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
To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.
General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294
To revolt is a natural tendency of life. Even a worm turns against the foot that crushes it. In general, the vitality and relative dignity of an animal can be measured by the intensity of its instinct to revolt.
“The real enemy” is the totality of physical and mental constraints by which capital, or class society, or statism, or the society of the spectacle expropriates everyday life, the time of our lives. The real enemy is not an object apart from life. It is the organization of life by powers detached from it and turned against it. The apparatus, not its personnel, is the real enemy. But it is by and through the apparatchiks and everyone else participating in the system that domination and deception are made manifest. The totality is the organization of all against each and each against all. It includes all the policemen, all the social workers, all the office workers, all the nuns, all the op-ed columnists, all the drug kingpins from Medellin to Upjohn, all the syndicalists and all the situationists.
This is what it means to be an adventurer in our day: to give up creature comforts of the mind, to realize the possibilities of imagination. Because everything around us says no you cannot do this, you cannot live without that, nothing is useful unless it’s in service to money, to gain, to stability. The adventurer gives in to tides of chaos, trusts the world to support her – and in doing so turns her back on the fear and obedience she has been taught. She rejects the indoctrination of impossibility.
― Hib Chickena