Hakim Bey's BLACK FEZ MANIFESTO, &c., reviewed by Louise Landes Levi

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BLACK FEZ MANIFESTO, &c.
by Hakim Bey
(Autonomedia & Garden of Delight, Brooklyn & Dublin, 2008)
Reviewed by Louise Landes Levi

“Come to Prayer – prayers are better than sleep” Dawn Azzah
“But the sleep of the Knowers is worth more than the prayers of the merely pious” Hadith

Most poets have secret arts and even ‘professions’ that are not part of the official biography. The author of the book I’m about to ‘review,’ to take an example, is (I have heard from a reliable source) an excellent billiards player. One wouldn’t want to encounter him casually at a pool table, no. For my part, those who know me well will, on occasion, show me their palm and ask for a reading. Apparently a line beneath my right index finger indicates a propensity of this sort, or so I was told in Bombay. And why not, a line is a line, a line of verse or a line stretched across the mortal palm.

Earth needs more parking lots
the way you need more patches of asphalt
grafted to your face & genitalia

(fr. SHOE DREAM)

Esoterically, the chakras open, it is said, intuition reads through the labyrinth (of lines). Is this so different than reading a text? And the billiard player—is his first thought best thought to be doubted? The archer and his arrow, the pool player and his cue. We take the cue from Hakim Bey, aka Peter Lamborn Wilson, a national treasure, hidden, of course, but thankfully through publications of this sort and the dedication of publishers Autonomedia and Garden of Delights, in view.

In the back room of an
occult bookstore
near the Pantheon a groupuscule called
ZARATHUSTRAS REVENGE concocted the
bomb plot but
the infernal device turned out to b
a dud but regret
is at least an emotion. I was there
& I am still there
a ghost to myself.

Personally I never go anywhere without a book by Hakim Bey, in tow. How many blessed moments reading through T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Pirate Utopias (then and now, on Isla Margarita not far from Santa Anna, a small village settled by Spanish version of same, holy drop outs, some hundreds of years ago), Avant Gardening, Millennium, Shower of Stars: The Initiatic Dream in Sufism and Taoism, such an esoteric and beautifully written book; and the poems, recent chapbooks, rain queer and The Atlantis Manifesto and those found, almost by chance in an anthology, to name one among many, Wildflowers No. 7 (Shivastan, 2007) or the recently published translation from the Persian Il divan-al-Ghalib (Longhouse, 2009).

Civilization in ruin is always a good idea.
Industrial decay has the same
beauty as Persepolis – the melancholy
of vast suffering ended & barely
remembered, like dental pain.

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TONIGHT (Tues): PETER LAMBORN WILSON in NYC

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We heard about this:

The Libertarian Book Club/Anarchist Forum presents…

Tuesday, December 16, at 7:00pm

PETER LAMBORN WILSON’s CHAOS DAY of 2008
THE MAGIC OF MONEY AND THE FUTURE OF CAPITALISM

“The History of Money since Sumeria to its Apotheosis as Pure Imagination in the 21st Century”

Peter Lamborn Wilson on finance as a form of gnosticism, a long historical view of the current crisis, and the prospects for resistance and revolution in the 21st century.
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BRAND SPANKING NEW HAKIM BEY (aka PETER LAMBORN WILSON)…

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HYPE: New poetic rants and prose poems from the author of TAZ and Millennium, among many other influential incendiary texts. This volume includes selected Communiques of the Cro-Magnon Liberation Front.

BACK COVER TEXT: “Black Fez is the emblem of our intransigent disgust with the lukewarm necromantic vacuum of dephlogisticated corpse breath that passes nowadays for Empire and organic death.”

Peter Lamborn Wilson’s essays have appeared in Arthur No. 16 (‘Secessionism’) and Arthur No. 29 (‘Endarkenment’).


ENDARKENMENT MANIFESTO by Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey

From ARTHUR MAGAZINE No. 29 (May 2008): Peter Lamborn Wilson’s half-serious proposal for a political movement to uphold and propagate the ideals of Green Hermeticism. Wilson sometimes uses the pen name ‘Hakim Bey.’ He is the author of the Temporary Autonomous Zone concept and manifesto, which, for better or worse, was the original inspiration for the Burning Man festival..

THE ENDARKENMENT MANIFESTO

At least half the year belongs to Endarkenment. Enlightenment is only a special case of Endarkenment—and it has nights of its own.

**

During the day democracy waxes, indiscriminately illuminating all and sundry. But shadowless noon belongs to Pan. And night imposes a “radical aristocracy” in which things shine solely by their own luminescence, or not at all.

**

Obfuscatory, reactionary and superstitious, Endarkenment offers jobs for trolls and sylphs, witches and warlocks. Perhaps only superstition can re-enchant Nature. People who fear and desire nymphs and fauns will think twice before polluting streams or clear-cutting forests.

**

Electricity banished shadows—but shadows are “shades,” souls, the souls of light itself. Even divine light, when it loses its organic and secret darkness, becomes a form of pollution. In prison cells electric lights are never doused; light becomes oppression and source of disease.

**

Superstitions may be untrue but based on deeper truth—that earth is a living being. Science may be true, i.e. effective, while based on a deeper untruth—that matter is dead.

**

The peasants attacking Dr. Frankenstein’s tower with their torches and scythes were the shock troops of Endarkenment, our luddite militia. The original historical Luddites smashed mechanical looms, ancestors of the computer.

**

“Neolithic conservatism” (Paul Goodman’s definition of anarchism) positions itself outside the ponderous inevitability of separation and sameness. Every caveman a Prince Kropotkin, every cavewoman Mrs. Nietzsche. Our Phalanstery would be lit by candles and our Passions avowed via messenger pigeons and hot-air balloons.

**

Imagine what science might be like to day if the State and Kapital had never emerged. Romantic Science proposes an empiricism devoid of disastrous splits between consciousness and Nature; thus it prolongates Neolithic alchemy as if separation and alienation had never occurred: science for life not money, health not war, pleasure not efficiency; Novalis’s “poeticization of science.”

**

Of course technology itself is haunted—a ghost for every machine. The myth of Progress stars its own cast of ghouls and efreets. Consciously or unconsciously (what difference would it make?) we all know we live in techno-dystopia, but we accept it with the deterministic fatalism of beaten serfs, as if it were virtual Natural Law.

**

Technology mimics and thus belittles the miracles of magic. Rationalism has its own Popes and droning litanies, but the spell they cast is one of disenchantment. Or rather: all magic has migrated into money, all power into a technology of titanic totality, a violence against life that stuns and disheartens.

**

Hence the universal fear/desire for the End of the World (or for some world anyway). For the poor Christian Moslem Jewish saps duped by fundamentalist nihilism the Last Day is both horrorshow and Rapture, just as for secular Yuppies global warming is a symbol of terror and meaninglessness and simultaneously a rapturous vision of post-Catastrophe Hobbit-like local-sustainable solar-powered gemutlichkeit. Thus the technopathocracy comes equipped with its own built-in escape-valve fantasy: the Ragnarok of technology itself and the sudden catastrophic restoration of meaning. In fact Capital can capitalize on its own huge unpopularity by commoditizing hope for its End. That’s what the smug shits call a win/win situation.

**

Winter Solstice (Chaos Day in Chinese folklore) is one of Endarkenment’s official holidays, along with Samhain or Halloween, Winter’s first day.

**

Endarkenment stands socially for the Cro-Magnon or “Atlantaean” complex—anarchist because prior to the State—for horticulture and gathering against agriculture and industry—for the right to hunt as against the usurpation of commons by lord or State. Electricity and internal combustion should be turned off along with all States and corporations and their cult of Mammon and Moloch.

**

Despite our ultimate aim we’re willing to step back bit by bit. We might be willing to accept steam power or hydraulics. The last agreeable year for us was 1941, the ideal is about 10,000 BC, but we’re not purists. Endarkenment is a form of impurism, of mixture and shadow.

**

Endarkenment envisages a medicine advanced as it might have been if money and the State had never appeared, medicine for earth, animals and humans, based on Nature, not on promethean technology. Endarkenment is not impressed by medicine that prolongs “life span” by adding several years in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and glued to daytime TV, all at the expense of every penny ever saved by the patient (lit. “sufferer”) plus huge debts for children and heirs. We’re not impressed by gene therapy and plastic surgery for obscene superrich post humans. We prefer an empirical extension of “medieval superstitions” of Old Wives and herbalists, a rectified Paracelsan peoples’ medicine as proposed by Ivan Illich in his book on demedicalization of society. (Illich as Catholic anarchist we consider an Endarkenment saint of some sort.) (Endarkenment is somewhat like “Tory anarchism,” a phrase I’ve seen used earliest in Max Beehbohm and most lately by John Mitchell.) (Other saints: William Blake, William Morris, A.K. Coomaraswamy, John Cowper Powys, Marie Laveau, King Farouk…)

**

Politically Endarkenment proposes anarcho-monarchism, in effect somewhat like Scandinavian monarcho-socialism but more radical, with highly symbolic but powerless monarchs and lots of good ritual, combined with Proudhonian anarcho-federalism and Mutualism. Georges Sorel (author of Reflections on Violence) had some anarcho-monarchist disciples in the Cercle Proudhon (1910-1914) with whom we feel a certain affinity. Endarkenment favors most separatisms and secessions; many small states are better than a few big ones. We’re especially interested in the break-up of the American Empire.

**

Endarkenment also feels some critical admiration for Col. Qadhaffi’s Green Book, and for the Bonnot Gang (Stirnerite Nietzschean bank robbers). In Islamdom it favors “medieval accretions” like sufism and Ismailism against all crypto-modernist hyperorthodoxy and politics of resentment. We also admire the martyred Iranian Shiite/Sufi socialist Ali Shariati, who was praised by Massignon and Foucault.

**

Culturally Endarkenment aims at extreme neo-Romanticism and will therefore be accused of fascism by its enemies on the Left. The answer to this is that (1) we’re anarchists and federalists adamantly opposed to all authoritarian centralisms whether Left or Right. (2) We favor all races, we love both difference and solidarity, not sameness and separation. (3) We reject the myth of Progress and technology—all cultural Futurism—all plans no matter their ideological origin—all uniformity—all conformity whether to organized religion or secular rationalism with its market democracy and endless war.

**

Endarkenists “believe in magic” and so must wage their guerrilla through magic rather than compete with the State’s monopoly of techno-violence. Giordano Bruno’s Image Magic is our secret weapon. Projective hieroglyphic hermeneutics. Action at a distance through manipulation of symbols carried out dramaturgically via acts of Poetic Terrorism, surrealist sabotage, Bakunin’s “creative destruction”—but also destructive creativity, invention of hermetico-critical objects, heiroglyphic projections of word/image “spells”—by which more is meant (always) than mere “political art”—rather a magical art with actual dire or beneficial results. Our enemies on the Right might call this political pornography and they’d be (as usual) right. Porn has a measurable physiopsychological effect. We’re looking for something like it, definitely, only bigger, and more like Artaud than Brecht—but not to be mistaken for “Absolute Art” or any other platonic purism—rather an empirical strategic “situationist” art, outside all mass media, truly underground, as befits Endarkenment, like a loosely structured “rhizomatic” Tong or freemasonic conspiracy.

**

The Dark has its own lights or “photisms” as Henry Corbin called them, literally as entoptic/hypnagogic phosphene-like phenomena, and figuratively (or imaginally) as Paracelsan Nature spirits, or in Blakean terms, inner lights. Enlightenment has its shadows, Endarkenment has its Illuminati; and there are no ideas but in persons (in theologic terms, angels). According to legend the Byzantines were busy discussing “the sex of angels” while the Ottomans were besieging the walls of Constantinople. Was this the height of Endarkenment? We share that obsession.

Jan. 1, 2008


Peter Lamborn Wilson on secessionism (Arthur No. 16/May 2005)

first published in Arthur No. 16 (May 2005) – available at the Arthur Store

Freedom Now Maybe: The New Secessionism
By Peter Lamborn Wilson

Last November, right after the Election, I attended an odd event in Middlebury, Vermont—a two-day conference devoted to the question of whether Vermont should consider seceding from the USA and declaring itself the “Second Vermont Republic.”

The first Vermont Republic lasted from 1777 to 1791, during which time it recognized neither Britain nor the USA as sovereign. Thanks to Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Rangers the state has an old and still-lively sense of itself as unique and independent-minded, if not downright cranky.

The keynote speeches delivered at Middlebury by SVR founder Prof. Thomas Naylor and activist/historian Kirkpatrick Sale made it clear that any Vermont independence movement would be radical, Green, Populist non-violent and typically “Vermont-socialist.” (The Bread & Puppet Theater is already interested.) SVR’s underlying philosophy is derived from the “Small Is Beautiful” school of Leopold Kohr (his The Breakdown of Nations is the bible), “Buddhist economist” E.F. Schumacher, the UK-based Fourth World Movement, and ultimately from the minarchism of Thoreau and the American tradition of “unterrified Jeffersonians,” extreme democrats and even anarchists.

All this may be considered odd enough. But what really struck me as strange was the mood of the conference. Everyone there was cheerful, optimistic and pugnacious. Everywhere else in America that weekend leftists, liberals and libertarians were plunged in gloom. But in Middlebury the triumph of Bushite Pre-Millenialist idiocy was taken as a sign that the US Empire is about to disintegrate.

The conference voted unanimously to support the aims of the Second Vermont Republic. Delegates stomped and cheered. One woman, whose son was in Iraq with the National Guard, proclaimed herself ready to die for this new cause if necessary. Suddenly it felt kind of like 1968 again. Were all these people crazy?

Four More Years.

You know what I’m talking about already but let me spell it out. Imagine: Four more years of Neo-Con Jihadist slope-browed pseudo-Zionist McImperialism; four more years of stomping on Iraq and Afghanistan and possibly Iran, Syria and North Korea; of deficit spending and debt both national and individual; of ludicrous Red/Blue culture war; of inflation and unemployment; erosion of civil liberties; no tree left behind; more tax breaks for the rich and the corporations; blah blah blah; and to top it off, “JEB IN ’08!”—and another Four More Years.

Some of my friends are moving to Canada where they can join grayhaired draft-dodgers of the Vietnam era and suffer the bitterness of exile along with the compensations of socialized health care and quasi-legal pot. No one dares to dream of staying on and overthrowing the Empire. Not even us grayhaired really believe in The Revolution anymore. But the piffle of tepid reformism (the “left wing” of Skull’n’Bones, so to speak) makes many of us reel with nausea and depression, or anyway terminal boredom. What’s to be done?

Barely anything remains of the alternative economy and society of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Most of the food co-ops are gone, as well as most of the back-to-the-land communes, and the free schools. Low-rent bohemian enclaves have been yupped up, college campuses have grown quiet and dull (except for binge drinking), labor unions have been smashed or corrupted. The “peace movement” can mobilize millions in minutes but mysteriously nothing happens—war goes right ahead on schedule. The only force holding back environmental armageddon sometimes appears to consist of a handful of brave doomed eco-saboteurs. Leftist organization in the US takes place mostly in cyberspace, where nothing happens except more blahblahblah.

Third parties always end up as mere exercises in futilitarianism, hobby groups for the disgruntled, paper tigers sucking up all dissident energy and turning it into a politics of failure. As far as the Democrats—oh please, I can’t.

If not Canada or Holland or something, then what? Do we have to accept some sacred organic link between the landmass called Turtle Island and the regime called the “USA”? Let’s say we happen to love our land and our language, that we want to stay here. Yet somehow we also want to escape from the sleazy guilt feelings involved with citizenship in the Empire of Stupid Greed. Does this make us schizophrenic?

If a single person is possessed by two antagonistic personalities (call them Red and Blue), the usual solution would be a term in the bughouse. But if a whole state has a split personality, it can actually split. Part of it can secede.

Naturally the government is going to tell you this is a crazy notion, and treasonous as well. The Constitution is our holy founding document and can never be revoked. Too bad you were born too late to sign the Social Contract, but that’s how it is. The Civil War decided it once and for all. Thou shalt not secede.

This argument, delivered with a gun to the head, is persuasive and even conclusive. The US government is not going to allow itself to devolve. Only Indians are permitted to have “independent” reservations and only certain genes carry the right to tribal recognition (in other words race still defines political status in US law). If you don’t like it here go back to Russia…uh… or Sweden, or maybe some rogue nation in the Axis of Evil. What are you, a terrorist?

But wait.

Who would have dared to predict in (let’s say) 1984 that the Soviet Empire was about to break up into dozens of independent little countries?

Or—to take an even more astonishing example—who could’ve foreseen that Scotland (a part of Great Britain since 1707) would succeed in achieving independence again after 300 years? (It’s hard to get information on this, but I gather that the miracle was achieved by a strange coalition of Labour and Scots Nationalists.)

In any case devolution of the USSR and UK would not have occurred without prior economic collapse. A rich empire will tend to cohere, a bankrupt one to Decline and even Fall. With hindsight we can see this clearly. But foresight is always skewed by appearances. The US is believed to be the super-wealthy hegemon of the Global Market and land of total affluence, and so we see it that way.

But is it?

What about the deficit spending, that insane waste of war, that deep debt? America actually produces very little except weapons, data and entertainment—no shoes, no umbrellas, no pencils. Globalism demands that whole countries be proletarianized for the benefit of other countries that can then be called bourgeois or ruling-class. But what if Globalism itself has been derailed by US greed and revanchism? What if Europe gets so fed up with the US that it begins to elect leftoid governments that refuse to serve our interests? What if China went “off the dollar” and on to the Euro? What about a major depression in America? Would that make secession look more “realistic” and less crazy?

Under these conditions (…four more years…) the question of legality might become relevant. Is it in fact legal to secede? The SVR says yes, at least in theory. The Civil War did not decide the issue. In 1789 the Constitution looked like a very bad deal to the true revolutionaries and Jeffersonians, then called “Anti-Federalists.” These radicals liked the Articles of Confederation (based on the Iroquois Confederation, according to many historians) which recognized the thirteen states as independent entities. They made many of the same arguments as the Small-Is-Beautiful school—for instance, that only in small autonomous regions can practical direct democracy work fairly and efficiently.

But the Anti-Federalists were out-maneuvered by Alexander Hamilton and the big bankers. Eventually all the states acceded and ratified. However in three states the protocols of ratification included a guarantee of the right to secede—Virginia, Rhode Island and New York. These protocols have never been rescinded or even challenged in law. By the logic of the Constitution itself, a right that belongs to one state must belong to all. Ergo: secession is legal, q.e.d.

Tell it to the judge, you might say. Or quoting the German fascist legal philosopher Karl Schmidt: law is made by power, not reason or precedent. But if the US Empire loses its power to define law, then secession may become “legal” de facto in the act of secession. Civil war may not be necessary—again, see the case of Scotland, or Estonia. “Devolution” happens.

Although the result of secession would be a new state, many anarchists and anti-authoritarians have supported it as a tactic, a good first step toward small-region autonomy. During the Civil War the American anarchist Lysander Spooner shocked people by supporting both abolition of slavery and the right of secession. Proudhon believed in secession and anarcho-federation. Emma Goldman supported the secession of Catalonia from fascist Spain. Nestor Makno fought for a free Ukraine; and so on. In fact secession has a potential appeal across a wide spectrum of political creeds, since anyone can hope to gain power (or at least a voice) in a new small state.

If you don’t care for Vermont-style secession there are plenty of other movements afoot. Capital-L Libertarians (“Republicans who smoke dope,” as Robert Anton Wilson calls them) have organized the New Hampshire Project, hoping to live free or die. Texas has an old and rather wacky independence movement (I once met their “Ambassador to the Court of St. James” in Dublin after he’d been evicted from his London “embassy” for unpaid rent).

Hawaii has a sovereignty movement based on the old native monarchy, overthrown by US forces in 1893; and there are many other tribal separatist causes. Black nationalists and separatists have their visions of utopia. Alaska has a group, and in Maine a “militia” with secessionist ideals has been founded by novelist Caroline Chute (The Beans of Egypt). In New York City, the secessionists want to secede from New York State as well as the USA. And in the process they plan to have some fun.

Being urban cynics unlike the sincere Vermonters, the NYC secessionists don’t necessarily expect to succeed. But the City has always dreamed of independence—a tradition no doubt dating back at least to Dutch resentment of the Brits, and farmers’ hatred of feudal landlords. We New Yorkers (I speak here for at least a dozen people) simply feel that folks with no power have nothing to fear from the “politics of the very worst.” If the Empire’s going to implode, let it. At least we’ll be ready with some sort of Plan B.

In the meantime we expect a bit of political adventure, and some good parties. Maybe eventually the other kind of party, too. A good motto for us would be Fats Waller’s famous saying: “One never knows—do one?”

"We had a war in 1968 and we lost but apparently we haven’t realized it, so instead of retreating we do this ritual of repeating the prayers of the 1960s."

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This is a Spring 2005 conversation between Hakim Bey (pseudonym for scholar/poet Peter Lamborn Wilson) and Sasha Miltsov posted online

======

Hakim Bey:…automobiles used to look quite beautiful, some of them. Now, even the cars of the very rich – you can hardly tell them from the cars of the bourgeoisie. They’re all the same boring, puffy-looking cars: No flare, no aerodynamics, no daring art deco. What is a modern “Bugatti”? It’s nothing. Even the Arab sheiks don’t dare to have beautiful cars like before. Why? Nobody knows how to make them? What’s the big deal?

Of course, it’s all just cars. It’s all just disgusting shit, but within that bad technology, which started so nice…

Alexandre Miltsov:It’s just getting worse and worse.

HB:Yeah.

AM:Nowadays, they do “retromobiles”. They take a “Chrysler” like it used to be 50-60 years ago and rebuild it with all the modern gadgets. It looks even more repulsive.

HB:It’s just post-modernism. It’s not good or new design.

AM:What still amazes me in America, even though I’ve lived in Canada for five years, is this tremendous amount of cars everywhere. Public transportation is basically dead. And, as we know, it has been maliciously removed.

HB: It is true. It’sabsolutely true. I don’t own a car – it’s not because I am so virtuous but rather because of circumstances. But I’m glad I don’t own a car – many times when I think about that – it’s horrible. At least I’m not adding to that particular misery. But if I didn’t go into other people’s cars – I would never get anywhere, except on a few rare bus stops.

AM:Since we’re talking about cars, what do you think about the projected “World Oil Peak”? It’s not a big secret that there is no real substitute for oil to run the existing gigantic world-industry. There’s a countless list of things running on and demanding oil; cars, of course, are on the top. So what do you think about oil depletion and all that?

HB:What a lot of people would say, primarily the “techno-optimists”, is that when the oil runs out – the other technologies will become economically feasible. So, they will have to run all the cars on hydrogen, or salad oil, or sunshine. But we will still have cars. It’s a horrible thought but they may be right. They may solve the problem. 

AM: But most probably it’s not going to happen that way. There are no real alternatives. There’s not enough sunshine to power all these cars,there’s not enough salad oil – I mean you need to grow crops to get it – a lot of it! And almost all the good land is already in use. It has been paved over by these gigantic roads – you have Eisenhower Interstate Highway system here. And  the so-called “hydrogen economy” is a myth, of course.

HB: That’s right. I’m just saying that we ought to think about all this from the “techno-fix” point of view. So far, they’ve always come up with something. History leads us to believe that they’ll figure something out. At least, we have to take it into consideration. After all, they have all the money in the world to spend on the most brilliant scientists and technologists.

But it seems that they’re not preparing. And that’s the interesting part. They’re acting as if there’s no tomorrow: they don’t think like American Indians or the Chinese for seven generations – they think for seven minutes. If you’re lucky – 15 minutes! That makes you think that there won’t be any smooth transition, brokered by the usual technological and capitalistic bla-bla. And maybe some crisis will occur, some fracture in this happy story. Should we hope for that or should we be incredibly afraid because of that? It’s hard to say. Anything short of the complete breakdown of civilization – nothing is working anymore – it’s going to be war, plague, horrible. Or can you still believe in a situation where the proponents of “the alternatives” have seized power in time to prevent it from happening? Can we really talk about “seizing power” in a context like that?

AM: Well, yes and no. “Power” is so obscure these days. I mean, “seizing” what? A TV or a radio-station?

HB: Yes, and you can have 2 billion dollars and think that you can change the world, and there’s nothing, no effect at all. Nothing seems to work.

AM: There is a popular and rather naïve belief that when the whole system, the Spectacle, will start to run out of energy – oil, gas and other resources – it will gradually loosen its grip on people’s minds and throats. The Media may still be there, the Capital will be there but they will be weak and disintegrated, and so society will inevitably break down into small autonomous collectives, not controlledby the outside world.

HB: Well, the attitudes are changing but the problem is – and now I can speak about the situation here locally – since I have been living here for 6-7 years, I have some insights – and that is that these attitudes are informed by reformism. They are not informed by a critique of capitalism or even of technology. The Green Party is a good example; basically, it’s a hobby group for losers. Here, by strange circumstances, we have a Green Party village government. I am still glad for that, I guess, but so far they haven’t accomplished anything here, except for some symbolic stuff. And the reason for this, I think, is that people of this reformist tendency are not really interested in building real alternative institutions.

For example, this movement is not taking place through labor unions, or food-cooperatives, or producers-cooperatives; it’s not taking place through free schools or alternative schools. It’s not taking place through autonomous action!

Look at the organic food situation: the big companies have already discovered that the organic food is a market and they’re in it, they’re marketing it. And for most of the consumers of organic food this is not a political issue. It’s a health issue. So they don’t care; if Monsanto is going to sell them health food – they’ll buy it from Monsanto. In other words, these nice impulses, these changing attitudes – some of which are forced on people by economic difficulties, as you pointed out, and some of which are voluntary, assumed out of a lifestyle or even out of consumerist attitude towards the “authentic” and the “organic” and the “alternative”, which after all is a market – it all runs into the sand, all the energy runs into the sand.

People with wonderful attitudes and desires that are good desires; but since there is no comprehensive movement, there’s nothing other than these “positive attitudes” and there’s no way to focus them.

I went to a Peace March yesterday – it was the anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. I swear it was like being back in the 60s again: same clothes, same slogans:

“- What do we want?
– Peace!
– When do we want it?
– Now!”

We’ve been saying this for 40 years and we still haven’t realized that symbolic action and symbolic discourse is NOT Action!

And this is even better: there was a counter-demonstration, and the anti-demonstrators were yelling at us that we were communists! This is like a civil war reenactment; it’s like people in medieval costumes pretending to be knights and ladies. Totally bizarre. I haven’t been going to demonstrations lately, so I thought maybe a few things have changed. But no! It’s just “a blast from the past” – for everybody, including the fascists who thought that they were still living in 1979. Very strange.

And this is it! You go, you have a march, you say: “Not in my name!” And then you go home and watch TV. You don’t then go out and start an alternative institution: a church, a farm, a commune…

AM: A pleasure club.

HB: Or even a pleasure club! Instead, they just go home and watch TV.

AM: And then they go to work and get their salaries from the same people who are waging the war. And the taxes go to war, of course.

HB: Exactly! And of course, you NEED your SUV; you NEED your cellular phone. These are real needs. So all these so-called “green people” around here are sucking up gasoline and cement… Just “not in my backyard” – that’s what they say. They are not going to swear off using cement. They will say: “Move the cement plant to Mexico”. I can’t participate in this pseudo-politics; there is no entry-point for me here.

AM: Back to the “Peace March”: the Iraq war looks like it is going to last long. We don’t really know what’s happening there; there are all sorts of media, mainstream and alternative, producing all sorts of  “news” and speculations. But who in his or her sane mind will trust them? They are the media after all. The notion I have is that it’s going to be a big, long and ugly war for the last remnants of oil and for the control of the Gulf region. What do you think?

HB: I think you’re right or you might as well be right. We might as well plan on what you’ve just said; because it would be foolish to think that they’re going to stop just because we don’t like it. They’ve already proved that it’s not going to happen.

Let me try to be an “anti-pessimist” here and point out that if you are right, and I think you are, this will also involve a continuation of this unbelievable deficit spending and going into debt that we are practicing here in the US, both on the personal and the national level. And it must eventually lead to an economic collapse, as far as I can see. For one thing, Europe is going to be driven a little bit further to the left by anti-Americanism, so you will get more things like the mayor of Paris or the Spanish government happening -kind of nostalgic social-democratic, but still no longer interested in playing the global game with America as the sole superpower.

In fact, the whole ten years of globalism and neo-liberalism are already over. We are at a new stage now. That is why the anti-globalist movement suddenly seems so dead and irrelevant.

Going further with the scenario: A couple of other major things can happen, like China shifting its economic activities from the dollar to the euro and OPEC is, of course, practically out, and so forth.

So America is isolated economically: we don’t produce anything here anymore – we can’t be self-sufficient in terms of industry. We don’t make shoes here; we don’t make umbrellas, pencils. We make entertainment and information. We don’t even make the fucking computers! We produce the ideas that occupy the computers. That’s why artists are so important right now – it’s one of the few things that we actually produce. So the arts are hot, some artists are successful – this whole area around here is full of artists, and they drove the real estate prices up. So, now you can’t move into this county for less then 250,000 dollars. Thanks to the artists! You wonder why people get angry at artists – it’s not our fault – we’re just looking for low rent but the real-estate developers are following us, sniffing our butts wherever we go to find out where the next beautiful cheap real-estate is going to be…

So on with the scenario: in 1984 if somebody had asked “would the Soviet Union break up”, everybody would go “ha-ha-ha” – nonsense; it will never happen! In 1984, if people asked whether the United Kingdom would break up, if Scotland would be independent again – “Oho-ho-ho! – This would be a joke!” Just 20 years ago, it would be a total joke. Well, it happened  – and to Yugoslavia too. So, it could happen here. Things move so quickly. It’s possible that with the neo-liberal period already over, we’re now into something new –
the American Empire, and maybe that will only last for 8 years -10 years.

That’s why recently I have taken an interest in the idea of separatism and secession. Because, I think that the only optimistic or anti-pessimistic way of reading the American future is to see the breakup of the American Empire, meaning a political breakup, just like in the USSR. And, as you know very well, this is a mixed blessing – to put it mildly. But there is one advantage to it, and that is that you get a small social unit that you can deal with – maybe, if you’re lucky.

It can very well happen in America, and people have already started to talk about it. I’m writing articles trying to push that idea. If I’m wrong – I’ll be wrong. To me it’s just a tactic, because from an anarchist point of view, secession is good because you get a smaller unit to deal with and eventually – this is straight Proudhon – you will break it down into autonomous regions, and then you confederate them in an anarcho-federalist union, completely voluntarily and based on popular democracy with revocable delegates. And as he put, it is necessary to organize for production and if necessary defense. This is an anarchist ideal, and secession could be a step towards it. As we know, it can also end up in a fascist nightmare. This is a dangerous idea, I admit, but I don’t see any other interesting political possibility for America.

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