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An Interview with RU Sirius

Malvolio Rutteledge

A look inside the mind of Mondo's errant editor and the man who might have been president

MR: In "Revolution #5" on, you wrote, "The truth can now be told... the United States is a police state..." How far ranging do you think the drug war has become in orchestrating the bulk of current U.S. troubles? Do you feel that the suppression of cannabis and other entheogens is really the major political lynchpin that libertarians such as Dick Cowan would have us believe? We're talking vested interests here...

RU: I consider the drug war to be a bigger disaster for America than the war in Viet Nam. In terms of the destruction of our civil liberties, the evolution of a prison/industrial complex, some five and a half million people in prisons... so that now there's a vested economic interest in incarcerating people, the majority of them for drugs... the McCarthyism of ubiquitous drug testing, the seizure of property without trial or conviction, just on and on. The question I have is where are our Berrigan brothers? Where's our Doctor Spock? Where are the religious persons of conscience spilling blood on files in the DEA offices? They've got something like 30% of young black males now in the criminal punishment system, the US is being denounced by Amnesty International because the prisons themselves are torture chambers. Where's the peace movement?

Why are prisons and entertainment the only growing U.S. industry?

Well, we're the first post-industrial state. Leisure, play, amusement, those are the would-be industries of the future. Prison is a kind of enforced leisure I guess, in a weird sort of way.

You wrote that most Americans find the current totalitarian state passable as long as they are not directly involved with it. Just how totalitarian IS the United States?

Well, you don't see any great uprising do you? I mean, they're searching our urine! On a certain highway outside of Austin, Texas, on random days, they just pull everybody over and search their cars for drugs. You're supposed to be able to refuse to have your car searched without reasonable cause, but the Texas judiciary in its wisdom has figured out that refusing IS reasonable cause. There's an institutionalized Catch 22 right there in Texas but don't ask don't tell anyone.

Professor David Marc wrote in "The Bonfire of the Humanities" that the current drug prohibition is aimed at the lower class and the middle class because the government "doesn't want people too stoned to go to work." Do you agree?

I think it's one element of a confluence of reasons. The illegality of drugs is a huge industry. I'm sure when Nixon escalated it into a war, it was at least partly about budgets... who gets to have a project and get a bunch of money. The DEA... the various arms of law enforcement and the justice system involved in that particular area. And then there was just the cultural hostility towards the underclass, towards blacks and, particularly in its origins in 1968, against hippies and the "new left." Finally, there's the black budget profits that are gained by keeping the pleasure drug industry in the shadows.

I often look at photos of the drug czar and wonder what is in that guy's head. What is in that guy's head? He obviously believes in state obscurantism...

He doesn't look much like a Czar, does he? What's the story with General Barry McCaffrey? He seems smart and yet he says such dumb things. Does he know any better? We know Bill and Al know better. It was probably politically expedient for them to choose somebody who was totally clueless when it came to drugs.

What role do you see sociobiology playing in future organization of society? Edward O. Wilson's work at one point was regarded (and possibly still is) as quite heretical in that it posited an almost completely deterministic conception of the human species. It's interesting how this could tie in with Huxley's satire on society, Brave New World.

I've just been re-reading Edward O. Wilson's On Human Nature and it strikes me as much more poetic, humane and sympathetic the second time through. I find it amusing that some humanists are offended by the notion that there's any connection whatsoever between human societal organization and behavior and animal societal organization and behavior. Talk about human chauvinism. It's weird when you talk to people whose opinions on science and the nature of things is dictated by political comfort, so that exploring the biological roots of behavior becomes verboten. That's weird. Don't even look over here. Don't think about this. Umm... Animal Farm, yes.

How do you feel about voting?

Nauseous. Actually, I want people to vote for me. I've started the new political party, The Revolution, and I'm our candidate for President! Just say R.U. Sirius, the only response to the other candidates. In all seriousness, I think if we non-authoritarians voted, we could form a power block that would provide a countervailing influence to the right wing moralists and also help to break the Republicrat two-party hold on the political process.

Can you define the political platform of your Revolution party?

I would define it as 21st Century Humanist Libertarianism, or damned near something like that.

If you were elected president today, what would your first domestic and foreign policy decisions be?

My first domestic policy decision after ordering up pizza would be to pardon all federal prisoners in for non-violent drug possession charges and all prisoners listed with Amnesty International. My second move would be to stop providing all the arms to pretty much everybody globally...

In your opinion are there any grey areas at all between anarchy and authoritarinism, and if there are how can we ever hope to acheive a happy medium?

Absolutely. I'm not an anarchist in any absolutist sense. I think the Jeffersonian tradition as reflected in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights is plenty anti-authoritarian. We've never lived up to those principles.

What do you think is the most dangerous thing about the Internet?

Ubiquitous decentralized media more or less destroys social consensus, destroys consensus reality, by dispersing attention. This is on the one hand desirable, but it's also problematic. You can't bring people together too easily, for instance, to make social change.

Do you think WebTV will catch on? It has been claimed that it could revolutionize the world. For example, in China, where the state controls most media, if all you need is a TV and a keyboard you could access the Internet. Still, one does not hear much about WebTV. Predictions?

Eventually, there will be a medium that will allow individuals to upload video, both tape and live, so that individuals will be able to broadcast materials at the same level of quality that we're accustomed to. Will it revolutionize the world? I think in some sense, the utter decentralization of public media and public discourse devolutionizes the world, but in an interesting way. We can no longer locate a consensus reality to subvert. The only thing that would revolutionize the world would be production technologies that overwhelm scarcity. The first step toward that is anything that will end our reliance on oil. I'd say we have a few years — less than a decade — to make a complete transition from oil usage — if we're lucky. Probably, it's already too late.

After spending the early 90s at Mondo — ground-zero of the whole cyber-psychedelic rave-culture explosion — what do you think of the shape of that particular scene today? What do you think the next big wave of countercultural revolution will look like?

The commercial rave scene has spread psychedelic experimentation and thinking among youths like nothing since the hippie culture in the sixties, but I'm not personally interested. Smaller private rave gatherings are still pretty nice. It's almost become the assumption that an opening for a new hip magazine, or even a sugar saturated beverage trying to appear hip, will have a rave party for their opening. It's ubiquitous. I don't think we can talk in terms of counterculture anymore because the consensus reality that counter would be counter to is so confused and dispersed. I think we'll see more and more subculture. But I also think that people who like to mind their own business will get political for obvious reasons of self-protection...

What was your overall experience as editor for Mondo? Seemed like a cool position to be in.

Mondo was the biggest fun of my life. When it was in its groove for a couple of years, it was a pleasure to be part of it. There weren't really any office rules, and yet we made it work. I could smoke DMT in the living room on a work day, if the moment seemed right. I haven't been able to find another job like that!

What do you think of Wired magazine? It seems like a giant hoax to me. Like George. A yes-man club of a few yuppie technophiles. What are your favorite magazines? Do you like Hustler?

Wired was interesting early on, when it explored some topics in depth. But Wired was a safe corporate clone of Mondo 2000, and the current Wired is an even safer corporate clone of itself. The early Wired was, at least, an authentic project of genuine technophiles. The current Wired is being done by professional journalists, people with no connection to technoculture — people of no vision who laughed at the notion of cyberculture before it became mainstream. I like Pop Smear, a very hip and funny sort of tabloidesque semi-pornographic zine out of New York City. And I like Mean, which is a very well-written sort of subculture/pop zine. Hustler doesn't really have much in terms of interesting content, although I like pornography in general. I prefer Club International as far as straightforward semi-gynecological photos of distortedly silicone-based hyper-sexualized young women are concerned. I liked 21.c, a technoculture zine out of Australia that straddled the line between academic and pop, but now that's gone.

What authors are you currently reading? Why?

I'm finally reading Neal Stephenson's latest book. I read a chapter from it that was published in Time and thought it was great. I've been recently devouring whatever Bruce Sterling novels I hadn't already read. I think his most recent work, Distraction, is amazing. And I'm reading this book called BOGGS: A Comedy of Values, by Lawrence Weschler. It's about this artist who paints money and trades the paintings at the value he puts on the money for goods and services. In other words, if he paints a $50 bill he convinces someone to take it in trade for $50 worth of whatever...

Do you like Ketamine?

I like Ketamine mostly because it doesn't last very long. If someone would come up with an LSD or a psilocybin where you could peak in a few minutes and be completely done in an hour-and-a-half, that would be just as good. But Ketamine, I think, gets you to your core address. It gives you the perspective of distance, but with a weird technological edge.

In "The Scientist", Lilly had a vision on Ketamine where he went into the future and saw all the cars running on water vapor. I saw a week ago in the news that Chrystler-Daimler-Benz revealed a car that does just that and will be available for purchase in 2004...

I definitely believe that scientific and technological solutions present themselves in psychedelic experiences.

What kind of new technology have you been using or like?

I'm not that much of a user of technology. Like William Gibson, I follow technology and its cultural significance. I leave the hacking to others. I like the whole MP3 thing though. I really want there to be a global jukebox attached to some kind of machine. I put in my credit card or my ATM card and for say $1 I can hear any album that was ever recorded. Once I've picked that album say 15 times, I own it and can listen to it any time I want.

A friend of mine bitterly claims that the TV he watched as a child created archetypes in his mind that will never go away. Do you think that's true? I mean, there is the use-it-or-lose-it law of mental processing, right?

Ward, I think it's time to have a few words with the Beaver. He sounds like he's on drugs or something.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Sure I'll have custard...

Tags : psychedelic
Rating : Teen - Drugs
Posted on: 2001-04-23 00:00:00