RN: It all depends on the level of motivation we can generate. I mean, it's the people in their twenties who are going to make this happen. That's what makes it all happen, you know, people in their twenties. They hit the road. The rest are otherwise occupied or you know...if they sit around wallowing in their Generation X stereotype, you know, twisting the tail of their weed, they're not going to get anywhere. We have to see how we're going to motivate them and that's the key. And that's up in the air. But you don't need that many, though.What are your best ideas at the moment about motivation? For a 20-30 year-old audience?
RN: Well, they've got to sit down and clear away the addictions of mind and body surrounding them and ask themselves, when they're going to grow up? What are they going do for the world? What are they going to do for themselves? What's their public philosophy? What's their civic role? What do they want to contribute to the world other than a combination of 'we don't know' and 'we don't care.'So?
You know, the problem is adolescence in American society is not in the teens, it's in the twenties. That's a terrible decade to lose 'cause what happens when you reach thirty after you finished off the twenties in that you become extremely conventional. You're very vulnerable to very conventional 'niching' of everything - of your horizons, your occupation, your social life, etc.
RN: So, we need young leaders to leverage themselves and multiply themselves. A thousand people in their twenties willing to make a go of it will transform American politics from top to bottom.But you have to paint the image believable enough so that people would be willing to give up some pretty good hedonistic years...
RN: But nobody is going to believe in anything who doesn't believe in themselves first, you see? Because nobody is going to give anybody 20 million dollars to start a political transformation. You've got to believe in yourself first and then you build a resource base from that.That's a fairly philosophical statement. It would take a long boozy evening to defend that.
The trouble is with modern society is that people don't believe in themselves enough. And the reason is that there aren't particular religious movements sweeping along where you can believe in yourself because you believe in some extra-terrestrial ideology or system of belief. But you look at Mother Teresa, for example, she is a woman of faith, okay. And it's easy to say well, this woman of faith gets all her strength from her faith. Precedential to that is her belief in herself. That's where her power comes from.
RN: Yeah, but politics is philosophy. That's the problem. It hasn't had a philosophic content. It's had a, you know, punditry content, a logistical content. None of these political consultants believe in anything. I mean, have you ever seen a situation like that? Their whole life is politics and you ask them, "What do you believe in?" And they say, "What? I've never heard that before. What did you say? What do I believe in?" They don't believe in anything. They believe in how fast they can get slogans on TV.They're craftspeople.
RN: Yeah, that's a kind word for it.... But the key is...the key is this...the key focus is multinational corporations. They're the dominant institution in the world today. They manipulate and control governments. They induce debt and control governments by the induction of debts through the World Bank, IMF, private banks, etc. They are controlling politics, our economics, our culture, our education, our children - increasingly they're raising our children - video, tv, overmedication, addiction industries and so on. And they're concentrating the media in a hardcore commercial priority system. And now they're beginning to control the genetic heritance of humankind, flora and fauna. I mean, there's not much left, right? So, they are on a collison course with democratic processes.But I just don't get any sense of balance between this huge multinational/transnational infestation and its crushing grip on the society, and this thousand-man phalanx of 20-year-olds who are supposed to galvanize us into redemption, you know. It terrifies the shit out of me, and the only way I can see that you can escape the political deadlock we're in and the media silence is by redefining the problem in such a way that it becomes "curious", it becomes "fascinating", it becomes a cultural phenomenon as well as a political or legal artifact. If, for example, you can show people that big corporate bodies are not only political disasters, they actually suck up their members psychic, physical and even sexual energies, then I think you have the start of fascinating conversation.
They don't mind symbolic parliamentary systems that allow oligarchies and plutocracies to control because that's a much more efficient controlling mechanism than a brutal, steel-tipped dictatorship. That's an unstable situation. But they are dismantling our democracy in the United States at an accelerating rate in the last l6 years. It started in the oil crisis in '79. Access to courts, money in politics, homogenization and exclusion of dissent in the media, corporatization and stifling dissent in the universities and their penetration of the family by separating the kids from the parents and teaching the kids how to subvert parental discipline and nag the parents is extraordinary.
I mean, they've got 30 and 35 hours a week of pre-teenage time. No vacations. You don't think that's power. The kids are completely cut off from historical and social context. Their whole world is a virtual world of "chestacheetahs, tony the tigers" and then later on, you know, then the 'power rangers' and 'ninja turtles', and so on. I mean, we basically are letting them raise our kids - thirty, thirty-five hours a week? Turning their minds into putty, shortening their attention spans, dividing them against the rest of the family.
So, the multinational corporation is the focus of the concentration of power and wealth in a few hands that is constricting the full range of human possibilities for people around the world. And the commercialism is destroying other values. That's the genius of GATT. That it subjugates values like health, safety, justice, respect for future generations, to the imperatives of short-term international trade. That is a revolutionary, overtly revolutionary upside-down positioning of the way we have liked to operate in our country. When we got rid of child labor, we said, 'yeah, it's going to increase costs for factories to hire adults but there are other non-commercial values more important.' Now, we couldn't prohibit the importation of products in the U.S. made by brutalized child labor abroad because by all accounts, pro and anti-GATT, it is "GATT-illegal" to do so. We would lose in Geneva in the closed tribunal brought by Bangladesh or some other country against us. And we would have to either repeal the law or pay perpetual trade fines to the victorious country. That's how far we've gotten. I mean, the only next step is any country that prohibits child labor will be accused of having a non-tariff barrier operating.
So, now clarification of struggle is important for any social movement. And by focusing on the multinational corporation and its takeover of public government and its seizure of taxpayer assets and its ability to basically engage a series of controlling processes where people who are not alert become participants in their own subjugation by lowering their expectation levels and by growing up corporate in the way that they look at the world, when you clarify that it connects with people's experience. I mean, parents know that they're losing control of their kids. Not just to the streets. I mean, next is virtual reality where the kids' interactive video start dismembering the adversaries, spine by spine and heart by heart.
So, and that's why it's not difficult to communicate these things in live audiences. You don't get on TV doing that. But in live audiences you get a lot of nods. I mean, you're not conveying esoterica. You're just clarifying what people have been feeling inside themselves: that they're losing control in every single role of their life. They're losing control as voters, that's part of the turnoff; losing control as taxpayers - tax money is used as private enrichment of corporations. There is no constitutional bar anymore or anything. You can convert tax money and give it as a check to General Motors and say, "Create jobs." Whether you do or not, it doesn't matter. They're losing control as consumers over their own money. We're into electronic funds transfer, debit cards, credit card files on people, massive invasion of privacy. They're now selling private medical records in California - the HMO. So, if you have a gall bladder problem, you'll start getting mail order catalogs. And you'll say, "how did they know I had a gall bladder problem?" It's because your HMO sold your records. Now, mother gives birth: drive-through births now. Hey, you don't have to stay in the hospital for a day. How else are you going to make the guy at the top of the HMO you're a member of, super-rich?
They're losing control as workers. They're on their knees. They start forming unions and they're on their way to Mexico or Malaysia or Indonesia. So, every role they're losing control. Savers? Look at the S&L. They got looted. The S&L looted their savings then the S&L turned around and charged them for it as taxpayers - one-half a trillion dollars between the year 1990 and 2020. It's a pretty good deal. I know that Merlin couln't have thought of one better than that. That's pretty good.
So, they realize all that. When I ran on this kind of platform as a non-candidate, none-of-the-above in New Hampshire in '92, I just went up there for a couple of weeks. And I told them, "Look, if you're fed up with Tweedle Dum, Tweedle Dee, write me in." So, of the write-in votes I got - I got 6300 votes, whatever - 3 or 4 percent or something. Write-in votes are difficult, as you know, in a machine ballot-state, especially, which they all are now. 52 percent Republican, 48 percent Democrat which is the registration spread in New Hampshire. And basically it was just the people I met physically in big town meetings. There's no other way to get to them.
I basically studied for medicine. I was on my way to becoming a doctor until I started hanging around hospitals and got terminally disillusioned. So, I tend to think biologically and medically about all of this stuff. And then I came over to Japan and I started studying a lot of these ki-based things: the acupuncture and massage and martial arts that are based on ki or what they call "vital energy". And I started to understand that this social ki the Japanese always talk about is simply what we would call focused attention - as it moves outside of people, between people. Like we're having a fairly intense ki exchange right here, and when you have an audience, there is all this focused attention that enters, charges an individual person. And in a very palpable way it physiologically energizes you. Hubert Humphrey used to drag himself up to the podium when he was feeling sick and give a big rousing speech and come down perfectly well again. I mean, people know this phenomenon - stage people, especially.
Attention is the most under-studied, suspiciously under-studied factor in psychology anywhere in the world. And when you think about it it is the most valuable human resource because it determines the content of your consciousness, it determines your memories, it determines your identity ultimately. And whatever is in control of your attention or whatever has overwhelming influence upon it, leads your life. And within the corporate membranes, as long as these big bodies have eight hours of your essentially clearest consciousness and it's all focused upon corporate ends and means, and it doesn't leak outside into personal concerns or family, community or religion or anything like that, then they develop into extraordinarily powerful and 'single-minded' beasts. I mean, these entities become a new species of being that totally dominate, and obviously outlive, their human members. And in Japan particularly, these big corporate bodies fully encompass all their members' lives so that individuals totally lose their sense of rights, political responsibility and personal identity. Just like your political operatives who don't know what they believe because once they're inside the system, it doesn't make any difference. Once you're inside the needs of the corporate moment will dictate your responses..
RN: Yes, far more than most governments, they're an all-involving system. They have you even during your leisure time. Twenty-five hours a week watching TV, you are their serf, you are their property.Yes, and they punch little holes in all that TV-focused attention and sell it to advertisers to insert more consumptive messages in the back of our heads.
RN: But far more important is that once people start marching, they don't know where they're going. Take Lenin. What was his big motto? His big motto was "The land to the peasants, the factories to the proletariat." See how simple. So, you start marching, you know where you're going - you take the land, you take the factories. That was the motivational focus of his drive. And there is no direction as to what kind of society we want to build that is that clear anymore. And that's what has to be clarified.That motto still sounds pretty fresh to me. I mean, whatever happened to worker ownership? Not socialist ownership, not government-managed ownership, but just flat-out, old-fashioned worker ownership? How is United Airlines doing?
RN: Well, that's the problem. The corporate model is so powerful that once you accept it, it doesn't really matter who runs it: whether its the workers or so-called executive management. It's the model that has to be changed. See, the key thing is to play out the trends, people would be much more motivated if they see something they don't like that is going to occur in l0 or 20 years, than if they're just told about what's going on now although both are important.But that's a REALLY important point, the gonads. That's the weak point in the corporate equation because you will find that corporate living basically takes off your gonads, you know. And that's what is happening in Japan. The corporations have it much easier here because they've stressed the living shit out of the boys right when they're trying to get through puberty and they knock them way back hormonally and just plain arrest their development. That's why they obey so well, why they're so into fads, fashions, toys, why they prefer pre-pubescent sex like bondage and S&M games. And that's why tonight when I jump on this expensive Shinkansen - the fastest one I could get to make this appointment - here are all these 600-dollar suits reading comic books.
That's why the environmentalists are so motivated because they see the projection and the trends: global warming, equitorial forests, the oceans, the ozone depletion. See, that's why they are so motivated. It's the trends. And that's what you've got to do is clarify the trends, what's happening. I don't mean in a hundred years from now. I mean just playing out in the next generation. What's going to happen when there's a 4 billion labor pool with minimal barriers to capital movements in the country, in the world? And when people can work hard as heck with modern equipment for a buck a day or two bucks a day, what's going to happen to people who have higher standards of living and are getting paid fifteen dollars an hour?
But the real problem in fighting this is that it takes too long to grow up in this society which is a tremendous asset to corporate power because by the time, as I said, by the time that they suddenly realize what's going on, they've lost their flexibility and their independence and they've moved into the bourgeousie society. Now, that could argue for an intensive education process for fifteen-year-olds if we can separate their gonads from corporate merchandizers.
RN: Where is this? You mean, they're coming back from work?They're coming back from the weekend. The comic books have been the biggest publishing sector in Japan for the last 25 years. They control forty percent of the print market. That's what passes for literature these days in "salariman" culture.
RN: What kind of stories are in there?It's mostly garish violence and violent sex. Pick up a few, they're fascinating. Some of the artwork is quite neat. but meanwhile the birthrate is plummeting across the country. The women don't want to get married. The biggest psychological phenomenon reported in the newspapers over the last few years is the fact more and more couples just don't have sex any more. They go for six months without even touching each other.
RN: They're too tired?They're just not interested.
RN: No, a little bit more clinical detail, please. What do you mean they're not interested?They're just untouched by the physical sexual urge.
RN: But why? What is desexualizing them?Well, the current pundit reading on it is stress, their world now is too full of stress and they don't have anything that brings them closer with their mate, and once they get married the guy goes off to the company and she goes off to her little women's world and they don't have anything in common really and if she has kids, she's basically on him about all of the stuff that he should be doing with them that he doesn't feel like doing because he's basically married to the company and she's like the nagging mistress. So, that's the general flow of the critique. I have a rather more complicated view which relates to the puberty-stunning "examination hell", the estrogenic soybean diet and the great suction on vitality that the corporate bodies exert, but we can talk about that later...
RN: Neutered subjects.Yeah, it worked great for the Ming Dynasty. After all, the ideal corporate operative is a eunuch - he doesn't assert himself, he takes orders meekly, is a great 'team player' and is totally dependent on his hierarchy. There's a wonderful book called Chinese Eunuchs and at the end, the author, a Japanese scholar, says, well, they did it physically in China but you don't have to do it physically, you can do it quite well psychologically and that is what we are doing here.
RN: Well, how come sex is such a big industry then? A good share of the GNP is based on sex.Where? In Japan?
RN: Everywhere.Yeah, but in Japan, it's largely virtual sex. Most of the sex that goes on downtown in bars is just verbal, lewd jokes, innuendo, and most of the girls on the street...
RN: You mean those middle and upper-middle class girls who want to buy 300 dollar purses?Yeah, most of that action is not fully sexual. The guys may talk dirty. They may even feel the girl up or if they're lucky, get jerked off. But they say that normal physical sex occurs less than 15 or 20 percent of the time. And yet the girls are still making 300 bucks a whack.
RN: Sure fights venereal disease.Ho-ho. But the point is that people are concerned about that in the West, at least, and I think they are here. I mean, the women at least make a big issue about it. And if you can show that manhood and sexuality and more poetically sensuality and your ability to connect with anything resembling the natural world are all initmately related... that all these things are all linked in a sort of molecular chain and that this energy is being short-circuited or totally appropriated by the corporate bodies for their own metabolic needs...
RN: Well, if you look at modern merchandising it is extraordinarily sensual - whether it's junk food, music, entertainment, you name it, addiction... That's the genius of the modern corporate marketing is that it is enormously sensual in both "good" and "bad" ways. I mean, just look at modern packaging. the stuff inside may be junk but the packaging is beautiful. The styling of automobiles during the time when they were gas-guzzling-polluting monsters. For that period of time, there was great attention given to sound, light, color, shape and that's part of it. What they do is they appeal to the least of you, especially at a young age. They appeal to the most sensually vulnerable part of you. They don't appeal to your mind when they sell you junk food, they appeal to your tongue.But the tongue...the point is is that the body is getting short-changed in this. However beautiful they make your lamp, the point is is that they make you sit under it for eight hours. That's the whole part of the education system that is never touched upon. Most human creatures on the earth are not meant to sit on a chair for eight hours a day for years on end under flourescent light. And the fact that we've been conditioned to that is the great triumph of the educational system whatever fuck the content is.
So, when that starts to happen...I think you can make a case that a physical resentment is building up in the bodies of people that actually has a chance of coming to consciousness. That's all I'm saying...that the people are sort of concerned about their sensuality and sexuality. If they live in an apartment house all their lives and the only world they know is the six trees that pass them as they go on their way to the subway station, then you dry out. But there are atavistic relationships to the planet and that kind of stuff has to be touchable. And when you talk about mass rallies or when you talk about a rock concert or you talk about a rousing religious black church, the point is that what people are there for is partially the message, but it's partially to feel that energy of life pulse through them again.(Exactly.) And that's an important opportunity, if we can direct that lust for contact in an intelligent way and guide it in some evolutionarily positive direction...
RN: That's one reason why cults are so pervasive in America.Yeah, because at least it's a living group experience, it's real.
RN: Yeah, it's real. Well, what's the fastest growing word usage in the United States in the last twenty years? What one word is appearing more frequently than any other word? Virtual. Everything. Virtual theater. Virtual kitchen. Virtual reality. Virtual office. Virtual corporation. It's a sign.Yeah, it's a bad sign. What is happening is they're driving all the energy out of the lower chakras, if you will, up to here in the forehead because you can't build big organizations with the heart which is only good for small groups and things like rock concerts, and you can't build them with the balls which basically just serve your familial and genetic interests as a biological being. But you can have infinite associations with the mind. So, if you can get everything focused at the cranial level then you can build organizations that can go anywhere because all of your relationships are symbolic and everything else is tokenized. Corporate Japan is the star case, this is fascism central.
Anyway, all I'm saying is that you've got to put some ballast into your campaign. You've got to put some testosterone into it. Testosterone has really gotten a bad rap and that sickens me. Cause it's really the building block of male individuality, of your sense of rights and sympathy, and finally of democracy itself, but that's another conversation...
Last thing, a quick impression of Japan from what you've seen of corporate influence or consumerist power or disempowerment. You've been to Japan a few times. What have you been seeing here...
RN: It's a society where the means justify the means. there's no end. It's just total busy, busy, busy. They've lost their sense of what it's all about, like we have, but I think we introspect a little more about it. They're just a few years behind us in that.When you talk to the consumer groups here, how do they express their anxieties?
RN: It's hard to talk to them when you don't know their language. Very, very hard. I think the communication process shrinks by 80/90 percent. Even with translators you can't get at them. Apart from the cultural divide, you get the language divide. But what they're reflecting is that this is a rich land, poor people. It's kind of like a Appalachia. In the sense that health care, housing, transit, transportation, pollution, education - there's a lot of poverty in these areas and yet there is a booming GNP and gleaming buildings and microtechnologies and so on.Why are they interested in you?
RN: Well, they're under the impression that we have a little bit more vibrant democracy in the US, and therefore we must have ways and means of getting things more focused and accomplishing more that they can learn from. It's also the learning process, you know, this is a learning society. Industry did it - studied abroad to find new techniques and methods to accomplish their goals, and now consumer and environmental groups can do it, too.- Nancho Rep: W. David Kubiak -
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