Thanks for the QuestionAuthority heads up, guys. Of related
interest is this interview by Paul Krassner (of the The Realist)
with RU Sirius, author of Counterculture Through the Ages...
The Huffington Post
December 5, 2007
This is a mini-interview with Ken Goffman (a.k.a. R.U. Sirius),
co-author of Counterculture Through the Ages.
Q. How would you compare the counterculture of the '60s with
A. In the 1960s, there were three television channels, newspapers
and magazines, pop radio. People got their messages from very
few sources. There was a mainstream culture that had a strong
sense of itself--the generally accepted rules around sex, swearing
and style of dress were very narrow. A youth counterculture
that emerged to challenge those cultural mores surprised and
delighted people in the media. So the counterculture was worthy
of a lot of attention, which gave it power. And you could have
a pretty simple and straightforward sense of us and them--counterculture
vs. the establishment.
Today, we have a zilllion media channels vying for people's
attention--pushing attention in millions of different directions.
Everything is distributed and diffused and confused. And then,
extreme types of dress and irreverence are mainstream."
In fact, we can question whether a mainstream or a counterculture
really exists any more. Our cultures today are cauldrons of
confusion and contradiction. Rather than a counterculture, you
have these sorts of counter-subcultures. Cultures that evolve
out of punk, raves, riot grrls, and body mod freaks. And it
gets pretty tribal--the eco-anarchist may have a war with the
However, the Bush Administration has been so distressing that
people seem to be setting aside some of their differences. Increasingly,
subculture as a source of an identity that needs to be exclusive
to remain hip is giving way to a desire among lots of different
people to preserve the right to non-conform and dissent.
Q. Tell me about your current projects.
A. I've started two companion projects that I hope will alter
the current course of American politics and culture, or at least
amuse and inform and incite some fellow rabble.
QuestionAuthority is an attempt to bring together everybody
who thinks we've gone too far in an authoritarian direction
and who wants to push back against that. We have a five-point
platform that I think most of your readers will agree with,
related to getting back civil liberties lost to the war on terror
and the war on drugs, reigning in the runaway executive branch
and defending free expression, and we are planning some very
cool educational projects. Perhaps most important, we're trying
to create some cohesive structure through which people can respond
the next time this administration or the next one does a mind-twisting
assault against our basic constitutional rights. You know, don't
leave it up to the lawyers. The QuestionAuthority proposal is
Open Source Party is an attempt to apply some of the principles
of the Open Source movement, which started out as a software
movement and has evolved into a cultural sensibility, to the
current and future political situation. Why are our political
institutions decades or centuries (Washington B.C.) behind our
technology? It's also an attempt to define a sort of alternative
political agenda that seems nascent in our culture right now--this
novel mix of liberalism, libertarianism, pragmatism and vision
that many of us see buzzing around us. The Open Source Party
Both projects try to bring liberal, libertarian and my favorite
political type--other--together around common agenda items that
are in dire need of being addressed. Imagine Michael Moore and
John Stossel coming together to defend the constitution and
end the drug war? You may say I'm a dreamer.... A social network
that is hosting both organizations is here.
Q. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
A. Maybe I'm poptimistic--I'm all about mergers of opposites.
Seriously though, I don't believe in optimism or pessimism.
Either way, it's going to skew your perception of the world.
I find it interesting that people who like the free market can
marshal facts and figures to show that the living standard of
the world's people has grown by leaps and bounds since globalization
took hold in the 1990s, with all its new agreements and virtually
no opposition. Anti-capitalists and nationalists can marshal
facts and figures to prove that third world people--and the
working class in the advanced world--are facing economic destruction
on an unprecedented scale, because globalization has taken hold
with virtually no opposition. The facts and figures used by
each side may be entirely accurate.
Our mutual friend Robert Anton Wilson wrote, "The prover
proves what the thinker thinks." I always try to keep that
in mind. So as I get deeper into advocacy, I always have to
remind myself to take even my own glorious bullshit with many
grains of salt.