POETRY ATTIC: Beautiful, Damn Beauty & Picturesque Lies

// Photography: Jeff Wolfe //

BEAUTIFUL, DAMN BEAUTY

The look of the counter girl
makes me remember something
about me, so I stare.
When I look, I look for every
last detail,
back to the pig-tails and
the trips to the lake.

Lost diary entries,
each yearn and heart crack.
She just hands me my
stupid coins with her
“get on w/ your life” eyes.
It’s like that everywhere
I go today.


My backs been to it all along.
Those that play together
know how to get by.
Never lived up to their
healthy ritual dances -
they move too fast.

Flat-footed, in daydream shoes
I stand away for long lengths
until I get “IT”!
Burst out of the study
into maddening oncoming traffic.
I barrel through
thinking to go against the flow,
pushed the opposite way.



Find the nearest potion
giving energy to
unlock their secret language
and hook into their
syntax of bright nonsense.

Unable to rattle loose anything true.

Alan Watts mountain talk
doesn’t translate.
Deaf ears send me back
to the odd streets, the weird streets.
I sit next to path-man,
spirit-man,
guide-man.
Talk from a simple place.
Easy conviction.
Leveled up from my old seat.

See that mirror he holds up to me
and there I am,
sit and be free.
The talking comes from
where I need it,
dad voice I never knew.

All the blood and particles,
cells, and waves are happening.
Third-eye goes inward to see
swoon of creation.
Come untangled from
bad looks that
dent from the outside.


Every type of cosmic
energy I need is my
birthright.
Go to spirit fires
in holy woods place
to catch my breath.
This granted access, soon revoked.
One out of a hundred understand why.

Go a thousand miles inside
to a ledge
to hang my feet and throw
off heavy rocks.
All my silly books
go up in the sky.
I hear a musical sound
drifting me a comfort
from a perfect memory.
It’s up to me to design
something new.

PICTURESQUE LIES

A spectacle of hard shapes.
Subtle delusion arouses me.
Drink up the town,
mad reason bleeds pure.

Eyes begin to dart,
speak in run-on.
Head is a storage for sweat -
everything closes in.




Crooked painting hangs
over broke beat typewriter.
Smoke sails into patterns.
Blink into new temptation.

Burn up candles all night,
wait for you.
Anxiousness inside,
eyes linger on walls.

Glance fades into darkness.
Listen to an empty phone,
speak when afraid.


Browse at too thick books,
leaf through pages,
delirious for truth.
Round the bend back to religion.

Dizzied by twelve films,
still onward to mindful music selections.

Dance all combinations of movement.
The lost pictures of Godard,
Fellini in a splendid heat.


Sweet liquor swells,
driven against picturesque lies,
shaken – isolation – tamed.

Hysterical eyes come
to something
never imagined.


Thoughtcrimes Against the State


Graphics // Jeff Wolfe 

Secret Transmissions exists as a form for presenting a range of radical ideas and expressions, often dangerous to the status quo. In keeping with that agenda, I'd like to present this naughty interview, delving into the much maligned and derided philosophy of anarchism. Despite the subject's rich historical roots of scholarship, firmly established in the 19th Century, these positions are treated as mere daydreams of lunatics. Any time the historical and political establishment rejects and actively suppresses an idea, it's a clear signal of a threat worthy of my attention.

A sober look at the state of the world and the circus of electoral politics should trigger any meagerly intellectual thinker to second guess the validity of our so-called order. No self-respecting outsider, political agitator or free-thinker should play the role of gatekeeper and reject a mode of radical thought out of hand. An unbiased, academic approach to research will at the very least led to, a more fully rounded awareness of historical political thought.

Well thought out tracts detailing the idealism, morality and ethics of a stateless organization of communities and society were penned by great minds like Pyotr KropotkinLysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Emma Goldman. Anarchists of that early era held radicalized views on everything from patriarchy, slavery, war, sexuality, property and the working class.

As with any political philosophy, there are many variations on self-identificaion falling under the banner of anarchism. As an active and living theory, proponents of such nuanced systems will angrily defend their own prefix in opposition to any other. When I began studying the classical and current anti-state literature, I was most impressed with a subset of anarchism that opposes Capitalism but favors freed markets. They also hold deep and genuine concerns about racism, sexism, homophobia, concentrated economic power, corporate exploitation, open sourcing information and mutual aid to care for those in need. Anarchism is not simply about abolishing the government, but about how to live more freely and cooperatively under the current regime. Mature and scholarly anarchists have evolved working theories regarding how a free society would function without State force, while still maintaing the peace and protecting the underserved. 

Center for a Stateless Society is one such organization of writers and thinkers addressing the concerns of the radical left through decentralized means. 

Chad Nelson,  a Senior Fellow at C4SS was kind enough to share his thoughts about the think-tank as well as his own personal reflections and influences on the subject. 

Open your mind and enjoy some thoughtcrime.



When did you become an anarchist? What was the decisive moment?

There definitely wasn't a single, decisive moment. I've always disliked authority and felt uncomfortable exercising it over others. Aside from that inclination towards what's basically an anarchist attitude, I think I moved there on actual issues each at different speeds. Around 2007-2008, I started reading Rothbard, and began seeing through the government's charade. War, Peace and the State and Anatomy of the State were real paradigm-shifters for me. I still remember how blown away I was by those two essays. If you haven't read them, you must. Regardless of your opinion of Rothbard, they're masterpieces in anti-state analysis. They're both available for download at mises.org.

By 2010 or so, I identified as an anarchist, but still wasn't publicly using that label, nor was I versed in all that anarchism had to offer in terms of a worldview. I'd only read mises.org and related literature at that point -- so I had a very narrow view of anarchism and still considered myself a right-wing capitalist, an anarchocapitalist to be precise. Rather than calling myself an anarchist though, I felt safer sticking with the libertarian label. So when in "respectable company" around that time I'd claim to be a Ron Paul-Republican. 
Rothbard & the Mises folks only got me so far. I thought all there was to anarchism was "hating the state" as Murray said. I've come much further in recognizing that the state is only one part of the destructive equation. 

What’s the history of the C4SS organization? The Mission Statement? 
You would think I'd know more about its history given that I've been involved with C4SS for awhile. But I don't. It's funny, I don't even remember how I first came across C4SS – probably just through the normal rabbit hole most anarchists seem to go down as they research issues and read anarchist figures that appeal to them.   
"Its mission is to explain and defend the idea of vibrant social cooperation without aggression, oppression, or centralized authority."   

In particular, it seeks to enlarge public understanding and transform public perceptions of anarchism, while reshaping academic and movement debate, through the production and distribution of market anarchist media content, both scholarly and popular, the organization of events, and the development of networks and communities, and to serve, along with the Alliance of the Libertarian Left and the Molinari Institute, as an institutional home for left market anarchists." 
 Can you describe your vision of the ‘ideal’ society? What would the hallmarks be?
My ideal world would most certainly be one in which there exist countless communities with a diverse array of people, values and modes of operation. And ideally, movement in and out of those communities should be fairly easy and unimpeded. Of course if there were communities that had rigorous immigration controls, I'd stay the hell away from them anyways. They'd undoubtedly be filled with two types of people -- authoritarians and those who worship them. 
I'd simply prefer to see a world where options abound, where entry into and exit from communities that no longer suit people's needs, are possible in every sense of the word. I have no desire to see a uniform set of values that proliferate worldwide, even if many of the resulting communities were disagreeable to me. 

I can imagine a spectrum of communities, some of which I'd feel at home in, and some of which I'm sure would repulse me. Small states similarly organized to those that exist now would likely continue to exist, just nowhere near the size and scale they do now. 

C4SS defines their philosophy as ‘left-libertarianism’. What is the significance of the ‘left’ qualifier?  

To me, the left-qualifier signifies a number of different things. I find myself using them interchangeably depending on who I'm talking to. In a literal sense, I think it's meant to invoke two great radical left-wing thinkers – Bastiat and Proudhon, who sat together on the "left side" of the French national assembly in the mid-19th century.    
But it also signals a commitment to what I think most people in today's world would see as left-wing values. A commitment to equal rights for all, anti-oppression, peace advocacy, worker's rights, environmental justice, etc.  A lot of values right-wingers (and even right-wing anarchists) would have real problems with.   
Of course, the devil is in the details. Left-libertarians certainly don't share with mainstream, traditional (state-worshiping) leftists the same solutions for the world's problems, or even agree on their causes. But I think in terms of our vision of an ideal landscape, left-libertarians find general compatibility with other, non-libertarian, leftists.  Not total compatibility, but a general preference for many of the same values. 
Why has the libertarian philosophy, which is rooted in radical-left traditions, (opposition to racism, sexism, classism, corporatism, war), been co-opted by Right-Wing interests? When and why did this occur? 
It's a great question. I'm not sure I have the correct answer to it, or even the historical background to do the question justice. I'm increasingly disillusioned with the libertarian label anyways, no matter what qualifier is put in front of it.

It seems the vast majority of people today associate libertarianism with Paul Ryan Republicanism -- and obviously I want absolutely nothing to do with Republicans or any politicians for that matter. And I don't see the use in wasting time trying to salvage a word just so that we can use it as a label.

Common usage of the term dictates that it's little more than a call for limited government and blind individualism, which again, is not where I'm at. And it certainly doesn't help the word when there is a political party using it. I don't want to be associated with a political party in any way, shape or form, or confused with someone who thinks compromising in the ultimate goal of abolishing the state and capitalist system is worthwhile. Most libertarians I know are either focused on, or at least open to, reform (which makes them conservative), so I’m eager to scrap that label and have nothing to do with them. 
How has the ‘Progressive’ movement in politics failed to address radical-left concerns?  
The progressive movement has its roots in conservative notions of state supremacy, paternalism, and a hierarchical order which views big business as a force for good. How any self-respecting leftist could share those values is beyond me, but they do. Any solution to a social ill which has its foundations in any of those things is diametrically opposed to the kind of leftism which you and I identify with. This gets back to whether it’s accurate to consider progressives leftists. I don’t think it is. It probably has something to do with most people looking at the left-right divide entirely within the linear confines of the state. And sure, when you look at everything as a Republican vs. Democrat issue, you're bound to see Democrats as the less evil of the two, a little softer on a few select social issues.  
But that's just a clever rhetorical device the Democrats have successfully employed. The entire state (in which I include the business class), no matter who the controlling party or corporation is, belongs in the right-wing, conservative camp, far removed from anarchism in terms of ideology. 
Besides the attacks against anarchism from the outside, the movement itself seems perpetually in conflict with itself. With a myriad of ‘adjectives’ being place before the label anarchist, do you ever see the broader movement setting aside their differences and become more unified? Is the internal bickering healthy or destructive?  
One of the things about a decentralized movement or organization is that there's no one figurehead calling the shots or defining the group's philosophy or agenda. That's healthy. And I think the myriad of anarchist adjectives that proliferate signals health within the movement.  
Forced or pressured unification usually entails compromising one’s values, and I think runs counter to anarchist organizing. One of the important hallmarks of anarchist organizing, in my view of it, is consensus-based decision-making. Where there isn’t group consensus, action shouldn’t be taken. Now where one person or a small minority within a group stands in the way of consensus, they have to decide how much they’re willing to stake on standing their ground. Being able to “block” consensus is an important part of anarchist organizing. But where one finds him or herself consistently needing to block action, that person ought to consider whether they really belong in that particular organization.    
So yeah, I think vibrant intramovement debate, and even feuds, are generally positive, and help facilitate people’s movement in and out of certain anarchist camps in a constant effort to find the right allies.


When presenting a ‘Stateless Society’, what is the first line of reasoning you present to someone who has no background in such a concept? 
I think there are many ways to go about marketing a stateless society depending on the audience, but I think the state itself gives us so much material to work with, to criticize, that I think we must first point to just how bad, how out of control, the state is. How many deaths states are responsible for -- and no state more so than the American state. Just look at the extreme inequality in America, the death toll at the hands of American imperialism, the horrible degradation of the earth at the hands of American corporations, of course with the legal backing of their government lackeys. 
I think there's a general misconception that government exists to regulate business, when in fact, precisely the opposite happens. Business regulates the government. Government exists to serve the business class, as they mutually reinforce the other’s standing much the same way church and state used to. 


What difficulties do you face with family, peers, co-workers for holding such radical beliefs? 
I'm actually pretty quiet about my political views so I haven't run into too much trouble. Certainly my writing is out there on the internet for all to see, so it's hard to say what's come of that (or failed to materialize) that I'm not aware of. But it's one of those things I'd never run from no matter what the social or peer pressures. And I enjoy talking about it when asked. 

I know that when I work with people who hold opposing viewpoints, and when they make those views known, I listen and try not to judge. I certainly wouldn't refuse to associate with someone for having opposing views, but I guess that's something being part of a fringe political movement necessitates. We don't have the luxury of picking and choosing only other anarchists to associate and do business with!

What are the best in practice examples you can provide that shows the advantages of consensual, decentralist, horizontally organized interactions?  
I think a great example, and one that I admire very much, is the Animal Liberation Front. There are others, certainly, but the ALF provides a nice, easy-to-follow, example in theory and in practice.  The ALF has no leaders, no formal organization, location or governing body -- it simply has a small set of basic operating principles: 
·  To inflict economic damage on those who profit from the misery and exploitation of animals. 
·  To liberate animals from places of abuse, i.e. laboratories, factory farms, fur farms etc., and place them in good homes where they may live out their natural lives, free from suffering. 
·  To reveal the horror and atrocities committed against animals behind locked doors, by performing nonviolent direct actions and liberations 
·  To take all necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human. 
·  Any group of people who are vegans and who carry out actions according to ALF guidelines have the right to regard themselves as part of the ALF. 
That last line says it all -- if you share these goals and undertake action accordingly, your actions can be categorized under the ALF "banner." Decentralized organizations like ALF benefit from being welcoming -- you don't have to pay dues, pass a test or interview to be a part of the group. Simply acting in accordance with the group's loose framework is sufficient. It can be done alone or with a group, it's entirely up to each individual participant to decide how to best carry out the mission.
With seemingly insurmountable resistance from the common citizen to the concept of abolishing Rulers – is it possible that the human psyche contains a desire to be ruled? Almost everyone I know has a seemingly innate need for a source of external authority. Is this ancestral preconditioning? If not, how do you account for the huge majority of people all around the world in favor of governments? The only argument among them seems to revolve around how much and what form.
I think there could be something in the human psyche, but this desire for rulers, for leadership, is also something that's beaten into our heads throughout our entire lives, from childhood until death. Almost every organization we participate in is predominantly hierarchical, from schools to families to workplaces. Some people know nothing else. 
Some horizontal organizing manages to sprout up through the cracks within these institutions, but I think where it does, it’s basically subconscious. 

Capitalism certainly doesn't encourage otherwise. The behemoth, faceless capitalist order requires that you to put your faith in the unknown and unseen leaders of governments and corporations. You can't blame the individual for feeling as if they have little control over their own communities, let alone their own lives. In this economy, you'd expect people to grasp at straws, hoping and praying that their leaders can meet their needs.


Opponents of anarchism can’t see a way in which basic necessities can be produced without a top-down bureaucracy making it happen. Things like construction projects, national defense, crime prevention, aid to the needy and disabled, protection of the environment, negotiating with foreign countries, scientific research and development, providing education, etc. These are understandably huge issues for people. What’s the most effective way of breaking down resistance to consider alternatives?  
There's no magic way to break down the mental barrier. I think it takes a lot of discussion, a lot of education, and an open, flexible mind. It seems no amount of failure by top-down bureaucratic entities damages people's faith in them as the only way. We've just got to keep pointing these failures out, proposing the anarchist alternative, and be ready for the day that people someday demand and desire something better for themselves.    
What free-thinker has been the most influential to your way of thinking?  
The most influential thinker for me has been Robert Anton Wilson. And boy, oh boy, is free thinker an appropriate label for him. Certainly not the only label, but maybe the most apt in my opinion. I'm sure he'd roll over in his grave at being labeled at all, but that's okay.  
It's very difficult to attempt to accurately describe RAW and his work. Part of that stems from him tackling so many different issues during his lifetime.  He was very much a polymath. 
Personally, I love RAW the political satirist. He skewered the political and economic elite like no one else. I also love RAW's work on consciousness, psychology, and Maybe Logic
Some of my favorite RAW literature are his interviews. There are a ton archived at rawilsonfans.org. He gave incredibly thoughtful, deep and at the same time humorous interviews. I always got the sense that the interviewer was so awe-struck they'd struggle to try to introduce him. His mind was more than words could capture.   
Robert Anton Wilson

In one interview from 1980, he's described thusly: "Robert Anton Wilson is an important thinker and doer, a renowned mystic and revolutionary, whose books and articles are read and debated with delight and fervor. His work has won the plaudits of the literary establishment as well as the literary underground. Alan Watts has dubbed his writing “subversive, esoteric, and extremely interesting.” Timothy Leary has proclaimed it “scholarly, literate, witty, and great!” David Harris has declared it “the anarchist acid-rock answer to Tolkien.” Henry Miller has pronounced it “something we’ve needed for a long time!” I love that one. Far better than I could ever describe him.
What’s the relationship between C4SS and the late Discordian author, Robert Anton Wilson? 
I wish I could find the source, but I remember at one time reading that if RAW were alive today he'd probably most closely align with C4SS politically. I've got to imagine, based on everything I've read from the man, that it's fairly accurate. I think even his non-political thinking contains a lot of overlap with C4SS philosophy. 
I've tried during my time affiliated with C4SS to dial up the amount of RAW exposure. I created a "Robert Anton Wilson Collection" there – which contains "sombunall" of C4SS's references to RAW's work. In almost everything I've written at C4SS, I've given a nod to him, if not outright parroted his ideas, often intentionally. 


How can an individual put anarchism into practice in their day-to-day lives, without being imprisoned? What projects are you personally engaged with that you see as anarchist activities?  
I'm a big believer that anarchism is going on everywhere, every day, without its participants being aware of it. Where our lives intertwine and are governed by a voluntary, spontaneous order, that's anarchy. I know my relationships with my friends and family, and other people in my community, are largely based on anarchist principles. Yours probably are too. We don't codify the rules of our relationships through some bumbling, bureaucratic institution that none of us consented to. We simply co-exist with each other based on an informal set of shared values and mutual interests in many of our daily activities. Those anarchic relationships aren't always perfect, but they're less imperfect than they'd be if a third party were lording over us and setting forth the rules of the road.  
When the politicians and corporate bigwigs go home every night, I'm guessing there's probably some anarchy going on inside their homes, and between them and their neighbors. They'd probably be appalled by this notion – but if they took the time to understand the philosophy, they might learn something from it. 
Even though the state and its corporate allies taint our every day lives and make our relationships less capable of being fully anarchic, I still think the bulk of our activities in life are governed by free and voluntary interactions amongst ourselves. 
Even within hierarchical institutions, the "underlings" tend to create their own horizontal order. So in essence, even authoritarian institutions can't be saved from anarchic influence...we subvert everything!   
Of course, there are always going to be people who are looking for a "Big Daddy," to issue marching orders they can follow. I’m paraphrasing one of my favorite anarchists – Hagbard Celine. But where anarchists can succeed most is in freeing those power-worshippers from the dangerous notion that somebody's got to rule them. 
- Follow Chad on Twitter @cnels43. 
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