2005 State of the Hippie Address By Keith Lampe, Transition Prez
Government of the USA in Exile
February 2, 2005
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As part of my ongoing efforts to improve human mood, I'd like on this annual occasion of my State of the Union Address to talk about the State of the Hippie instead.
I think that a return to Hippie spirit and values provides our best opportunity to improve significantly average human mood at this time. Not till we've achieved elation much more frequently can we resist the Fourth Reich effectively.
Currently I'm working on a Lost History of Hippie for all our dear high school students because they've been down so long it looks like up to them. That is, they've endured a merciless US police state for so many years now that they've forgotten anything better and thus can't imagine anything better. I'm so eager for them to become able to imagine something much much much better!!!
Before continuing, I'll sketch a brief summary of that history.
Most of you already know that Hippie began in San Francisco in the mid-60s and quickly spread around the nation and planet because smaller numbers of Hippies in New York City relayed the sense of it into various huge media machines there.
By '67 Hippie had become the main influence behind new forms of activism. For example, in that year a few of us in NYC started a number called Support-in-Action in order to provide support from middle-aged people (I was already 35) for young draft resisters. Most of us were Hippies though the venerable Karl Bissinger also was quite helpfully present. This idea then spread to a bunch in the Boston-Cambridge area who called themselves Resist.
Despite the fact that they were mainly Straights they came up with a statement very nearly as firm as ours e.g., their language risked a five-year-federal-felony bust. Two of the Straights among them Noam Chomsky and Benjamin Spock became the media character actors of that occasion. (Alas, it has been all downhill for poor Noam ever since: these days he's never in the streets and has kept his mouth shut about the US Government's cover-up of its murders of JFK, MLK, RFK, the OKC-Murrah explosion victims, the nearly 3000 9/11 victims, the Wellstone Family and also about the stolen presidential elections of 2000 and 2004.) So Hippies initiated the concept but Straights got credit for it from all the Straight academic histwhorians.
The great Initiating Genius at this time was Hippie Robert M. Ockene, then executive editor of Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Company. It was he who in late '67 gave us Yippie!
During the major demo and exorcistic levitation of the Pentagon in autumn '67 Judith Lampe and he slipped quietly into the Pentagon itself (behind Sy Hersh's NY Times credentials) he to check out the vibes and she mainly because she was pregnant with our dear daughter and didn't want to risk getting her belly bashed by the crude vicious federal marshals outside.
This gave Bob the perspective necessary to notice that the great intramural injustice of that action was the New Left Short-Hair Straights e.g., Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, Carl Oglesby who totally controlled the rhetoric with their bullhorns but fled when the marshals moved in and left us voiceless Hippies to take the skull bash, tear gas and jail time.
So Bob suggested we start a group to give Hippies a voice and that the group should have a sense of humor to heal the psychic wounds caused by the continuing upsurge in police terrorism. In December we split around sixteen phone calls and the ensuing meeting resulted in Yippie a deft label provided by Paul Krassner in response to the need for humor. As most of you know, the late Abbie Hoffman and the late Jerry Rubin became the main character actors of the Yippie occasion. Bob died in autumn '69 evidently taken out by the dreaded US secret police.
This pattern of Hippies initiating a concept and Straights getting credit for it can be seen most clearly in the early history of the environmental movement. In autumn '69 in Berkeley three Hippies (Gary Snyder, Michael McClure and I) had dinner together because we'd played the major roles in getting that movement started and we wanted to talk about ways to protect it from corruption, co-optation, etc. The vicious secret police stomp-out of the Hippie at that time made it easy for come-lately fame-craving Straight David Brower (now also deceased) to move over into this new movement from the quaint conservation movement (I helped him) and get himself depicted among histwhorians as the "father" of it.
What a ludicrous irony! We Hippies had been in the streets risking our asses (e.g., several of us busted blocking a truck carrying redwood corpses in early spring of '69 and 1500 folks paralyzing traffic in downtown Eugene (OR) later that year) and now here comes "father" to lure the movement from street to office, from disobedient actions to obedient gestures e.g., write-yr-Congressperson. So Brower was the greatest individual human disaster that the biosphere had experienced till George Boosch.
I did the introductory press relations for the US women's-lib movement even though the originators were mainly Straight. The occasion was the Atlantic City (NJ) beauty pageant of September '68. Women journeyed there from Manhattan Island to remove their lipstick and brassieres and make statements about gender equality. It established Robin Morgan as the media character actress and she was rather Straight. Several weeks later Gloria Steinem suddenly popped up as Women's Lib Media Character Actress Number Two and she was so breathtakingly straight that one must suspect that she was planted by the sly CIA to prevent the movement from targeting capitalism as macho.
In late '68 or sometime in '69 a bunch of marvelous feminist Hippies in Marin County (CA) mounted a formidable challenge to Straight NYC women's-lib. They wanted to run the movement on yin energy rather than yang, wanted to link psychedelics with the liberation of both genders and lots of other interesting stuff. But they were swiftly taken over by women representing the East-Coast Yang Straightness which they'd organized to oppose. The manner of the take-over has to make one wonder whether the East Coast infiltrational energy had been instigated by the dreaded US secret police. In '71 I picked up with one of those Originating Hippies and her experience led her to say: "I have no more illusions about the women's movement." I felt lucky to be with her because I knew that most US women hadn't even begun to have their illusions yet.
So as we fold Hippie into the thick broth of Recent US History, it starts to look quite different from what was fed you by the professwhores of the military-industrial-academic complex back at your college or university right? The reason you know almost nothing about early eco-movement history is I didn't let Herder & Herder publish my Earth Read-Out news service in book form (despite their urgings) because they couldn't or wouldn't tell me how many sentient brother/sister trees would be sacrificed to its first printing.
The pattern of Initiating-Hippie and Straight-Getting-Credit continues to this day though at a much slower pace because of much tighter corporate control of the info flow. For example, fourteen years ago in San Francisco during the bombing of Baghdad I started the US Pro-Democracy Movement (USPDM) and just last month I was pleased to find a reference to "the mushrooming pro-democracy movement" in a piece by Straight Ted Glick. It's reasonable to assume that professwhorial histwhorians still are so inept and corrupt that they won't be able to trace it back very far and thus Ted or some other Johnny/Jeanny-Come-Lately Straight will get proclaimed the "father" of it. Fine! I'm glad not to have to go around Famous and I've used three different names as part of a strategy for avoiding such. Fame is a trap because it always slows down your evolution as you bask in it and repeat yourself within it. Meanwhile, let's hope those active in the current pro-democracy movement take it into the streets rather than merely getting paid writing books and making speeches about it.
In any case, I think it's time for high school students to know the truth rather than be victimized by all the "history" bullshit waiting for them in the wings of their onrushing colleges and universities. Of course, the history bullshit is much broader than just Hippies. For example, Ross Gelbspan a relatively effective climate-change commentator said on a radio show yesterday that warnings about climate change have been occurring since '88. Such warnings in fact go back at least to '68. These paragraphs from a letter I wrote in '01 bring that out:Okay. Let's now take a look at my transition from anthropocentric activism to biocentric activism. In spring '68 Bob Ockene had noticed that the sinister U.S. MonoMassMedia (MMM) were conditioning Americans to accept the Vietnam War for an utterly indefinite period of time. So we did a caper called The War Is Over so people could at least imagine such a possibility. We dashed exultantly up Fifth Avenue, disrupting traffic. I can't remember whether the late great Phil Ochs did his song "I Declare the War Is Over" just before the caper or just after. (Hey, all honor to Phil's name, too!)
Anyway, I was co-ordinating the number as we gathered in Washington Square Park for the dash. The police didn't like our idea, had surrounded us and were playing with their batons somewhat menacingly. Old friend Allen Ginsberg (I met him in Calcutta in '62) came up to me and began talking about the Dialectics of Liberation conference in London from which he'd just returned. I was so concerned about the police that my unspoken attitude towards him was: Hey, can't you see I'm busy?
But what he told me led several months later to perhaps the biggest single change I've ever gone through. At the conference besides Stokely Carmichael and Bertrand Russell was an anthropologist from Hawaii by the name of Gregory Bateson. In his speech he said the planet was heating up and rather soon the polar caps would melt, inundatng the continents. Wow!
Thus soon after moving to Berkeley at the beginning of '69 I started the planet's first environmental newsservice. It was called Earth Read-Out (ERO) and it ran as a column in fifteen or twenty newspapers. It was the main information conduit for the new environmental movement, which had begun with a civil-disobedience action in Marin County about six weeks before my first issue on May 15.
The movement began when several of us sat down on a road north of Bolinas to stop a truck loaded with redwood corpses. We stopped it and were busted. So we started with a victory (extremely rare since then): never again has there been logging of that sort in that county.
All the bloody flotsam historians will tell you that the movement began with Earth Day '70 but that actually was the occasion that swiftly led to the movement being co-opted by effete bureaucrats using movement-sounding rhetoric in order to suck foundation grants and get book contracts. I was asked to make an Earth Day '70 speech in Denver or Boulder (can't remember which) but told them I was unwilling to expend so much petrol getting there and they should get a local person instead.
So a vibrant predominantly Hippie volunteer in-your-face movement was taken over by people like Stewart Brand, the late David Brower and Jerry Mander people who manipulated the eco-emergency on behalf of their personal desire to get famous and become adulated.
In autumn '69 Gary Snyder (whom I'd met in Kyoto in '60), Michael McClure and I had dinner together because we'd played the major roles in establishing the movement and wanted to discuss ways of keeping it from being co-opted and corrupted. We'd opened up a rather wide media-niche for it enough that David Brower, then a book editor in the quaint conservation movement, sensed he might be able to get in front of more TV cameras as an environmentalist than as a conservationist and so started moving our way. I actually helped him with the transition by doing press relations for a speech he made in Berkeley.
It was lewd of Jerry Mander to aid and abet Brower's ego-ridden fantasy that he was the fuckin father of the eco-movement. Jerry is easily bright enough to know the difference between the father of a movement and the oldest person in it. Between '71 and '99 Brower was more responsible for the breathtaking weakness of the movement than anyone else. The Backroom Boys controlling MonoMassMedia were delighted to feature David as a leader because they knew he was abjectly obedient to both their nefarious legal system and nefarious tax system and would advocate only the very most effete gestures of resistance to their ongoing destruction of the biosphere. David specialized in cutie-pie environmentalism. In a way, it's appropriate that Berkeley was selected for a David Brower Day. The citizens there already live with so many illusions that they might as well add one more.
In '69 I felt our strength lay in anonymity rather than fame. So I stopped signing my pieces with "Keith Lampe" and started using "K.L." Or if I could find somebody to add a paragraph or two, I'd then use "Members of the Staff." In late '69 or early '70 I did an issue which included poetry by Ginsberg, McClure and Snyder. I used only their initials and they were pissed though Ginsberg less so. They'd become junkies of their own names! Their names were their ticket-to-ride!
On the spring equinox of '70 I did an issue devoted to regionalizing North America. Fourteen years later Peter Berg would come up to me at a bioregional gathering and say, "So what do you think of this?" I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Hey, man, the two of us started this thing." That was accurate except for some major male chauvinism. In alphabetical order the actual founders of bioregionalism are: Judy Berg, Peter Berg, Judy Lampe and Keith Lampe (I was still using my human-chauvinist name). Sadly, I must report to you that a few years later Peter had become so ego-ridden that he failed to relay to flotsam historian Kirkpatrick Sale that I was a co-founder.
I must also sadly report that within just a few years after that dinner with Snyder and McClure, both of them had degenerated into fashionable eco-lapdogs. Perhaps they'd been frightened by the infamous U.S. military's murders of those four well-intentioned Kent State University students in spring '70. In any case, these days I'm not willing to be seen in public with either of them.
One reason you don't know anything about all this is that I did not allow Herder & Herder to publish Earth Read-Out in book form. They were eager but I said I wanted to know the number of sentient arboreal beings who would be screamingly sacrificed for the first edition. I wanted to include the number in the volume. I felt that minimal human decency called for at least that gesture. They couldn't or wouldn't give me a number.
And obviously there was lots of other important climate-destabilization info made available between '70 and '88 when Ross starts catching on to it.
Hippies also were the predominant influence in the early days of the Back-to-the-Land Movement. The first Hippie rural commune evidently was Drop City in Iowa in '65. Peter Rabbit, now living in Taos, is widely regarded as one of the venerable mentors of that movement.
Perhaps the most helpful suggestion from the heyday of Hippie was Gary Snyder's about "the transfer of prime human attention from objects to states of mind." If applied today in the form of massive boycotts it could be an effective tool of resistance to the Bush Junta, which, after all, is impervious to moral appeals but fetishistic about profits. More attention on states of mind also can significantly improve average mood. Most important of all, such a transfer would greatly lessen the pressure on our fragile home-planet life-support systems.
Meanwhile, there obviously should be additional categories of lost history for high school students. I hope you have suggestions for how they should be labeled and organized.
I hope this has been more interesting for you than that Brand X State-of-the-Union Speech delivered today by that ignominious Fourth Reich puppet.
Yours for all species,
Keith Lampe, Ro-Non-So-Te, Ponderosa Pine
GOVERNMENT OF THE USA IN EXILE
Free Americans Reaching Out to Amerika's Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free
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