by Kerry Thornley
Zenarchy - Chapter 5
Devised for use by individuals or small groups or movements or whole nations as the case may be, Ho Chi Zen's strategy of Yin Revolution offers freedom in every sense of the word to everyone willing to go through the Five Changes: Subjective Liberation; Economic Independence; Parallel Communications; Liberated Trade; Objective Political Freedom.
Named after the female or receptive and serene side of the Taoist dialectic, Yin Revolution enables any number of persons to proceed directly to freedom without waiting until all society joins the struggle. Without a transition phase where a self-appointed vanguard rules on behalf of the masses, it avoids the danger that such an elite will never relinquish power in the end.
Resembling judo and karate, its tactics lend themselves most readily to the weak and oppressed - eluding the means the mighty must use to secure their dominance. For as Ho Chi Zen has observed: "Men do not hold power; power holds men."
Common enough is the saying that the master is no freer than the slave. A systematic study of power and its dictates restricting its holders has to my knowledge never been made. Usually, students of political power stress its rather questionable benefits to its holders or simply take for granted that ruling is a desirable and enjoyable activity.
Yet it is easy to see that, as sages and commoners observe, the power over others so coveted by politicians and so glorified by the scholars that write for them is not much good for attaining personal satisfaction. Not only is the quest for power addicting and wearing on the youth and health of its participants, those who grasp it successfully find themselves preoccupied with keeping it. In that task their choices are restricted both by the actions of the loyal opposition and by the conspiracies of the worst gang of cut-throats in their empire.
All options of the mighty must, in other words, be selected with a mind to how anyone who would oust or supplant them might respond. Within such a politically realistic context they wind up doing what they must instead of what they would like. That is one reason why politicians seldom keep their campaign promises.
Should they come down too harshly on nonviolent protesters, a more determined and menacing faction will use the incident to make political hay. If they behave too leniently toward genuine threats to their security, they will be overthrown. Distinguishing between one opposition faction and the other is a full-time job that would require spying on everyone. yet if they spy on all their subjects, their unpopularity will escalate. Predicaments like these lead to loss of a rational perspective.
During the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon and most of his advisors once spent at least an hour discussing what to do about a picketer who was then carrying a sign back and forth across the street from the White House. To worry about a lone individual who is harmlessly expressing an opinion is hardly to enjoy freedom.
Keeping the dictates of power in mind, we can scurry beneath the feet of our oppressors and tie their shoelaces together. Or we can evade the brunt of their worst policies, much of the time, simply by remaining alert.
Change Number One:
Growing up authoritarian-submissive we suffer a profound imprint on our nervous system, living as a result in what Timothy Leary called neurological cages. Internalized pecking orders would be just as apt a name. Something about what these mechanisms are like and how they are escaped has already been discussed without using either of the above names.
Essential to realize is that most individuals are wholly unprepared to live without neurological cages altogether. Upon springing themselves from one, they will usually quickly seek another. Slavery seems more comfortable than freedom to those long accustomed to it. And what most people object to about foreign despotisms is not so much that they enslave, but that their manacles chafe in strange places.
Permanent Subjective Liberation requires us to get used to the responsibilities and uncertainties and stimulating difficulties of freedom. While the birds of the air have their nests and the foxes of the field have their burrows "the Son of Man," Jesus warned, "has nowhere to lay his head." Like an infinitely prolonged LSD high, life beyond the ruts of convention and conditioned reflexes can seem a heady way to be. Until we learn to calm the winds and waters of heightened awareness, we may feel like a boat adrift in a storm.
Just as submission to material or psychic authority demands mastery of certain disciplines - the ones we learn in church, school and work place - so certain other skills are needed for independence of being. Since most of us are, by background, conditioned for the problems of authoritarian society only - and even the freest present-day society is authoritarian - we generally feel at odds with ourselves upon tasting freedom. This is as true of Subjective Liberation from former cultural restrictions as for emancipation from physical slavery. We love our freedom and yet we long for the "massa". We become like the Apostle Paul who confessed after his liberation from the religious orthodoxy of the Jews that what he would not do, he did, and what he would do, he did not do.
Most yogas and systems of contemplation, most psychological therapies and human potential exercises, most psychedelic substances and Zen pointings give us an indication of freedom. All too often results are incomplete or temporary. For that reason, comprehending the nature of the unconditioned human being is helpful. Sadly, most ways of liberation recognize from the outset only one or two of the four aspects of untrammeled being, nearly always emphasizing one at the expense of all the others.
Rationality or curiosity, sexuality, sociability or compassion or gregariousness, and spirituality or esthetic intuition are all the focus of this or that pathway to liberation. Additionally, they are all personality characteristics found in newborn babies and toddlers.
Laboratory animals will satisfy their curiosity about something unknown to them before they will seek out animals of the opposite sex, or food. Children will automatically reason logically with the limited information available to them, sometimes with comic results. Above all, as higher mammals and particularly as primates, we are beings that ingest and correlate data. We don't have to be taught this. In fact, in existing societies we have to be discouraged from carrying it too far.
When our elders slap our hands for grabbing delicate possessions or for placing objects in our mouth, that is called socialization. They are teaching us to behave. What they are also teaching us is to associate learning with pain and scoldings. Unconsciously, we begin to regard knowledge as vaguely evil and forbidden, or useless and boring. And logic without facts is useless and boring, like a mill without grist. By the time we reach school age there is little danger that many of us will be as eager to learn as we all were as toddlers. So the bosses and the politicians can relax, secure in the knowledge that not many people will catch on to their game. And those that do will be tamed with awards and scholarships and guided to jobs that benefit from keeping the system the way it is.
So we have to teach ourselves all over again, in the deepest levels of our being, that we need never apologize for seeking information. In exploring our own sexual natures we will be called perverts. In probing social mechanisms wherein genuine political and economic power resides we will be called paranoids. Words like that serve little more purpose than to intimidate curiosity. With most of us they are quite effective.
Much else in our language and habits of thought endures because it dovetails nicely with the purposes of past and present authoritarians. Our logic is so filled with short-circuits, quirks, kinks and cliches that it is an effort to think clearly for ourselves. By studying all the paths of liberation, including General Semantics and the writings of the British libertarian philosophers who inspired the American Revolution - not to mention the works of the anarchists - we can begin to identify and ferret out these authoritarian-submissive presumptions that have deprived us of our natural reason. Nothing but the truth of the rationality of the unconditioned mind gives such power to the ever-popular story of the emperor's new clothes.
By itself, intellectual liberation that does not come to terms with human sexuality can be worse than useless. And regaining our original lusty sexual innocence requires, beyond reviving our curiosity, an entirely different approach than liberating reason. For now we are called upon to deal with that portion of the human mind called the human body, regarded in speech as a separate entity from the body. They are interconnected. That explains why erotic matters are usually imponderable even to poets. So much is sexuality part of us, closer than breathing, that trying to understand it is akin to the eye endeavoring to see itself - in a beautiful metaphor used in another context by Alan Watts - or like the hand trying to grab itself.
Possibly, sexuality is the mother of religion. Primitive mystics may have been ascribing symbols to aspects of what we call lust, both genital and the more pervasive non-genital kind of which Norman O. Brown writes so eloquently. Certainly when religion becomes organized and established it begins to regard sex jealously as a dangerous competitor, perhaps in an effort to hide its own not-so-miraculous-and-immaculate origins.
Politicians intuitively grasp the usefulness of sexuality as a sure way to divide people and distract them from the business of becoming free in other ways. Whether they choose to be for or against sexual repression, they can create such an uproar that political and economic crimes and failures will fade into the background. Jay Gould, the monopoly capitalist, once boasted that he could cure unemployment by hiring one half of the jobless to kill the other half. As long as they can keep their subjects quarreling with one another about personal affairs, they need not fear a united effort to oust them. Since organized religion is politically powerful, it usually takes the side of repression. As Aldous Huxley showed in Brave New World, they could just as easily reduce us to submission by taking the opposite approach. In contemporary culture, factions of the ruling class sometimes join forces with organized crime to create turmoil by supporting sexual freedom. Efforts like that are not sexual liberation movements; they depend as much on guilt and blackmail and puritanical legislation as drug smuggling depends on narcotics laws - without which there would not be much profit in the activity.
Once I was driving through Atlanta with my Hindu friend, Suresh, an exchange student from India. Upon noting that the largest adult book center in town was located right next door to the Baptist book store, also the largest of its kind, he commented, "Why not? They keep each other in business!"
Yet, granted that sex is a powerful tool for distraction, it can and does also distract from what is trivial and unworthy of incessant preoccupation, as was characterized in the Sixties by the slogan: "Make love - not war!" In the chapter about the counter-game called "Invitation to the Dance" Alan Watts insists, correctly I think, that the counter-game must possess an essentially erotic aspect. Between a counter-game and a melodrama there is a vast difference. A melodrama splits the cast up into "good guys" and "bad guys". A counter-game seeks to reconcile opposites, side stepping dichotomous traps such as Eros against Thanatos by a kind of judo.
Allowing sexuality to exist as an end in itself, to such extremes as abandoning even the quest for orgasm - abandoning, not rejecting; (the difference between allowing and demanding) - we permit sexuality to regain its spontaneously seductive nature. Both suppression and exploitation of sex can serve authoritarian purposes. Only wu-wei (letting be) can make way for the side effects of sexual enjoyment - such as a healthy, free erotic elan - to serve the cause of liberty. And this kind of attitude cannot help but advance freedom, any more than the sky can help being high.
Simply because the Establishment sometimes exploits human sexuality, we cannot allow its members to get away with seeming like the only sexy people in town. This mistake has been made in recent decades by almost all Marxist-Leninist organizations; the consequences have cost them dearly. For as the communist anarchist Alexander Berkman tried to warn, a social revolution is much more than a political revolution. Comparing the social revolution to a fragile flower, he says it must be cultivated with gentle care. More than that, it must in the long run be far more pervasive.
Had the Great Human Be-In and Tribal Gatherings been promoted in strictly intellectual terms with button words like "socialism" or "individualism," opposition to them would have been fierce and immediate. Presenting them without definition invited attendance, and won converts from every philosophical school.
Perhaps compassion is called com-passion because, intuitively, we understand it is the companion of passion. When our natural capacity to become sexually aroused vicariously over pleasure experienced by others is repressed, so is our natural empathy for the suffering of the less fortunate. Again the map of speech tends most often to divide what in the territory of mind and body employs the same basic biophysical energy. Sexually repressive ways of living must devise elaborate moral codes that pay lip service to compassion and humanity to restrain their adherents from acts of sadism. With all their endless chatter about compassion and humanity, the Confucians earned the scorn of the Taoist sages - who delighted in twitting the Confucian need to make ado about what comes naturally to people who are in touch with themselves, who have not "lost the Tao". For humans are gregarious mammals who live in tribes and extended families without fuss or forethought until they fall into the clutches of missionaries or imperialist politicians.
"The True People of Old," says Chuang Tsu, "were kind to one another without knowing it was called compassion. They deceived no one and did not know it was called honesty. The were reliable and did not know it was called dependability. They lived together freely giving and taking and did not know it was called generosity. For this reason their actions have not been recorded and they made no history." Calling this the Age of Perfect Peace, the sage tells us its citizens lived like deer in the forests, sleeping without dreaming and awakening without anxiety.
Sociality comes as easily to the unconditioned mind as reason or sex. When Dom Aelred Graham complained in his Conversations Christian and Buddhist that Zen seemed to him amoral due to the absence of anything like the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule, a Zen master responded that compassion is one of the definitive components of Zen enlightenment, and that without compassion it isn't Zen.
Rules - unlike contractual agreements useful to many situations and at least bilateral in nature - are only needed by those who have lost the capacity to govern themselves humanely. Once they are established it is a vicious cycle, for those who grow up under them never reach the maturity required for common-sense living.
Having mentioned that the fourth characteristic of unconditioned personality is spirituality, I'll begin by pointing out that I am obviously not talking about theological belief systems, since those things can be argued forever without any corresponding change in human actions. Metaphysics should not stubbornly be dragged into community affairs; in return, the community ought to respect freedom of personal belief among its individual members. Otherwise, it will be divided and ruled.
All religions participate in spirituality. Yet it is something also available to the skeptic, as Julian Huxley shows in Religion Without Revelation. Psychedelic consciousness is at this point a rather passe term, yet it functions to show that what we are talking about is not a monopoly of religious faith. Quoting Blake, Aldous Huxley called it a cleansing of "the doors of perception" in his book by that name. Since nothing direct can be said about it, and since most of this book is devoted to indicating how it may be experienced, further elaboration is next to useless. Lord Buddha responded to all inquiries about metaphysical spirituality with what he called "a noble silence". For that reason he is sometimes called the Silent Sage.
That what we are discussing, under whatever name, is closely related to our sense of the beautiful is clear because it has always inspired the creators of great art. Like reason and sex and compassion, esthetic discrimination seems largely inborn. And, therefore, Zenarchists who are skeptical of religion may prefer to call this characteristic of unconditioned mind esthetic, instead of spiritual.
Buried under all the layers of ignorant assumption and fable and reflex conditioning called individual personality, at the center of every human soul, is a pure flame of undivided rationality and sexuality and sociability and spirituality. When you reach that flame in self or other without evoking a knee-jerk reaction from armoring which imprisons it, you have touched the most private holy of holies within the living human being. You are then participating in the work of Subjective Liberation.
Change Number Two:
As Marx and Kropotkin and other revolutionaries have observed, trying to attain and maintain psychological liberation under deficient material conditions is practically impossible. More than scarcity is involved.
Regimented working conditions (endured today in both capitalist and socialist nations) are also deadening to the spirit. Equally difficult is finding any options in the struggle for freedom when you must report for work like a soldier to muster in order to produce, must dress and conduct yourself in such a way as not to scandalize the sensibilities of your boss, and must remain at production until a given hour when you are dismissed.
Lack of control by workers of the means of production is certainly the root of the problem. Marx erred, though, in thinking if corporations were turned into public bureaucracies the monotonous routine would transform itself. Until the communist anarchist dream of direct expropriation of the tools of production is realized, or until there is a laissez-faire free market where small businesses can survive easily enough that we can become self-employed, it is up to us to find ways to break out of the predominant system. For an independent economic base of action is almost necessary for maintaining inner liberation and making the imaginative responses to political authority required by the counter-game.
Fortunately a wealth of information for attaining that much is readily available in The Whole Earth Catalog publications.
An excellent preparatory step is to heed Henry David Thoreau's observation: we are rich not according to what we possess, but according to the number of things we can do without. Take inventory of what you own or consume that genuinely contributes to your happiness. Identify what you purchase in order to impress others whose opinions do not matter. Many people own stocks, for example, because of an addictive compulsion to gamble, not for reasons of a security that leads to peace of mind. What is the point of winning and losing symbolic wealth that is seldom if ever seen, touched or tasted by the owner? Much the same thing can be said for the desire to purchase, year after year, a late-model car. How many home appliances cost more trouble and money in maintenance than they are worth?
For direct enjoyment of living, what about purchasing your own tools of production and using them with your own brain and hands? The Whole Earth Catalog and its widely available sequels are subtitled "Access to Tools". Once in possession of your own means of production, you fit both capitalist and socialist definitions of the free individual. And if you don't own enough luxuries to sell to buy the tools, you need not despair. Knowledge is as valuable as capital for self-employment and can often be used to acquire any tools you may need.
A statement of purpose in The Whole Earth Catalog reads: "We are as gods and might as well get good at it. So far remotely done power and glory - as via government, big business, formal education, church - has succeeded to point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing - power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by The Whole Earth Catalog." To be included, an item must be deemed useful as a tool relevant to independent education, of high quality or low cost and easily available by mail.
Guides and implements listed make it possible for you - if you want - to forage, grow, hunt or raise your own food, make your own clothing and shelter, provide yourself with competent medical care for most ailments. That isn't the only use for The Whole Earth Catalog and how far you or your group wants to go in that direction is of course optional. No matter how much or how little time and effort you expend in learning independent survival, though, you are that much ahead of the game. For to tread the money mill, if you are not a banker, is to labor against house odds.
"A bank may, under Federal Reserve rules, loan eight times as much as it has on deposit," cautions Robert Anton Wilson, asking then, "if seven dollars out of every eight that are so produced by bank credit are not created out of nothing, what are they created of?"
Inflation is the name of the result. Note the power of the banks when you read articles and hear speeches on inflation by apologists for capitalism and socialism alike. They seldom mention banks.
Not only does fractional reserve banking erode your purchasing power, you also pay in the same way for deficit spending by government. Again, only bankers benefit. They collect the interest. And interest is made necessary only by coercive regulations on money supply, amounting to a bank-government partnership. Otherwise you could issue I.O.U.'s on your own collateral and buy things with them, paying only a minimal fee for a credit investigation.
In Great Britain the average worker also spends one working day out of every nine paying for his or her automobile - in purchasing cost, repairs, insurance and highway taxes. Add to this the burden of taxation in general, both direct and hidden in prices of what we buy from taxed and tariffed industries. Then take into consideration the giant's share of your paycheck you probably fork over for rent. You can't possibly secure a just return for your labor.
"Never buy what you can make," my grandfather used to say. If you follow that advice you will gain much more than you lose by forsaking what were once the advantages of division of labor. Beyond that, of course, is producing something useful or desirable in goods and services for purposes of barter.
First, though, exchanging goods and services depends on your ability to communicate with other independent producers.
Change Number Three:
Every center of political-economic authority strives to monopolize communications. Mass media, telephone and postal systems are all controlled by corporate-government oligarchies. If we enjoy freedom of expression, it is managed freedom of speech.
Unfettered communications between self-liberating people is required for both communal and free market activities outside the rip-offs of coercively monopolized capital.
Brainstorming and combing publications of the libertarian right are both useful methods for developing ideas about creating alternative communications. Networks using advanced electronics, associations of nomadic individuals and, when necessary, cyphers and codes, are among these alternatives.
Periodicals and books pertaining to libertarian right applications of principle can usually be found among individuals on the fringes of the Libertarian Party, since even many politically active libertarian capitalists are also interested in direct free market action outside the system.
By scrutinizing advertisements in libertarian publications for yet other printed material and products and by corresponding and personally visiting libertarian technicians and entrepreneurs, you will quickly find much that will contribute to creating and participating in liberated systems of communication.
Change Number Four:
Free contracting for the exchange of labor for goods and services, barter and monetary (accounting) systems free from inflation and usury - parallel market places are the modes of Liberated Trade. Libertarians call them agoric systems of production and exchange.
Both the Whole Earth movement and the libertarians you meet for creating parallel communications will be able to show you how to comprehend this activity and make it, or let it, work for you.
Having previously mastered the first three changes you will find it easy to now become an essentially free person or family or tribe. For by this time you will know where to acquire further data for participating in Liberated Trade.
Change Number Five:
"Now that you have your freedom, how will you hide it from robbers?"
Political governments, organized crime syndicates and intelligence community bureaucracies known popularly as conspiracies, are the only threats to your liberty at this point. You don't necessary have to overthrow them to be free of them. That would, besides, be like cutting the heads off a Hydra.
What they all possess in common is the blunt recognition that, as Chairman Mao said, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Governments are generally devoted to public relations for the purpose of obscuring that fact. Mafia dons have traditionally been more honest about their line of work, but they are getting smarter.
Self-defense skills, defensive weaponry and technology, authoritarian psychology and, if you are fanatical, emergency suicide techniques can all be studied for the purpose of coping with violent enslavers. If you let it be known that you are prepared to kill yourself rather than submit to coercive authority - and have the means at hand, such as a poison pill in a locket around your neck - you may find that many an authoritarian will decide harassing you would cause too many problems.
Judo, karate and other Oriental methods of arguing by hand are additionally valuable as Zenarchist disciplines. Non-lethal weapons such as gas guns are useful for people who would rather attain instant security in this area. Other defensive weaponry can include alarm systems for protecting personal property and communication arrangements for identifying potential oppressors. One application of authoritarian psychology is to make an appointment with a harassing bureaucrat at 4:30 Friday afternoon and then borrow the neighbor's kids and dogs and bring them along.
These are just a few examples of the many methods of dealing with the ultimate source of political authority - the armed agent, as cop or squad of soldiers or hit man.
Since the eye is superior protection to the sword, evolution equips all animals with sensory organs - only a few with fangs or claws or horns, etc. It behooves you to devote the most attention to whatever will expand your awareness, including fancy alarm systems.
Or use them to enlighten your oppressor.
Doctor George Boardman, a libertarian who believed in living without the dubious protection of government, once suggested what I would call a Zenarchist burglar alarm. A nocturnal intruder triggers a mechanism to flood the area with blinding light and activate an amplified recording that says: "How about a little light? Thief."
As the great Zenarch, Gregory Hill, says: "'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds!"
Zenarchy: Next Chapter!
Zenarchy: Table of Content
Copyright 1991, 1997 Kerry W. Thornley, IllumiNet Press and Impropaganda.