Eight Kinds of LibertariansBy Robert Anton Wilson
[This article, from Robert Anton Wilson's "Illuminating Discords" column in New Libertarian Weekly, was published in issue no. 60 of that publication, Feb. 6, 1977. My thanks to Mike Gathers for supplying me with the clip, and to Jesse Walker, who supplied the article to Mr. Gathers. The sequel to this piece will run tomorrow. -- Tom]
I propose that there are eight kinds of libertarians and that understanding the differences would clarify much of the debate between factions.
The Biosurvival Circuit is activated as soon as DNA life is established on a planet. This is the most primitive level of consciousness (3 1/2 billion years old) and scans only for signals indicating safety (security, warmth, food) or danger (threat, isolation, withdrawal of nurture). This circuit is recapitulated in the first days of infancy and takes a basic biosurvival imprint which lasts for life. In ordinary nontechnical language this circuit is called Will.
The libertarian who has taken his heaviest imprint on this circuit will be obsessed with defense-and-attack on the most basic level of life-and-death struggle against competing organisms. Anarcho-fascists, Sadeans, Stirnerites and vulgarizers of Nietzsche fit this first circuit imprint pattern.
2. The Emotional Circuit is formed as soon as life forms become complicated enough to exert effort against gravity, rear up and compete for territory or status. This appeared with the first amphibians around 500,000,000 years ago. This circuit is recapitulated when the infant starts to walk, send emotional signals by Body Language (kinesics) and struggles for a decision-making role in family politics. (All parents know this imprint period as "the difficult years.") Once again, the initial imprint tends to remain a lifelong emotional game strategy.
In ordinary language, this circuit, pre-occupied with mammalian politics, is called the Ego. Its unconscious aspects are the Id of Freud; Berne calls is the Adapted Child.
Libertarians who have taken their strongest imprint on this circuit will tend toward conservatism, join the Libertarian Party and get embroiled in elections, or become Objectivists.
The first circuit is obsessed with survival in a Darwinian sense; the second circuit with territory and status, i.e. Ego-tripping.
3. The third circuit appeared with the emergence of hominid nervous systems about 1,000,000 years ago. Right-handedness, domination of the brain by the linear left hemisphere and the use of the nine laryngeal muscles for signaling concrete and abstract ideas (language) make up this Symbolic Circuit. It is activated when the child begins handling, manipulating and altering artifacts, and also asking questions such as, "What is this called? How do you use this?"
In popular speech, this circuit is called the Mind. Eric Berne calls it the Adult or Computer.
(In Star Trek land, the first circuit is Scotty, brooding pessimistically over life-support and weapons systems; the second circuit is McCoy, the expert on tribal decorum; and the third circuit, of course, is Spock.)
Libertarians who take their strongest imprint on the third circuit remain obsessed with logic, linear processes, symbolic constructs, science. Typical examples are Bucky Fuller, the semanticist Korzykski, John Stuart Mill. These types never get involved in politics and tend to regard second circuit politics as sub-human.
The transition from the mammalian second circuit to the hominid third circuit is beautifully portrayed in 2001, when Moon-Watcher picks up the bone and realizes he can use it as a tool. The quick transitions from the bone flying through the air to the L5 space colony illustrates the extreme rapidity of change on any planet after the third circuit begins operating.
We have said that life and the first circuit is 3 1/2 billion years old and the hominid third circuit only one million, but these figures are too large to feel. Try it this way: divide by 10 million and make a model by which this planet is only 100 years old, and begin in 1576. Then, life and the first circuit began around 1626. The emotional circuit appeared with vertebrate life about 1926. The hominid third circuit appeared one month ago, and modern science ten minutes ago.
This rapid acceleration after third circuit symbolism appears was called time-binding by Korzybski.
4. The Domestic Circuit appeared with the domestication of humanity about 30,000 years ago. (On our 400-year model scale, that would be about 16 hours ago.) This circuit imprints the sexual apparatus for socially useful purposes. (For further details on this domestication process, see Marcuse, Eros and Civilization, and Wilhelm Reich, passim.) This is recapitulated in each individual when the chemical releasers of pubescence activate the sex-mating drives, and imprinting this energy with the local taboo system creates the Adult Personality, (Freud's Super-Ego, Berne's Parent.)
Since this circuit consists of taboo systems sublimated out of powerful erotic energies, the fourth-circuit libertarian is a driven and compulsive Super-Ego figure. ("He's making a list and checking it twice. He's gonna find out who's naughty or nice.") Utopian, psychologically authoritarian and always convinced SHe is the one mature personality in any group, this type appears both in the camp of fanatic militarism and fanatic pacifism; e.g. Heinlein and Joan Baez both seem to be fourth circuit libertarianism.
(Very few fourth circuit types become libertarians actually, and Maoism is the ultimate fourth circuit domestication. On the Enterprise, Kirk is the fourth circuit type.)
5. The fifth neurological circuit, according to Leary's Exo-Psychology, is for extraterrestrial life and, hence, has only appeared in random mutants until recently. It is the Neurosomatic Circuit and mediates biosurvival in zero-gravity. 85 percent of all astronauts have described "mystical" experiences which are actually fifth circuit "highs" similar to the dhyana state in Hatha Yoga or the Turn On you get from neurotransmitters in the cannabis family. Freud called this circuit "the oceanic experience."
Neurosomatic rapture transcends the dualisms of the first four circuits, reverses figure and ground (often in humorous ways) and is appropriately called spacing or floating in popular speech.
Sex and dope cults such as Tantra in India, the Yezidis in the Near East, the Gnostic and Illuminati heresies in Europe, hippiedom, etc., represents fifth circuit libertarianism. "You can't do good until you feel good" (Leary's translation of Lao-Tse) is their basic motto. They are detached from, and amused by, the dualisms of the first four circuits -- the forward-back of biosurvival fight-or-flight patterns, the up-down of emotional politics, the either-or of symbolic logic, the naughty or nice of local taboo systems.
6. The sixth circuit is Neuroelectrical or psionic intelligence: direct awareness and control of Brain functioning. In premature infants, this produces space-time singularities, synchronicities, ESP, and a sense that one is living in a sci-fi story of parallel worlds.
Since this circuit is the point at which brain functioning moves more into the right lobe than the left, its purpose has to do with our future evolution and sixth circuit libertarians are extremely rare thus far; one is more likely to encounter them in fiction than in fact. Conchis, in John Fowles' The Magus, is one example; Hagbard Celine, another. Krishnamurti's slogan, "Be an Individual," is in Krishnamurti's context, a sixth circuit libertarian exhortation. Crowley's notorious saying, "God is the enemy of Man" is another sixth circuit signal, as was Proudhon's antitheism (as distinguished from atheism.)
7. The Neurogenetic Circuit involves direct access to the DNA archives: Jung's "collective unconscious" made conscious. The seventh circuit libertarian is an Evolutionary Agent, a conspirator in the vast DNA plot to achieve Higher Intelligence, Immortality, Supreme Bliss and the gratification of all desires.
When Leary was operating on the sixth circuit, he said, "The body is the car; the DNA is the driver." When he graduated to the seventh circuit, he said, "The nervous system is the car; the DNA is the driver." Again, the type is so rare that the prototypes are found more in fiction than in life -- all of Kazansakis's heroes, especially Odysseus in his sequel to the Odyssey; Prometheus and Daedalus in mythology; Gilgamesh renouncing kingship and all the world to search for immortality; Buddha renouncing all to see Truth.
A classic seventh circuit libertarian is Giordano Bruno, burned by the Catholic Church in February 1600, but the pioneer of modern science and modern Western occultism. (See Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition.) A more modern example is Wilhelm Reich, before he wigged out.
8. Thae highest circuit is Metaphysiological (not metaphysical). This is evolving toward synergetic interlock of galactic higher intelligences into one unified energy field free of body container. (The "Atman" or "Overmind" of mystical literature.) Metaphysiological is out-of-the body, out of space-time, literally infinite.
The formula for opening the 8th circuit is SMI2LE, which means Space Migration + Intelligence (squared) + Life Extension. Space Migration and Life Extension are clear enough, I trust, but Intelligence Squared perhaps requires a word of clarification. It means intelligence-studying-intelligence, i.e. Dr. John Lilly's self-metaprogramming biocomputer.
All of the 8th circuit libertarians known to me are unindicted co-conspirators in Leary's Starseed project, which aims to accomplish the SMI2LE mutation in this generation.
Continued in my next column ...
-- Robert Anton Wilson