent, but now he’s obliged to do Hollywood style, mediocre films. Or Sam Raimi – now he’s making Spiderman, you know? It’s a shame! And all the big directors in the Asian movement, of Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, their talents are absorbed into Hollywood. And even the story, for example, for the original The Infernal Affairs is fantastic, but the Hollywood remake, The Departed, it’s awful, just a display of big egos, no?

MP: I completely agree. Did you see Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto?

AJ: No, I didn’t see that.

MP: It’s good – the central sequence of that, when they visit the Mayan city, is one of the wildest things I’ve seen since your own films. You should see it.

AJ: Sometimes, there are things that inspire me. For example, in the film The Prestige. I find something there that is metaphysical. Like Borges, no? The guy who was killing himself. That was something good. The mystery of prestidigitation was something that interested me there. Sometimes you don’t ask a picture to completely work. In an awful picture, you can find something fantastic. Takashi Miike, for me, is some kind of genius in some moments, and very terrible in other moments – it’s terrible! But in some moments he is incredible! I don’t admire Miike Takashi completely, but I admire a piece of Miike Takashi.

MP: Is the act of directing and producing a film closer to mediumship, priesthood, or neither?

AJ: Everything! When I made Santa Sangre, for example, I didn’t see a single person. Not one friend, no women, no nothing. I slept five or six hours a day because I worked until midnight and woke at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning. I ate very little. I didn’t speak with anyone from the outside world. I just made my film. For me to make a picture is a kind of vital thing – you do it or you die. You need to be there. And when I came in the morning, then I gave the shot of the day. And when we finished shooting, all the technical people said, ‘What is the first shot for tomorrow?’ Ah, that made me angry, but I would tell them, and then I changed it in the morning!

MP: And how did you choose your crews?

AJ: It’s always some kind of compromise, it’s a searching process. The most important choice for me is the cinematographer. And they will help me to shoot the person he needs. Etc. And the actor is an encounter. But the most passionate thing for me is [finding] the places where I shoot. I travel in a jeep always, traveling into the city…

Shooting Santa Sangre we found a site where they were demolishing a house and creating a huge dust cloud. It was terrible, dirty, dirty! But I thought, ‘Go inside the cloud.’ And we went inside the cloud, we crossed the cloud, and there was the church. It was exactly what I needed, it was a church built specially for prostitutes. They all sat nearby and charged three dollars for their services. One dollar for the woman, one dollar for the pimp, and one dollar for the priest! Incredible, no?!! One dollar for the priest for every fuck!

MP: In your life, you’ve done many things – mime, filmmaking, theatre, writing, music, mysticism, therapy – is there anything you can’t do?

AJ: In my life, what is the most important for me – I work a lot – is what is the least commercialism: to make poetry. That for me is important, no? Very few people can read that. Poetry? Nobody reads poetry now. And I am lucky, they publish me. And I like to write theatre, now I am writing theatre, and I am directing a play in Turin, Italy. Then later in Naples, then in Belgium.

MP: Do you consider yourself to be of a particular nationality?

AJ: Well, I like Chile, because I was born there, but I don’t feel myself to be any nationality at all. In reality, I don’t have any one definition, no name, no nationality. This is good because every country I go to I like the country, it’s very good.

MP: Were psychedelics ever part part of your work?

AJ: No, the audience who came to see El Topo was full of people smoking marijuana. When they came to see The Holy Mountain, it was LSD. Myself, no. Because I was making the picture – why would I need that myself? I had one experience on mushrooms, and one experience with LSD, in order to know what they were like. It was with my master, Oscar Ichazo, who ran the Arica school of analysis. He initiated me one night, for eight hours – only one time. I think every person, starting from Bush and Blair and all that, they [should] take mushrooms one time, in order to open the mind – just one time. Because these dirty politicians only speak about materiality, not one word about spirituality. They need to open their minds.

MP: Have you ever experienced things that you could not explain or things that seemed mystical or paranormal?

AJ: This is my assistant, a kind of bodyguard. Ask him because he’s the person who sees more of the magic my life.

Assistant: Yes, there are many unexplainable things. You know, Alejandro has been reading Tarot for like 40 years, and he’s healed many people who stutter. Like ten or eleven! It’s very strange. I’ve seen him doing psycho-shamanic operations; and then when you discuss with the people afterward, it’s like they’ve been healed of something! It’s not really visible, though if you have the eye, if you look really closely and concentrate on the thing…

AJ: Now it’s a form of art for me. I do it… I do what I need to do. Now when I start to read the Tarot for a person, the person says something, and then we go on. I say to the person, ‘There, you are economizing two years of psychoanalysis’, because psychoanalysis doesn’t heal you, but helps you to live. But in order to heal – we need to do something more. But for me, life is weird, it’s full of little miracles!

MP: Do you pray? And if so, to who or to what?

AJ: No, I don’t believe in praying to an external god, but I think in the interior of ourselves, we have what I call the interior world. A world which is a clear point of light, which is not you, but it is the fountain of life within yourself. When they discovered America, there was a fountain where you wash and get young – the fountain of youth. The fountain of health is inside you. And every night, I try to approach there. That for me is to pray, to make emptiness and to come to the centre of yourself, to try to go there.

MP: Do you think it’s possible for the mind to exist separately from the body?

AJ: Yes. In my youth, I was a body who had a soul. Now I am a soul who has a body. For example, now I am having a little problem with asthma because I have the flu – and in the moments when I feel bad, I say, Okay, I will go inside myself. In order to let the body live his life, I will live my life. But, anyway, we are very, very, very mixed in our bodies. But in another way, we think the body is our servant, but our master also.

MP: You’re 77 now. How are you coping with growing older?

AJ: It’s fantastic! I like it a lot. I don’t want to change myself. If you said, Do you want to be 40 years old [again] and I would say, maybe my body, but not my mind. It’s a nightmare, a social nightmare to get old – to get Parkinson’s, to become an idiot, but every day the brain is making new connections and is developing, like the universe. Your soul is getting better and better because you are losing what is not necessary. It’s fantastic to get old! It’s an incredible feeling of freedom, incredible!

Now, for example, to make love, sometimes I have erectile problems. Sometimes it’s not so easy. But it’s not [a problem] because I can use my hands, I can caress – you can satisfy a woman in an incredible way, as the lesbians do it! What is the problem? Even at 80 years old, you don’t have sexual problems! [Laughter]

MP: We’ll print that! Death is a recurring theme in your films…

AJ: Not anymore… because in the past, I knew what despair was. Every night, I despaired that my life as over. And suddenly I opened my eyes… I don’t know how many times I’ve slept since. Death is the same. You die and there’s nothing – so you don’t suffer. And if there is something, immediately you will know.

MP: You have no fear of death?

AJ: Not anymore. I am completely prepared to die – spiritually, not corporally. My body wants to live. The body always wants to be immortal, not to die. And the soul accepts death – that is good. But it’s not good if my body wants to die, because my life is shorter. You menace me with a knife, and I will defend myself, I will ask somebody to protect me, no? Even if I say [to myself], “I can die.” I understand that.

MP: Do have any beliefs about what happens afterwards?

AJ: Why? Why be curious about what will happen, it will happen anyway, it will happen! Either I’ll go there or there – everything will happen. It’s fantastic – the future is fantastic! Anything that will happen will happen!

MP: Are you optimistic about humankind’s future?

AJ: Civilization can come to an end. But I believe that if man was created, it’s not because man wanted to exist, it’s because the universe wants consciousness. And there are all these threads of the universe working for us in order to make a new mutation. We are creating a new brain. Because we have three brains, no? The Reptilian, the mammalian and the cerebral cortex. We will make a fourth brain.

We are monkeys now, but this will be rearranged. If we don’t do that, our children will do it. Without a revolution, without anything. The next generation will change everything…

The Jodorowsky Collection is available now from Tartan DVD. It contains beautifully remastered editions of Fando y Lis, El Topo and The Holy Mountain, the three films that cemented Jodorowsky’s reputation as one of cinema’s great iconoclasts. A wealth of extras includes short films, documentaries, symbolic commentaries and, the icing on the cake, complete soundtracks to both El Topo and The Holy Mountain – the latter a collaboration between Jodorowsky and jazz trumpeter Don Cherry. Bravo!

With thanks to Alyssa Joye.

"A British TV company invited a small tribe called the Kastam, from the tiny South Pacific island of Tanna, to send a delegation to England, a country none of its people had ever visited before. They spent a month living here, learning our customs, and making a film about the way the strange and alien inhabitants of a modern western democracy live."

Pacific tribesmen come to study Britain in Vanuatuan costume: l-r Posen, Joel, Albi, Yapa and JJ

Strange island: Pacific tribesmen come to study Britain

For centuries, anthropologists have travelled overseas to live among ‘strange’ tribes and observe their ‘colourful’ ways. But rarely has it been tried the other way round. So what happened when a group of South Pacific islanders spent a month in Britain to study our own odd little lives?

By Guy Adams
Published: 08 September 2007

One bright morning in St James’s Park and a stream of tourists approaches Buckingham Palace, where trumpets will shortly herald the Changing of the Guard. In the middle of the crowd walk five very short, very odd-looking men. They carry camcorders, gesticulate wildly, and talk in a language no one can understand. In the heart of picture-postcard London, this bizarre group stands out like a sore thumb.

Further investigation reveals that a film crew is tracking the party, at a discreet distance. Something is going on. In fact, the cameras are bearing witness to a historic event: the odd-looking group, whose skin is dark and whose smiles are wide, and who all measure around five feet tall, are on the verge of completing an extraordinary social experiment.

In March this year, a British TV company invited a small tribe called the Kastam, from the tiny South Pacific island of Tanna, to send a delegation to England, a country none of its people had ever visited before. They spent a month living here, learning our customs, and making a film about the way the strange and alien inhabitants of a modern western democracy live. The five men walking up the Mall are this delegation. We are witnessing the final chapter of their incredible journey.

The film, in the form of a three-part documentary called Meet the Natives, appears on Channel 4 later this month. It will mark a scientific first: for generations, western anthropologists have travelled to faraway lands to live among native tribes and document their way of life. But, until now, anthropology has always been a one-way street; alien cultures have never ” gone native” over here. The project was an experiment in what one might call reverse anthropology.

A very strange experiment it was too. The five men, whose names are Yapa, Joel, JJ, Posen and Albi, come from a small hillside village on Tanna, which is the southern tip of the archipelago that makes up the island nation of Vanuatu. At home, they live in mud huts, wear nothing but penis sheaths made from grass, and while away days conforming to a sort of tropical cliché: tending crops, looking after pigs and sitting contentedly in the shade of the banyan tree.

The hurly-burly of central London, where I was invited to follow the group for a day, couldn’t be more different. For men who had grown up in a place where the only form of currency is pigs, and innovations such as electricity, television and the internal combustion engine never caught on, the land of skyscrapers and unbridled capitalism isn’t just another country. It might as well be another planet.

In a strange way, however, Yapa, Joel, JJ, Posen and Albi were ideally equipped to study our frenetic society: as the ultimate outsiders, their take on everything from household

gadgets to domestic relations and workplace convention promised to be as quaintly amusing as it was unique. Only very few peoples on the face of our globalised planet could pull off an anthropological study of the UK, and the Kastam were one of them.

There was, however, to be a twist; a faintly extraordinary one, too. Kastam religion has it that England and Tanna were once the same nation. They believe that our islands emerged, like twins, from a volcano at the time of creation. Some time afterwards, England drifted away to the far side of the globe. But today, the tribe reckon, the Brits remain their lost brothers. When the delegation arrived in the UK, and met its people, they were treating them as long-lost brothers.

Stranger still, for viewers of the documentary, is the fact that (for reasons that will be fully explained later) the Kastam worship a very famous inhabitant of England, who once visited their island on board a very smart yacht. That man is Prince Philip. Incredibly, the Kastam believe that the husband of our Queen is the Son of God.

All of which explains why Yappa, Joel, JJ, Posen and Albi are jabbering so wildly, and walking so excitedly up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace on a sun-dappled morning. They are experiencing a moment of religious revelation. The building before them, which they call “the big house”, is home to a man who they have spent their entire lives worshipping. Prince Philip, they reckon, is God made flesh.

The five reverse anthropologists are engaged in nothing less splendid than fulfilling a religious prophecy: that the Son of God will one day meet with them and agree to return to live with his brothers in the South Pacific. The men believe, to adapt a song from the football terraces they have visited (to study sporting culture) only days earlier, that the Duke of Edinburgh is finally about to be coming home. Watching a group of Kastam come to terms with our customs is both instructive and very, very funny. Many of the things you’d expect to leave them flummoxed duly do: at meal-times, for example, the group struggle to cope with sitting at table, and using plates, knives and forks (they are used to dining with their hands, cross-leggeed on the floor). In one early scene, when they attend a dinner party, Yapa tucks into the contents of the butter dish, with some gusto. He is either too polite, or too confused, to stop until the entire slab is finished.

In another, the group attends a rural pub on a Friday evening, which they describe as the white man’s version of the “nakamal”, or village meeting place. They are perturbed by how noisy it is. JJ remarks that the white man’s fire-water (Adnams bitter) makes everyone behave in a strangely boisterous manner. Yet although the Kastam are uncomfortable with drunkenness, they turn out to be extremely handy at another English pub tradition: darts.

Over its three episodes, Meet the Natives billets the group with the three great English tribes: the middle-class, upper-class and working-class. They spend a week on a Norfolk pig farm, a week on a Manchester housing estate (where they sample the twin delights of bingo and KFC), and a week at Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, seat of Sir Humphry Wakefield, Bt.

“I didn’t want to stereotype the UK,” says Will Anderson, the series producer, “but at the same time we had four weeks to give them a sense of the enormous diversity of England, and decided this was the best way to show them a snapshot of what was here.

“Before the group visited, we spent a lot of time talking to them. They had a lot of questions about food and farming and pigs, so we obviously wanted to show that. They also wanted to see a city, which was something they’d never experienced before, so we went for Manchester. Obviously, trying to meet Prince Philip was another priority, so we decided to give them experience of people who lived in some way like him.”

Most surprising is what Yapa, Joel, JJ, Posen and Albi find either enjoyable, or shocking. In the Norfolk countryside, they were deeply upset by the practice of artificially inseminating pigs (“a crazy thing … undignified … goes against nature”), but delighted by ferreting for rabbits, which they considered a sort of land-based fishing.

In Manchester they were staggered by the phenomenon of homelessness (in Tanna, your family provides a home, come what may), but felt relatively at home in a nightclub, since ritual dancing is an important part of their culture. In London, where they spent a week in a penthouse flat in Docklands, they learnt to love Marlboro Lights and fish and chips, but were left cold by the hustle and bustle of city living.

The Kastam are also strangers to the sexual revolution, finding it hard to comprehend how a man and a woman can be equal partners in a f marriage. They are staggered at the amount of time Britons spend cleaning and washing up, which is regarded as a waste of time and effort.

The most extraordinary aspect of their visit, though, revolved around Prince Philip. On the day I met the group outside Buckingham Palace, we set off on a whistle-stop tour of London’s tourist attractions, including Madame Tussauds. Here, statues of Tom Cruise and other Hollywood stars provoked not a flicker of recognition. Graham Norton’s waxwork left them cold. The world of modern celebrity was clearly alien.

Until, that is, we entered a room housing life-size replicas of our current Royal Family. Yapa, Joel, JJ, Posen and Albi became animated to the point of frenzy. They rushed up to the waxwork Prince Philip, and hugged it. They held his hand, and looked deep into his marble eyes. It was an extraordinary moment. During the hour that the group spent admiring this one model, I learnt a little about the events that led to our Duke of Edinburgh becoming a God in the South Pacific.

The story runs something like this: at the start of the last century, English missionaries visited Tanna in an effort to convert them to Christianity. This angered the Kastam God, who sent his eldest son over to the UK to try to stop them. On Tanna, this son was a spirit, but in England they believe that this spirit has taken on the form of a man. When the Royal yacht Britannia visited their island in the 1970s, they decided that this man was Prince Philip. Shortly afterwards, the tribe sent the Duke of Edinburgh a club, by way of a gift. Several months later, Buckingham Palace returned the favour, posting them a framed picture of a smiling Prince Philip holding the club. In such gestures are legends born. Today, that photograph is a religious icon, their equivalent of an altar at a church.

As a result, Meet the Natives boasts an intriguing sub-plot: the group is anxious to meet with the man they believe to be the Son of God, and ask him to return home. Much of the series revolves around the question of whether they will be granted an audience with Prince Philip. Without revealing what does happen, it all reaches a show-stopping denouement at Windsor Castle. Fascinating and hilarious as this exercise turned out to be, it will not be without its detractors. Within the anthropological community, there are many who now believe that the exercise threatened to corrupt a unique tribal culture. Still more believed that attempting to introduce the visitors to Prince Philip was fraught with danger: in one slip of his tongue, he would after all be capable of shaking their entire religion to its foundations – and the Duke is not, let’s face it, a man renowned for tact.

The creators of Meet the Natives are evangelical about the project, though. ” There is indeed a view that they are human beings who shouldn’t be corrupted by outside influences,” says Anderson. “That was one of the things I was most worried about when we started making the programme. But having watched them settle back into their community, I would say that it’s definitely not altered anything. They were delighted to have visited England, and said that it was a fascinating place, but it wasn’t somewhere for them. They prefer life under the banyan tree. So if anything, Kastam culture is stronger than ever.”

British culture, meanwhile, can also learn a thing or two from watching Meet the Natives. The visitors from a village in the hills of Tanna are also able to educate us in some of the things we may have got wrong. They are, for example, amazed at the fact we spend most of our lives working; they are also staggered by a current political hot potato – the apparent breakdown of family life in sections of our society.

In one of the most instructive episodes of the show, they spent half an hour on London Bridge during rush hour, attempting to film pedestrians and engage commuters in a conversation, with predictably unsuccessful results. This they thought was “crazy”. A rejection of the most important things in life, which they believe to be: “love, happiness, peace and respect” .

“One of the problems of our modern world is that for too long we’ve regarded these cultures as a sort of exotic creature, thinking how primitive they are,” says the Sydney-based anthropologist Kirk Huffman, who acted as a consultant to the project. “But I’ve spent 18 years living with them, and there’s a lot we can learn. They are much more open-minded, and interested in the big questions. In the West, we are obsessed by little things. Our culture is all about how: to travel faster, to live longer, and make more money. Smart cultures are more about why. They are more reflective. That’s what they can teach us.”

And that, really, is what science should be all about. It should inform us about ourselves, for we have much to learn from so-called primitive societies. In their strange journey towards Buckingham Palace, and the adulation with which they revere Prince Philip in all his forms, Yapa, Joel, JJ, Posen and Albi have actually given us a glimpse of what we lost.

Everything you want to know about Vanuatu (but were too afraid to ask)

Population: 209,000
Capital: Port Vila
GDP per capita: $3,346
Timezone: GMT +11
Motto: “Long God yumi stanap” (In God We Stand)

*The first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Europeans was Espiritu Santo in 1606 by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandez De Quiros

*Vanuatu means “land eternal”. It became independent from France and the UK on 30 July 1980

*It is an archipelago of more than 80 islands, 65 of which are populated. Most are mountainous, of volcanic origin and have a tropical or sub-tropical climate. The economy is based on subsistence agriculture, which provides a living for two-thirds of the population

*There is no income tax, no capital-gains tax and no inheritance tax

*In 2006, the New Economics Foundation and Friends of the Earth rated Vanuatu as the happiest place to live of all the world’s 178 nations using the Happy Planet Index, which reflects the average years of happy life produced by a given society, nation or group of nations, per unit of planetary resources consumed

*Last week, Vanuatu cruised to a 15-0 victory over American Samoa at the 13th South Pacific Football games

*The arrival of US forces during the Second World War saw the emergence of a belief in a mythical messianic figure named John Frum. It was the basis for another indigenous cult to rival the one surrounding Prince Philip. Today, John Frum is both a religion and a political party with a member in Parliament

‘Meet the Natives’ begins on Channel 4, at 9pm on 27 September

A Coup Has Occurred

‘A Coup Has Occurred’

By Daniel Ellsberg
September 26, 2007 (Text of a speech delivered September 20, 2007)

Editor’s Note: Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept. 20.

Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg’s remarkable speech:

I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.

If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.

Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? … They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not. But if they’re not now they will be after another 9/11.

And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran, you will then see an increased attack on Iran – an escalation – which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country, including detention camps.

It’s a little hard for me to distinguish the two contingencies; they could come together. Another 9/11 or an Iranian attack in which Iran’s reaction against Israel, against our shipping, against our troops in Iraq above all, possibly in this country, will justify the full panoply of measures that have been prepared now, legitimized, and to some extent written into law. …

This is an unusual gang, even for Republicans. [But] I think that the successors to this regime are not likely to roll back the assault on the Constitution. They will take advantage of it, they will exploit it.

Will Hillary Clinton as president decide to turn off NSA after the last five years of illegal surveillance? Will she deprive her administration her ability to protect United States citizens from possible terrorism by blinding herself and deafening herself to all that NSA can provide? I don’t think so.

Unless this somehow, by a change in our political climate, of a radical change, unless this gets rolled back in the next year or two before a new administration comes in – and there’s no move to do this at this point – unless that happens I don’t see it happening under the next administration, whether Republican or Democratic.

The Next Coup

Let me simplify this and not just to be rhetorical: A coup has occurred. I woke up the other day realizing, coming out of sleep, that a coup has occurred. It’s not just a question that a coup lies ahead with the next 9/11. That’s the next coup, that completes the first.

The last five years have seen a steady assault on every fundamental of our Constitution, … what the rest of the world looked at for the last 200 years as a model and experiment to the rest of the world – in checks and balances, limited government, Bill of Rights, individual rights protected from majority infringement by the Congress, an independent judiciary, the possibility of impeachment.

There have been violations of these principles by many presidents before. Most of the specific things that Bush has done in the way of illegal surveillance and other matters were done under my boss Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War: the use of CIA, FBI, NSA against Americans.

I could go through a list going back before this century to Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus in the Civil War, and before that the Alien and Sedition Acts in the 18th century. I think that none of those presidents were in fact what I would call quite precisely the current administration: domestic enemies of the Constitution.

I think that none of these presidents with all their violations, which were impeachable had they been found out at the time and in nearly every case their violations were not found out until they were out of office so we didn’t have the exact challenge that we have today.

That was true with the first term of Nixon and certainly of Johnson, Kennedy and others. They were impeachable, they weren’t found out in time, but I think it was not their intention to in the crisis situations that they felt justified their actions, to change our form of government.

It is increasingly clear with each new book and each new leak that comes out, that Richard Cheney and his now chief of staff David Addington have had precisely that in mind since at least the early 70s. Not just since 1992, not since 2001, but have believed in Executive government, single-branch government under an Executive president – elected or not – with unrestrained powers. They did not believe in restraint.

When I say this I’m not saying they are traitors. I don’t think they have in mind allegiance to some foreign power or have a desire to help a foreign power. I believe they have in their own minds a love of this country and what they think is best for this country – but what they think is best is directly and consciously at odds with what the Founders of this country and Constitution thought.

They believe we need a different kind of government now, an Executive government essentially, rule by decree, which is what we’re getting with signing statements. Signing statements are talked about as line-item vetoes which is one [way] of describing them which are unconstitutional in themselves, but in other ways are just saying the president says “I decide what I enforce. I decide what the law is. I legislate.”

It’s [the same] with the military commissions, courts that are under the entire control of the Executive Branch, essentially of the president. A concentration of legislative, judicial, and executive powers in one branch, which is precisely what the Founders meant to avert, and tried to avert and did avert to the best of their ability in the Constitution.

Founders Had It Right

Now I’m appealing to that as a crisis right now not just because it is a break in tradition but because I believe in my heart and from my experience that on this point the Founders had it right.

It’s not just “our way of doing things” – it was a crucial perception on the corruption of power to anybody including Americans. On procedures and institutions that might possibly keep that power under control because the alternative was what we have just seen, wars like Vietnam, wars like Iraq, wars like the one coming.

That brings me to the second point. This Executive Branch, under specifically Bush and Cheney, despite opposition from most of the rest of the branch, even of the cabinet, clearly intends a war against Iran which even by imperialist standards, standards in other words which were accepted not only by nearly everyone in the Executive Branch but most of the leaders in Congress. The interests of the empire, the need for hegemony, our right to control and our need to control the oil of the Middle East and many other places. That is consensual in our establishment. …

But even by those standards, an attack on Iran is insane. And I say that quietly, I don’t mean it to be heard as rhetoric. Of course it’s not only aggression and a violation of international law, a supreme international crime, but it is by imperial standards, insane in terms of the consequences.

Does that make it impossible? No, it obviously doesn’t, it doesn’t even make it unlikely.

That is because two things come together that with the acceptance for various reasons of the Congress – Democrats and Republicans – and the public and the media, we have freed the White House – the president and the vice president – from virtually any restraint by Congress, courts, media, public, whatever.

And on the other hand, the people who have this unrestrained power are crazy. Not entirely, but they have crazy beliefs.

And the question is what then, what can we do about this? We are heading towards an insane operation. It is not certain. It is likely. … I want to try to be realistic myself here, to encourage us to do what we must do, what is needed to be done with the full recognition of the reality. Nothing is impossible.

What I’m talking about in the way of a police state, in the way of an attack on Iran is not certain. Nothing is certain, actually. However, I think it is probable, more likely than not, that in the next 15, 16 months of this administration we will see an attack on Iran. Probably. Whatever we do.

And … we will not succeed in moving Congress probably, and Congress probably will not stop the president from doing this. And that’s where we’re heading. That’s a very ugly, ugly prospect.

However, I think it’s up to us to work to increase that small perhaps – anyway not large – possibility and probability to avert this within the next 15 months, aside from the effort that we have to make for the rest of our lives.

Restoring the Republic

Getting back the constitutional government and improving it will take a long time. And I think if we don’t get started now, it won’t be started under the next administration.

Getting out of Iraq will take a long time. Averting Iran and averting a further coup in the face of a 9/11, another attack, is for right now, it can’t be put off. It will take a kind of political and moral courage of which we have seen very little…

We have a really unusual concentration here and in this audience, of people who have in fact changed their lives, changed their position, lost their friends to a large extent, risked and experienced being called terrible names, “traitor,” “weak on terrorism” – names that politicians will do anything to avoid being called.

How do we get more people in the government and in the public at large to change their lives now in a crisis in a critical way? How do we get Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for example? What kinds of pressures, what kinds of influences can be brought to bear to get Congress to do their jobs? It isn’t just doing their jobs. Getting them to obey their oaths of office.

I took an oath many times, an oath of office as a Marine lieutenant, as an official in the Defense Department, as an official in the State Department as a Foreign Service officer. A number of times I took an oath of office which is the same oath office taken by every member of Congress and every official in the United States and every officer in the United States armed services.

And that oath is not to a Commander in Chief, which is not mentioned. It is not to a fuehrer. It is not even to superior officers. The oath is precisely to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Now that is an oath I violated every day for years in the Defense Department without realizing it when I kept my mouth shut when I knew the public was being lied into a war as they were lied into Iraq, as they are being lied into war in Iran.

I knew that I had the documents that proved it, and I did not put it out then. I was not obeying my oath which I eventually came to do.

I’ve often said that Lt. Ehren Watada – who still faces trial for refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional and aggressive war – is the single officer in the United States armed services who is taking seriously in upholding his oath.

The president is clearly violating that oath, of course. Everybody under him who understands what is going on and there are myriad, are violating their oaths. And that’s the standard that I think we should be asking of people.

Congressional Courage

On the Democratic side, on the political side, I think we should be demanding of our Democratic leaders in the House and Senate – and frankly of the Republicans – that it is not their highest single absolute priority to be reelected or to maintain a Democratic majority so that Pelosi can still be Speaker of the House and Reid can be in the Senate, or to increase that majority.

I’m not going to say that for politicians they should ignore that, or that they should do something else entirely, or that they should not worry about that.

Of course that will be and should be a major concern of theirs, but they’re acting like it’s their sole concern. Which is business as usual. “We have a majority, let’s not lose it, let’s keep it. Let’s keep those chairmanships.” Exactly what have those chairmanships done for us to save the Constitution in the last couple of years?

I am shocked by the Republicans today that I read in the Washington Post who yesterday threatened a filibuster if we … get back habeas corpus. The ruling out of habeas corpus with the help of the Democrats did not get us back to George the First it got us back to before King John 700 years ago in terms of counter-revolution.

We need some way, and Ann Wright has one way, of sitting in, in Conyers office and getting arrested. Ray McGovern has been getting arrested, pushed out the other day for saying the simple words “swear him in” when it came to testimony.

I think we’ve got to somehow get home to them [in Congress] that this is the time for them to uphold the oath, to preserve the Constitution, which is worth struggling for in part because it’s only with the power that the Constitution gives Congress responding to the public, only with that can we protect the world from mad men in power in the White House who intend an attack on Iran.

And the current generation of American generals and others who realize that this will be a catastrophe have not shown themselves – they might be people who in their past lives risked their bodies and their lives in Vietnam or elsewhere, like [Colin] Powell, and would not risk their career or their relation with the president to the slightest degree.

That has to change. And it’s the example of people like those up here who somehow brought home to our representatives that they as humans and as citizens have the power to do likewise and find in themselves the courage to protect this country and protect the world. Thank you.

Daniel Ellsberg is author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.