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a friend's account of a bush protest in new mexico

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.unlikelystories.org/ross0904.shtml ACTS OF FAITH by T. S. Ross I consider “faith” a dirty word, yet I made an act of faith last Thursday, the
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2004
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      by T. S. Ross

      I consider �faith� a dirty word, yet I made an act of
      faith last Thursday, the 26th of August, by joining
      the demonstration in Las Cruces outside the Pan-Am
      Center, while President #43 spoke to a crowd of

      What kind of act of faith was it? Well, one that
      involved a compromise. I live in El Paso, 40 miles
      from Las Cruces. In order to get a ride back, I had to
      go first to a town called Mesilla and attend a
      Democratic Party rally featuring that guy who looks
      like John Ritter when he played a homicidal robochief
      on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

      I also had to go to a vegetarian restaurant, but I
      refused to compromise my nature to the point of paying
      five dollars for the privilege of eating something a
      rabbit wouldn�t touch. Nor did I join in the prayer,
      quite, but then I wasn�t eating.

      Still, it was a pleasant way to fill the empty hours
      of unemployment. I felt the warmth of a community
      affirming its solidarity. Since I hate sports, I don�t
      get that much.

      The polls say that 50%+ would vote for #43 for four
      more years, which makes me think the election is
      indeed already stolen, and the press is in bed with,
      excuse me, �embedded� with the President. Despite
      thinking this, I managed to think this was a
      worthwhile witness to make, even if I was my own most
      important witness. But what was I witnessing to, aside
      from my own need to have people to stand beside me?

      More than I knew.

      I am a member of the Border Peace Presence of El Paso,
      which originally described itself as an anarchist
      organization, in the words of two or three of the four
      or five marginalized activist pacifists who nurtured
      it from the official end of the war to the point when
      more people noticed the war hadn�t ended. By
      �anarchist� we meant we had no formal structure, and
      work was done simply by those of us who were willing
      to do it.

      As a member of BPP, I was showing solidarity with our
      brothers and sisters in the peace movement of Las
      Cruces, but many of the demonstrators were Democrats.
      I am from a state in which voting successfully for
      that lesser of the two evils is not an option, so I
      could vote my convictions, if any candidate shared
      them, instead of voting for �anyone but Bush.�

      I would estimate I saw about forty, or maybe sixty
      demonstrators, but more experienced folk, such as
      Friar V. were talking about a hundred people. I passed
      out flyers about our upcoming �Peace Jam� concert.
      Also, trying to make performance art out of my life, I
      carried my sign, which says on one side, �TeXas uber
      alles� and on the other, �Get Texas Out of Iraq�. We
      had a sound system, so I sang one verse of that good
      comrade Country Joe�s Vietnam We�re-all-gonna-die Rag,
      updated for the current war (I�ve gotten a lotta miles
      outta that song, over the decades).

      I forgot to wear my politics on my sleeve, or rather,
      emblazoned on my chest. I had meant to wear a tee
      shirt with the quotation �How can there be a
      revolution without general copulation?� but I forgot.
      I consoled myself by thinking, �Just as well, that
      would have been inappropriate for a gathering of the
      Far Left of the mainstream American political
      spectrum, a mainstream,� I added to myself, �which
      runs between the banks of national socialism and
      social fascism.�

      I am an Anarchist. To the extent I have any serious
      political thoughts about the organization of the
      world, I am a regenerate Maoist. By that I mean I had
      given up on Communism for a while, but now days I�d
      rather see China try to run the world than US. So my
      basic behavior was Taoist. I didn�t talk to my fellow
      demonstrators. I enjoyed standing by and letting the
      world spin on its own.

      At lunch, later in the day, Friar V. asked me my
      religious views. My mother, I told him, belonged to a
      respectable cult, Christian Science, which I never had
      much respect for. My father was a former Baptist, but
      he lost his respect for that when his minister taught
      him to drink and play poker at summer camp.

      Years later, when I was a child, my father was told he
      would be likelier to be promoted in the Army if he was
      churched, so he climbed his family tree and determined
      that, as a Scot, he ought to be Presbyterian.
      Unfortunately, the church he picked, for its
      architecture and location, was of the sect that first
      defined the �fundamentals� in which a fundamentalist
      must believe. I summed up by telling Friar V. I became
      a Pentecostal in order to marry, and recently the
      local rabbi told me I am a Jew.

      One of those fundamentals this Presbyterian sect
      adopted in the 1920�s was Biblical inerrancy, which in
      turn implied creationism, the equivalency of �Pi� with
      the number 3, and the holiness of the US Constitution
      as it stood in 1860 (they made up the last one). I was
      told in Sunday school I was going to Hell for
      believing in dinosaurs.

      I already had been taught I was descended from the
      primordial protoplasmic globule via the apes. My
      father also introduced me to relativity, and to
      dialectical materialism, although he did not call it
      that. Most important, he taught me an empiricism
      founded on our one certainty: �Cogito, ergo sum.� I
      think, therefore I am. I even knew where I was; I was
      a holographic homunculus sitting in my pituitary
      gland. That was the �ego� that thought. In other
      words, I was raised a free thinker. �Faith� was a
      dirty word. It was lonely.

      Around eleven o�clock, the floodgates opened, and the
      thousands began to stream past us, bearing their signs
      proclaiming �Viva Bush!� One man shouted �Traitors!�
      as he drove past in his SUV, but mostly they just
      shouted, �Get a job!�

      I had noticed one of the Democratic demonstrators had
      a sign proclaiming the number of US jobs lost in the
      last four years. That is an issue I have a problem
      with myself. When the Republicans shouted �Get a job�
      I shouted back, �Can you find me a job? I�ve been out
      of work for a year!� I found it amusing that we, the
      victims, should be blamed for our problems with the
      economy, but that is part of Republican theology.

      But the most important act of faith I made was an
      opportunity to dialogue. Three young warriors came
      walking towards us, holding their �Viva Bush!� signs
      high. �When are you going to sign up?� I queried.

      �What?� one of them asked.

      �You support the War?�

      �Yes,� he replied.

      �Are you going to enlist?�

      �No,� he replied as his friends walked off, �but I
      would go if they called me up. Wouldn�t you?�

      �No,� I said simply.

      �Wouldn�t you fight for this country?� he asked.

      How to phrase this, I wondered. �No.� I said.

      �But, it is a beautiful country,� he said, waving a
      hand at the cloud draped Big Sky over a green desert.
      I couldn�t argue with that. I love the Southwest.

      I said, �After 9/11, I gave the President the benefit
      of my doubt. He had it until the second week of the
      war, when it became obvious there were no weapons of
      mass destruction.�

      �He made a mistake, but we have to support him.�

      �For years, we have been going into countries and
      setting up tin-pot dictators who will cut deals with
      the corporations and send out death squads, and for
      almost as many years we have been saying we�ve made
      mistakes, but we won�t do it again, and then we do the
      exact same thing. It�s not a mistake. It�s policy.�

      �But we are setting up a democracy!�

      �We are setting up Negroponte as our ambassador. He
      ran the death squads into Nicaragua in Reagan�s dirty

      He was silent after that. Nothing but the sound of the
      cry �Get a job!� I shortly concluded by saying, �It
      was good to talk. We listened to each other. I
      appreciate that.�

      �Yeah, that�s important,� he said, and went on his
      way. Maybe I made a dent, I thought. Each drop of
      water counts.

      Aside from teaching me to think for myself and the
      importance of empiricism, the most important values my
      father taught me were how to argue in order to learn,
      and to pay attention to the evidence, with the rule of
      thumb being the rule of law, innocent until proven
      guilty. This is the principle of �falsifiability,� an
      application of Occam�s Razor. If a proposition can not
      be proven to be true, it should be assumed to be
      false. If you cannot prove guilt, assume innocence.

      Consider the statement, �there is extraterrestrial
      intelligence.� One can imagine the proof of ETs being
      as obvious as invasion from outer space, but one
      cannot imagine any condition that could conclusively
      disprove their existence. In the absence of any
      irrefutable proof of their existence, I reluctantly
      conclude that, like the human race, extraterrestrial
      intelligence has been too stupid to survive. Or take
      the statements �God exists,� vs. its null. The
      existence of God is not falsifiable, but many of
      people find themselves in conditions where the
      statement �God does not exist� seems to be false. The
      proper attitude, in the absence of evidence one deems
      sufficient, is to assume non-existence.

      I have experimented with Christianity twice.

      The first time was right after John Lennon died. I
      really wanted to believe he still existed. Being a
      Christian allowed me to imagine him in Heaven, and I
      had a lot of evidence pointing to Ronald Wilson Reagan
      being the Antichrist, so the world made more sense
      from a Christian viewpoint. I was certainly expecting
      Nuclear War, but the cadres of the Revolutionary
      Communist Party (Maoist) called me a bourgeois
      degenerate, so I was at a loss as to how to fight it,
      aside from dropping out. Armageddon would at least
      have a valid point. Besides, being Christian would
      please my mother, and give me some commonality with
      the people around me. Little as I like to gamble, I
      staked my reason on Pascal�s Wager.

      My models for Christianity were the fundamentalism I
      had been exposed to as a child and the modern Gnostic
      faith of my mother. As a Christian Scientist, she
      believed the material world is an illusion, but that
      we have an inborn knowledge of �God�. There is also
      the family legend of my ancestress Anne Hutchinson,
      who was expelled from Massachusetts for claiming she
      could hear God speak. (And let�s have a cheer for the
      Puritans and their freedom of religion!)

      My fundamental act of faith for my experiments with
      Christianity was to believe that I would hear God. My
      model for this was the premise of Christian Science:
      God is Thought.

      The question then is, which thoughts are God? I must
      modify �Cogito, ergo sum� to some degree, but only a
      Hindu would think all my thoughts are God.

      I started with the assumption that part of my brain I
      had called my super-ego was God. I was a strict
      follower of Wilhelm Reich, who synthesized Freud and
      Marx in the 30�s in The Mass Psychology of Fascism. My
      basic principle of believing that I am my thoughts had
      led me to a close study of my thought processes as I
      grew up in a world saturated with Freudianism. For
      example, I recall that when I was six I heard Art
      Linkletter on Kids Say the Darndest Things explain the
      Oedipus Complex, and my being aghast at his having
      just told all America my secret.

      When I learned I had that thought and suffered that
      complex at precisely the age predicted in the classic
      Freudian model, my respect for Freud went through the
      roof, and my respect for my own thoughts took a blow.

      The classic Freudian model traces the origin of the
      super-ego to the internalization of parental commands
      at the age of three. When I was three, I stood at the
      edge of my parents� yard, and thought the grass was
      greener on the other side of that invisible line.

      �Don�t go out of the yard,� I heard my mother say.

      I started, and to my amazement, I saw Mother was
      nowhere around me. I was alone, and standing on the
      edge of the yard.

      �Don�t go out of the yard,� I heard her say again, but
      in my head, not my ears.

      �Who said that?� I thought. It is the first question I
      remember asking in words in my head.

      �Don�t go out of the yard,� I heard the voice say, but
      much weaker. I was insulted. I had asked a question,
      and I had been taught questions were answered. I had
      also been taught not to trust strangers, and that
      strangers were those whose names I did not know. �Who
      are you?� I asked again, savoring the new sensation of
      �hearing� my thoughts in words, as opposed to my
      awareness being the content of my sensations.

      �Don�t go out of the yard,� was repeated, but only as
      a memory. I clearly remember thinking �If you won�t
      tell me who you are, then I don�t have to listen to
      you!� Then I stepped out of the garden and into
      knowledge of good and evil, and into word-bound

      My first internal dialogue, and I was already
      disrespecting half my brain. I later named that ego
      who told off the still small voice, �Doubter�, but it
      was the super-ego I appointed God, as I said above.
      When I became a Christian the first time, Julian
      Jaynes� The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown
      of the Bicameral Mind had just passed through the
      Cultural consciousness, and the right brain was in. I
      made the switch from Freudianism to Jungianism, and
      from Marxism to Apostolic Communism, and opened myself
      to experiment.

      When I first became a Christian, I noticed almost
      immediately that every acid trip I took from that
      point on ended up a theological bummer. I failed to
      notice anyone getting raptured, but as only 144,000
      people are going to go pop, or up, we might not
      notice, unless they are all Jehovah�s Witnesses. I did
      come to provisionally accept certain of my thoughts as
      being from God�s radio in my right brain, until about
      three years had passed, when in a long dark night of
      prayer, the Voice told me to �Join the Army and marry
      a Third Worlder.�

      Aside from rationalizations of Christian morality, and
      fears of disease or paternity, I was also socially
      maladroit to the point of believing the human race
      deserved extinction. I did not fuck at the time,
      although being biologically a young male, I was
      perpetually horny. Still, in my prayer, I put that
      aside, and said (in my head) �But �thou shalt not

      �They are a stench in my nostrils,� the Voice quoted
      from one of the less politically correct passages in
      its book. (After four years of Bush, how I miss
      political correctness!)

      �I don�t believe I am talking to God,� I said. �I am
      talking to the Devil or myself.�

      �Caught me,� my libido said, �but I still want to
      fight or fuck.�

      The illusion of God�s Voice failed with my faith, or
      more precisely, with my suspension of disbelief. I
      had, Doubter concluded, by objectifying a part of my
      mind, the super-ego, opened an avenue for my libidinal
      urges to take it over. But then, what has the
      super-ego evolved for but to domesticate our sexuality
      and aggression into the patterns of our community?

      My second experience with Christianity was longer and
      deeper, but shorter to tell, I hope. My act of faith
      was entering into �Christian marriage,� a mutually
      re-enforcing co-dependency with my wife. Our faith
      community of two kept me from voting, even for the
      lesser of the two evils, as I considered it idolatry,
      and the choice always seemed to come down to �Well,
      which one would you rather see as Antichrist?�

      The lengths God apparently went to in order to make
      our 43rd President impressed my wife and me deeply.
      Not having seen Fahrenheit 9/11, I didn�t realize God
      didn�t need to have anything to do with it. A month
      before 9/11, I had a fifth of a lung removed, so I
      wasn�t at my best that morning, 9/11, when I woke up
      and for some unfathomable reason, turned on the
      teevee, and saw the plane crash into the Tower.

      I had an instant of dreadful clarity, and moral
      choice. Everything I knew about this nation said it
      was now, once again, a blind giant with feet of clay
      that would stumble off to war in shock and rage, but
      my very first thought was joyful. As I saw what the
      subject people saw, that symbol that I hated also
      struck down, with all those living masters and
      servants of the American Imperium struck down in
      hellfire and agony, my first thought in words was,
      �someone got a good lick in!�

      With this thought was the holographic image of all I
      knew of the world and the place of US in it, the
      starving AIDS stricken millions of the Third World
      dying for the International Monetary Fund and the
      selling of the liberated woman as the �ho�, the
      nuclear arsenals and the Dark Satanic Mills that build
      them, the repression spawned in the name of
      anti-communism, and the criminality and genocide into
      which the former Soviet has fallen, the blindness of a
      people who have all this done in their name while they
      consume more than ten times their share of the world�s
      resources and wonder why the world hates us, and
      unadulterated joy comes when I realize they hit the
      Pentagon too.

      The clarity passed as in panic I reduced this panorama
      to a still small voice. Knowing damned well what I was
      doing, I chose to give #43 a trial run of support,
      with an option for one war and a large blank check
      labeled benefit of the doubt. I will run with the
      herd, and more important, I will lie with my wife, I

      My wife left me six months later. For a year I was too
      distraught to take a more than abstract interest in
      current events, which I tried to look at from the
      point of view of the 25th Century, so I simply
      wondered what else could you expect from a people who
      still ate meat. My faith in God had cracked when my
      wife left our nation of two. Six months later my
      mother, the last person who could re-enforce my
      Christian belief systems, also died. But I didn�t
      consider her saved.

      A year after my wife left me, I signed the divorce
      papers, and called up the local rabbi to confirm
      something that would have possibly upset my mother. By
      Jewish law, I am a Jew, and eligible for Israeli
      citizenship. I also quit my job because of anxiety
      attacks. I went to see a doctor about getting
      medication for bipolarity, now that I no longer wanted
      to please a Christian Scientist. I started taking
      medication and, lo and behold, I stopped hearing God
      speak to me.

      I think you might understand why I consider �faith� a
      dirty word.

      I found myself in a world where, despite the
      propaganda, I had a reasonable doubt there were
      �weapons of mass destruction� to be found in Iraq. As
      I told the fellow who said he�d fight if he was
      called, I had supported #43, but now, I could no
      longer make that act of faith.

      Instead, I was making an act of faith so small I could
      pass it off as self-therapy or an act of community. So
      I continued to stand as the cars drove by with their
      �Viva Bush� signs pressed against the passenger
      windows so they would not have to see us, hearing the
      cries of �Get a job!�

      A state trooper passed by and flashed us a peace sign.
      One of the other reasons I had come to this
      demonstration has a news teaser on the Bush Fox
      Channel. �How will Las Cruces deal with criminals
      during the President�s visit?� the news ho asked.

      �Criminals,� Jonnie said, �they�re talking about us.
      That�s it, I am going.� He spent the night trying to
      make a sign saying �J�Accuse� before his medications
      kicked in. I arose the next day, but he was dead to
      the world when our ride arrived, and didn�t make it.

      A woman shouted at us from her car, �Are you

      �I am pro-life and pro-choice,� I hollered.

      �She didn�t get it,� the woman next to me said.

      �I would respect the anti-abortionists more if they
      extended the right to life beyond birth,� I said, �but
      try to get that message across by hollering.�

      More cars pass, more signs posted as statements of
      faith, doing their job as blinders so we need not be
      seen, as if the passengers were the mythical ostrich.
      �Viva Bush� �Viva Bush� �Viva Bush�, they pass.

      When the redlight halted them, I started to chant.
      �Viva la muerta!�� �Viva la muerta!�� The women
      standing by me join in. In a conga-line sing-song we
      all chanted �Viva la muerta!�� �Viva la muerta!�� Then
      a woman shouted at us, �You can�t sing in Spanish! You
      aren�t Hispanic!�

      The young women with me were shocked. They had never
      heard anything like that, but I remember signs that
      said WHITE ONLY, and I remember invisible lines of
      caste that said speaking Spanish was beneath us. I
      remember my Grandmother�s continual embarrassment at
      being mistaken for Spanish, and I know my families�
      dirty little secrets.

      �Are you Hispanic?� one of the women on the street
      asked the Republican in the SUV. She didn�t look it,
      and I couldn�t hear her reply, if any. Was it old
      white shame that we descended to using the language of
      the lower classes? If she was some Hispanic rica
      herself, then it just goes to show that the more
      things change, the more they stay the same, and scum
      always rises to the top.

      I remember my super-ego telling me when I was ten,
      �You are a white male American, and people like you
      rule the world.� My reality principle insisted that
      was more of a cause for shame than pride, and my ego
      felt great guilt at what a shoddy racist conscience I
      had. I started to work on building a better one, but I
      knew my enemy and the guilty roots of
      self-righteousness. Whatever her ethnicity, I gave the
      advocate of linguistic segregation a parting shot on
      her own battleground. �I�m part Mescalero,� I shouted,
      �my people have been here longer than any of you.�

      Those are the dirty little secrets. My mother�s people
      hid the fact they had been Jews, and my father�s
      people hid the fact they were �half-breeds�, or so I
      believe, based on the second hand testimony of my
      parents. Both halves of my ethnicity strove to hide
      the fact they �passed as white.�

      My mother claimed her people had been Christian
      Scientists since 3rd Century Georgia, and she didn�t
      acknowledge the significance of our ancestor�s name
      �Abraham Weiner.� My father never gave me the straight
      story on his grandmother�s tribal origin until he used
      it to try to top me after I told him I was a Jew in
      the maternal line. But then, my grandmother�s cover
      story had been really colorful. In her version, her
      grandfather was a peddler with three wives, one in
      Texas, one in Kansas, and a squaw for the road.

      If either story is true, then either my
      great-grandmother or her stepmother were the last
      people in my family to be slaves.

      Finally the crowd thinned out, and we did the same,
      proceeding to the Democratic rally in Mesilla. As we
      wandered about looking for the site, I told Friar V.
      and the young lady driving us the story of how Jonnie
      and I had found New Mexico Southern University one
      evening. We made the wrong turn off the freeway and
      were lost in old Mesilla, so I told Jonnie�

      �I am going to try holistic navigation,� an idea
      lifted from Dirk Gently�s Holistic Detective Agency by
      Douglas Adams.

      �What�s that mean?� Jonnie asked.

      �It means I assume that person,� I said, pointing to
      the car in front of us, �is going where I want to go.�
      I quickly turned to follow the unsignaled maneuver of
      my target. �Now, I don�t want to frighten them, and I
      don�t want to lose them. I appear to be in their blind
      spot. That works for me, unless they make an
      unscheduled turn,� I said, by which point they moved
      without benefit of signal one lane to the left into
      the turn lane, and I followed them with a screech of
      tires across two lanes of traffic and in the teeth of
      a yellow light.

      �Twain, what are you doing?� Jonnie wailed.

      �I�m assuming they are taking us where we want to go.
      It�s an experimental act of faith, but it�s worked for
      me before. It�s gotten me to the freeway from inside
      DFW when I had driven from Dallas to Ft. Worth without
      being able to find it,� I said. By then I had followed
      my guide around another unsignaled turn. Their car
      sped up, and so did I.

      �Twain, you�re making them paranoid,� Jonnie tried to
      appeal to my good manners.

      �The paranormal does make you think something�s out to
      get you, Jonnie. Until we disabuse ourselves of our
      illusions of causality, it can�t be helped!�

      �Twain, you�ve got to stop this. Not only are you
      scaring those people, but its ridiculous to think it
      will work,� he said as I beat another yellow light
      around a corner, �and there�s the University!� he
      added in the same indignant tone of voice.

      �Turn here,� he insists, still afraid of the fright I
      am giving the people in the car I am following. So I
      turned aside as my target drove on into what proved to
      be the parking lot next to the hall we were looking

      �Did that really happen?� Friar V. asked.

      �Yep, and Jonnie can tell you it worked again when I
      used holistic navigation to find Ardovino�s.� I have
      every expectation it will work for me again in the
      future, if I have occasion to use it. The world is a
      mysterious place, but despite Douglas Adams getting
      that one right, I haven�t been able to fly by falling
      hard and missing, nor do I believe that Adams meant
      George Bush when he said the answer to Life, the
      Universe, and Everything was 43. Wait, did he say the
      answer was 43, or 42? It was supposed to be what you
      get when you multiply six by nine.

      In any case, Bush is neither the Answer nor the
      Antichrist. He doesn�t have the international support
      for it. His leadership does remind me of Holistic
      Navigation, though. His followers simply assume he is
      leading them somewhere they want to go.

      Sometimes I think my biggest objection to reality is
      aesthetic. I had hoped the destroyer of the
      constitution would replace it with something
      imaginative, instead of using tricks that were already
      stale when Lincoln used them, much less Pompey.
      Historians sometimes date the fall of the Roman
      Republic from the establishment of his 1st Triumvirate
      with Caesar and Crassus, but to those who lived at the
      time, the difference was not so obvious. As I live
      through these dark days, I wonder, will future
      historians see this darkness as the twilight of the
      American Republic, or as merely an eclipse? If
      twilight, is the fall imminent, or will they say the
      Republic has already passed? If the Republic has
      already fallen, when did it happen? Will the theft of
      the 2000 election be seen as the Republic�s end, or
      will the point of inevitable collapse be seen as
      having been still earlier, perhaps with the treasonous
      deal of guns for hostages which a Hollywood hack and a
      CIA stooge staged in 1980? Or will they find the
      establishment of the Imperium still earlier, with the
      founding of the National Security Agency, perhaps?

      Historians paint neat pictures from the perspective of
      hindsight (which is still not near 20/20). Living in
      the middle of these interesting times, we might not
      see the forest for the trees, or rather, we may not
      see the fields of stumps covering the harvested hills,
      as they are hidden behind the bill boards. Still, one
      must try to maintain hope if one is to live, and I try
      to reassure myself by applying perspective to the
      illusion. I tell myself that when small men cast long
      shadows, it is a sure sign the sun is setting, but it
      has not yet set, and the juvenalis carnifix, the Kid
      Butcher Pompey of our Republic�s long fall, is no

      We arrived at last at the Democratic rally, to which I
      donated my presence. No signs were allowed here.
      Freedom of speech was impaired, as when we were given
      tickets, it was understood we could bring no signs. I
      did distribute more fliers on our Peace Jam, and then
      I sat down and read Malevil by Robert Merle while the
      John Ritter doppelganger droned on about the
      conservative old-fashioned virtues of social fascism.
      After the theocratic absolutism I had just protested,
      it was as pleasant as the distant drone of bees on a
      summer day.

      Malevil is a French view of survival after nuclear
      apocalypse. I first read it when Reagan was in office,
      when it was as fresh as tomorrow�s newspaper today. I
      enjoy stories of the slate being swept clean and the
      survivors picking up the pieces, but Malevil is the
      only example of the genre I recall reading that was
      written by a non-Anglophone.

      Although I don�t have a statistical sample, Malevil
      seems to show some typical divergences between French
      and Anglophone psychology. I have read a number of
      post-apocalyptic tales, some of which were
      post-nuclear, such as Pat Frank�s Alas, Babylon or
      John Bear�s Eon, although Anglophones tended to
      imagine other disasters, from plagues, as in George
      Stewart�s classic study of ecology, The Earth Abides,
      to meteoric impacts in Niven and Pournelle�s Lucifer�s
      Hammer, or to a combination, as in John Wyndham�s Day
      of the Triffids.

      In such stories, the web of social relations is
      destroyed and human atoms are thrown into the state of
      nature. The key plot of such thought experiments as
      novels involves the forging of a new community. This
      is achieved on at least two levels. One is the framing
      of a social contract, as Locke imagined it. This is
      the level that defines how we shall live. In Day of
      the Triffids, the only example I have cited written by
      an Englishman, the influence of Locke is overwhelming,
      and within 24 hours the survivors of London, conscious
      of being in the state of a blank slate, have assembled
      by Robert�s Rules of Order and formed the beginning of
      a new community. In Alas, Babylon, the crucial event
      is the hero declaring his authority under martial law.
      In The Earth Abides, the formation of a community of
      law takes twenty-two years, and only occurs when the
      few survivors are forced to condemn a stranger to
      death for having a venereal disease, rather than risk
      his spreading it to the next generations among the
      four dozen survivors.

      Lucifer�s Hammer is unusual in postulating survival of
      authority. The conflict is between those who would
      save as much civilization as they can in a world that
      has fallen back largely to slave power, and a new
      community based on a religious foundation. This is the
      second level on which social relations are
      reconstructed, the level that rationalizes why we
      live, the community of religion. Lucifer�s Hammer is
      exceptional in setting these two modes in opposition.
      The religious community is legally so bankrupt that it
      falls below the level of slavery into literal
      cannibalism. The community of law, on the other hand,
      coalesces around the Promethean cause of rebuilding

      In Day of the Triffids, after the bankruptcy of
      traditional values is shown, religion is created as
      consciously as was the community of law, out of the
      selection and emphasis the founders give to the story
      of the fall of the old world and the founding of the
      new. The Earth Abides shows seven survivors developing
      an ad hoc life-style based on their economic
      preconditions until forced to define themselves as a
      people by the act of condemning the outsider to death.
      The new religion arises spontaneously among the
      children. Eon, written in 1985, amusingly has the new
      religion founded on the works of Ralph Nader, the
      �Good Man� who strove to give technology a human face.

      Malevil, as I said, is the only example of this genre
      I have encountered that wasn�t written in English. The
      differences seem typically French. First and foremost,
      the survivors are rude to each other. Second, the
      social contract follows Rousseau rather than Locke.
      The constituent assembly of the new order seeks its
      legitimacy by affirming a neo-feudal Catholicism as an
      organizing principle at once legal and religious. Yet,
      being French, they rationalize a group marriage of the
      two dozen survivors in the community of Malevil. In
      American stories, the survivors bind in monogamy
      before coming together in larger communities. The
      English, oddly, seem to go for polygamy. In short,
      Anglophones have revolution without general
      copulation, and the French have general copulation
      without revolution.

      Perhaps it is true that there can be no revolution
      without general copulation. Certainly, as Wilhelm
      Reich pointed out, the organization of the sex economy
      is probably the most fundamental decision in
      determining the nature of the society. I admit,
      however, that I missed the Sexual Revolution. Since I
      have not copulated much outside of marriage, and that
      broke up as much because of sexual incompatibility as
      anything, there may be an element of sour grapes in
      what follows.

      The 60�s Sexual Revolution was the last gasp of free
      love outside of the pre-AIDS gay community. It was
      co-opted to consumerism by the Playboy philosophy, and
      evolved to a culture of illegitimacy in which the pimp
      is the male model, and females have gone from being
      girls to being hos. Some blame feminism for this. I

      I do blame gay lib for allowing itself to become the
      consumer culture par-excellance, and I blame feminism
      and gay lib both for allowing themselves to be
      co-opted into making the right to serve in the army
      the acid test of integration. As James Baldwin asked,
      �Who wants to integrate into a burning house?� Gay
      marriage? I am reminded of how the left campaigned to
      abolish war in the 1920�s, and by the 1940�s, the left
      was campaigning for adequate furloughs for soldiers.

      The rally ended, although the world didn�t. I
      expropriated balloons, as I am wont to do, and then we
      departed for the vegetarian restaurant and the simple
      question I have yet to answer completely. That night,
      I encountered a former student of mine who I hadn�t
      seen in two years. She is a Pentecostal, something
      else we once had in common, and she urged me to make
      an act of faith and pray. I said God and I were having
      problems, which was an understatement. I haven�t even
      heard from God since I started taking medications,
      although the last thing He said was �Don�t be so hard
      on yourself. That�s my job.� I am no longer able to
      suspend my disbelief that I am talking to or hearing
      anyone other than myself when I pray.

      I have said the super-ego evolved to domesticate our
      sexuality and aggression into the patterns of our
      community. Basing my thoughts partly on An Essay on
      Morals, Philip Wylie�s explanation of Jungianism, and
      partly on my own experience, I derive the following
      model of the workings of instinct. The first fact that
      must be grasped is that humans have instincts. Most
      obvious are the instincts of aggression and sexuality,
      but there are other, subtler instincts as well. There
      is the instinct to find a place in the hierarchy, and
      the instinct to use our voices as other primates use
      their hands, for social grooming. My ex-wife claimed
      that at the edge of six she spontaneously �remembered�
      how to knap flint knives of Cro-Magnon sophistication.

      The second datum to be aware of is that instincts do
      not represent inevitabilities, but faculties, and the
      manner of their expression is determined by the manner
      in which the instincts are brought into operation, by
      the imprint they take from their earliest and
      strongest conditioning. For example, humans have an
      instinct to establish a pecking order, but it is one�s
      early positioning in various pecking orders that
      imprints one with the habits of dominance and

      Third, in the long millions of years before the
      emergence of individual consciousness, humans evolved
      a group consciousness, a sense of place in the primate
      band that allowed the band to function as a unit, and
      not just in day to day operations, but in the times of
      stress, such as inter-band conflict, or the song and
      dance of the season of courtship (and many
      hunter-gatherers do still confine sex to one season a
      year). We know humans have had the technology to
      produce rhythms by the knapping of stones since at
      least the time of Lucy and the habilines, three
      million years ago. Rhythm created the possibility of a
      more thorough integration of actions than anything
      outside of the social insects. One can imagine the
      millions of years when the ancestors gathered around
      the fires at night and danced to rhythm, and sang, as
      the Ituri Pygmies and Kalahari !Kung still did not so
      long ago, and may still be doing, at this moment..

      Trying to discuss human instinct from a position of
      authority is a loser�s game. The issue becomes clouded
      at that point by the question of when humans gained
      individual consciousness, which moved instinct�s
      operation to new levels. As pointed out by Alan
      Turing, we could not determine if a computer is
      conscious of itself. We could at most determine that
      it isn�t. I have applied the Turing Test to humans,
      and have seen few rational responses that could not
      conceivably be simulated by a sufficiently elaborate
      computer program, but I have seen many indications of
      utter lack of self-consciousness. Does
      self-consciousness exist? Or, to cast the thought in a
      logically meaningful manner, is the null statement
      �self-consciousness does not exist,� falsifiable?

      �Cogito, ergo sum,� I think, therefore I am, although
      I am not sure about you, and come to think of it, I
      can exist for periods of time without thought as well,
      when drunk, when copulating, sick or sleeping. I feel,
      therefore I exist, is a more accurate and universal
      statement. But my ego largely mediates reality through
      words. Mine is a word-bound time-binding
      self-consciousness, and I encountered instinct most
      clearly as verbal messages from the other side of the
      skull. My own experience shows the complications that
      can occur when instinct vies with a self-consciousness
      attempting Vulcan logic.

      I had experienced the internalized parental command as
      my mother�s voice when I was three, and had the
      thought, in precisely the words, �When I grow up, I am
      going to kill my Daddy and marry Mom,� at the age of
      six. Thank you, Art Linkletter, for letting me know
      such thoughts are �normal� and �silly�. After these
      experiences, I had developed a healthy disrespect for
      �the voice� by the time it tried to instill group
      pride and identification by telling me �You are a
      white male American, and people like you rule the

      Of course, instinct need not present itself in words.
      Most obvious to my mind was the way my right brain
      started emitting erotic images every fifteen seconds
      once I hit puberty. I had already disassociated myself
      from my instincts, and I considered this a biochemical
      impertinence and an animal irrelevancy.

      And of course, instincts could not have presented
      themselves in terms of verbal commands before the
      emergence of language. In between such instinctive
      targeting on the image of the goal, which I
      experienced at puberty and which probably occurs among
      at least some of our kindred species with binocular
      vision, and instincts that present themselves as
      verbal commands, there were those other mechanisms of
      presenting the commands of instincts.

      I have mentioned the song and dance of courtship. From
      the tribal dances of the Masai, through the peasant
      polkas and Morris dances of Europe, to the meat-rack
      discotheques of electronic age, one can see song and
      dance still being used in the original manner, as
      biological courtship. These are behaviors that are
      unique to humans among primates. Their use in group
      banding is apparent when one considers the uses made
      of rhythm, song, dance, and ritual by religions,
      sports, and armies. From the instinct to sing and
      dance evolved the instinct for ritual, and from all of
      these arose the ability to symbolize, both verbally
      and visually.

      Here I must pause, and reflect I am slipping into
      idealism, and mistaking the model for the thing
      itself. As the evolutionary record shows, and as
      Engels pointed out before the Piltdown Hoax, the hand
      preceded the brain, and verbal symbolization appeared,
      early if not initially, when certain sounds
      accompanied certain actions. This was the Marxist
      economic precondition of the very existence of
      humanity, the ability to use the hand to perform work.
      The rituals of song, dance, and language are, in
      Marxist and Jungian terms, the religious
      superstructure, and are a functional effect, not a

      But if I have dissociated myself from the verbal
      commands of instinct, I am deaf to these other
      appeals. I have no sense of rhythm, and my Protestant
      loathing of idolatry has immunized me to the appeal of
      visual symbols, be they the totems of sports teams,
      the logos of corporations, or the flags of nations,
      although I can see the behavior of the primate bands
      they appeal to, and I fear their power.

      So we have three points one must remember about group
      behavior: first, humans have instincts, second,
      instincts represent faculties, and their expression is
      determined by imprinting, and third, humans evolved a
      group consciousness before they evolved a
      self-consciousness, and this group-consciousness was

      A fourth point to realize is that religious taboos are
      functional, given the sex-economy they evolve to
      re-enforce, and however much they work by
      misdirection. Who would guess that the cult of the
      Virgin and Child was a necessary precondition for the
      ideological expulsion of the Jews from Western Europe
      in order to allow the local bourgeoisie to take over
      their economic functions?*

      Religion is the method evolved by �unfallen�
      pre-word-bound humans to create group identity, and
      integrate one�s place in its sexual and productive
      economies. Julian Jaynes� The Origin of Consciousness
      in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind postulates this
      unselfconscious state still existed at the time of
      Homer, and only broke down due to the emergence of
      literacy. I consider that extreme, and although it is
      not impossible, it seems to be unfalsifiable, but it
      also seems true in my own experience. My consciousness
      is the word-bound time-binding self-consciousness
      Jaynes said replaced the holistic bicameral
      consciousness of unfallen humanity. At the other
      extreme, #43, a pre-literate, fails my Turing Test, as
      he shows no signs of ever having ever engaged in
      thoughtful self-consciousness, and indicates
      frequently he operates on instinct.

      Wilhelm Reich, who may have been the most original
      thinker of the 20th Century, is little known today
      since the US government ordered all his works burned
      in the 1950s and then imprisoned him until he died. He
      had developed, from his practical experience as a
      Marxist and a psychoanalyst working in Germany, a
      theory of instinct that is more complete than Jung�s
      because it was rooted in biophysical and sex-economic
      functions. His The Mass Psychology of Fascism (which
      was burned, with all the rest of his work, including
      his classical Freudian text Character Analysis, for
      allegedly advocating �cancer-quackery�) was written
      after he had run the youth campaign for the Communist
      Party in the second to last free election of the
      Weimar Republic. In it, he explained why he told the
      central committee of the German Communist Party that
      there could be no revolution without general
      copulation, or more precisely, �There can be no
      Revolution without the legal equality of women, which
      cannot be achieved without free access to birth
      control information and the means of birth control,
      including abortion, and the abolition of all laws
      pertaining to consensual copulation!� He also
      explained why the central committee told him, after
      the election, that come the Revolution, he was the
      first one they would shoot.

      Reich believed instinct had been deformed by the
      economic preconditions of human consciousness at least
      since the invention of slavery, so that the instinct
      for human solidarity had turned finally into the
      worship of the nation-state, and so that all the
      conditioning of our instincts is designed to reproduce
      children who bear our own character defects as sexual
      cripples fit for wage slavery. He identified two
      tendencies in governments of industrial societies,
      tendencies that have manifested themselves in our
      two-party system. These are �national socialism,�
      which makes no bones about serving the race, the rich,
      and instinct, and �social fascism,� which at least
      pretends to be concerned with problems of �the
      people,� but due to the defective character structure
      of the human race, still actually serves the rich and
      the instinctive arrangements of the existing social

      One may argue about whether we are still sexual
      cripples, but it must be noted that, in a country
      debating replacing a law forbidding copulation with
      one regulating it, we have a long way to go before
      women�s liberation and the Sexual Revolution are
      complete. It must also be noted that, while �general
      copulation� is a necessary precondition of a
      successful revolution, it is not sufficient. A
      successful revolution would also demilitarize and
      socialize, and in order to do that, it is probably
      necessary to eat the rich.

      I look forward to a world where my biggest worry is
      how much benefit of the doubt I should give Kerry, but
      he is not even a social fascist. He is a rich �Great
      Society� conservative, concerned with campaign
      contributions from abortion clinics and making the
      military industrial establishment more efficient and
      popular. While Edwards, a self-made millionaire, may
      believe, as a former non-millionaire, in the
      brotherhood line he spouted, Kerry does not seem to be
      making even a pretense of serving �the people,� but
      simply Democratic Party interests.

      Still, we know #43 is a national socialist with
      theocratic absolutist overtones, and he makes no bones
      about serving God and the rich. He is also an idiot
      who hasn�t even the brains to be a hypocrite. Jonnie�s
      slogan sums it up on an optimistic note, �Vote for
      Kerry! Not as Scary!� As a pessimist, my sentiments
      are closer to �Vote for Kerry! Put off the Draft for
      Four Months!�

      Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky have both stated that,
      being in �safe states�, they will vote from Nader. I
      would vote for either of them before I would vote for
      Nader, who seems to be a genuine social fascist,
      serving the rich by dividing the poor, but I admire
      their tactics. I presume a �safe state� is one whose
      electoral votes will count against Bush. Texas has
      gone Republican in every election I recall. In every
      presidential election, whether I have voted or not, my
      vote has counted as a vote for the Republican Party.
      Kerry lost my vote when he failed to mention
      abolishing the Electoral College.

      In every election, in addition to asking who I would
      prefer as Antichrist, I have asked myself a more
      practical equivalent question, �Who would you prefer
      to see destroy the Constitution?� After the hijacking
      of the 2000 election and the Patriot Act, the question
      is moot, and Kerry does not seem to plan on restoring
      the Constitution of 2001, much less repairing the
      Constitution of 2000.

      What is more, El Paso is in the Mountain Time Zone and
      is temporally disenfranchised. By the time I vote in
      the evenings, my vote has already been counted against
      me. If I perform that empty rite, it will be entirely
      an act of faith.

      *If you would like demonstrations of how this works, I
      recommend reading Marvin Harris� Cows, Pigs, Wars, and
      Witches : The Riddles of Culture, and then
      contemplating the place and function of the
      blood-libel in history.
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