published in Volume 1, Issue 4 on September 15th, 1994
It is strange how some people I correspond with begin to mean something to me in my everyday thoughts. Our correspondence has done something like that to me. I guess it is a result of the things we talk about: the revolution, the lovolutionary character, the human bond. As of this moment, I must conclude that our bond is that of two like-minded individuals who are seeking truth and justice in a world founded on injustice and lies. You said that bonding doesn't necessarily have to be about love, but need. Now, the question is how do we need each other? You are thousands of miles away in South Africa. I have never seen you or heard your voice; you are years younger than me. How could we possibly need each other?
Obviously we don't need each other for our basic daily needs. So then, could it be that we need the psychological emotions and information that we receive through our letter exchange? Maybe I need your advice and your criticism helping me to focus on the positive energy and not succumb to cynicism and despair. Maybe I need to know that there are other people in the globe who feel as alienated from Western Culture as I do. Maybe that is all we can give each other since we live on different continents. Maybe all we can do is to exchange letters to help each other cope with living in a society which we know is slowing killing us.
I have been thinking about your idea that the best thing for me to do with my life now would be to join a liberal cause, play their game of social reform and charity, and wait until the system falls apart to then be ready to take over a position to provide us with an alternative vision.
The problem I have with that is that I have to play their reformist game for God knows how long. This means that I would not be taking the initiative and creating my own organization (religion) which I think could give us an alternative solution to the problem. The point is that I have tried to work with liberal groups in the past for one cause or another like the anti-apartheid group or the anti-nuclear group or the group for sustainable economics, but their visions are so specialized and focused that they are not able to see the depth of the social problems. They don't want to go to the root causes and then to fix them with radical solutions. Racism, classism, sexism, and ageism are spiritual diseases and they will only be solved by spiritual means which is why I have focused so much of my studies on the matter of the heart and soul.
In Power and Innocence Rollo May writes, "The breakdown of communication is a spiritual one." He says that words get their communicative power for the fact that they participate in symbols. This creates a Gestalt, a symbol gets a numinous quality which carries across to one some meaning from the emotions of another (75). Nelson Mandela became a powerful speaker who people listened to because he was a symbol of the liberation movement. Through the power of the symbol, Mandela was able to change the way people thought and to make them conscious of the injustice of apartheid.
Let me say a few more words about following the liberal agenda. This summer I had a man (the Sheik) interested in forming a personal relationship with me. As a liberal working on an advanced degree in accounting, he could see the vast inequality with the world's wealth and understood that what was happening in the United States was that there was becoming two classes of people, the very rich who rule the networks of the global corporation, and the poor. The Sheik gave his money to liberal organizations. He wanted to make enough money in his life to be able to have time to be able to enjoy life: support a family, sail, take trips. He would listen to my ideas and seemed to appreciate what I had to say.
I realized that we were not compatible because of our different perspectives on life when we took a walk through a grave yard one afternoon. We rested on a tree stump and before us was a large grave stone which read JUDGE on it. There was a small American flag beside it as so many of the other stones had beside them to mark that they had been US war veterans. I playfully took the flag from the holder and dramatically ripped the flag from the stick and began using it as a primitive drawing tool. I began to sketch out something that looked like an Outerspace Creature from a UFO.
The Sheik got very upset with me and demanded that I put the flag back in its proper place beside the grave. With a stern and, I must say, inhuman expression, he said that I was violating the rules by destroying the flag. I said that it was the wish of the dead that war, nationalism, and the plutocracy be stopped. To this end we should tear down all flags and bury them in the middle of the grave yard. The Sheik said that I would be breaking the law and that for him that was unacceptable behavior. He thought the laws of the United States were just and that it was the people's fault that they were not working. I said that I believed that the laws of the land were not fair since the only way to have freedom in America was if you had money to pay for it. The law protected the rich property owners and the United States did not stand for human rights. Through boycotting and civil disobedience to the laws were some of the ways I thought that we could work to change the injustice.
But the Sheik thought it was always wrong to break the law and if the law was unjust the people must work through the system in order to change it. For him, working through the system was the only way to effect change. He thought any other way would lead to social anarchy. "What about the tactics of Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi?" I asked. "They broke the law in order to follow the Cosmic Law of human justice." The Sheik thought that was the same thing that the right wing had done in the Iran-Contra deals when Oliver North broke the laws because he thought he must support the war in Central America in order to protect American interests.
I tried to explain to him that what the left-wing was doing was not the same thing as that of the right-wing since they were struggling for completely different worldviews which were in opposition to one other. The right-wing were into greed, nuclear family values, and supported Corporate America. The left-wing was into (whether they know it or not) creating a new world based on universal health care, Neutopian actucation (the enactment of education), and rebuilding the cities into arcologies.
The Sheik became very militaristic in his demands that I put the flag back. Even after I told him that I needed the stick in order to draw out a blueprint for Neutopia, he said he would not walk back to the house with me if I didn't follow his orders. So right there at the Judge's grave, I had to make up my mind as to whether or not to go on with his wish; after all, he as going to be an accountant and he did find me, a poor artist, attractive; and we had "grinded pelvis" together. So I told him that I would follow his orders if he would listen to my speech about why I had this burning desire to burn every nation-state flag that I saw. There wasn't much lively energy from him at the time, so my speech basically consisted of me throwing the flag over my head. He then retrieved it and put it back on the stick and stuck it into the ground beside the JUDGE.
We walked back to his apartment as he talked about world politics and the poverty stricken nations. We smoked some pot together (really, I am trying to quit) and then kissed and hugged each other. But the passion did not last long. I knew in my soul I was not a liberal---I didn't believe in the United States government or global capitalism. I kicked myself for again getting into bed with a man who I could not love because he would not join me in my lovolutionary crusade of building Neutopia.
The next day we went to see Dr. Helen Caldicott speak at Smith College on nuclear waste dumps. Her vision of the future was a very grave one of families having to support children with severe genetic mutations (like no arms and legs) and a world where clean water, air, and soil were hard to find. She informed us that the food in Europe is contaminated with the poisons which resulted from the Chernobyl nuclear power accident. Oh no, I thought to myself. I bet I had eaten contaminated food when I was in the Soviet Union in 1989 when I took a trip there with my parents! Those poor Europeans! What are we to do?
Helen asked the audience what we could do to change the situation. She believed we needed another American Revolution. She asked us how many of us were dedicated to ending nuclear power this year. Out of a couple of hundred people only about ten hands went up. My hand was one of those hands while the Sheik's had remain low. He had his excuse for not wanting to work to stop nuclear power. After all, he was a graduate student in accounting with much school work to do. He didn't have time to work on an anti-nuclear campaign while trying to finish up his degree. Without that degree, he thought he would not be able to buy the American standard of living, which Oliver North was fighting to protect.
The last time I talked with the Sheik was over the telephone. He called me to invite me over to spend some time with him. He said that there was going to be a championship hockey game on TV that night and he wanted me to watch the game with him. He said that we could talk about ideas during the commercials. So I told him that I wasn't interested in hockey games and that my time was too valuable to spend in that way. After all, I had pledged to stop nuclear power and there was no time to waste.
Geertjan, I hope that you can see what kind of man I need. He is not a liberal, but a rebel. Rollo May writes, "For the rebel function is necessary as the life-blood of culture, as the very roots of civilization" (220). May makes a distinction between the rebel and the revolutionary which I feel is somewhat unnecessary. He says that the chief goal of the rebel is not to overthrow the government which, of course, she or he could also support, but what is more important is her or his commitment to the vision. He writes,
We also note the startling regularity through history with which society martyrs the rebel in one generation and worships him [sic] in the next. Socrates, Jesus, William Blake, Buddha, Krisha--the list is endless as it is rich. If we look more closely at the first two, we shall see how the rebel typically challenges the citizenry with his [sic] vision" (224).
The vision brings us out of the vicious circle of bloody revolutionary after bloody revolution. May continues,
The slave who kills his master is an example of the revolutionary. He can then only take his master's place and be killed in turn by later revolutionaries. But the rebel is the one who realizes that the master is as much imprisoned, if not as painfully, as he is by the institution of slavery; he rebels against the system which permits slaves and masters. His rebellion, if successful, saves the master also from the indignity of owning slaves" (222).
In today's world, the slave owners are the owners of Corporate America. Everyone who works for them are their slaves. In the recent issue of Newsweek (July 11, 1994) Bill Gates, who they call the "Tech King" is described as a competitive, controlling, money-hungry plutocrat who wants to rule the world through his computer empire and his Microserfs. His vision is to "lure millions of people into Microsoft's lane of the coming Information Highway: home banking, home shopping, entertainment and electronic mail." Michael Meyer for Newsweek writes, "The future, increasingly, is Hollywood: "edutainment," home videos, home everything." "Edutainment," a word they coined combining the words education and entertainment, all geared to brainwashing the minds of the youth with the principles of the Tech King: competition, materialism, and monotheism. The plutocratic vision is to make the Internet, not into an world community of love and knowledge, but to use it to sell Microserf products and to seduce us with their "edutainment."
Now, do you think Bill Gates and his cult is concerned with the billion or so people throughout the world who don't have any homes? Do you think in his "master plan" he is planning out a way to create a world without poverty, a world based on compassionate justice? I don't think so.
While I was visiting my parents in North Carolina last week there was a front page article printed in the Greensboro News and Record (June 30, 1994) about the Grandover Resort, being developed by the Koury Corporation, which they describe as the "nation's first fully computer-integrated and automated community." Grandover will be composed of "two championship golf courses, 14 championship tennis courts, golf and tennis clubs, a health club, a 900-room conference center and hotel, retail villages and restaurants." There will also be 2,000 single-family homes-- generally selling for $300,000 and up. Easy to use touch screens will allow residents to access "a variety of entertainment, communications and building automations." It sounds like paradise for the rich, right? To keep out all those poor, begging intruders, the computer will control sophisticated security systems (programmed to kill any foreign intruders). So the feudal kings are beginning to rebuild their castle fortresses while half the world is starving to death. Bill Gates and his Microserfs do not have the saving vision. The saving vision must be a plan to save everyone.
I see a different kind of global culture, Neutopia, being built from the fruits of advanced technology and the wisdom of ecology. Through virtual reality, a new kind of community is evolving. New kinds of human relationships are coming together as people begin to bond to common interests, through email, listserves, Usenet newsgroups, etc. As you have said in a previous letter, I am not a prototype for feeling alienation from Western civilization. There are people all over the world who feel the same alienation, isolation, and loneliness as I do. Those of us who are online now have a way to reach each other. We now can band together in virtual space. But is this the community that we need?
Can we live happy lives in a virtual world where we don't need to physically touch the people who we love? When we, peace comrades, are so spread out all over the capitalist world, is virtual space the only thing that we can hope for? All I can say to this is that it is difficult to live strictly in one's dream world and imagination. It is difficult to have virtual lovers in only the mind and not in the flesh.
Geertjan, I don't really know what the answer is. I don't feel like a free person, but a slave, powerless to change my polluted environment, powerless to move beyond the single-family house, powerless to follow my dreams and make them real. I have no desire to follow the liberal cause, but to start an organization of Neutopian thinkers who can also see their unique way to the Solar Jerusalem. I don't have all the pieces to the puzzle of life. How to start a mass movement so that we will have the energy and enthusiasm to build arcologies is still a mystery to me. This is the saving vision I see for the world, but how to get there? Without true love in my life, I feel that I am blind.