Hakim Bey has been a big influence in my philosophy over the last decade. Between Temporary Autonomous Zone, Immediatism and Pirate Utopias (written as Peter Lamborn Wilson) he outlines a humanistic way of living – seeking personal sovereignty through poetic acts. He was the first person to vocalize a system of thought that emphasized the art of living as a pure form, and of primary importance in defining our outward social actions. Bey’s philosophies of ‘ontological anarchy’ and ‘poetic terrorism’ define ways of calling for social justice, and embodying the joy of living, through artistic intervention and unexpected beauty. All philosophies have their weaknesses – but his unserious approach to the serious business of living and social revolution is still resonant.
Above is the cover of probably my 5th copy of T.A.Z. (it’s a book meant to be given away), which Harpo and I tore into sections and read on the AT. When we were done reading, we would leave the sections in shelters for others… another act of literary intervention, though not quite as badass as Guy Debord’s sandpaper bookcover.
Modern industrial civilisation has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilisation has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation.
Now, it’s long been understood very well that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist with whatever suffering and injustice it entails as long as it’s possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited: that the World is an infinite resource, and that the World is an infinite garbage-can. At this stage of History, either one of two things is possible: either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community-interests, guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others; or, alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.
As long as some specialised class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole and, by now, that means the Global Community. The question is whether privileged élites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena. The question, in brief, is whether Democracy and Freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly-terminal phase of human existence, Democracy and Freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.
― Noam Chomsky