Friday, July 30, 2004

The Power of Place

by Skald

Just finished a book called The Power of Place. I was intrigued by the title, but unfortunately, the title was the best part of the book. However, there was one excellent line in the book: "We can powerfully manage our psychology with geography." That statement rings true.

Perhaps I'm more sensitive than most... but nothing seems to impact my mental health quite as much as where I'm living. When living in big cities, I have typically been high-strung, irritible, and quasi-manic (my current state while living in Bangkok). Living in the redneck suburban hell of Greenville, SC (a conservative right-wing outpost) I continually felt stifled, oppressed, and bored.

On the other hand, I feel an immediate uplift every time I drive into Athens, GA or Asheville, NC. Likewise, Dharmasala & Varanasi India..... Chang Mai, Thailand..... and Orvieto, Italy. Some places lift the spirit, some squash it. There is tremendous power in geography and social-geography. Where we live matters... and it matters a lot!

Therefore, I have come to my senses and turned down the job offer at Thammasat University (what was I thinking?!). And while Bangkok has been an interesting one year experiment, I am now plotting my next move... possibly to Chang Mai... possibly to another country.

It is time to manage my psychology with geography once again. Let's call it "Hobopoet Therapy".

The Essence of The Hobopoet Path
by Skald

The hobopoet path, stripped down to its barest essentials, comes to just two elements: Experience and Contemplation.

Both are necessary. A variety of experiences is absolutely essential. This means that we do not live the same day over and over again until we die. We seek out that which is new, odd, challenging, different, fascinating. But this is not enough, by itself. A variety of experiences, without contemplation, creates only a driven busy-body... the typical "type-A" personality: devoid of wisdom, greedily acquiring and consuming... the thrill seeker.... the shallow adrenaline junky.

Contemplation is essential.... the careful and relentless examing of one's life. This is meditation. This is choiceless awareness. This is deep looking. We think, we consider, we examine, we observe. But this, alone, is not enough. Contemplation without experience quickly degenerates into "navel-gazing", self-absorption, confusion, and circular thinking: the befuddled academic,... the media junky.... the nuerotic new ager.... the fearful recluse... Devoid of wisdom. Cut off from the world.

As Hobopoets, we require both experience and contemplation.... both of them in massive amounts and both of them throughout our entire lives.

These are the twin disciplines of the Hobopoet life... what unites the vagrant scholar, the dharma bum, the cyber hobo, the itinerate poet, the young homeless professional, the eco-traveller, the sufi, the haiku drifter... These are the yin and yang of the Hobopoet way.... its bare essential qualities. A hobopoet must continually seek experiences beyond their comfort zone and must continually contemplate these experiences and the larger truths beneath them.

This is not a choice between stillness (of body and mind) and action... both are required... each in its proper time and amount. Stillness and action. Experience and contemplation. Such is our path.
Soundproofing For Van Living
by Skald

The last vanliving experiment was, by and large, a stunning success. I managed to live a year in my van in a redneck suburban Georgia town... without ever being discovered... and without suffering any undue hardships. I was relatively comfortable throughout the hot Georgia summer and on even the coldest days of winter (the coldest being 7 degrees).

But there was one issue that plagued me.... one that I am determined to address when I make my third vanliving experiement: Noise.

Noise was the most stressful aspect of the last experiment. I was constantly woken up at night by people talking or arguing near my van. This was an especially big problem when I made one of my frequent visits to Athens... as I parked near a night club and would constantly be woken up by loud drunks.

The mornings were also difficult, as cars or machinery or the sound of people going to work disturbed my sleep. I was overparanoid about being discovered, so I found it very difficult to get back to sleep once I was woken up. Over time, this became very stressful.

So next time, in addition to sealing the rear area for light... I will also sound proof it.

Here are some ideas... gleaned from an excellent website on soundproofing ( ):

*Build a "room within a room" in the main compartment of the van. This could be framed with 2x2's. Foam core or plywood could be used for the interior walls... plywood for the floor. The space between the van exterior and the new walls would be filled with insulation.

*A door to the driver compartment would need to be cut in the front of the "room"... sealed tight with gaskets.

*Two vent holes would need to be cut in the front wall as well.... a small brushless fan could be placed in each one... one for intake, one for outtake. These vent holes could be plugged for high-stealth situations (watching a movie, sex, ect.).

*Attach ceiling acoustic board to all of the walls, floor and ceiling to further dampen sounds. Over this, hang curtains or tapestries. The gap between the tile-wall and the fabric will act as sound (and temperature) insulation.

Of course, the above modifications would also greatly increase the heat insulation of the van... keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Hopefully, sound would be greatly reduced as well.... helping to eliminate the primary source of stress that I experienced during the last van living experiment.

If anyone gives these suggestions a try.... please post a comment and let us know how they work.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

More On Goliards
from Joumpeich de los Goliardos

Wandering students and clerics in medieval England, France, and Germany, remembered for their satirical verses and poems in praise of drinking and debauchery. The goliards described themselves as followers of the legendary Bishop Golias: renegade clerics of no fixed abode who had more interest in rioting than in the life of a responsible citizen. It is difficult to be sure how many of them were in fact social rebels or whether this was merely a guise adopted for literary purposes. Of the identifiable poets, Huoh Primas of Orleans, Pierre de Blois, Gautier de Ch‚tillon, and Phillipe the Chancellor all became important establishment figures and to some extent outgrew their student high spirits. The one known as the Archpoet seems to have lived what he preached to the end of his life.

The goliards were noted as rioters, gamblers, poets and scholars. Their satires were almost uniformly directed against the church, attacking even the pope. In 1227 the Council of Trier forbade priests to permit goliards to take part in chanting the service. In 1229 they played a conspicuous part in disturbances at the University of Paris in connection with the intrigues of the papal legate; in 1289 it was ordered that no cleric should be a goliard, and in 1300 (at Cologne) they were forbidden to preach or to grant indulgences. Finally the privileges of clergy were withdrawn from the goliards.

The word goliard lost its clerical association, passing into French and English literature of the 14th century in the general meaning of jongleur, or minstrel (its meaning in Piers Plowman and in Chaucer). A remarkable collection of their Latin poems and songs in praise of wine and riotous living was published in the late 19th century under the title Carmina Burana, taken from the manuscript of that title at Munich which was written in Bavaria in the 13th century. Many of these were translated by John Addington Symonds as Wine, Women, and Song (1884). The collection also includes the only known two surviving complete texts of medieval passion dramas--one with and one without music. In 1937 the German composer Carl Orff based his scenic oratorio Carmina Burana on these poems and songs. Many of them are also to be found in the important Cambridge Songbook written in England some 200 years earlier.

The subject matter of the Goliard poems and songs varies: political and religious satire; love songs of an unusual directness; and songs of drinking and riotous life. The last category involves the most characteristically goliardic elements: the plaints of unfrocked clergy, a homeless scholar's cries of self-pity, the unashamed panegyrics of hedonism, and the dauntless denials of Christian ethics. It is this last category for which the least trace of written music survives. Present knowledge of medieval poetry and music suggests that all the poems were intended for singing, even though only a few are provided with music in the manuscripts. The music is normally notated in diastematic neumes--a kind of musical shorthand that can be read only by comparison with another version of the tune, fully written out. In musical style the amorous songs are similar to those of the trouvËres; in several cases the same melody appears in both repertories.
The Goliards and Vagabond Poets
by Will Fletcher and Rebecca Bailey

Bands of vagabond poets roamed through Europe in the 10th through the 12th centuries. Their work and their way of life came to be associated with a mythical hero named Golias, an amalgam of the "greedy, half-starved reprobates who traveled light with threadbare cloaks and a few staves of Latin verse as their only baggage" (Walsh, 3). Many of their poems are literary tributes to this lifestyle and the vices they enjoy.

They travel from city to city, or more accurately, from center of learning to center of learning, taking knowledge and leaving poems. These men were the epitome of professional students, planting no roots, they had nothing to keep them in one place or another, unless of course they found work. Their career options as learned men were not too wide, the only jobs really open to them were as a cleric or court poet to a magistrate or high officer in the clergy. But, even if they were tied to a place or a patron, they would not give up their vagabond lifestyle; they still felt the draw of the drink and dice, and would often find themselves in trouble because of it. In The Danger of Asking for One's Own, Primas reports an account of a man chasing him out of a boarding house and almost killing him (one can only guess at why). There is also a fine example of the poverty enjoyed by these vagabonds in A Plea for Clothing in which the author begs of a kind lord to "cover up his body."

Those that were clerics enjoyed a certain amount of legal freedom:

Pay no secular taxes
Perform no military service
Not tried in secular courts
Entitled to alms
Not Subject to the death penalty

This allowed them the freedom to speak their minds more freely and to enjoy themselves without fear of extreme legal retribution. But their main concern was neither art nor social change. These poets did not write just to make a living, often they wrote just to stay alive; because of this unique and precarious situation, their poetry mostly reflects their actual lives. Examples of the work of two such clerici vagi (wandering scholars) can be found on our website.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Disciplined Hendonism
by Skald

Hobopoet Chris Moses refers to our approach to life as "disciplined hedonism". I like the term. I also like to use the closely related term, "sustainable hedonism". Yes, we want happiness, emotional growth, ecstasy, intellectual challenges, freedom, sex, enthusiasm, good food, good drink, friends, music, peak experiences, etc... but we want a full life of them. Many an undisciplined hedonist has destroyed their life with excess and addiction: a few years of glory followed by decades of wretchedness.

That's not our way. Sustainable hedonism does require discipline. In the realm of money- it requires financial control... a constant vigilance against runaway consumerism. In the realm of psychedelic drugs- it requires a careful, measured, courageous approach. In the realm of travel- it requires alertness and, at times, wariness. This is not a path to self-destruction... it is a path to freedom, self-reliance, and a wildly enjoyable life. We don't want to burn out OR fade away.

As Hobopoets, we are not concerned with establishing an impossible utopia in the far future. We will seize our freedom now... and we will maintain it through persistence and self-discipline.

Disciplined hedonists live by the maxim: "moderation in all things-- including moderation." Sustainable hedonism requires reflection... a conscious and ongoing examination of one's life coupled with an unswerving dedication to experiential experimentation. We like good ideas-- but view them only as working hypotheses until tested by direct experience. We are explorers, first and foremost, of our own lives and minds. We embrace the zen principle of radical empiricism-- the primacy of direct experience: no sacred texts, no leaders, no gurus, no laws... no mediated truths... only the truth of our own lives... here and now.

There are many paths to disciplined hedonism... to a hobopoet life. Every life, every temperment will find its own way. We are punks, hobos, poets, spiritual seekers, philosophers, permanent students, impoverished aesthetics, part-time wanderers, full-time bums.... we are professionals (Matt Salleh.... the "young homeless professional"), we are artists. Some of us have Phds... others of us never finished High School.

What binds us together is our dedication to the central tenants of the hobopoet life:

Self-Reliance, &
Wisdom Through Experience

Thursday, July 15, 2004

by Mack

[Check out the link to the Evasion website... under "anti-work" on the sidebar --Skald]

Evasion in an almost religious way, as a text by which to live their life. Since itís release - the book and the zine before that - weíve seen in the DIY subculture a surge in things like dumpster diving, and shoplifting, as well as a wave of ìtraveler kidsî inspired in part or whole by your writing. What are your reflections on the role youíve played in these things? Are these positive trends?

First, I think Iíll fall under attack if I didnít point out there was Iggy Scam before me, and Aaron Cometbus before him, and we could trace the lineage of Evasion back to Abbie Hoffman before both. Prankster/outlaw/vagabond memoir-literature is timeless.

Traveling continues to be important to me. But I have not ever, nor do I now identify with ìtraveler kid cultureî. I was never involved with the anarcho/crust/pseudo-activist/scenester cult many would identify me with. When it comes with dreadlocks, a bandanna in itís back pocket, and holds a 40 oz, I run. Itís just a basic feeling this scene has nothing to do with my life. Iím speaking of most every traveling punk Iíve met when I say the traveling culture is focused on ìhanging outî.One thing about my early writing, something that remains important to me, is that much of my traveling was done alone. The emphasis was on the experience. I still choose to travel alone at least half the time. But for many of the kids I meet now.... Itís a social scene. Hopping trains from punk house to punk house. Great I guess, but.... I donít really stay at punk houses, or eat Food Not Bombs, or go to ìradicalî conferences. I support those things, but they are not stimulating to me. So, Iím not really in the circles you describe.

I wouldnít doubt maybe a few kids have read Evasion and decided to model their life from it. Is this positive? Dumpster diving reduces consumption, so I feel good about that. I like the idea of people maybe taking a shortcut to their dreams via a little ìreallocation of goodsî, like the kid in Louisville who told me his passion was music, and after reading Evasion walked into one of those chain music stores and walked out with a guitar! I can say Iíve hardly had a bad day since I quit my last job 8 years ago, and I think most people would be better for doing the same. Iíve gotten several ìRead Evasion, went veganî letters, and those are the greatest. Then there are Evasion readers who come away just knowing better tactics for stealing beer. You take the good with the bad.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Note on Nationalism
by Hakim Bey

Viewed as the quintessentialization of hierarchy & separation, the State can replicate itself on any level of experience -- from the individual psyche to the laws of nations. And yet society can exist in theory without the State -- & did so in fact for nearly a million years, 99% of the time span of the human species, thanks to the persistence of customs & institutions -- and mythemes -- that appear to have been designed for just this purpose, i.e. the suppression of the State & realization of the Social.

War itself can be one of these institutions of "Society against the State", since (in its "primitive" form) it acts to disperse power & wealth rather than concentrate it. On another level we might say that shamanism also tends toward centrifugality of power in its emphasis on direct experience rather than mere symbolization (i.e. the shaman must "really" heal the patient, the medium must "really" be possessed, otherwise their prestige evaporates: -- in some tribes shamanic failure was punishable by exile or death).

The proto-State then must emerge in the moment of breakdown of centrifugal force in war & religion. Changes in economic structure appear to follow upon this breakdown rather than cause it. [Note: The "breakdown" itself may have had economic causes but we cannot perceive them -- certainly overpopulation and climatic change are inadequate "explanations"!] For instance, the replacement of hunting/gathering by agriculture failed to produce the proto-State. We cannot even blame the State on specialization of labor, since we are perfectly capable of imagining (with Fourier) a State-less Society based on fairly complex economics. The State seems almost sui generis -- its birth is shrouded in a certain mystery.

Something went wrong somewhere -- the old myths (based on reciprocity & redistribution) collapsed before the power of a new "story" based on separation & accumulation. The precise instant is lost, although the true State lurches into archaeological view sometime around the 4th to 3rd millennium in Sumer & Egypt. In both cases the realms of war & religion seem to have coalesced to produce figurative & literal pyramid-structures impossible to conceive without tribute & slavery. The centrifugality of the social is gradually supplanted by the centripetality of power & wealth till a crisis point is reached in the catastrophic emergence of a "priest-king" & a nascent bureaucracy -- the infallible signs of the true State.

The essence of the State is found in symbolization as mediation, & in mediation as alienation. These abstractions denote a brutal reality: -- The appearance of History's Bootheel. Separation & expropriation must be accomplished simultaneously on both the symbolic & actual plane. Symbols must be made to do the "work" of accumulation -- the State cannot expend its energy in re-creating itself in every moment. Writing for instance technologizes symbolization to the point where power can "act at a distance" -- hence the "magic" of writing, its Hermetic origin -- but writing itself may have been invented in order to implement an even more basic form of symbolization -- i.e. money.

Let's examine the hypothesis that the State is impossible without money as symbolic exchange. Even the most primitive king (as opposed to "elder" or "chieftain") can only be defined by the creation of scarcity & the accumulation of wealth -- & this double process can only be reproduced in symbolization. Generally this means that the king is somehow "sacred" & thus in himself (or herself) symbolizes the very motion of energy in or between surplus & scarcity. But this motion must be impeded if the energy-transfer can only take crude material form (actual cows or jars of wheat etc.). The essential exchange of protection-for-wealth that defines the true State must be symbolized in order to transcend what might be called the inherent egalitarianism of the material, its recalcitrance, its natural resistance to accumulation. "Protection" moreover has no overt material base, whereas wealth does -- hence the State will be at a disadvantage in the exchange unless it can present its power in symbolic (non-material) form -- as nothing for something.

If however the State remains impossible without money (even in its most unexpected or exotic or primitive form), money seems to be quite possible without the State. Our best evidence for this comes not only from the Past but also -- so to speak -- from the Future.

In the past we can discern money in the symbolic exchange & social construction of the sacrifice. When the tribe grows beyond the point where it can re-create itself in the sharing of a sacrificial animal, for instance, we might surmise that one's "due share" could be symbolized by some token. Once the "spiritual content" of these tokens is transferred to an economic sphere outside the sacrifice (as for example in the Lydian temple-coins of the 7th century BC) the existence of the tokens would then facilitate the "creation of scarcity" by symbolizing the accumulation of wealth. Thus money would precede the State.

If we wish to push the origin of money even farther back into the past, we could examine the mysterious clay tokens that appeared in the Neolithic "Near East" around the 7th millennium BC, apparently as counters for commodities. Real goods that are present only in symbolic form already express the possibility of scarcity -- & in fact these clay counters almost certainly stand for debt. When the symbolic counters themselves are then symbolized by writing -- a concept that appears at a very precise moment datable to about 3100 BC in the city of Uruk -- we can speak not only of money but of banking: the centralization of debt at the religio-political focus of power, the Temple. Thus, to put it crudely, money exists for 4000 years before it mutates into a form that makes possible the emergence of the true State.

If we look to the future -- i.e. to the "logic" of the present -- we can see even more clearly that money exists beyond the State. In a situation where money is "free" to move across borders in defiance of all political economy, as in "neo-liberal" free-market internationalism, the State can find itself abandoned by money, & re-defined as a zone of scarcity rather than wealth. The State remains by definition mired in production, while money attains the transcendence of pure symbolization. In the last five years money has achieved almost absolute lift-off, since more than 90% of all money now refers to nothing in the sphere of production, not even to the dirty outmoded symbolic tokens called "cash" -- although the entire productive world remains utterly in the power of money, such that scarcely a tomato can be grown & eaten without the mediation of symbolic exchange.

Paracelsus once told a petty German king, "Your Majesty is the true alchemist, not me (a mere puffer)! Your Majesty has only to empower a bank with a monopoly to coin money, and then borrow it. Thus you will create something out of nothing, a far more puissant act than making lead into gold!" The joke here is that the king was not the real alchemist. The locus of the magical act lay in the bank not the court. When all thrones in the world were hopelessly in debt to their own self-created central banks, the focus of power shifted. When governments resign their ancient role of protection, money breaks free at last -- governments can now provide only nothing for nothing -- their power is shattered. Their power has migrated into the alchemical sphere of pure symbolization.

Thus money & the State have never -- at any point -- been exactly identical, or even necessarily in alliance. Like the paradoxical relation of money & religion, money & the State are sometimes in conspiracy, sometimes in competition, occasionally even at war. God & Moloch, Mammon & Moloch -- the intricacies of their cosmic dance might be revealed in the legend of the Templars -- or the IMF! Money & the State (& religion) do not possess the simple paradoxicality of the ancient riddle about chicken & egg, but a far more complex relation; the question about cause & effect is the wrong question.

Money, the State, & religion: -- all are powers of oppression, but not the same power of oppression. In fact, when deployed against each other, they can act as powers of liberation. Money "buys freedom" for example; the populist State can suppress the banks, thus freeing its citizens from "money-power"; and religion has been known to deploy its "higher morality" against both economic & political injustice.

Moreover, the State does not appear all at once in its "absolute" form. If "primitive" societies possess institutions which successfully prevent the emergence of the State, nevertheless the emergence of the State cannot erase these institutions all at once. The "early" State must still co-exist with "customs & rights" that enable Society to resist its power. In ancient Ireland for example the kingship had to depend on (and often contend with) semi-independent warrior bands, the fianna, whose lives were devoted to sources of power (raiding) and wealth (hunting) that remained essentially outside the control of the State. The anthropology of "Society against the State" can be extended to a sociology of historical State systems *such as "feudalism") where some potent institutions & mythemes work against the total accumulation of power -- usually at the cost of violence.

Moreover, as Karl Polyani noted, money is also held in check in "pre-modern" cultures, not just in "primitive" societies (where money simply fails to appear), but also in quite complex State systems. "Classical civilizations" such as Mesopotamia, Greece, Mesoamerica, Egypt & even Rome retained structures of redistribution of wealth to some extent -- if only as panem et circenses; no one could have conceived of a "free" market in such circumstance, since its obvious inhumanity would have violated every surviving principle of reciprocity -- not to mention religious law. It was left to our glorious modern era to conceive of the State as absolute power, & money as "free" of all social restraint. The result might be called the Capital State: the power of money wedded to the power of war.

Ultimately, once the struggle against Communism was won, it would be logical to expect a last & final struggle between Capital & the State for power pure & supreme. Instead the Molochian State appears to know that it was already secretly beaten long ago (all thrones hopelessly in debt...) & has capitulated without a whimper to the triumph of Mammon. With a few exceptions the nations are now falling all over themselves in their eagerness to "privatize" everything from health to prisons to air & water to consciousness itself. "Protection" -- the only real excuse for the State's existence -- evaporates in every sphere of government's influence, from tariffs to "human rights". The State seems somehow to believe it can renounce not only its vestigial power over money but even its basic functions, & yet survive as an elected occupying army! Even the US, which boasts of itself as the last & final "superpower", found itself in the very moment of its apocalyptic victory reduced to a mercenary force at the bidding of international Capital -- blustering bush-league bully boasting of its crusade to overthrow a "Hitler" of the Middle East, but capable only of serving the interests of oil cartels & banks. National borders must survive so that political hirelings can divert taxes to "corporate welfare"; & so that huge profits can be made on arbitrage & currency exchange; & so that labor can be disciplined by "migratory" capital.

Otherwise the State retains no real function -- everything else is empty ceremony, & the sheer terrorism of the "war on crime" (i.e. the State's post-Spectacular war on its own poor and different). Thatcher & Reagan foretold with true prescience what government should & would do once it had fulfilled its last historical goal -- the overthrow of the Evil Empire. Government would voluntarily dismantle itself (at the "people's" bidding of course) & gracefully submit to the real Hegelian absolute: -- money.

Of course to speak of the "end of History" when there has been no ending (for example) of writing -- nor for that matter of material production -- is merely a form of insanity -- perhaps even a terminal form! Like religion, the State has simply failed to "go away" -- in fact, in a bizarre extension of the thesis of "Society against the State", we can even re-imagine the State as in institutional type of "custom & right" which Society can wield (paradoxically) against an even more "final" shape of power -- that of "pure Capitalism". This is an uncomfortable thought for a good anarchist; we've always tended to view the State as the enemy, & capitalism as one of its aspects or "accidents". The ideal opposite of the anarch is the monarch. [In fact there were some amusing & futile attempts in fin-de-siËcle France to forge links between anarchism & monarchism against the common enemy, the fading illusion of "democracy" -- & the emerging reality of Capitalism.] In this sense we may have been out-thought by syndicalism & by "council-communism", which at least developed more mature economic critiques of power.

Like the left in general however anarchism collapsed in 1989 (a growing North-american movement for example suddenly imploded) in all likelihood because at that moment our enemy the State also secretly collapsed. In order to move into the gap left by the defeat of Communism we needed a critique of Capitalism as the single power in a unified world. Our careful & sophisticated critique of a world divided into two forms of State/economic power was rendered suddenly irrelevant. In an attempt to rectify this lack, I believe we need a new theory of "nationalism" as well as a new theory of Capitalism (and indeed a new theory of religion as well). So far the only interesting model for this is the EZLN in Mexico -- (it's gratifying to see Zapatista slogans scrawled all over Dublin!) -- & it would be worth analyzing their theory-&-praxis for inspiration. The EZLN is the first revolutionary force to define itself in opposition to "global neo-liberalism"; it has done so without aid or influence from the "Internationale" because it appeared in the very same moment that "Moscow" disappeared. It has received the support of the remnants of Liberation Theology as well as the secret councils of Mayan shamans & traditional elders. In the Native-american sense of the word it is a "nationalist" movement, & yet it derives its political inspiration from Zapata, Villa, & Flores Magon (i.e., two agrarian anarcho-syndicalists & one anarcho-communist). It is concerned with "empirical freedoms" rather than purist ideology. [As Qaddafi says, "In need, freedom remains latent".] No wonder the NYTimes called Chiapas the first "post-modern" revolution; in fact, it is the first revolution of the 21st century.

James Connolly, one of the founders of the IWW, developed in Ireland a theory that socialism & nationalism were parts of one & the same cause -- & for this theory he suffered martyrdom in 1916. From one point of view Connolly's theory might lead toward "National Socialism" on the Right -- but from another point of view it leads to "third wold nationalism" on the Left. Now that both these movements are dead it is possible to see more clearly how Connolly's theory also fits with anarchist & syndicalist ideas of his own period, such as the left volkism of Gustav Landauer or the "General Strike" of Sorel. These ideas in turn can be traced back to Proudhon's writings on mutualism & "anarcho-federalism". [The quarrel between Marx & Proudhon was for more unfortunate for history than Marx's much noisier & more famous quarrel with Bakunin.]

Inasmuch as we might propose a "neo-proudhonian" interpretation of the Zapatista uprising, therefore, Connolly's ideas may take on a new relevance for us [and thus perhaps it's not surprising if the EZLN sparks a response from the Irish left!]. Nationalism today is headed for a collision with Capitalism, for the simple reason that the nation per se has been redefined by Capital as a zone of depletion. In other words, the nation can either capitulate to Capitalism or else resist it -- no third way, no "neutrality" remains possible. The question facing the nation as zone of resistance is whether to launch its revolt from the Right (as "hegemonic particularity") or from the left (as "non-hegemonic particularity"). Not all nations are zones of resistance, & not all zones of resistance are nations. But wherever the two coincide to some extent the choice becomes not only an ethical but also a political process.

During the American Civil War the anarchist Lysander Spooner refused to support either side -- the South because it was guilty of chattel-slavery, the North because it was guilty of wage-slavery -- & moreover because it denied the right to secede, and obvious sine qua non of any genuinely free federation. In this sense of the term, nationalism must always be opposed because it is hegemonic -- & secession must always be supported inasmuch as it is anti-hegemonic. That is, it can only be supported to the extent that it does not seek power at the expense of others' misery. No State can ever achieve this ideal -- but some "national struggles" can be considered objectively revolutionary provided they meet basic minimal requirements -- i.e. that they be both non-hegemonic & anti-Capitalist.

In the "New World" such movements might perhaps include the Hawaiian secession movement, Puerto Rican independence, maximum autonomy for Native-american "nations", the EZLN, & at least in theory the bioregionalist movement in the US -- and it would probably exclude (with some regrets) such movements as Quebec nationalism, & the militia movement in the US. In Eastern Europe we might see potential in such states as Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia, the Ukraine -- but not in Serbia nor in Russia. In the "Mid-East" one cannot help supporting Chechnya & the Kurds. In Western Europe the EU must be opposed, & the smaller nations most likely to be crushed by the weight of Eurotrash & Eurodollars should be encouraged to stay out of the Union or to oppose it from within. This includes the Atlantic littoral from Morocco (where Berber resistance & Saharan independence have our sympathy) to Ireland, Denmark, perhaps, Scandinavia, the Baltics, & Finland. Celtic secessionism should be encouraged in Scotland, Wales, Brittany, & Man; this would add a strong socialist & green tint to any possible coalition of small Atlantic States. In Northern Ireland the best possible solution to the "Troubles" might be an independent Ulster based on socialist anti-sectarian solidarity -- a dream perhaps but far more interesting than "Peace" at any price -- & a free revolutionary Ulster would no doubt release an unbelievable burst of energy into the anti-Capitalist movement -- despite its size Ulster would emerge as a leader of any such movement -- it would possess tremendous moral prestige.

Since we're indulging in dreams let's imagine that an anti-Communist/anti-Capitalist movement emerges in E. Europe, & allies itself with new movements within Islam, no longer "fundamentalist" & hegemonistic but definitely anti-Capitalist & opposed to "One World" culture. In turn an alliance is made with the anti-capitalist anti-"Europe" states of the Atlantic littoral -- & simultaneously within all these countries revolutionary forces are at work for social & economic justice, environmental activism, anti-hegemonic solidarity, & "revolutionary difference". NGOs & religious groups lend their logistical support to the struggle. Meanwhile we can imagine Capitalism in crisis for any of a myriad reasons, from bank-collapse to environmental catastrophe. Suddenly the radical populist critique of "neo-liberalism" begins to cohere for millions of workers, farmers, tribal peoples, x-class drop-outs & artists, heretics, & even "petit-bourgeois" shopkeepers & professionals...

..."After the Revolution" of course all nationalist forms would have to be carefully reconsidered. The goal of "neo-Proudhonian federalism" would be the recognition of freedom at every point of organization in the rhizome, no matter how small -- even to a single individual, or any tiny group of "secessionists". No doubt these freedoms would have to be ensured through constant struggle against the "natural" tendencies to greed & power-hunger inherent within every individual & every collectivity. But that's a matter for the future. In the present we are faced with the monumental task of constructing an anti-Capitalist resistance movement out of the shattered remnants of radicalism, some glue, some tissue paper, & some hot rhetoric. We can no longer afford the luxury of ignoring politics. This does not mean I'm about to ruin a perfect anarchist record & vote for the first time -- since in my country voting means nothing & gains one nothing, not even $5 or a free drink (as in the old days of Tammany Hall). I mean politics in the Clauswitzian sense. And war makes for strange bedfellows -- even for unexpected comrades & allies. I'd like to believe that revolution could be a non-violent "war for peace" -- but like a good scout, one should be prepared.
Illness and The Benefits of Unemployment
by Skald

Today I woke with a painful sore throat. I'm having great trouble swallowing.... much less eating. I feel tired and worn out. As I lay in my bed today, bemoaning my ill fortune... it struck me how truly fortunate I really am. Past bouts of illness have indeed been miserable experiences. And why? Because usually I was working.... it was the accursed job which made being sick such an incredibly draining experience. Why? Because I always tried to drag my ass into work anyway.... and then spent many miserable hours trying to survive the day. I'd repeat that sorry routine for a week or more.... until I'd taken enough drugs to beat back whatever was ailing me.

Or, I'd call in and use one of those precious "sick days".... always getting that icy reply from the fucking boss.... always the pressure to "hurry back" to work. Or... I'd have a job that had no "sick days" at all... and so there was the pressure of losing precious wages as a result of the illness.

What I rarely, if ever, did was relax, rest, and just take my time getting better--- something that I can now do. So today, blissfully unemployed, I was able to sleep in as late as I liked. I then spent the day lounging around lazily.... sipping orange juice... and generally taking my time. I feel no pressure to hurry up and get well and thus can let this thing run its natural course- instead of doping up on a handful of drugs in order to work, work, work.

This little illness is showing me just how unnatural working is-- how it takes over the natural rhythms of life and makes us slaves to the clock. What do sick animals do? They lay around until they get well. That's it, pretty much. What a luxury it is... in this age of clocks & capitalism... to do the same. Just rest until I feel better.

Let's call this reason #745 for why I loathe jobs!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

by Skald

My greatest source of weariness with this Age and society we live in is its abhorrence of experience. Ours is a world-society obsessed with numbers and symbols. Everyone talks, thinks about, debates, and focuses on the symbols rather than true experience. Quantity is everything. If something can't be quantified... it's considered unimportant and in essence... unreal.

"Experts" have replaced "Masters". A Master is one who has mastered a particular aspect of life-- through experience. A Master has deep experience and acquired skill. By contrast, an "expert" has mastered nothing-- s/he is an expert of symbols only... can quote what hordes of other "experts" have said about a subject.... but knows nothing of the actual experience itself. Thus we have religious "experts" who have never had a transcendental experience. We have language experts who can't speak a foreign language. We have basketball experts who can't make a free throw. We have Arab "experts" who can't speak or read Arabic and who have never visited the Middle East. Experts, quite clearly, are false masters. A religious expert (minister, imam,priest...) can quote the holy text but has no idea what it is pointing to... what experience it is trying to describe. Thus the expert gets lost in the symbols and adopts them as reality. And so we have the ridiculous phenomenon of people killing each other over whose book is the most holy.

This extends everywhere. TV is reality for most folks... while real experience is de-valued. People are terrified of symbolic, TV created fears such as violent crime... despite the fact that they, nor their family or friends, have ever been a victim of violence. They are terrified of terrorists despite never having encountered (or even seen) one. Meanwhile, the paper plant in their county continuously dumps toxins into their rivers and air-- which are indeed real threats to their health and life.... but few seem to care enough to peel their eyes of the TV.

This bedrock philosophy, that knowledge-symbols are more "real" than experience, is what makes our societies so insufferably boring. There are simply no peak experiences-- nothing of substance-- just talking heads and ever more lurid "entertainment".

The cure for this is, of course, experimentation. Experience is the vital-- essential-- thing. To understand "zen" we must experience it. To understand psychedelic drugs we must try them. To understand love we must experience love. Everything else is someone else's clever lie. Yet legions condemn and/or propose what they have never experienced themselves. There is no received wisdom, in the end. There are no real shortcuts. We must live to grow wise.

So this is a call for experience-- experimentation with one's life.... or as Gandhi called it: "Experiments with truth". Our task as Hobopoets is not to learn more but to experience more. Our task is to try more things... to try living simply, to visit other countries, to try drugs, to try new music, to try new places and people and idea for living. Our task is to expand the range and depth of our experience. Unplug the TV and get out there! Time for us all to stop yapping and actually try something new. Of course, I'm preaching to the choir here.

But that is life-- real life. All else is virtual reality... which is the programmed reality of parents, teachers, books, movies, TV, "common sense", the internet, etc... I love books but we must keep them in perspective.... they are useful as an inspiration for new experiences and as an aid for making sense of past experience. But without real experiences... reading becomes nothing but mental masturbation. A merely mediated life is for boring losers. It is experience which is the essence of an accomplished life.... which is the essence of wisdom... and which is the essence of being a Hobopoet.
by Matt Salleh

We flew out of Jakarta on Monday morning, our flight delayed by an
Indonesian Standard 45-minutes.. 'rubber time' they call it.

As we sailed over Java I saw at least 3 volcanoes... 1 had smoke
spewing from it's vent and we flew so close to another that we could see inside
the crater and into it's throat.... pretty cool!

I was extremely excited... and amazed.. I wanted to get closer!

Our first day in Bali we bussed to an organic rice padi and listened to
the farmers talk about sustainable agriculture, we also did a quadrat study
in a cocoa plantation... the undergrowth was just enough for the kids to

Then a tour of a Balinese Hundu temple and a trek through a secondary

Today I had to bail out and go to the doctore after a 5-day stint of
stomach upset... it had gotten better, but then got worse... the doctor gave me
meds, vitamins and oral rehydration salts...

I caught an afternoon ride to Tanah Lot temple to meet up with the

Other than that, we've tooled around town in semi-anthropological-style
interviewing locals about the effects of the Bali bombing on tourism
for their humanities report.... and swimming in the pool in between

Tomorrow we head to the beach for a lesson on waves physics and beach

It's been a great time.. Bali is fantastic and once you get off the
typical tourist strip, life here is authentic and unmolested....

I like to cool winds, mountains, rice fields and temples....