Daily Barbarian Number 1
Why Barbarians? (Daily Barbarian)
THE DAILY BARBARIAN supplement
FIFTH ESTATE, #298, June 19, 1979
Barbarian: 1. A fierce, brutal or cruel person. 2. A brute, uncivilized, rude, savage, cruel, barbarous.
Example: “he is merely a barbarian on the loose in a museum” (Yvor Winters).
Civilization: 1. The process of civilizing or becoming civilized. 2. To civilize; to bring out of a condition of savagery or barbarism; to better the habits or manners of; refine.
Example: “he is the utmost product of civilization. He stands courteously in line at gas stations” (Winter Yvors).
“Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. If this is civilization, then death to civilization!”
Quotation: Marx, June 1979
The Daily Barbarian grew out of a leaflet (an extended version of which appears on the back of this sheet) we put together for the recent anti-nuclear demonstration in Midland, Michigan. Half-facetiously we signed it “The New Barbarians” in an attempt to indicate the intensity of our opposition to a “civilized” society which could develop not just nuclear power but an entire social system dedicated to the proposition that human beings are expendable. We soon realized our own pretentiousness in attempting to adopt the mantle “Barbarians,” as we also soon realized that, in a way, we were as much the victims of the prevailing wisdom as those we were lampooning in adopting the name.
Barbarian is always a deprecatory epithet in this civilized world, applied to individuals who are vulgar and unsophisticated, but more often used to describe societies which have yet to come under the enlightening influence of civilization. It is taken for granted that, while modern life may have its drawbacks, it is in every other sense an improvement over the barbarity which preceded it. But the more we looked at pre-civilized societies the more we realized that, like so many other aspects of the way this society justifies itself, current formulations about civilization/barbarism stand everything on its head.
For “civilized” does not mean, for instance, a society which has transcended homicide (in fact it means a society which has taken mass homicide to previously undreamed of extremes); it means only a society which has refined the mechanisms by which homicide can legally be performed; it means a society where an individual may not legally kill another but the state can; it means a society where there actually exist sets of “accords” (the Geneva Accords, specifically) which set humane standards by which the populations of such states can be set to massacring each other. Civilized is a society wherein a woman’s right to work around toxic substances which will harm her reproductive system and cause birth defects in her children is guaranteed by law so that employers cannot discriminate against her by refusing her access to the job. Civilized is a society which systematically tramples every other species and divergent culture then congratulates itself for having the sensitivity to lament the loss.
Barbaric, on the other hand, is a pre-agricultural society where individuals enjoyed more autonomy in their daily lives than at any time since; where they rose and slept at their own inclination, spent an estimated three hours a day meeting their needs and enjoyed more “leisure time” than the average citizen of any of the advanced industrial states. Barbaric is a society free of cops, priests, soldiers, bosses, kings, politicians, bureaucrats and heads of state; a society free of factories, time clocks, alarm clocks, prisons, chemicals, nuclear weapons—we could go on indefinitely.
The truth of the matter is, the barbarity of our society appalls us, and the only thing we find more appalling is that anybody could call this civilization. And the true barbarian is anyone who does.
The Daily Barbarian is not sold for money or traded for goats, and there is no subscription rate because it may never be published again, but we will send you copies if you want them. All we ask is that you send us US stamps and a large envelope for mailing. Write: Queen For A Day, c/o 4403 Second, Destroyit, MI 48201.
Violence/non-violence? (Daily Barbarian)
Valid debate or false opposition?
THE DAILY BARBARIAN supplement
FIFTH ESTATE, #298, June 19, 1979
The following article first appeared in a recent issue of Nuclear Times magazine and came to our attention as a reprinted leaflet circulated at the Midland Anti-Nuke demo by the Ann Arbor No-Name Anarchists. Due primarily to space considerations we have edited this version considerably (down to approximately half the length of the original) and some miner changes have been made in emphasis.
The anti-nuclear movement, with considerable assistance from the Three Mile Island plant, has lately been much more successful in getting publicity and making nuclear power a public issue. However, the movement is now at a turning point. This is symbolized particularly by the Clamshell Alliance’s abandonment of occupation this past summer. In the face of tremendous pressure from the state Clamshell called off its planned occupation of the Seabrook facility even though it had over 5,000 people committed to occupy. This decision created a crisis in the Clamshell’s decision-making process. The affinity groups could not make a decision by consensus so the coordinating committee called it off in spite of [text missing in original] a lot of occupation.
Since the time Clamshell has been moving away from occupations and toward small, purely symbolic actions and lobbying as strategy. In addition to urging people to send postcards to the NRC they have held only small fence crossings for the purpose of symbolic actions and for getting arrested.
Many clams now fear that Clamshell will never call another occupation at Seabrook. As a result, a group called Clams for Democracy has formed. It seeks a more democratic organizational structure and a more confrontational attitude toward the government
The divisions now developing in Clamshell are not unique: in the Crabshell Alliance as well there is an ongoing argument between those who see non-violence as a philosophy and those who see it as a tactical question. The former tend to favor cooperation with the government while the latter see the government as part of the enemy.
Clamshell is the largest and most developed of the anti-nuclear alliances, and as such its crisis last summer points to a larger crisis in the anti-nuclear movement—a crisis in its dominant philosophy and organizational structure.
As a theory of social change, non-violence suggests that only through disciplined pacifism can people realize their latent power and step out of the old reality and into the new. Accordingly, all changes in human relationships wrought in the past have led to the degradation of today’s society because the violent tactics used enabled the most violent to consolidate their power and exert it on a day-to-day basis. Thus, to the pacifist, the roots of present-day inequalities and exploitation are the means by which the present system came into being, and not with the development of the system itself—violence begets violence...Therefore, in order to bring about any real social change, the tactics used must be confined to non-violent ones so that the means used by one group of people to oppress another will not exist.
This all sounds very good on paper, and it seems to have worked at the various demonstrations. It should be remembered, however, that the recent demonstrations across the country were quite different from the conditions of day-to-day life. They were, in a word ideal. Both sides had an understanding of what was going to happen. For their part, the police and industry powers all cooperated and quite nicely, to the point that a tacit agreement of sorts was reached allowing the demonstrations to happen if the protesters also cooperated by causing a minimum of obstruction and delay. The police often went so far as to take non-violence training themselves where they learned about the type of people they would be facing and ways to get them to cooperate. By presenting their “human” face the police were able in many cases to elicit cooperation when resistance was supposedly the rule of the day. Forgotten was the fact that under different, non-ideal circumstances the police can act in a quite different fashion in fulfilling their roles as defenders of the arms and energy industries and the status quo in general.
What many practitioners of non-violence fail to realize is that there are two kinds of violence. The first is the kind used to acquire or maintain personal gain. This type includes not only the violence of warfare but also the violence by which the system maintains itself; the violence of working at breakneck speed in poisonous conditions under the threat of lost livelihood is no less real than the violence of the gun, only more subtle. The nuclear industry uses this sort of violence every day—both to its workers and to the public, over whose head it holds the sword of nuclear accidents.
The second class of violence is the type used by those oppressed by the first to throw off the oppressor. It is a form of self-defense in that its aim is stopping violence of the first kind. The violence used by the Hungarian and Czech people in an attempt to prevent the Russians from re-instituting state-capitalism in their countries is a good example of this kind of violence. There comes a point in opposing the seekers of cold profit when violence is the only alternative to death. The Vietnam War and hundreds of other similar incidents show that this society is quite capable of killing millions. At that point, non-violence becomes an impediment to the fight against this society.
Just as it is foolish to think that the Viet Nam War was ended primarily by US demonstrators, it would be ridiculous to believe that armed struggle looms in the anti-nuke movement’s near future. However, demonstrations in Europe have shown that the fight against nuclearism will have to become more militant if the movement is to put an end to nuclear plants and weapons. In Germany in 1976, 28,000 people occupied the Whyl nuclear plant site and they physically drove off the police who came to arrest them. Instead of merely making a symbolic statement and then accepting arrest, they utilized the strength of their numbers and collective principles to make an even stronger statement by not accepting the state’s right to arrest them. They were ultimately successful as the building of the Whyl plant was consequently canceled by the German Government.
A confrontation of similar proportions was also quite possible at the Seabrook site, where after a demonstration of 20,000 people, 5,000 were committed to “going over the fence.” Sadly the Clamshell hierarchy decided to cancel the occupation rather than force a confrontation. Instead of progressing, the Clamshell group has become fragmented and the leaders have gone so far as to propose solutions to the nuclear problem through legislative means. By abandoning the occupation, the Clam has raised the question of whether or not pacifists will be willing to continue the fight against nuclear plants and weapons or will they abandon their principles in confrontation with state violence.
Non-violence became associated with the anti-nuclear movement at the outset because of the influence of pacifist groups in the movement’s initial organizing. Because of this historic influence and because of initial success in using symbolic actions, nonviolence and no-nukes became virtual synonyms. But while pacifism can offer moral and ethical rationalities as to why activism is important, the pacifist analysis cannot answer the political question of why nukes exist. To fill that void, many people began to look for the economic and political importance to the capitalist system and the state. In doing this, many people began to see that the forces representing nuclear interests would never voluntarily stop producing them. They would have to be forced to stop directly by ever more militant actions.
Jr. Cops and Anti-Nukers (Daily Barbarian)
THE DAILY BARBARIAN supplement
FIFTH ESTATE, #298, June 19, 1979
The article which follows was originally produced as a leaflet and distributed at the Monroe anti-nuke demonstration on June 2nd, 1979. The Monroe demo was itself even more frustrating than the Midland gathering, and has solidified for many of us involved in it our determination to undertake our own anti-nuke activities in our communities, outside of the context of the increasingly paralytic mass organizations.
While, as the article below indicates, the Midland demo was marred throughout by the actions of junior cops and aspiring politicians, the Monroe non-event was innocuous almost beyond belief, and seemed to have been designed to sap as much energy from the nascent “movement” as possible. Recognizing the efficacy of the “soft” approach, the organizers saw to it that the provocative title “marshals” was replaced by the neutral “site staffers” (though there were easily twice as many of the latter on hand as there were of the former at Midland). Recognizing also the co-opting power of a tightly-run show, the organizers provided a long day’s “entertainment” (old folkies and hack lefties) which successfully rendered spontaneous activity all but impossible; most of those present simply sat listening, applauding at the appropriate times and not realizing until it was over the completely passive role to which they had been relegated. (Even the potential for shared activity represented by a march was avoided; instead we were treated to perhaps the most ludicrous anti-nuke spectacle thus far: a mass “die-in” which would have done Jim Jones proud—the organizers seemed blissfully oblivious of the parallels—and a funeral procession—in cars!!—into the town of Monroe.) In all, the net effect of the rally was to dissipate the genuine indignation and enthusiasm of those who had mistakenly attended.
On the other side of things, one member of the Huron Alliance who had been active in the organization of the Midland March, to our surprise, praised our leaflet for revealing the seamier side of events there but insisted that the Huron Alliance was as much appalled by it as we were. According to HA member Michael Moore, all of the collaboration with the Midland Police Department had been undertaken unilaterally by the Lone Tree Council, who had even given their blessing to the cops videotaping the march (one member reportedly had hopes of getting his own cassette copy ). In addition, Moore reported that the LTC member in charge of organizing the marshals was herself the wife of a cop on the Midland force!
It’s difficult to believe that all this went on without HA members at least being aware of it, but Moore insisted that LTC’s actions have engendered an “absolute split” between the groups, to the point of possible legal action between them. We’ll let them fight it out; for ourselves, we have other ideas.
Jr. Cops and Anti-Nukers
Two of the major anti-nuke groups in Michigan have been acting as police informers and as a conduit for fingering activists to the cops. As part of a pre-arranged policy, the Huron Alliance, centered in Flint, and the Lone Tree Council from Midland, repeatedly reported on groups and individuals to the police during the April 21 March on the Midland Nukes and continued in the role of informants in preparation for the June 2 March on the Fermi II nuclear plant in Monroe.
Both the Huron and Lone Tree organizations are committed to “peaceful, legal, non-violent demonstrations” and apparently feel that only close cooperation with the authorities can assure this. It appeared at first glance that the march was self-policed, as an immense corps of parade marshals had been assembled for the demonstration in Midland. However, it became quickly evident that their only role other than directing people to keep off of lawns was to report directly to the police any behavior they deemed improper.
From The Beginning
The march had a bad flavor right from the start. Upon arrival at Emerson Park on the outskirts of Midland, participants were asked to “register” at a Huron Alliance table and given the subsequent actions of the group, perhaps our “paranoia” about refusing to sign wasn’t misplaced. The official rally in the park, which could be heard by only a small number of those assembled due to an inadequate sound system, began to fall apart when rain started and people started chanting, “Let’s go; let’s go!” When a sizeable group began to leave the rally site to start the march without the official leadership, the nuclear politicians panicked, quickly ended the rally, and hustled to position themselves in front carrying a large banner inscribed only with the words “Huron Alliance” lest anyone forget whose march it was supposed to be.
The procession inched along at a snail’s pace for reason’s unclear to those following behind the organizers while a driving rain soaked the marchers. Out of impatience, a number of marchers (including people from this newspaper) began to march out ahead of the official group. At one point a Fifth Estate staff member heard a Huron Alliance marshal, Bruce Timmons, leaning in a Midland police squad car telling the officers inside that the people carrying “black flags were potential troublemakers.” Several of us had flags as sightings for our affinity groups, but had committed absolutely no act other than refusing to march in line. Nothing was said to us previous to being reported other than to march behind the banner.
When others learned of this snitching, a group of us confronted Timmons and demanded an explanation. Timmons said he didn’t want to discuss the matter and ran off.
Later, as we neared the rally site, a crowd comprised of U.S. Labor Party members and about 100 other right wingers were waiting and appeared to be in a menacing mood. Three of them with pro-nuclear signs on large, thick sticks infiltrated our line of march and the situation looked like violence was inevitable. One of our group approached a counter-demonstrator who was carrying a stick without even a sign on it and quietly told him that he would be clouted with a rock if he tried to attack anyone with his club. The response of the marshals to this was not to take any action against the armed counter-demonstrator, but to again go straight to the police and finger the person carrying the stone.
When a shouting match ensued between several of us and the marshals, a man with a camera who was taking pictures of all of us kept screaming that he had photographed the whole incident and the police would be given the photos. We don’t know if he was directly associated with the march sponsors, but he seemed to be and we wonder now as to the final disposition of those shots.
Finally, fearful of being victimized by a coalition of the marshals, cops and right-wingers, we beat a tactical retreat until arriving at the rally site.
“We Are The Police”
As the second rally of the day commenced, the marshals were again out in strength to rigidly enforce where people could and could not go. Challenged by one of us who accused the marshals of protecting Dow Chemical’s private property and thus acting in the role of the police, one marshal from the Arbor Alliance sustained the accusation for us by stating quite frankly, “Today we are functioning as the auxiliary police.”
This role as cops and informers extended up to preparation for the Monroe anti-nuke demonstration on June 2. The planning meetings in Monroe were attended by the Monroe Chief of Detectives Otra Lynch (his real name, folks) without challenge from the convening group. At a May 23 meeting in Monroe, Pat Race, Treasurer of the Lone Tree Council, described the “trouble” they had with “anarchists” in Midland while Lynch sat in the meeting listening. Then, a woman from the Arbor Alliance told the gathering that at a marshal’s planning meeting they had received advance notice that “anarchists” planned to attend the Monroe rally and “throw rocks.”
When we spoke to Pat Race in Bay City, he angrily denounced what he called the Black Flag Anarchist Collective of Ann Arbor (no such group exists to our knowledge) as “not being in tune with the non-violent mode of the demonstration.” Race asserted the marshals had “warned” those with black flags repeatedly (untrue) and that he was in agreement with “troublemakers” being reported to the police. He and his group’s relationship with the police was firmly enunciated by Race’s assertion that whenever anyone is seen with a rock, “We tell the police to arrest them.”
Race denied setting-up people for the police in Monroe or turning photos over to them, but his distorted account of the Midland events did not evoke enthusiasm for his assurances.
In Jeopardy From Cops and Marshals
As it stands, attendance at demonstrations sponsored by the major anti-nuke groups in Michigan puts all of those not interested in following, in robot-like fashion, every rule and plan set down by these junior politicians, in jeopardy from the police and marshals. It makes little sense for us to attend such activities knowing that a march in the wrong direction, the wrong flag or the wrong chant could mean we are fingered as “troublemakers” to the police.
Also, it may be difficult to convince these political illiterates who put such faith in the cops that it would be more than easy to use the presence of real or imagined rock-throwing “anarchists” (the world-wide boogie-word) as a justification for a police attack on the entire march.
This problem is not a new one to the anti-nuke movement, but has its origins in the style of the East Coast Clamshell Alliance, after which most of the large coalitions model themselves. Clamshell began an active policy of similar police cooperation (See the Fifth Estate, Aug. 1977) and this tactic has been adopted by at least several Michigan groups. (It should perhaps be noted that the Detroit-based Safe Energy Coalition (SECO) had no role in the police informing and the individual members reached by us seemed horrified at its report.)
Although it seems almost ridiculous to have to lecture people on the role of the police, to find a group either so stupid or so vicious that they would rely on the police to control who they brand as “undesirable” is almost mind-boggling. First and foremost, the Huron Alliance and the others must learn that although they have issued a call for a march and thrust themselves into the first row with a self-aggrandizing sign, this does not mean that the march becomes their possession. No one is under any obligation to follow anything other than their own common sense and everyone has the right to march where they want regardless of what a bunch of toy cops or junior politicians may say.
Secondly, the act of cooperation with the police to rid the march of those not following the official line of the march organizers is the crassest of political censorship and speaks to the lengths these reformers will go to enforce their world-view on the rest of us.
Boycott Or Participate?
A boycott of the large actions will be in order if the anti-nuke politicians refuse to renounce their policy of cooperation with the police which places the entire gathering in jeopardy. Their pacifism and concern for “peaceful” demonstrations is used to mask their reliance on the major force of organized violence in society —the police. It may be argued that to leave the field completely clear of criticism of these wretched reformists would be just what they prefer, but it would be equally foolish not to begin activity that we ourselves define.
Lest this appear to be a total trashing of the Midland and Monroe events, we hasten to add that there were gratifying aspects and, in fact, for many of us, the Midland March was on the whole an “up” experience. In spite of the rain and hassle from the snoids,- the opportunity to mix with folks from all over the state and share ideas and experiences with them was the high point of the day.
Some of us gave out copies of the FE as well as a leaflet we had put together for the occasion; others, done up in festive disarray as the Motor City mutants (“Mutants for Nuclear Power—Why should We Be Alone”?) ran among the crowd extolling the benefits of mutant sex and mutant life in general. At one point in the march the front of the parade mounted an expressway bridge and those of us in the front ranks got our first glimpse of the enormous crowd stretching out behind us the entire length of Midland’s main street. The wave of exhilaration which passed through all of us at that moment was matched by a spontaneous chorus of triumphant whoops and hollers.
It was moments like that which drew us to Monroe six weeks later, only to find that the forces of “organized activity” had learned their lesson and had gotten their act much more together: by then the inadequate PA system (which had barely kept the attention of the restless marchers in Midland) and the makeshift stage had been replaced with a huge structure complete with banks of P.A. speakers which effectively guaranteed complete centralization (and thus complete control) of all “significant” activity. Once the show got under way it was talkers and listeners all over again.
Barbarians invade New Guinea (Idaho Russett Baker)
The native population is being educated for eventual “rule.”
THE DAILY BARBARIAN supplement
FIFTH ESTATE, #298, June 19, 1979
That’s one of my most favorite quotes. Just in itself it says a lot about the recent history of the people it describes. In this case, it’s used by the Columbia Encyclopedia to explain, in a nutshell, what’s happening to the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea, the second largest island in the world, with a population of approximately two million, is located off the northern tip of Australia; like so many pacific islanders of the 19th century, its tribespeople had the misfortune of falling under the “civilizing” influence of the British Empire.
But bringing civilization to such lost souls as the Mud People (a name given to Papua Ghost Dancers by the British) was no easy task. For thousands of years, the Papua tribes had lived well without such luxuries as Kings, Queens, politicians, government, money, work, centralisation of society, electric blankets, toasters and osterizer blenders; and to top off their reluctance to give in to the “historical process” of civilization, many New Guinea tribes were either cannibals or head hunters. Consequently, they were fierce protectors of their way of life and unlike the more docile tribes who had become farmers and realised the benefits of civilization, showed their feelings towards this “historical process” by eating the Christian missionaries who were sent to convert them.
But as we all know, time heals all wounds and after many years of invasion by missionaries and western society (there’s plenty of gold and oil on the island) many of the people broke down in the defense of their culture and began to submit to ever-advancing civilization, and, consequently, to more than a century of dominance by Britain and Australia.
Several years ago, New Guinea was given political independence by the ailing British government. Since that time, the more “progressive” thinkers have realised that some of the tribes have, as the Horizon Book of Vanishing Primitive Man puts it, “still to succumb fully either to the sermons of the missionaries or to the instructions of the government officers seeking to educate and prepare the Melanesians for political independence.” (1)
For that reason, the American legal scholar Karl Warden has gone to Papua New Guinea to help that nation catch up on 20,000 years of jurisprudence and civilization. In an article that appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (“From Stone Age to Law and Order,” November 17, 1978), Warden, a Vanderbilt University law professor, said, “For years and years, one of my favorite day dreams....is, “I’d love to know what it was like in the Neanderthal Age.” A period which the Star-Bulletin says, “was an age when man’s only law was nature’s, a time of perfect liberty, when reason was man’s sole restriction
Well, Warden must have thought his little escape into the past was more a nightmare than a dream; since he’s decided to carry on where the British left off and bring 20th century civilization to the last of the Papua holdouts.
Employed by the Port Moresby government (Port Moresby is the capital of Papua New Guinea), Warden will attempt to bring modern judicial institutions to the island in hopes of shaping a nation ordered by a single system of law.
Selecting 16 young New Guinea men (literate in English, of course), he and the government have begun training them to be judges, and the first supreme court judges are to be drawn from the class of ’79 (institutionalized education is already well entrenched on the island) They will work territories as magistrates, spreading the uniform practice of law.
The Star-Bulletin ended its article by stating, “Warden compares the task before Papua New Guinea with what the United States faced 200 years ago—building a new culture.” At the cost of the old, of course (which they don’t state ), but there are always “excesses” in the historical progression of civilization!
1. In this case, the term “political independence” is directly interchangeable with the word “civilization.”
World symp. (Daily Barbarian)
THE DAILY BARBARIAN supplement
FIFTH ESTATE, #298, June 19, 1979
Note: In early May, or late March, local “alternative people” sponsored a “World Symposium on Humanity” on the University of Detroit campus. It was an event where various religious sects, community organisations, and rag-heads got together to compete for each others Consciousness. The following is a compilation of sketches made of the event by our religious consultant Rama Lama Ding Dong.
...The exalted seer and vending machine magnate from Tibet, Dung Crapjar, gave a stirring lecture, Sunday afternoon, on “Modern Acquiescence in the New Age” in which he urged sweeping economic reforms. Crapjar urged the building of a new society within the shell of the old based upon such financial concepts as wading in public fountains for coins, and begging. Dung also urged a thoroughgoing policy of non-violence. “They may stamp on your mother, spill boiling lead over your entrails, sick dogs on you, urinate in your nasal passages, remember, that’s Karma,” said Dung to an enraptured crowd.
...Ayatollah Khomeini was scheduled a year in advance to speak at the Symposium but events in Iran caused the sponsors to cancel his appearance. The Ayatollah, renowned for card tricks and his handling of snakes, was to provide entertainment but his involvement in the revolution made Symposium sponsors fear a negative crowd reaction and a loss of t-shirt revenues.
...Marvin Surrogate, one of the organizers of the Symposium said that the arrangement of booths and exhibits was conducted to be a veritable “garage sale of consciousness.” “Every possible sect we could think of—Krishnas, Yogis, astrologers, Good Humor truck drivers—anything at all associated with consciousness was given a chance to hawk at our event,” Surrogate said. “We even had Mr. Belvedere come to extol his vision which he manifested while meditating; he saw a future where everyone on Earth would be destroyed except those who had ashrams built into their recreation rooms.”
...Banana Johnson of the Whole Earth Catalogue lectured Saturday on raising corn in Urinals and hogs in Volkswagen vans. “As a gesture of our faith in nature, we should sleep in pens on the ground or in furrowed fields,” extolled Johnson, “send away for our new back-to-nature kit. For fifteen hundred dollars you get mosquitoes, weeds, tent stakes, a shovel and toilet paper, it works, even in the city!” Johnson also demonstrated his “environmental hovel”— a house made out of materials found in the immediate environment. “As you go through the doorway,” he said, “which is constructed of cigarette butts, and pass over the riveted floor of beer cans, you come to the commode which is a stained bicycle seat which permits the transport of waste as the sitter pedals below. It comes in ten-speed, or the hose/ hot-water bottle variety for those who want to coast.”
At the Movies (Stark Raving)
THE DAILY BARBARIAN supplement
FIFTH ESTATE, #298, June 19, 1979
THE DEAR HUNTERS: Won Academy Awards for harmlessly flaying events five years after they took place. Demonstrates Hollywood’s ability to make recent events appear never to have happened. Robert DeNormal, Jacque Strapp.
BATTLESTAR LAXATIVE: Like walking through a shopping mall holding coke bottles over your eyes. Acting is terrible...some great underwater scenes, however. Lorne Goon.
DAWN OF THE DEAD: Sensitive film explores subtleties of transitory existence. Raw anthropological data, tender and ripe portrayals of character.
ANIMAL HOUSE: A bunch of rich kids get their rocks off before the inevitable leap into corporate worlds. They get thrown out of college, wreck it, then get their parents to buy them a new one. John Bologna.
WARRIORS: What happens when Jesus Freaks, on a picnic on Belle Isle, stumble into a Hare Krishna circle jerk which is being crashed by followers of the Ayatollah Khomeni.
GREASE: A prediction of what life will be like in the 1980’s.
CALIFORNIA SUITE: America’s best-known playwright shows what it takes to convert mundane and trivial social situations into mundane and trivial theatre. Neil Simon hired Jane Fonda for this one to make us think he cares about social problems. Don’t bother with the copywright next time fella, save the bucks.
CHINA SYNDROME: A career girl with a new hairdo (Jane Fonda), to impress her superiors, tries to shovel shit all the way to China. When she discovers a hidden stash of disposed Plutonium she is paid to shut-up and put in charge of a whole office of young, masochistic office girls.
Religion today (Daily Barbarian)
Out of the closet
THE DAILY BARBARIAN supplement
FIFTH ESTATE, #298, June 19, 1979
PSF 6/9/1979—While Pope John Paul II basked in glory as thousands of Polish citizens paid homage to this prominent corpse, a demonstration of minuscule proportions was being held at Hamtramck’s not-so-well-known No Tell Hotel.
Representing the Cincinnati branch of the Priest’s and Nun’s Transitional Society (P.A.N.T.S.), the largest chapter in the nation, the very reverend Reverend Trevor Reverend and his cohort the Sister Mary Masculine protested what the Sister called, “the largest service industry in the world—institutionalized religion.”
“What we’re sick and tired of,” said Trev, “is seeing the big-wigs of this corporation rifling funds for personal use. The closest I’ve ever been to Italy is the Detroit Ethnic Festival and I don’t even know where Poland is!”
But reform isn’t what these two PANTaloons are after. “Yeah. Now get this,” Mary broke in, “We’re not any of ya silly liberals and radicals who think the church can be reformed or, heavens above, be tossed in the garbage bin of history. No. No! What we want, ya see, is just to have some of the corporate profits filter down to the local franchises.”
Ready to work with whatever resources are at hand, many PANTaloons have taken to extreme militant actions to defend their “right to be rich.”
“The head office in Italy has cut our wages back to about fifty thou a year and many P.A.N.T.S. members have resorted to evangelical violence to reach their goal,” commented Trev. “Sister Godfrida (Cecile Bombeek in the real world) is our guardian angel. Last year she killed ten elderly women in her nursing home in Belgium and sold their belongings to support her morphine habit. She’s a real trooper!
But this militant evangelism isn’t restricted just to Europe. It recently made headway in the U.S. when a MASSachusettes minister, Rev. Roy Leo (Robbins Memorial Church) was convicted of “having sex” with a fourteen-year-old girl. Since then priests and nuns have been robbing banks and molesting little kids from one end of the country to the other; just last week a priest was caught
Note: the text breaks off here.
Nuclear Nightmares (Daily Barbarian)
Just the tip of the iceberg
THE DAILY BARBARIAN supplement
FIFTH ESTATE, #298, June 19, 1979
The “accident” at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has opened up a whole new series of anti-nuclear demonstrations all over the world, and has added new life to nuclear resistance in the U.S. But as we bring more attention to bear on the proliferation of anything that utilizes nuclear technology, it can only open our eyes to other equally ominous problems, problems that will be, and have been left untouched if all we demand is to “stop nuclear power now!”
No one in their right mind could say that a deadly technology like nuclear power should not be stopped, but the “one demand” tactic of most anti-nuke groups and their alternatives of using coal and solar energy (along with mouthing the orders of the federal government, urging people to “dial down”) will do little to significantly change our lives—especially where our health and future are concerned.
More than any generation that has lived on Earth, we know of the incredible destructive force of nuclear energy/ weapons, whether it be the disaster of a Three Mile Island or Hiroshima, or the sheer mental anguish of knowing that at any time, and without warning, our lives could be extinguished by nuclear war. Perhaps that is why these demonstrations of life over death have fixated on only one aspect of a world system that runs counter to humanity: industrial technology.
It has been estimated that the effects of the radiation poisoning on the inhabitants of the region of Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island will not show up for twenty years or more, adding, for Pennsylvanians, more mental (and physical) anguish to that already created by the “nuclear society.” But while we feel anger for what has happened, and take action to try to insure that a similar situation won’t happen here, we are already living a situation dangerously like it and have been for most of our lives.
The chemicals of an industrialized society, whether capitalist or socialist, are spewed over this planet 24 hours a day and, one way or another, they find their resting places within our bodies, counteracting and destroying everything which gives us life. Many of these chemicals are as harmful as radiation poisoning and, in some cases, even worse (the chemical dioxin is the deadliest substance made, with a “kill potential” greater than that of radioactivity; it is also one of the widest-used herbicides in the U.S. and the cause of the devastation of the Italian city of Seveso in 1976).
Like radiation contamination, many of these chemicals will not show their effects on us for at least another ten to fifteen years, but conservative estimates show that by the turn of the century millions of people will die from poisoning by these man-made substances. (Five million people are expected to die from cancer induced by inhalation of industrial asbestos alone by this time. One of the widest-used plastics in the world today is polyvinyl chloride; it is used to make furniture, the interiors of automobiles, plastic plates and cups, records, containers and plastic wrap for packaged foods, and numberless other “convenience” items of the sort which have come to symbolize “modern” society. But PVC, in the gaseous state, is also a powerful long-term carcinogen which, once having entered the body, never leaves; an average of seventeen years after initial exposure to the gas, workers in the PVC industry are now developing angiosarcoma in alarming numbers. And, since the PVC solid begins to emit small amounts of gas when heated to only 78 degrees—considerably cooler than your closed-up car might get on a hot summer day—its long-term effects on all of us are totally unpredictable).
Here in Michigan, the recent (and ongoing) PBB scandal is only the most immediately obvious of an endless series of travesties which have seen such things as Dow Chemical’s despoliation of the Midland area, the mercury contamination of the Great Lakes to such a degree that it was declared harmful to eat the fish that swam in them, and continued attempts by the military to transform a major portion of the state into an enormous low-frequency transmitter, the long-term effects of which nobody can predict. (Though we are told that the Lakes have now been sufficiently cleaned-up to allow the limited consumption of fish from them, their very capacity to sustain life now appears threatened by a new danger: acid rains, of the sort which have already rendered literally lifeless certain lakes in New York state. The source of these acid rains is airborne industrial pollutants and they are a global problem: as early as 1976 Sweden was charging that 30% of the sulfates which were descending upon it in acid rains had their origins in the U.S.)
But let’s face it, even without the nuclear madness, even—if it were possible— without the astounding array of chemical poisons, industrial society would continue to mutilate us every day as It has done every day since its inception. The specific demand for the elimination of nuclear power and its replacement by coal and solar energy says nothing to the fact that the major utilities have already begun to co-opt solar technology, that miners continue to work and die in conditions which have changed little since the advent of coal power, that coal mining itself loots and ravages the earth (as coal burning further poisons the air and destroys delicate CO2 balances), or, finally, that industrial society, as the ultimate expression of “man’s dominion over nature” debases and destroys human life even as it denudes every other form of life around it.
For vast numbers of us (and it is only a matter of time for the “backward” and “underdeveloped” regions of the world), daily life is lived out increasingly in a world of complete isolation from the natural environment and the symbiotic relationship with it which, in the course of millions of years of “fine tuning”, has made us what we are. In the space of only 200 years, human beings have transformed their surroundings to the point where many have not known a night without artificial light, or a day not spent surrounded by concrete, or what it means to travel where there are no roads or to be so intimately a part of their surroundings that the question “what is it all about?” is literally inconceivable.
During this time, of course, human physiological mechanisms which took millennia to evolve remain intact; thus, for instance, the involuntary “fight or flight” response to stressful situations which sends blood pressure skyrocketing and pours fatty substances and adrenal hormones into the bloodstream continues to operate whether you are confronted by an enemy in the woods or have just been told you’re working overtime whether you like it or not. In the former case all that surging bodily activity will provide you the burst of energy needed to fight or flee; in the latter, since neither option is open to you, the fatty substances will simply accumulate in your veins and arteries and, given sufficient time, give you arteriosclerosis.
But whatever else it may have deprived us of, it has always been industrial society’s boast, in fact, its self-professed raison d’etre, that it is the most efficient means yet to assure the species of its basic material needs. One glance at the world today and at its last 200 years of history will be sufficient to destroy such claims utterly: as Ivan Illich points out, a greater portion of the human population is permanently malnourished today than at any other time in recorded history. While plagues, pestilence and natural disasters may have decimated whole regions before, it has taken industrial society to institutionalize starvation—and it is no closer to “eradicating” such problems after two centuries of promises than it was at its “golden dawn.”
But even in those nations, like the U.S., where industrialization has brought about unprecedented affluence, the paradoxical impoverishment of such affluence is evident everywhere for all to see, from escalating suicide rates among children in the U.S. and Japan to pandemic alcoholism in the U.S.S.R. Far from meeting humanity’s basic material needs, it’s clear now that industrial society, in demolishing humanity’s grounding in the real world, distorts and eventually destroys any true conception of what “basic material needs” are and creates instead a world of unlimited wants; (1) wants which ultimately become needs and which, forever expanding, remain forever unmeetable.
In a world where a unified knowledge of one’s self and one’s environment are impossible, where human beings can’t know what their real basic material needs are (or their basic emotional or spiritual needs for that matter—as if they were ever separable in the first place), those human beings must inevitably become ever more dependent on the representatives of the unreal world to tell them. If those human beings are relatively affluent the representatives will be psychiatrists, sociologists, sexologists, industrial psychologists, pop psychologists, learning disability therapists, experts in childhood hyperkinesis, the whole pantheon of modern social engineers whose job it is to define for those who can no longer do it for themselves what life is all about (you wondered why the U.S.‘s was the first industrial economy to become dominated by a majority of service workers?).
If they are poorer, advertising and media, most especially television, take on this function, or, in nations where such advanced forms of (anti-) communication have yet to take hold, it is ideology which comes to the rescue. (In China today it is no coincidence that the end of the usefulness of hard-line Maoist ideology is ushered in by the attainment of a basic level of material wealth and the emergence of commodity consciousness—Coke Adds Life!) (2)
But it is not as if we have been the completely innocent victims of this process, because it is our daily complicity which in the last analysis has made all this possible. For nuclear power, like all of industrial society itself, is not created just by mad scientists and power-hungry corporate heads, as politicians (both left and right) and liberal anti-nuke groups would have us believe; it is also created by you and me.
Whether we participate directly in the construction of nuclear weapons and plants, or just take part in some mundane job which has little or nothing to do with our desires, the fact that we willingly surrender, day after day, complete control over both our creative activities and the fruits of our activities (and all we get back is money!) makes us the creators of the only society that could invent nuclear madness. Only with the enormous concentrations of capital made possible by the mass sale of labor could any of the modern world’s death-dealing technologies be realized. Only when human beings are robbed of the ability to directly meet their own needs (or even to define them) can they internalize the absolute separation between meeting those needs and their daily activity; and only when they come to accept wages as the universal mediation between those two separated spheres do they become willing to perform whatever task the market demands (who in their right mind would ever work in a Velsicol factory handling toxic chemicals all day if their daily activities were really the result of meeting their own needs? Who would build nuclear weapons?) (3)
We are the creators of our own destruction, but being the creators, those with the real power to make or break it, we can also be the destroyer; of this society which posits death over life. And when we do, it will be at that point that the urge to destroy will become a truly creative urge: the urge to live.
But if we are to create a world which is for the living and not for the dead representations of things which once lived, we must do it in free and creative ways, in ways that give fulfillment to the individual and free us forever from the manipulations of experts, leaders, politicians (left and right), political parties, corporate chiefs, and a system that puts the needs of capital (or “socialist”) accumulation before human needs (even while defending accumulation in the name of humanity!)
The destruction of such a society as this may be one of the most creative acts in human history.
1. In fact, with the aid of science, modern society has practically abolished any conception of natural limits; the very idea that there are certain activities which go too far, embodied in primitive societies in sets of taboos, is greeted with almost universal derision by a world-view which canonizes growth and progress, and which asserts that if, say, nuclear power is possible, only those who favor a return to the caves would refuse to develop it.
2. Which is not to overlook the seemingly deathless power of religion: God may be dead, but as Sun Myung Moon, Jim Jones and the Ayatolla Khomeini will readily attest, His representatives on earth seem to be having no problems with their credibility; nor for that matter do other cult leaders like Lynn Marcus (a.k.a. Lyndon LaRouche) and L. Ron Hubbard, who seem to combine with extraordinary success all the best elements of religion, politics and psychotherapy.
3. All of which is not to say that human beings have lined up eagerly to leave the land and enter factories, in fact the first generations which were dispossessed of their lands and forced into wage-labor knew too well they were getting the short end of a bad deal and fought bloodily to resist it. But for those of us born without even the memory of our freedom from wage slavery, nothing seems more “natural” now than that we should grow up and get a job; we forget that for what we give up so easily, others once gave their lives rather than surrender.
Mega-Death, the film (Fifth Estate Collective)
THE DAILY BARBARIAN supplement
FIFTH ESTATE, #298, June 19, 1979
20th Century Technology Presents...
Coming soon... (crossed out)
Rarely does a horror movie of such magnitude reach the public, but when it does, it seems to obtain an unshakable grip on the public imagination, if not on its very being. Such a movie is the latest product from 20th Century Tech.—MEGA-DEATH’
Produced at the cost of an unspecified number of lives (industry rumors put the figure somewhere in the hundreds of millions), the directors and producers of this full-length epic have used some of the most sophisticated and, in many cases, the most subtle special effects yet to keep our attention glued on the show. This is definitely a production that calls for the utmost in audience participation if it is at all to become a success.
Briefly, MEGA-DEATH traces the rise of CIVILIZATION from its bloody origins to the present. At first the beast, posing as the benefactor of humankind, is greeted with open arms by those who see in it an opportunity to exploit their circumstances; those who recognize a bad deal when they see one are quickly destroyed when they get in its way. Even those who don’t much care one way or the other are eventually eliminated as it rapidly engulfs the globe. But as the film’s time frame approaches the present, the beast is finally unmasked and we are allowed, at last, to see it for what it is.
It is at this point that the scenes from everyday life take on a vividness so real as almost to defy belief. Millions of people all over the world getting up at 7:00 am to go to work or to buy; grey, lifeless industrial regions juxtaposed against bright, lifeless (have a nice day!) communities of tedious familiarity. Pollution is everywhere: polluted water, polluted food, polluted air (even light polluted night skies!), and the seemingly domesticated populace continues to reproduce this hideous normality day in and day out. It’s enough to make one want to destroy the projectors.
But enough said about its contents. MEGA-DEATH is showing everywhere and it’s almost impossible to get away from it—but try we must. It seems these days if we want better movies we’ll have to make them ourselves.
—George Orwell, Daily Barbarian, June, 1979
20th Century Technology Presents: MEGA-DEATH
Starring: INDUSTRIAL PLAGUES, INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENTS, POLLUTION, CHEMICAL POISONS, NUCLEAR RADIATION, WAR, ALIENATION With Special Guest Stars: BOREDOM & NORMALITY
Directed By: CIVILIZED CITIZENS
Produced By: THE WORST IMPULSES OF HUMAN BEINGS
Color By: LIMITEDVISION
GP—General Public Suggested