Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Blog, Internet resources, online reading groups, articles and interviews, Illuminatus! info.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Guns and Dope party Web site

The folks who maintain Robert Anton Wilson's official site have announced a new Web site for the Guns and Dope Party, the banner that RAW used when he ran for governor of California. It's here. It's a very libertarian party.

Friday, April 29, 2011

An eccentric philanthopist

In the recent New Libertarian Notes interview I reprinted here, RAW discusses his libertarian political ideas, but when asked about his work in the movement, replies, "I'm more involved in space migration, intelligence increase and life extension which seems to me more important than any mammalian politics."

So if there were a weird rich person who wanted to give away money to advance RAW's causes, it seems to me he would give money to aid space migration, improve human intelligence, extend human lifespans and support libertarian causes, at least in the broad sense of supporting civil liberties, something RAW advocated all his life even as some of his political perspectives shifted.

Believe it or not, there is such a person — venture capitalist Peter Thiel. (If you've seen the movie "The Social Network," he shows up as one of the characters, the first big investor in Facebook.)

Thiel's foundation funds research into combating aging and also funds the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Thiel has invested in SpaceX, the most important private space exploration company, and has given money to The Human Rights Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists. His foundation site also notes investments in antiviolence causes.

Thiel is a libertarian, and regularly commits thought crimes against conventional wisdom that draw attention in the press.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Video posting at Maybe Logic

The Maybe Logic blog springs back into action with a video posting from Fly Agaric 23, RAW discussing quantum psychology.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RAW writes about Jack Parsons

[In this article, Robert Anton Wilson reviews Freedom Is A Two-Edged Sword by John Whiteside Parsons, published by Falcon Press. The piece was published in Magical Blend No. 27, July 1990. Thank you to Mike Gathers for supplying me with this. -- Tom]

A Sword Is Drawn by Robert Anton Wilson

John Whiteside Parsons, or Jack Parsons as he preferred, was born in Pasadena in 1914 and died there in 1952 in a laboratory accident. In his brief thirty-eight years he became one of the brightest stars of the brilliant Caltech faculty and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which founded the U.S. space program. He also wrote numerous scientific papers (all of them still classified by the U.S. "Defense" Department), at least one memorable poem, and a handful of essays on politics and the occult which have long been passed around in xerox copies and had considerable underground influence without ever being published in book form. They have now finally recently appeared in a handsome edition co-published by Falcon Press and the Ordo Templi Orientis, the radical Freemasonic lodge in which Parsons received his magickal training.*

Jack Parsons, some say, contributed more to the U.S. space program than any other single individual. He co-founded Aerojet General Corporation, now the manufacturer of the space shuttle's solid fuel booster rockets. In 1972, the International Astronomical Union named a crater on the moon after him, to honor his many contributions to space science (Parsons, 37 degrees North 171 degrees West.)

The first half of Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword is the long title essay, which I regard as the sanest, soundest, least kookie statement of classic individualist principles published in America in my lifetime. Parsons, who called himself a liberal, was bitterly aware that most self-proclaimed "liberals" had departed from what he considered the true liberal tradition, but, lacking a better word, he continued to use what had become a tainted term. If alive today, he would probably call himself a libertarian -- but he would be at odds with most other libertarians, just as he was at odds with the liberals of his time.

Jack Parsons pragmatically accepted that some "government control" was necessary to protect us from the Great Pirates of the corporate world, but he feared those who would give too much power to the government and wanted us to distrust and limit the powers of our elected officials on principle, and never, never, never regard them as saviors or fuhrers. He opposed the closed shop as tyranny, but warned against the reactionaries who wanted to stamp out labor unions entirely. He loathed communism as much as he loathed fascism (at a time when many "liberals" still loved Joe Stalin ... ) but he saw the threat of McCarthyism clearly and defended the rights of "Reds" and other heretics to enjoy the same free speech as other Americans. At no time did he ever lapse into the fanaticisms and dogmatisms that seem endemic in both Leftwing and Rightwing polemic since World War II.

Most attractive of all (to me, anyway) Parsons insisted that the Christian church was the single greatest enemy of individual rights and of freedom of thought and conscience.

Keenly aware of scientific method as the liberator of humanity from theological dogma, Parsons also foresaw the dangers of a new scientific priesthood arising, and serving as lickspittle satraps of the War Machine. He writes bitterly (and prophetically): "Science, that was going to save the world back in H.G. Wells' time, is regimented, straight-jacketed, scared shitless, its universal language diminished to one word, security."

I guess he didn't like having his (or other) scientific papers "classified" and hidden.

He attacks dogma at its root, wherever it appears; at times he almost foresees the inquisitorial CSICOP:

Now since all tyrannies are based on dogmas ... and since all dogmas are based on lies, it behooves us first to seek for truth ... and the truth is that we know nothing ... Objectively, we know nothing at all. Any system of intellectual thought, whether it be science, logic, religion or philosophy, is based on ... axioms which are assumed, but cannot be proven.

No philosophy, theory, religion or system of thought can be absolute and infallible ... Every man has the right to his own opinion and his own way of life ...

... Science is a tool and has nothing to do with absolute truth ... (To claim scientific "ultimate truths") is exactly the position that the pedant, the dogmatist and the dialectical materialist would have us take. Then, posing as a "scientist" and propounding "scientific" doctrine, he can persuade us to accept his values and obey his orders. (Emphasis added -- R.A.W.)

Today must always be free to overthrown its yesterdays.

His defense of intellectual freedom acknowledges no sacred cows and blasts bigotry in any guise, from any sector of the political spectrum:

As I write, allegedly liberal groups are agitating for the denial of public forums to those they call fascist. Americanism societies are striving for the suppression of communist or "red" literature ... Religious groups are constantly campaigning for the prohibition of art and literature which they term "indecent," immoral or dangerous.

"It would seem that all organizations are devoted to one common purpose, the suppression of freedom," he concludes sardonically.

Unlike all-too-many libertarians these days, Parsons does not think the freedom of the individual means screwing every other individual: "We are one nation, and one world. The soul of the slums looks out of the eyes of Wall Street, and the fate of a Chinese coolie determines the destiny of America. We cannot suppress our brothers' liberty without murdering ourselves." Tell that to the CIA death squads in Latin America, who think they are defending our freedom.

After a searing polemic against the Cold War mentality that began in his time and reached its apotheosis in the Reagan years, Parsons reminds us that the masses are often their own worst enemy:

Nor is the guilt entirely with the warmongers, plutocrats and demagogues. If people permit exploitation and regimentation in any name, they deserve their slavery. A tyrant does not make his tyranny possible. It is made possible by the people and not otherwise.

Only space limitations bring me to halt here. Jack Parsons is the kind of writer you want to go on quoting endlessly. In fact, as Mencken said of Nietzsche, you want to read him aloud, shouting and pounding on the table.

So much for the left-brain side of Parsons' work.

The second half of Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword consists of short, often unfinished essays on Magick and Feminism. Heavily influenced by Crowley, Parsons writes here as right-brained visionary, in mythopoetic language. He was obviously working his way toward a post-Crowleyan position, and his own unique Magick, which he eventually called The Witchcraft (the "The" was important to him.). The Witchcraft according to Parsons is strangely contemporary with the current neo-Pagan movement, Riane Eiseler's Feminist writings on the Partnership Society vs. the Dominator Society, some neo-Reichian theory, the speculations of Terence McKenna, and a great deal that sounds strangely prophetic for a man writing over 40 years ago.

Parsons saw Feminism not just as a demand for economic equality (many male Feminists even earlier than him saw and supported that) but as a biological-spiritual upheaval that would change the very definition of humanity and human possibility. He knows that this means "a shift in the constellation of the archetypes" as Jung said -- a new "dark" mysticism, contradicting traditional pieties. He considers, at one point, a new religion (rooted in Gnosticism) with God the Father, God the Mother, and two children, Jesus and Sophia. (This owes a lot to Crowley's Tarot deck.) Later, Parsons is more concerned with Babalon, Crowley's "chaotic" sex goddess, a kind of cross between the Gnostic Sophia and our own Star of the Decade, Madonna. (In Who's That Girl?, one of the characters asks Madonna, "Are you the Anti-Christ?" Parsons would probably accept her as an avatar at least ...

Always, Parsons sees religion as a metaphor, a set of symbols which can liberate the energy of an age, usher in a new evolutionary epoch, and unleash repressed human potentials -- but which becomes poison if the symbols are taken literally and become Idols or dogmas. He prefers magick, which does not demand belief, but only incites what Crowley called neuro-physiological experiment. Like Crowley, Parsons regarded "gods" and other spiritual entities as constellations of evolutionary forces, which the Will and Imagination of the magician compresses (invokes) into a "being" or "intelligence" with whom "knowledge and conversation" is possible.

Jack Parsons may have been the most original and profound American thinker of his time, and it is perhaps an evolutionary signal that an audience capable of understanding his work is finally beginning to appear thirty-eight years after his death.

* Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword, by John Whiteside Parsons, Falcon Press, Santa Monica, 1989, 94 pp., $9.95.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A wild look at physics

I've gotten interested in quantum mechanics and other aspects of modern physics largely through reading RAW's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy and some of his other writings. And so, after hearing Brian Greene interviewed on the radio, I decided to read his new book, The Hidden Reality, which discusses the possibility of parallel universes, one of the major themes of the Cat trilogy.

Anyone who thinks Robert Anton Wilson made modern physics sound more weird than it actually is should try Greene's book, which has something that's amazing and mind-blowing every few pages. Here, for example, is the first two paragraphs of Chapter 9, "Black Holes and Holograms: The Holographic Multiverse":

Plato likened our view of the world to that of an ancient forebear watching shadows meander across a dimly lit cave wall. He imagined our perceptions to be but a faint inkling of a far richer reality that flickers beyond reach. Two millennia later, it seems that Plato's cave may be more than a metaphor. To turn his suggestion on his head, reality -- not its mere shadow -- may take place on a distant boundary surface, while everything we witness in the three common spatial dimensions is a projection of that faraway unfolding. Reality, that is, may be akin to a hologram. Or, really, a holographic movie.

Arguably the strangest parallel world entrant, the holographic principle envisions that all we experience may be fully and equivalently described as the comings and goings that take place at a thin and remote locus. It says that if we could understand the laws that govern physics on that distant surface, and the way phenomena there link to experience here, we would grasp all there is to know about reality. A version of Plato's shadow world -- a parallel but thoroughly unfamiliar encapsulation of everyday phenomena -- would be reality.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Reading TSOG

I've been reading TSOG: The Thing That Ate the Constitution, one of the few RAW books I hadn't gotten around to yet. Early in the book, RAW describes falling down three times while trying to get to the bathroom after he had gotten up in the morning, and there are other details on his health woes.

It's rather moving the way RAW kept writing even toward the end of his life, doing his best to share what he knew with his readers. It's a shame he did not have better health in his final years, but one gets the impression he did the best he could.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An interesting obituary

While I was doing some research on the Internet the other day, I ran across this interesting obituary of RAW that appeared in the Telegraph.

One sentenced surprised me: "Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD, was also a longstanding friend."

Several Internet commentators have pointed out that RAW died on Hofmann's birthday, e.g. Jan. 11.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My signed contract with RAW

My new copy of TSOG: The Thing That Ate the Constitution arrived in the mail today. It's one of the few RAW books I haven't read yet.

When I looked at it, the beginning made me laugh at loud. It's funny, but also summarizes RAW's philosophy nicely:


1. The author of this book hereby warrants and gives assurance that the readers have no obligation to believe everything -- or anything -- in it. Nor does he hope to reveal the absolute & final truth about any topic discussed.

2. Readers must warrant and give assurance that they will not believe or disbelieve any part or parts of this book until they have given some time to careful examination of such a part or parts; and that they will file everything herein under "maybe" until or unless slowly arriving or "true" or "false."

3. Let communication between us begin.

Signature of reader

Robert Anton Wilson [signed]
Signature of author

Friday, April 22, 2011

'Natural Law' by RAW

Finding a copy of Natural Law, Or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy by Robert Anton Wilson can be quite difficult, as it has been out of print for many years.

Here is a copy of it at The Anarchist Library, available as online text or as a PDF or EPUB download.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

RAW and John Cage

In an earlier blog post, I expressed surprise that I had not run across any prose by Robert Anton Wilson suggesting he was interested in modern classical music. Given his interest in classical music and in new ideas, it surprised me that he seldom wrote about the classical music avante-garde after about 1945 or so.

It's possible that I just hadn't run across the right interviews, or the right passages of prose. When I listened to the Hour of Slack interview, I was surprised to run across a reference to John Cage. Just more than 44 minutes in, talking about the balance between "something and nothing," after Ivan Stang has mentioned a seminar by RAW in which RAW asked people to "listen to the silence," RAW mentions that "If you listen, you hear the nothing in between the somethings, as John Cage has pointed out in his book on music called Silence."

"Listening to the silence" by the way, which Stang says RAW asked his listeners to do, sounds a lot like the most famous John Cage composition, 4'33".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Searching for extraterrestrial intelligence

In yesterday's post, Robert Anton Wilson says that "the search for Immortality, for Higher Cosmic Intelligences and for metaprogramming of the human nervous system to increase intelligence and expand awareness (Neurologic) are the three most hopeful directions for science and for humanity today."

One of these goals, the search for "Higher Comic Intelligences," is within reach of anyone who owns a computer.

The SETI@home project uses distributed computing to aid scientists who are searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. Users download and install a free program that downloads and analyzes data from radio telescopes. It's not difficult; I've been participating in the program on and off for years, using different computers. (Note: If you don't own the computer you want to use for this, for example a computer you use at work, ask permission first.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Starseed Rises, Like the Phoenix, From its Ashes, by RAW

[This article, also from the batch of documents sent to me by Mike Gathers, is reprinted from Green Egg, Vol. VII, No. 68 Oimele 2/1/75 -- Tom]

Starseed Rises, Like the Phoenix, From its Ashes

By Robert Anton Wilson

It has been six months since Dr. Timothy Leary was "disappeared" just like a character in Catch-22.

All attempts by myself and other writers and journalists (including internationally-known poet Allen Ginsberg) to receive written communication from Dr. Leary have been frustrated.

The government says that Dr. Leary is cooperating willingly in Grand Jury hearings at which he is the star witness against various and sundry outlaws and insurrectionists. Nobody outside government employ has been allowed to speak to or write to Dr. Leary, however, for six months.

If this were happening in Russia, there would be certain suspicions aroused about the genuineness of Dr. Leary's cooperation with his captors. Since it is happening in the U.S.A. in the wake of Watergate, the same suspicion has been aroused -- but not in the mass media, or among the academic community where support for this embattled scientist might be meaningful.

Under the circumstances -- and admittedly not knowing the real facts about Dr. Leary's current situation -- a group of us in the Bay Area, previously associated with Dr. Leary's scientific-educational work, have decided to revive Starseed, an organization started by Leary in 1973 to agitate and educate on behalf of

1) Immortality research and indefinite life extension;

2) Star-ship propulsion system research;

3) the science of Neurologic, invented by Dr. Leary.

1) In the area of Immortality-seeking, Starseed II will engage in publishing a newsletter, street-theatre, lectures, seminars, etc. to broadcast that the last of the terrestrial mortals are dying off and the first generation of cosmic immortals are probably already born.

On Nov. 22, 1974, Starseed II cooperated with the Coalition of the Bay Area Immortalists in a demonstration at University of California Medical School, thanking the school for its pioneering life-extension research and dramatizing the need for a national crash-program of similar research.

2) In the area of Star-ship propulsion-system research, Starseed II will similarly agitate and educate among engineering and science students, broadcasting the message that a private non-profit corporation can achieve Star-flight in this generation if enough of us care to make it happen, and that escape from the Armed Madhouse of Earth to the freedom of the stars should be the number one survival-program of the few sane humans around.

One reason a private corporation can beat the governments in Star-flight is that the governments are not pursuing this program (the U.S. Project Orion was closed down several years ago) because it has no military applications: exactly why sane citizens should be interested in it.

3) In the area of Neurologic, Starseed II will agitate and educate to broadcast the message that the dispute between those scientists who support Dr. Leary's work and those who oppose it can only be settled by further research, and that there is a distinct overtone of Holy Inquisition about the government's attempts to settle the matter with cops, courts, cages, midnight raids, no-knock laws, spies, informers, wiretaps, illegal Afghanistan kidnappings and convenient "disappearings" of dissident scientists.

Starseed II continues the vision of Starseed I, believing firmly that the search for Immortality, for Higher Cosmic Intelligences and for metaprogramming of the human nervous system to increase intelligence and expand awareness (Neurologic) are the three most hopeful directions for science and for humanity today.

(Those who find these ideas preposterous are asked to read the following books and think further: Prospects of Immortality, by R.C.W. Ettinger; Man Into Superman, same author; The Immortalist, by Alan Harrington; The Immortality Factor by Osborn Segerberg; Upswingers: A Futurist Manifesto, by M.F. Esfandiary; Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, by John Lilly; Neurologic by Timothy Leary; Terra II, by Leary; Chemical Ecstasy, by Walter Huston Clark.)

A sub-committee of Starseed II will investigate the matter of Dr. Leary's original trial (he claimed he was framed), the abnormal bail set by the judge ($5,000,000 -- the highest in U.S. history), the judge's seemingly reversible error of citing Dr. Leary's scientific writings as proof of his "immoral" character (thus suggesting prima facea that repression of scientific research is involved in this case), the kidnapping of Leary in Afghanistan (which the Melvin Belli Law Office claims violates 148 previous decisions of U.S. courts, ruling such snatch-jobs illegal) and finally the mysterious way Dr. Leary was "disappeared" six months ago. We suspect that some violations of the U.S. Constitution have occurred in this hysterical attempt to destroy Dr. Leary and his influence on young scientists, artists, philosophers and spiritual seekers.

Starseed II plans a public funeral for Dr. Leary in the near future, to dramatize that nobody outside government agencies is absolutely sure that he is still alive, and that if he can be "disappeared" in this way without any violation of U.S. law, then there is urgent need for new legislation, since anybody else can be similarly "disappeared" tomorrow. (See Catch-22 and 1984, or the Watergate transcripts, for gloomy possibilities.)


2035 Channing Way, Berkeley CA 94704
[phone number]

443 Jersy St., San Francisco CA 94114
[phone number]

Monday, April 18, 2011

Maybe RAW's papers could be assembled, too?

A book review in Sunday's Cleveland Plain Dealer describes the process of putting together David Foster Wallace's new novel, The Pale King, which was uncompleted upon Wallace's death:

According to Wallace's longtime editor, Michael Pietsch, there were "hard drives, file folders, three-ring binders, spiral-bound notebooks . . . printed chapters, sheaves of handwritten pages, and more." Pietsch flew to California at the invitation of Wallace's wife, Karen Black, and his agent, Bonnie Nadel, and returned to New York with "a green duffel bag and two Trader Joe's bags heavy with manuscripts."

From this Pietsch assembled, as he explains in his loving introduction, what is being published as "The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel." Pietsch's editing has preserved the sense of a manuscript box, lots of brilliant snippets leaping out to surprise you, but he has also shaped the work sufficiently to suggest the outlines of an ambitious, provocative and profound novel.

Sure would be nice to see this kind of effort put into preserving Robert Anton Wilson's literary legacy. Just sayin'.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Changes in blog comments

I've changed some of the settings in Blogger for comments, to try to make it easier for visitors to post comments. I've gotten some complaints that some visitors have been unable to post comments. I hope the system will work now.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Resources for RAW's politics

The New Libertarian Notes interview with Robert Anton Wilson that I recently reprinted here gives a more detailed than usual look at RAW's political influences and views on libertarianism, at least in the 1970s.

If you are curious about some of the political writers RAW talks about, such as Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner, you can get up to speed by listening to Jeff Riggenbach's podcasts on "The Libertarian Tradition." Or see the transcripts of the programs. They cover many authors cited by RAW as an influence, including Tucker, Spooner, Robert Heinlein, and H.L. Mencken.

Riggenbach's book, Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism surveys revisionist historians; I haven't had time to read it yet, but the chapter on the world wars covers revisionist historians RAW championed, such as Charles Beard and Harry Barnes. Free ebook copies are available here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

More RAW inspiration

I'm using to reading about how Robert Anton Wilson's writings have inspired other writers and inspired musicians.

But apparently his work also inspires other creative types, including pro wrestlers.

A.V. Club Philadelphia has run an interview with Mike Quackenbush, who runs Chikara, an independent professional wrestling company. Here's my favorite part of the exchange:

AVC: Where does the inspiration for the masks and colorful characters come from?

MQ: All the usual places—comic books, Mystery Science Theater 3000, anime, the works of Robert Anton Wilson, the Christmas Eve telephone rants of my shut-in Aunt Ruth, and Monkees lyrics.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Wilson track transformed

As I wrote in this old blog post, one track on the Lost Studio Session album by Robert Anton Wilson, "Namu Amida Buddha," was licensed to allow remixes under the Creative Commons license. Vancouver musicians Periodic Fable sampled the track and made a new track, "Namu." "I did a track last year using this sample (low, slow and distorted) to spread the blessing out to the world at large, or at least to the 2 or 3 people who listened to it," he explains. (But follow this link to download the original track if you want to hear what RAW said.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

'Don't Be Afraid of Black Magick' by RAW

(This is another article sent to me as a hard copy by Mike Gathers, which I am sharing with you. Thanks again to Mike. This article is from Gnostica No. 41, Feb./March 1977. The mistake in the first sentence was in the original.-- Tom ).

Don't Be Afraid of Black Magick

By Robert Anton Wilson

Robert Anton Wilson, author of the Illuminati, writes here of the nature of black magic and how psychic attacks may be easily overcome.

They're out there, moving stealthily in the darkness. The Black Magicians. The Occult Terrorists. Satanists. Mansonoids. Mindwarpers. Cattle Mutilators. "Night's Black Agents," as the Bard called them.

They're calling down curses on their enemies. Sticking pins in Voodoo dolls. Summoning the mighty devil Choronzon to fall upon the Earth and afflict it with madness. Chanting to invoke the 777 servitors of Beelzebub and Set ....

Well, yes. But let's not lose our heads about it.

The first and most important thing to learn about evil is that it generally exists only in your own alarmed imagination. To a considerable portion of our fellow citizens, the acme of evil is pornography: Marilyn Chambers and Linda Lovelace parading their harmless sensuality and hedonistic technology on film.

Pagan readers presumably can see how silly that concept of evil is. It is worth asking how much of your own favorite fears and loathings are equally absurd, reflecting only the prejudices of your culture or subculture.

Virtually every occult lodge or order in the country has the dubious honor of being regarded as a group of crypto-Satanists or clandestine followers of the "forbidden left-hand path" by some other occult lodge or order. Orthodox Christians still dread the "witches" (followers of wicca, the cult of the great Mother Goddess.) I know hundreds of witches around the country and they're all fine people. The local leader of Crowley's notorious Ordo Templi Orientis (denounced as a group of closet diabolists by scores of Christian occultists) is also a fine man, in my judgment. More than 75 percent of all occult prejudices are as bigoted as mainstream religious or political prejudices.

As P.E.I. Bonewits (the first student to ever graduate from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in magic) has so wittily and accurately written, "White magic is what my gang does. Black Magic is what the other gang over there does."

Even the terminology of "white" and "black" magic is racist and redolent of bias.

I once read an intelligent Fundamentalist tract. (There are intelligent Fundamentalists, just as there are honest politicians. Every miracle happens at least once!) The author argued that Satanists and black magicians are responsible for spreading the ideas that all humans can learn to develop occult talents, that we can achieve physical immortality and migrate off this planet, and that there is no limit to the expansion of human intelligence. Since I believe all those things, and have devoted much energy to propagandizing for them, I am very definitely a Satanist and a black magician, by this gentleman's standards.

It is well to keep in mind, then, that whenever you are horrified by somebody's beliefs or (harmless) practices, you yourself are also a heathen, a wretch, and an infidel, by somebody else's standards.

Evil Defined

For the purpose of this article, evil refers to acts which definitely, measureably, harm others, physically or psychically. It doesn't matter what kind of orgies they're having down the street, what blends of dope they're using, what entities they're invoking with their chants or ceremonies. If they're not hurting anybody, they're not evil, just different.

The second fact to learn about evil, real evil, is that it is quite stupid, like all fetishes and compulsions.

Dr. Fu Manchu only exists in fiction. It requires to "evil genius" to use fear and threats to intimidate people and create an aura of diabolical power about yourself. Every juvenile hood knows as much about the neuropolitics of fear as Manson or Hitler ever learned.

The "bad" outlaw and "good" citizen are both robots, as Max Stirner noted over a century ago. The "bad" robots are programmed to be "the baddest outlaw gang in town." The "good" robots are programmed to be "nice," "polite" and "reasonable." There is very seldom anything fit to be called intelligence on either side.

In every cell-block in every penitentiary there is a "King." The baddest bad-guy of them all. The Rogue Male. The alpha-baboon. Power in any mammalian pack or human tribe is brokered in systematic ways, according to kinesic signals (body language.) To see how robotic this imprinted role is, consider the opposite number. In every horde there is also a nebbish. A loser. Low man on the totem pole. While nobody can intimidate the alpha or rogue male, everybody can intimate the nebbish.

Those roles are imprinted quite as mechanically as the sex roles are imprinted.

Most of those who have mastered the politics of fear on the "old-brain" circuits (mammalian intimidation) do not bother acquiring much "new-brain" hominid development. Symbolic constructs seem irrelevant to their concern with raw power.

Psychic Assault

The so-called "black magician" is a "new brain" hominid fear-merchant who has somewhere learned that there are more powerful intimidations than physical assault. The dimensions of horror, terror and mindwarp are discovered. You can scare more people, and acquire greater power, by the exploitation of psychic assault.

When a human's "mind" or reality-construct is threatened, the person virtually ceases to exist as human, and regresses to the status of a terrorized mammal in a trap.

Just as the physical bully feeds on fear and is thrown off stride by the appearance of real courage, the psychic terrorist feeds on gullibility and is baffled by intelligence.

When the bully confronts true courage, he automatically ceases to attack. Instead, he seeks to make the maverick into an ally, and often offers the position of second-in-command. If that is declined in a respectful (not churlish) manner, he will probably agree to recognize the other as a separate sovereign with a private turf.

The psychic terrorist, similarly, is only accustomed to bamboozling the credulous. Confronted with a self-disciplined independent mind, he hesitates. Eventually, like the physical bully, he laughs and offers comradeship. "You and me, we're smart. We're not like those other jerks." A nudge and a conspiratorial wink.

The Power of Illusion

Jimmy Breslin, a tough Brooklyn boy who does the best Hemingway imitation in town, explains it this way: "[Minority Leader] Tip O'Neill at all times has one great political weapon at his disposal. He understands so well that all great political power is an illusion. If people think you have power, then you have power. If people think you have no power, then you have no power ... [As Hobbes wrote] 'The reputation of power is power.' ... Illusion. Mirrors and blue smoke, beautiful blue smoke rolling over the surface of highly polished mirrors, first a thin veil of blue smoke, then a thick cloud ... If somebody tells you how to look, there can be seen in the smoke great, magnificent shapes, castles and kingdoms ..." (From How the Good Guys Finally Won by Jimmy Breslin.)

Breslin may not seem to be writing about white and black magic, but he is. Consider: there is no such thing as Minority Leader of the House in American law. The office exists only through "mirrors and blue smoke." The Presidency, on the other hand, is sealed with seven seals and its incumbent possesses almost royal prerogatives. Breslin's book demonstrated that while people like Peter Rodino and Judge Sirica and Senator Irwin were making headlines out of the Watergate investigations, "Minority Leader" Tip O'Neill with his "mirrors and smoke," his casting of spells if you will, convinced everybody in high posts that impeachment was inevitable. When everybody else believed it, Nixon believed it, too, and resigned. The issue never did come to a vote. O'Neill's magic chased Tricky Dicky out of town.

If O'Neill had owned the official title of "shaman" instead of "politician," he might have used the same methods to persuade Milhaus that a curse would kill him at 12 midnight on May 23. Nixon would obediently have laid down and died.

Mirrors and blue smoke ...

Children play-act, and gradually, inevitably, the play becomes real. The parents call them home and the social reality is re-created. If the children remain in their own play-reality, a psychiatrist should eventually be called. If that fails, call the exorcist and get a good agent to start negotiating the movie rights.

Mirrors and blue smoke ...

As Dr. John Lilly says, "In the province of the mind, what is believed true is true or becomes true within limits to be learned by experience and experiment. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the province of the mind there are no limits."

Stupidity of Black Magick

The hoodlum-occultist is "sociopathic" enough to see through the conventional charade, the social mythology of the species. "They're all sheep," he thinks. "Marks. Suckers. Waiting to be fleeced." He has enough contact with some more-or-less genuine occult tradition to know a few of the gimmicks by which "social consciousness," normally conditioned consciousness, can be suspended. He is thus able to utilize mental brutality in place of the simply physical brutality of the ordinary hooligan.

He is quite powerless against those who realize that he is actually a stupid liar.

He is stupid because spending your life terrorizing and exploiting your inferiors is a dumb and boring existence for anyone with more than five billion brain cells. Can you imagine Beethoven ignoring the heavenly choirs his right lobe could hear just to pound on the wall and annoy the neighbors? Gödel pushing aside his sublime mathematics to go out and cheat at cards? Van Gogh deserting his easel to scrawl nasty caricatures in the men's toilet? Mental evil is always the stupidest evil because the mind itself is not a weapon but a potential paradise.

Every kind of malice is a stupidity, but occult malice is stupidest of all. To the extent that the mindwarper is not 100 percent charlatan through-and-through (and most of them are), to the extent that he has picked up some real occult lore somewhere, his use of it for malicious purposes is like using Shakespeare's sonnets for toilet tissue or picking up a Picasso miniature to drive nails. Everybody who has advanced beyond the barbarian stage of evolution can see how pre-human such acts are, except the person doing them.

Genuine occult initiation confers "the philosopher's stone," "the gold of the wise" and "the elixir of life," all of which are metaphors for the capacity to greet life with the bravery and love and gusto it deserves. By throwing this away to indulge in spite, malice and the small pleasure of bullying the credulous, the mindwarper proves himself a fool and a dolt.

And the psychic terrorist, besides being a jerk, is always a liar and a fraud. Healing is easier (and more fun) than cursing, to begin with, and cursing usually backfires or misfires. The mindwarper doesn't want you to know that. He wants you to think he's omnipotent.

The Big Lie

The old theological truth that the Devil is the "Father of Lies" contains an important neuropolitical truth. Occult knowledge begins with the realization that the ordinary reality of the conditioned citizen is somewhere around 99.97 percent mythology. Mindwarping, brainwashing, demonology, the hurling of curses, etc., begin with the barefaced lie that the mindwarper's alternate reality is not mythology at all but is "really" "real."

The Satanist's reality is real. So is Rev. Sun Myung Moon's. And the nudist reality. The snake-worshipper's reality. The Methodist reality. The Republican reality. The SLA reality. The Buddhist reality. The vegetarian reality. The scientific reality.

Every one of these realities is "real" to the nervous system programmed to convert all incoming energy-signals into the coding (language categories) of that "reality," and to exclude as background noise all signals not fitting the code.

The Biggest Lie in the World is the idea that there is one "true" reality. That is the lie that keeps the conditioned citizen trapped in the one static reality imprinted by parents and schools in childhood. It is the lie which the Black Magician exploits in making the demons in his reality in your reality.

America is the greatest country in the world, to the conditioned American. Fernando Poo is the greatest country in the world, to the conditioned Pooan. Catholicism is the one true religion, to the Catholic. Voodoo is the one true religion, to the Voodoist.

Mirrors and blue smoke.

There are dozens of meta-programming rituals in occult manuals, showing how to insulate your reality from attacking demonic forces out of some black magician's separate reality. Some of the best and most commonsensical are in Dion Fortune's Psychic Self Defense.

Personally, I regard such rituals as unnecessary, since they take the terrorist too seriously.

The Power of Love

Preferable is a simple meditation of forgiveness. Realize what a fool the mindwarper is to be wasting his time on barbarian terrorism when the occult planes contain so much glory and wonder for those with loving hearts. There are realms comparable to Beethoven's Ninth, and the terrorist is barred from these by his sullen viciousness. Feel sorry for the poor fool, and forgive him.

Blessed Juliana of Norwich, an "illiterate servant girl," used to get so possessed by the Divine Rapture that she could do no more than giggle and say, "All is well, and all shall be well; and all manner of things shall be well." This may not have so much to contribute to philosophy as the realms explored by Paracelsus or Aldous Huxley, or as much scientific interest as the sci-fi heavens of Dr. John Lilly or Dr. Timothy Leary, but it shows that even the simplest of us, with love, can enter realities far more amusing and hedonistic than the nasty bog in which the Satanist lives.

The Power of Humor

Second, have a good laugh. I mean this literally. The practice of lila yoga is recommended by many Tantrists (and by Alan W. Watts) and is good for all occasions, but especially good for exorcising "bum trips" of all sorts. You form a magic circle with about a half-dozen friends and just laugh for 45 minutes. This is a much happier experience than those dreary Gestalt sessions where you program yourself into rage and spite for 45 minutes, and it is just as easy to induce. (If you have trouble getting started, pass around some magic herb before beginning.) When using this ritual to remove a curse, keep a photo of the mindwarper in the middle of the circle and remember that you are laughing at him. At the end, tear up the photo and forget about him entirely.

It's that simple. Just as courage protects one from the physical bully, joy and laughter protect one from the psychic bully.

As Meher Baba used to say, "Don't worry. Be happy."

Those four words contain all the wisdom of the ages.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Hour of Slack with RAW

Following up on yesterday's post: Many recordings of interviews or monologues by Robert Anton Wilson are copyrighted, so I can't really in good conscience use this blog to spread them around. Here is something I can share: An interview with RAW, broadcast as an episode of the "Hour of Slack" from the Church of the SubGenius. You can listen to it on your computer, right from the site I link to, or download it for your MP3 player. This is for "non-profit use only," so please don't use it as part of your latest get-rich-quick scheme.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jesus, Buddha, Zarathustra and Ivan Stang

This Web site provides a handy list of founders of religions, and along with folks such as Jesus and Buddha, there's Ivan Stang, founder of the Church of the SubGenius. Admittedly, he's also listed next to folks such as L. Ron Hubbard and Jim Jones.

I like to think the name of the church's alleged founder, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, was inspired by RAW's first name, but not being a SubGenius expert, I can't cite any actual evidence. Stang appears in "Maybe Logic," the movie about RAW, and RAW helped promote the religion.

Incidentally, Cleveland, Ohio, the area where I live, apparently is the world headquarters for the Church of the Subgenius.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The story of Hypatia

RAW fans interested in diversity of spiritual expression, paganism or free speech should know about the story of Hypatia, a Greek philosopher (and notably, a woman) in Alexandria about 400 AD, when the Roman Empire, by then decisively Christian, was stamping out paganism and all that went with it (such as an interest in classical literature and philosophy.) My wife and I just watched "Agora," a movie about Hypatia released last year.

There are things one can nitpick -- as in all movies about the later Roman Empire, Roman soldiers are anachronistically depicted carrying weapons and wearing armor more characteristic of the times of Jesus Christ -- but the movie in general is surprisingly accurate in its depiction of events.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

An old photograph of RAW and Bucky

This is from a page devoted to Buckminster Fuller. The caption for the photo says, "Late 1950s photo of Buckminster Fuller and Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007: Philosopher, founder of the Discordians,
author of Quantum Psychology, Cosmic Trigger, Illuminatus! trilogy, Schrodinger's Cat trilogy and more)"

Friday, April 8, 2011

Prometheus Award finalists named

The Prometheus Award finalists have been named, with a final winner to be announced last this year. I'm posting this because I assume there will be some associational interest, because the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award was the only literary award Robert Anton Wilson ever won, at least to my knowledge, and because I interviewed Kevin MacArdry after I noticed that his novel (one of the finalists) explores themes RAW was interested in. Official press release follows:

The Libertarian Futurist Society has selected Best Novel finalists for
the Prometheus Awards.

Winners for Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) will be
presented in an awards ceremony which will be presented at the World
Science Fiction Convention, which will be held during Renovation, the
69th World Science Fiction Convention to be held Aug. 17-21 in Reno, Nevada.

*The Prometheus Award finalists for Best Novel are (in alphabetical
order by author):
* For the Win, by Cory Doctorow (TOR Books)
* Darkship Thieves, by Sarah Hoyt (Baen Books)
* The Last Trumpet Project, by Kevin MacArdry (
* Live Free or Die, by John Ringo (Baen Books)
* Ceres, by L. Neil Smith (Big Head Press, also published online at

For the Win is Doctorow's portrait of a future in which the world's poor
adopt entrepreneurial strategies and Internet/virtual technologies to
challenge the statist status quo and achieve freedom through
self-empowerment. Doctorow has been nominated several times for the
Prometheus Award and won in 2009 for Little Brother.

Darkship Thieves features an exciting, coming-of-age saga in which a
heroic woman fights for her freedom and identity against a tyrannical
Earth. Hoyt's novel depicts a plausible anarchist society among the
asteroids. This is Hoyt's first time as Prometheus finalist.

The Last Trumpet Project tells the story of a future in which virtual
reality and uploading people's minds into computers have merged. In this
milieu, freedom struggle against a tyrannical government allied with
religious zealots who will go to any length to ensure their vision of
the future. The hopeful and utopian work is MacArdry's first published

Live Free or Die is Ringo's rollicking saga of entrepreneurial humans
using free-market capitalism and the spirit of old-fashioned Yankee
individualism to defend Earth from imperialist aliens after first
contact embroils us in galactic politics. This is Ringo's first time as
a Prometheus finalist.

Ceres, the sequel to Smith's Prometheus Award-winning novel Pallas
(1994), dramatizes a conflict between a libertarian society based in the
asteroids and a statist Earth government. Smith also won the Prometheus
Award for The Probability Broach (1982) and The Forge of the Elders (2001).

Ten novels published in 2010 were nominated for this year's Best Novel
category. The other nominees were Directive 51, by John Barnes (Ace
Books); Zendegi, by Greg Egan (Night Shade Books); Migration, by James
Hogan (Baen Books); The Unincorporated War, by Dani and Eytan Kollin
(TOR Books); and A Mighty Fortress, by David Weber (TOR Books)

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society
(LFS), was established in 1979, making it one of the most enduring
awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based
awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World
Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include a gold coin
and plaque for the winners.

The Prometheus awards honor outstanding science fiction/fantasy that
explores the possibilities of a free future, champions human rights
(including personal and economic liberty), dramatizes the perennial
conflict between individuals and coercive governments, or critiques the
tragic consequences of abuse of power--especially by the State.

For a full list of past Prometheus Award winners in three categories,
visit Membership in the Libertarian Futurist Society is
open to any science fiction fan interested in how fiction can promote an
appreciation of the value of liberty.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Libertarian Notes interviews RAW, Part Three

CRNLA: To return to life extension, space migration and higher intelligence, I worry about the potential of all that being screwed up by the politicians. How do you feel about that?

RAW: If the oncoming mutation to interstellar immortality is screwed up by the politicians (or the corporations), it will be because those of us who see the opportunities in modern science are not adroit enough to outmaneuver the forces of inertia, stupidity and greed. Well, if we're not intelligent enough to overcome such obstacles, then we don't deserve to carry off the mutation at this stage of evolution. The thing to do, in that case, is to sit down and have a good Taoistic laugh at our own presumption. Meanwhile, until the game is over, I happen to think we're winning. The other side is very, very stupid. Concretely, I say that if we have colonization of L5 by 1990, and longevity at about the same time, I think the game is won; some human seed will become cosmic and immortal. Robert Phedra, M.D., has already predicted life extension to 1,000 years.

CRNLA: A thousand years is OK for a start, but it's not enough. Would you settle for "indefinite life extension" if it means transferring your thoughts to a synthetic storage system?

RAW: I'd consider it, but temperamentally I'd rather blast off for the stars when lifespan reaches about 400 years. I think in a 400 year cruise around the galaxy we'd contact races who have immortality already and we might arrange a trade for the technology of it. (Maybe they'd want an unexpurgated Illuminatus. I'm for space, actually, whether there are immortals out there or not. Aside from that bias, I'd support life extension by whatever means, from cryonic suspension to cyborgism to coding ourselves into our computers or whatever. Contrary to the last 2,500 years of "philosophy" among the domesticated and neurotic carnivore species we adorn, there is nothing noble or beautiful or dignified about dying. Like poverty, it is ugly, nasty, brutal and primitive. The function of intelligence is to do better than those mammalian norms.

CRNLA: Could you give us a bibliography on everything you've had published and who published it and if it's still in print?

RAW: Hell, no. I've got about 1,000 articles in print and I can't remember where most of them were printed and don't really care to. The things I'm willing to stand by, in addition to Illuminatus, are the essays being collected in Prometheus Rising: Sex and Drugs, a Playboy Press paperback; my piece on "The Future in Sex" in Oui, November 1975; the article on brainwashing by Leary and me in Oui for June 1976, (which I especially commend to those who thought the consciousness-warps, ego-fissions, reality-mutations and sex-role roulette in Illuminatus were "fantasy"); "Scientific and Experimental Magic" in Gnostica, January 1975; and two pieces on Caryl Chessman and the Marquis de Sade in The Realist, dates unknown. Most of what I wrote before last week bores me.

CRNLA: What kind of stuff was the 500 pages that got edited out of Illuminatus?

RAW: It was sacrilegious, blasphemous, obscene, subversive, funny, surrealistic, trippy and much like what did get published. The portion of hard anarchist propaganda in what got cut is perhaps somewhat greater than in what got printed, but I do not attribute that to a government conspiracy. Editors always amputate the brain first and preserve a good-looking corpse. I knew that, and told Shea they'd do it, so we put in so damned much anarchist material that a lot would be left even after the ceremonial castration.

CRNLA: Is Bob Shea a hard-core libertarian?

RAW: More or less. I really don't want to categorize Shea, who can certainly speak (eloquently) for himself.

CRNLA: Who wrote the Atlas Shrugged parody in Illuminatus? Who wrote the appendices?

RAW: I wrote the Telemachus Sneezed section -- which is not just another kick at poor old Rand, but also a self-parody of Illuminatus, and of Moby Dick, and of my arcane Joycean use of Moby Dick parallels in Illuminatus. Unfortunately, that section was particularly mauled and truncated by the editors. Originally, it was trans-Melvillian satire on all ideology and morality, including my own lapses into ethical thinking. I also wrote the Appendices on various occasions when very stoned as a parody on my style in my more academic essays.

CRNLA: What was Hagbard doing in a government printing office?

RAW: Hagbard was visiting the Discordian agents who have infiltrated the government and sneaked parodies into the bureaucratic forms: SMI2LE = infinity. (Space Migration plus Intelligence Increase plus Life Extension = cosmic consciousness.

CRNLA: Any word on how sales are doing?

RAW: Fine. I might not have to take up highway robbery and murder to get rich after all.

CRNLA: That's good. Who is Tarantella Serpentine and why is she working for Limit newsletter?

RAW: The Discordian conspiracy has been radically decentralized from the beginning, in accordance with Malaclypse the Younger's principle that "We Discordians must stick apart." The last I heard, Tarantella was a fictional character, working in a San Francisco massage parlor (in my other novel, The Sex Magicians.) It doesn't surprise that she has a life of her own, outside my imagination. Illuminatus is only part of a total art work, or "happening" known as Operation Mindfuck. A group of New York Discordians, for instance, celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Illuminati with a public reading of Principia Discordia (which also exists) outside the UN building on May 1 this year. A lodge of Crowleyan magicians in Texas has officially changed their name from the Temple of the Hidden God to the Ancient Illuminated Good Old Boys of Houston. Emperor Norton posters, endorsed by the Illuminati, are for sale through Solidarity Books in Chicago. Everything the Birchers ever claimed about the Illuminati is gradually coming true.

CRNLA: Do you feel frustration living in the "real" world? After reading Illuminatus it's a downer to get back to reality -- even my usual escapist literature is depressing. How do you feel about that?

RAW: Every nervous system creates its own "reality," minute by minute -- or, in the language of Don Juan Matus, we live inside a "bubble" of neural abstractions which we identify with reality. In metaprogramming systems like Tibetan Tantra, Crowleyanity, or Leary's Exo-Psychology, you can make this neurological fact into conscious experience, and you will never be bored or depressed again. Just reading the scientific evidence that this is true, in social psychology or general semantics or neurology or whatever, will not liberate you; one needs actual re-training, in Tantra or Crowley or Leary, to experience what I'm talking about here. It is a great privilege to be conscious in this universe. Those who understand, shine like stars.

CRNLA: I was just speaking in relative terms. Actually, I'm quite excited about reality -- it's probably my favorite thing. I was just wondering if sometimes all the fnords tend to get you a little pissed-off.

RAW: Never. As Tim Leary says, the universe is an intelligence test. The things that hinder me are opportunities to learn more and develop further. That's where amoral thinking is distinctly superior to moral thinking. If you recognize that your latest problem is totally without moral significance -- for instance, you have a disease which you can't, by the wildest stretch of imagination, blame on anybody -- then it's just a question of coping with the situation as best you can. When you realize that people are just as automated as bacteria or wild animals, then you deal with hostile humans the same way you deal with infections or predators -- rationally, without claiming you're "right" or they're "wrong." Then you begin to understand Crowley's great Law of Thelema (Do What Thou Wilt) and you're free, really free, instead of being an actor in a soap opera written by the superstitious shamans who created morality 30,000 years ago. You are also free of anger, hatred and resentment, which are great burdens to drop. They live happiest, my friend, who have understood and forgiven all.

CRNLA: Are there real people, alive or in history, who resemble any of your characters (Hagbard in particular)?

RAW: Absolutely. There are hundreds of thousands of Hagbards around, and all the sleep-walkers are potential Hagbards. They only need to be shaken a bit and awakened. As Jesus said, "Ye are all gods, ye are all children of the Most High."

RAW: Have you ever walked into some public place like a shopping center and said to yourself something like, "Christ, it's solid earthlings! You'd think there'd be at least a couple of aliens strolling around looking at the shops, etc." ?

RAW: Curiously, I belong to a loose association of skeptical Contactees -- people who have had a Contact experience but are too skeptical to take it literally. There are over a hundred of us in the U.S. alone, most scientists, and I think that the gradual surfacing of this story will be one of the major cultural shocks of our time. Right now, Martin Gardner has already registered his viewpoint and I trust that MIT will have the courtesy to print Dr. Sarfatti's rebuttal. I must add that most of us who are involved in this have grown extremely doubtful about the now-conventional extraterrestrial explanation and are trying out various explanatory models that are even more mind-blowing. Those who are interested in this subject might look up my article, "The Starseed Signals," in Gnostica for June 1975, and Dr. Jacques Vallee's book, The Invisible College. As the divine Mullah Nasruddin said, "If you haven't seen me before, how do you know it is me?"

CRNLA: What are your plans for future books?

RAW: Prometheus Rising will be published by Llewellyn next year. It's a collection of my essays on space age occultism and post-LSD consciousness. I hope it will knock holes in the Christian revival, the Hindu revival, the Buddhist revival and all the other neolithic metaphysics going around these days. A book on immortality research, possibly entitled Death Shall Have No Dominion, is going around New York seeking a publisher. A book on Dr. Timothy Leary, and a new novel called Schrodinger's Cat, about quantum paradoxes and parapsychology, are also in the works. Leary and I are working on a collaborative venture called The Game of Life which started out as one volume and became three. It modestly attempts to deduce the next four billion years of evolution from the data of Leary's brain-change research.

CRNLA: Who did you know in the old Berkeley crowd such as Danny Rosenthal, Sharon Presley, Tom McGivern? How about Kerry Thornley?

RAW: I never heard of any of those people except Kerry Thornley and Sharon Presley. Kerry is one of the co-creators of Discordian atheology, which is why volume one of Illuminatus is co-dedicated to him. Sharon is a fine person who I've only met twice but liked vastly. I'm sure all those others are excellent people, too, but I've never met them.

CRNLA: The editor of New Libertarian Weekly, SEK3, would like you to write for them -- "... we're a hell of a lot better than SRAF and can even pay a token amount, and can run stuff he can't get past Playboy and Oui."

RAW: I'd be delighted.

CRNLA: Do you have any concluding thoughts for our readers?

RAW: Absolutely not. As Korzybski said, nothing is conclusive, and every sentence should end with an et cetera. Or perhaps Woody Allen said it better: "Not only is there no God, but you can't even get a plumber on weekends." The answer to that, of course, is to become your own god and your own plumber. That may be the fundamental secret of the Illuminati.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New Libertarian Notes interviews RAW, Part Two, RAW vs. Austrians

CRNLA -- Your economic views still seem very much in the Benjamin Tucker tradition (especially on rent and interest.) Have you read any of the "Austrian" economists, such as Von Mises and Rothbard? What do you think of them?

RAW: Tucker is certainly a major influence. My economic ideas are a blend of Tucker, Spooner, Fuller, Pound, Henry George, Rothbard, Douglas, Korzybski, Proudhon and Marx. I always try to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. Read to see what I can learn from every school, rather than condemning any idea in its entirety. "Every man has the right to have his ideas examined one at a time," as Ez Pound once wrote. Rothbard is, like Marx and Pound, a brilliant closed mind: excellent for stimulation but anybody who gets dragged into a Rothbardian dogmatic trance should take LSD and try looking at the world through another grid. Von Mises is another who is excellent for stimulation, pernicious if erected into dogma. By and large, the Austrians remind me of a parable by Laurance Labadie, in which a certain tribe has the custom of allowing high-caste individuals to kick low-caste individuals in the butt whenever they pass them in the street. A philosophical school, much like the Austrians, naturally arises to prove rationally that the kicking is not only necessary but just, inevitable, beautiful and altogether glorious. If there were big profits in cancer, there'd undoubtedly be an Austrian school of medicine, proving that carcinoma is good for us.

CRNLA: Tucker is one of my favorite people -- but one of his views with which I can't agree is that in a free society interest rates and rent would disappear. I think the Austrians have advanced economic knowledge sufficiently since Tucker's day to show why these things exist and how they would come about even in an economy consisting totally of free trade. Your reply?

RAW: You can "prove" anything on the verbal level, just be accepting the necessary axioms at the beginning. Empirically, I don't think they can produce a single case in history where a free people elected landlords to own the land; the land monopoly always starts with conquest. Shot and shell are the coins of purchase, as Herbert Spencer said. Except by force of arms, nobody "owns" the earth, anymore than the moon, the planets, the stars themselves. When did God disinherit the majority of humanity, and turn all space over to the "ownership" of the Rockefellers and their friends? Without armed power threatening us, why would anyone but a fool continue to pay these conquistadores the extortion they demand? And, even if the Austrians could convince me that rent is legitimate, I still wouldn't voluntarily pay it to the present landlord class who remain receivers of stolen property. I would pay it to the nearest Indian tribe.

As for interest, I'm not aware of any case in which the credit monopoly has allowed a free currency to compete with them. In fact, every case I know of (e.g. Worgl in the 1930s), ended when the Capitalists used the armed might of the State to stop the competition. The one laboratory experiment in this field, by Don Werkheiser at Central State University in Ohio, confirmed Tucker and refuted the Austrians. Money, after all, is an abstract artifact, like language -- merely symbolized by the paper or coin or whatever. If you can fully grasp its abstractedness, especially in the computer age, it becomes quite clear that no group can monopolize this abstraction, except through a series of swindle. The average primate cannot distinguish the symbol from the referrent, the map from the territory, the menu from the meal. If the usurers had been bolder, they might have monopolized language as well as currency, and people would be saying we can't write more books because we don't have enough words, the way they now say we can't build starships, because we don't have enough money. As Bucky Fuller says, you might as well argue we can't build roads because we lack kilometers.

CRNLA: I think our differences in "rent" are basically in "land-rent" -- you don't see anything wrong if someone wants to rent out power tools and U-haul trailers -- true?
Your main argument with land-rent seems to be with the lack of legitimate owners. I'm assuming legitimate (i.e. non-conquistador) owners when I speak of legitimate rent. If two people went to Mars or the bottom of the ocean and one of them spent his time clearing rocks and fertilizing a section of land and the other spent his time assembling a tractor, and they reach an agreement to exchange the use of the land for one season for the use of the tractor for one season -- has anyone been harmed or exploited or extorted? Should some third party come onto the scene and say, "Hey stop that, you're committing rent?"

RAW: Land-rent, or ground-rent, is the most illegitimate aspect of the rent con, of course, and the main target of Tucker's criticisms. The whole concept of any rent, however, appears somewhat dubious to me, since it seems to presuppose "the accumulation of property in a few aristocratic heaps, at the expense of a great deal of democratic bare ground in between," as Ezra Heywood said. (Heywood's writings on this subject, and other aspects of libertarianism, are at least as important as Tucker's and Spooner's.) People rent, chiefly, when they cannot afford to purchase outright -- when ground-rent, interest and other inequalities haver already created a master-class of aristocrat-owners and a servile class of peasants or proles. I would expect to see rent wither away as the democratization of credit abolishes poverty.

I fail to see how your hypothetical "legitimate (i.e. non-conquistador) owners" would achieve "ownership." (I also don't see the bearing of such hypothetical, or fictitious, cases on the real issues of the real world, where all the landlords are conquistadors, or are receivers of stolen property from the original conquistadors, but that is another question.)

Ownership, in the real world, is a social agreement, a social fiction almost, and is produced only by force or by fraud or by contract. In practice, land ownership is produced only by force or fraud.

This may sound polemic, but it is literally true. The Henry George Schools have a book, Land Title Origins: A Tale of Force and Fraud, in which you can look up, wherever you live in the United States, exactly the acts of force and fraud (murder and robbery) by which land "ownership" was transferred from the Indian tribes to the current receivers of the stolen property. Now, the third alternative, contract, has never been tried, to the best of my knowledge. The only land contracts which I, or any other Tuckerites or Sternerites, would sign in freedom, without force being used against us, would be to our own interest, not to the interest of the landlords. In other words, we simply would not sign a contract giving up ownership of this planet, or any other, to a small group of the Elite who claim they have some better title to ownership than the rest of us have. If you would sign such a contract, I can only hint gently that you are more easily defrauded than we are.

The barter arrangement in your paradigm has nothing to do with perpetual tribute, which is the essence of rent -- indeed, the factor distinguishing barter from rent.

Of course, since Austrian ideas exist as factors in human behavior, I will admit that some people, hoodwinked by those ideas, will continue to pay rent even in freedom, for a while at least. But I think that, after a time, observing that their Tuckerite neighbors are not submitting to this imposture, they would come to their senses and cease paying tribute to the self-elected "owners" of limitless space, on this and other planets, and in interplanetary communities.

Of course, I myself would not pay rent one day beyond the point at which the police ("hired guns, on guard to see that property remains stolen" as Emma Goldman said) are at hand to collect it via "argument per blunt instrument."

CRNLA: Regarding interest: again I assume a totally free market, where there are no legal tender laws and anyone is free to mint, mine, print or grow anything that they feel the market will accept for money. I think that under these conditions the interest rate would be dramatically lower than it presently is but that it would not tend toward zero. Money generally performs at least three interrelated functions: (1) indirect exchange media, (2) provides a common "measuring scale," (3) stores wealth. In the first two money is definitely an "abstract artifact" -- a "cashless" society could exist merely using bookkeeping entries. But when it's used to store wealth it causes trouble as an "abstract" -- bank-runs and the like. Wealth isn't an abstract. It may be subjectively appraised, but it actually exists. When A wants to use B's wealth for a period of time, B is generally compensated for his loss of its use for that period by A -- interest. Among corporations (admittedly, a legal fiction) the issuing of "Tucker-money," (i.e., stock) is a fairly unfettered means of obtaining credit -- but the people who give it to them still expect a return and the corporations still expect to pay it. I'd be interested in seeing the Central State experiment. Usually because of the multiplicity of ever-changing factors involved in the market, it's difficult if not impossible to ever prove anything empirically.

RAW: Of course, my position is based on the denial that money does store wealth. I think it's a semantic hallucination, the verbal equivalent of an optical illusion, to speak at all of money containing or storing wealth. Such thinking should have gone out with phlogiston theory. The symbol is not the referent; the map is not the territory. Money symbolizes wealth, as words symbolize things, and that's all. The delusions that money contains wealth is the mechanism by which the credit monopoly hof study. as gained a stranglehold on the entire economy. As Colonel Greene pointed out in Mutual Banking, all the money could disappear tomorrow morning and the wealth of the planet would remain the same. However, if the wealth disappeared -- if squinks from the Pink Dimension dragged it off to null-space or something -- the money would be worth nothing. You don't need to plow through the dialects of the debate between the Austrians and the free credit people like Tucker and Gesell to see this; any textbook of semantics will make it clear in a few hours of study. Wealth is nature's abundance, freely given, plus the exponential advance of technology via human intelligence, and as Korzybski and Fuller demonstrate, this can only increase an an accelerating rate. Money is just the tickets or symbols to arrange for the distribution -- either equitably, in a free money system, or inequitably, as under the tyranny of the present money-cartel. As you realize, a cashless society could exist merely by keeping bookkeeping entries or computer tapes. Money is a primitive form of such computer tapes, serving a feedback function. If we are not to replace the present banking oligopoly with a programmer's oligopoly, in which the interest will be paid to computer technicians, we must realize that this is all a matter of abstract symbolism -- that it exists by social agreement and nobody owns it, anymore than Webster owns the language. Why is it, incidentally, that the Austrians don't follow their logic to its natural conclusion and demand that we pay interest to the dictionary publishers every time we speak or write?

You have to watch people playing Monopoly, and see them begin to "identify" the paper markers with real value, to understand how the mass hypnosis of Capitalism works. Fortunately, the Head Revolution is still proceeding and more and more people are waking up to the difference between our economic game-rules and the real existential situation of humanity.

Don Werkheiser might sell you a Xerox of his thesis on the Central State experiment if you write to him c/o General Delivery, Ponca, Arkansas. Similar experiments are recounted in Josiah Warren's True Civilization, involving four communes in 19th Century America. Let me conclude this answer by emphasizing that I do not blame the money-monopologists for any of their hoarding behavior. I am sure you will find similar absurdities in the primitive stages of anthropoid civilizations on most planets of G-type stars. Mammalian patterns persist in many other aspects of our society, especially in organized religions.

In my experience, I might add, virtually all adherents of the Austrian economic theories are academics who have never had any dealings with Capitalist corporations. The rosy view the Austrians have of these matters, I think, would collapse in two weeks if they had to deal with the damned corporate pirates as an ordinary worker does. When Joyce went into business briefly, he told Italo Svevo after a while, "You know, I think my partners are cheating me." Svevo answered, "You only think your partners are cheating you! Joyce, you are an artist!" Nixon is the typical Capitalist mentality, entirely identical in all aspects with every businessman I have ever encountered; his only real distinction is that he got caught. Of course, I'm not complaining -- part of the humor of living on this backward planet is listening to the hominids rationalize their predations.

CRNLA: I don't think that the Austrians have a particularly "rosy" view of business. I know a lot of them (Mises and Rothbard for two) consider a total separation of the economy and the government to be the best means of keeping these clowns from becoming too powerful. Most consider a totally free market to be the ultimate in "consumerism" -- not "capitalism" (at least as it's come to be known.)

RAW: Well, there is certainly a kinship between the Austrians and myself on the level of ultimate goals. I merely feel that their views of Capitalism-as-practised-in-the-past-and-present could only be held by college professors. After more than 20 years of working for the corporations in every position from office boy to middle executive, I have not been shocked or surprised in the slightest by the Watergate or post-Watergate scandals.

Austrians believe what they write, they must be somewhat abashed, I should think. For instance, David Friedman has published views about the corporate elite that would be flattering if applied to Jesus and his angels. However, this is turning into a diatribe against the group I find least obnoxious in the whole politico-economic spectrum (because you keep asking me questions that harp on my differences with them.) The orthodox conservatives and liberals, not to mention nazis and marxists, are really pernicious, and the Austrian libertarians are basically okay.

CRNLA: Regarding our Rent Interest discussion: I think that our differences regarding money stem from a difference in definitions. I would include wealth that is used in certain ways under the heading "money," while you limit the definition to just its transactional functions. OK, as long as we know where we are. Once we start dealing with this "wealth-money" as wealth (and forget the word "money"), the problem of interest becomes just a special case of rent. Which really brings us back to property and ownership. I've never attempted to tie the concept of ownership to the metaphysical framework of the universe. I realize that it's merely a human invention -- much like language (which is not to say that other inhabitants of the planet don't use it also) that's purpose is to make the allocation of resources go as smoothly and efficiently and with the least amount of head-cracking as possible. Like the use of language, the use of the concept of "property" doesn't necessarily have to be enforced. When people discover it they use it because it's in their long-range self-interest to do so. (This is not to say that particular instances don't require enforcement -- just that the concept is usually retained without it.) The whole system of ownership/division of labor/rent transactions etc. is merely designed to allocate resources so that they maximize the "vector sum" of everyone's satisfaction -- or more accurately, that this system has the potential to maximize. You don't have to use it. Without this system some alternative method must be found to determine who gets the use of what. LeGuin faced this problem in The Dispossessed. She chose to do it collectively. Ultimately, this results in some system of voting or represenatives or syndics which bear striking resemblance to governments (in addition to being very inefficient.) So the so-called "anarchy" in The Dispossessed is actually a widespread proliferation of governments and poverty. If the determination of the use of resources is placed in the hands of the individual who makes the resources useful (i.e., grows, finds, fertilizes, builds on, digs up, etc.) this provides him with a good deal of independence from the rest of the herd. Seems like a natural for any anarchistic society. This is basically the idea behind my concept of ownership. Could you give a summary of what you consider to be a good method of allocating resources and any concepts similar to ownership that might be contained therein?

RAW: Since ownership is a social fiction, it should obviously be fluid and sensitive to decentralized feedback, to match the evolving needs of the persons involved in whatever social game is being played. In other words, I do not propose one "right way" of doing it; that has to be found pragmatically in each new situation. The traditional feudal-Capitalist system in which one hereditary group of Great Pirates "owns" everything is not acceptable to me, and obviously would not be acceptable to any band of Stirnerite egoists; and, of course, the altruistic forms of socialism and communism are equally unacceptable to me, and I predict they would be equally unacceptable to a band of self-owners in the Stirnite, Tucker or Crowley sense. What would emerge in such a rationalistic-egoistic context would, in a general way, probably follow the guidelines suggested by Stirner, Spooner, Proudhon and Tucker -- except that this would only be in a general way, as all of those writers realized. The specific individuals in each situation would define their own demands according to the specific situation always. The only contracts that would be acceptable to them, as Tucker indicated, would be those that require no enforcement -- that is, those that are so obviously in the enlightened self-interest of each member that their wording would be accepted with the satisfaction the scientific world feels when a hard question is finally answered. If the proposed contract did not have that self-evident feeling character about it -- if it didn't provoke the general feeling, "This is the answer to our disagreements" -- it would not be accepted. I speak with some experience here, being part of an occult order who do indeed govern themselves that way. My only general rules are Crowley's "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" and Leary's Three Commandments for the Neurological Age, to wit: "Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy neighbor, 2. Thou shalt not prevent thy neighbor from altering his or her own consciousness, 3. Thou shalt make no more commandments." The so-called "resources" problem is a terracentric delusion. The Universe is a Big Mother.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Libertarian Notes interviews RAW, Part One

(Editor's note: This interview with Robert Anton Wilson appeared in "New Libertarian Notes/Weekly 39," September 5, 1976. I think it's one of the best interviews with Wilson I ever read, and I want to thank Mike Gathers, who made it available to me, and Jesse Walker, who made it available to Mr. Gathers. I'm running this in the blog as a three-party serial; as usual, I will put up a link under "Feature Articles and Interviews" on the right side of the page. -- Tom)

Illuminating Discord: An interview with Robert Anton Wilson

By Jane Talisman and Eric Geislinger (Columbia Region New Libertarian Alliance)

Robert Anton Wilson, who along with Robert Shea wrote the Illuminatus trilogy, is the creator of yet another cult. The really neat part is that this is a cult of hard-core libertarian-anarchist-occult-mind expansionists whose demand for the Illuminatus books is making SF retail history. Walk into your corner bookstore and chances are excellent the books have been back-ordered. Borrow a copy or wait in line if you must -- it's worth it. The trilogy is truly mind-boggling, outrageous, and curiously familiar. With this in mind we set out to interview one of its authors, Robert Anton Wilson (hereafter R.A.W.)

Interviewing him by mail was an exciting, albeit frustrating job. His provocative answers triggered seemingly never-ending digressions. We had to more or less learn to limit our responses. Several of the questions in the following interview appear to be asked by R.A.W. himself. These are not misprints -- he does give himself questions. To give you some insight into Wilson's psyche we offer you this tidbit of data -- to wit, his return address rubber stamp has his name misspelled "Robert Antoon Wilson." Make of this what thou wilt. -- Jane Talisman and Eric Geislinger (hereafter the CRNLA).

CRNLA: Tell us a little about your background.

RAW: I was born into a working class Irish Catholic family in Brooklyn 44 years ago, at the brutal bottom of the Great Depression. I suppose this early imprinting and conditioning made me a life-long radical. My education was mostly scientific, majoring in electrical engineering and applied math at Brooklyn Tech and Brooklyn Polytech. Those imprints made me a life-long rationalist. I have become increasingly skeptical about, or detached from, the assumption that radicalism and rationalism are the only correct perspectives with which to view life, but they remain my favorite perspectives.

CRNLA: What are your favorite novels, movies, TV shows and music?

RAW: The novels would be, I suppose, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, The Magus by Fowles, The Roots of Heaven by Gary, Don Quixote and anything by Mark Twain. Movies: Intolerance, Broken Blossoms and everything else by David Mark Griffith, Citizen Kane, The Trial, King Kong, 2001. TV: Star Trek and Mary Hartman. Music: Beethoven's Ninth and his late quartets, Bach, Bizet, Carl Orff, Vivaldi, the less popular and more experimental stuff by Stravinsky.

CRNLA: What do you think of M*A*S*H, the Freak Brothers, Bob Dylan?

RAW: I loved Altman's film of M*A*S*H but I can't stand the TV series. The Freak Brothers are funny, but I deplore the lifestyle it celebrates. Of course, Einstein and Michelangelo were sloppy, too, but only because they were too busy with real work to fix their attention on sartorial status games. Hippies generally aren't busy with anything except feeling sorry for themselves. Dylan seems to me a totally pernicious influence -- the nasal whine of death and masochism. Certainly, this would be a more cheerful world if there were no Dylan records in it. But Dylan and his audience mirror each other, and deserve each other; as Marx said, a morbid society creates its own morbid grave-diggers.

CRNLA: How about Anderson, LeGuin and Heinlein?

RAW: I haven't taken Anderson seriously since 1968, when he wrote an account of the police-riot at the Chicago Convention which was totally false, according to my observations on the scene. I decided Poul loved the Vietnam War so much, that he could actually watch a cop hit an old lady and remember it as a young communist hitting the cop. I haven't bothered keeping up with Anderson's hallucinations since then. LeGuin is great already, and getting better book by book. Heinlein has been an idol to me for more than 20 years. He can do no wrong, no matter how much he loves wars and hates pacifists. (I'm the kind of anarchist whose chief objection to the State is that it kills so many people. Government is the epitome of the deathist philosophy I reject.)

RAW: Are you a pacifist?

RAW: Hell, no. I like pacifists, as a rule, and people who have a heavy emotional identification with deathism and war would probably call me a pacifist, but I am a non-invasivist rather than a non-violentist. That is, I believe that an invaded people have the right to defend themselves "by any means necessary" as the expression goes. This includes putting ground glass or poison in the invaders' food, shooting at them from ambush, sabotage, the general strike, armed revolution, all forms of Gandhian civil disobedience, etc. It's up to the invaded to decide which of these techniques they will use. It's not up to some moralist to tell them which techniques are permissible. As Tucker said, "There is nothing sacred in the life of an invader."

CRNLA: What magazines and newspapers do you read?

RAW: I read everything, including the labels on canned food. I'm a hopeless print addict, a condition alleviated only by daily meditation which breaks the linear-Aristotelian trance. (Most rationalistic libertarians would do well to try the same circuit breaker, or LSD.) National Lampoon, Scientific American and Green Egg are what I read most obsessively. I also read at least one periodical every month by a political group I dislike -- to keep some sense of balance. The overwhelming stupidity of political movements is caused by the fact that political types never read anything but their own gang's agit-prop.

RAW: Any more artistic opinions?

RAW: If I must. James Joyce is more important than Jesus, Buddha and Shakespeare put together. Pound is the greatest poet in English. Thorne Smith should be reprinted immediately, and would be enormously popular with the current generation, I wager. The novels that get praised in the NY Review of Books aren't worth reading. Ninety-seven percent of science fiction is adolescent rubbish, but good science fiction is the best (and only) literature of our times. All of these opinions are pompous and aggressive, of course, but questions like this bring out the worst in me. Artistic judgments are silly if expressed as dogmas, at least until we get an "artometer" which can measure objectively how many micro-michelangelos or kilo-homers of genius a given artifact has in it. Do you know that at UC-Berkeley, Dr. Paul Segall has a lab full of rats who are twice the age at which rats normally die of senility? And these rats are not only alive but still reproducing. This may be the most important fact I know. Dr. Segal hopes to have a life-extension formula for humans ready in the early 1980s.

CRNLA: Has Dr. Segall published any papers on his research? If so, where?

RAW: A good, non-technical article by Dr. Segall on his own work and on other approaches to longevity, is in the new issue of Spit in the Ocean, edited by Dr. Timothy Leary and published by Ken Kesey. That issue, incidentally, is also worth reading for Sirag and Sarfatti on quantum consciousness, and Leary himself on higher intelligence.

CRNLA: Speaking of Ken Kesey, What did you think of Cuckoo's Nest, and where can I get a copy of Spit in the Ocean?

RAW: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is certainly one of my favorite recent novels, but I like Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion even better. In fact, a great deal of the structural rhythms of Illuminatus, especially the space-time warps, were suggested by Kesey's similar techniques in Sometimes a Great Notion. The way the producers of the movie of Cuckoo's Nest swindled Kesey is entirely typical of the way producers and publishers rob writers -- it's perfectly normal Capitalist ethics and typically mammalian.

The last I heard, Kesey was supposed to have the new Spit in the Ocean out by mid-Summer. (Write: 85829 Ridgway Road, Pleasant Hill, OR 97401).

CRNLA: What route did you travel to get to libertarianism?

RAW: Arlen, my wife, discovered Kropotkin's article on anarchism in the Britannica and it immediately convinced us both (1961). We were both highly cynical about the alleged values of Capitalism and State Socialism already, and happy to find an alternative.

CRNLA: What is your present involvement in "movement" activities?

RAW: I'm more involved in space migration, intelligence increase and life extension which seems to me more important than any mammalian politics. What energy I have for terrestrial brawling goes into Wavy Gravy's Nobody for President campaign, the Firesign Theatre's Papoon for President campaign, and the Linda Lovelace for President (which I invented myself, since we ought to have a good-looking cocksucker in the White House for once.) I think these campaigns have some satirical-educational function, and, at minimum, they relieve the tedium of contemplating the "real" candidates, a more-than-usual uninspiring lot this year. Voting wouldn't excite me unless it included electing the directors of the big banks and corporations, who make the real decisions that affect our lives. It's hard to get excited about the trained seals in Washington. Of course, if voting could change the system, it would be illegal. Teachers would be handling out pamphlets for children to take home proving that voting machines cause chromosome damage, and Art Linkletter would claim that a ballot box drove his daughter to suicide.

CRNLA: There's another Vote for Nobody Campaign being run by Malibu. Have you heard of it? Are you interested in it?

RAW: Glad to hear it. There's a third "Nobody for President" headquarters in Washington, D.C. The more the merrier. One of my friends, the ArchDruid of the Berkeley Grove of the Reformed Druids of North America, is running George III for President -- although I admit that the satirical point there is a bit obscure for me. I've also heard, vaguely, about a Who-the-Hell for President campaign. There's also a Bonzo for President poster going around, Bonzo being a chimpanzee who once co-starred with the egregious Ronald Reagan in a rather dumb movie. The American people, who elected Richard Nixon twice, should not find any of these choices absurd. But before leaving this subject, I should mention the sanest political proposal I've heard in years, the Guns and Dope Party proposed by my good friend, Rev. William Helmer (who, like many of the characters in Illuminatus, exists also in so-called consensus reality.) The Guns and Dope Party, as the name suggests, would be based on a platform demanding an end to all government interference with guns and dope. Now, while the gun-nuts tend to be paranoid about the dopers, and vice versa, the Guns and Dope Party is a possible libertarian coalition that would constitute a clear majority and could really win an election. All that's needed for success, then, is for the gun-people and the dope-people to understand fully the advantages of affiliating -- that is, the very good chance of real success at the polls. Hopefully, this might be enough to persuade them to drop their mutual animosity. If this can be accomplished, we will have the first majoritarian libertarian party in American political history. It certainly seems worth thinking about.

CRNLA: Could you tell us more about your politics -- such as how you evolved from Kropotkin to Illuminatus?

RAW: After Prince Peter, I read Tucker, who was being reprinted by Mildred Loomis in a journal called, of all things, Balanced Living. (I later became co-editor of that, and changed the name to Way Out.) After Tucker, I read all the major anarchists and then began writing anarchist essays myself. I soon discovered that, in addition to the 99.8 percent of the morons who make up any political movement, every gang has its own intellectuals defending it (with every variety of sophistry the Jesuits ever devised.) To defend anarchism more effectively, I had to read Marx and Douglas and Gesell and H. George and William Buckley Jr. and so weirder, on and on into the depths of ideological metaphysics -- "the great Serbonian bog where armies whole have sunk," as Burke (the best conservative) once said. Such omnidirectional reading, alas, tends to produce a certain degree of agnosticism, but my basic axioms have remained that (1) a system which consigned me to poverty at birth and Nelson Godawful Rockefeller to riches, is demonstrably insane, and (2) I will do anything, including highway robbery and murder, to avoid leaving my children in poverty. In that sense, the political thinker I probably agree with most is Bernard Shaw, who presented that position, with equal bluntness, in his Major Barbara. I might add, to be even more offensive, that I regard morality and ideology as the chief cause of human misery. I am even more committed to unmitigated skepticism than I am to anarchism -- or to life extension, space migration or high intelligence. With doubt all things are possible. Doubt and courage.