ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU
19 Questions for R.U. Sirius
R.U. Sirius has partied with Timothy Leary, emphasized the sexual possibilities of VR on the Donahue show and ran the first technoculture magazine. In the year 2000 he wants your vote for President. He is running on a 19 point platform which is laid out in a little red book called, THE REVOLUTION ®. I had a chance to ask him a few questions about his run for the roses and was pleasantly surprised by the content of his answers.
CA: You’re probably best known for your involvement with the MONDO 2000 project. How did that come about and how did it end?
RUS: MONDO was the end result of a trajectory that started with 500 micrograms of liquid LSD the day after John Lennon was murdered. From my little speck of earth in the small town of Brockport, New York, I decided that the punk ’70s were going to mutate into a neo-psychedelicupwinger movement or trend, and that if nobody else was leading the way, it would be up to me. It took me two more years to move to San Francisco, and two more years after that to start HIGH FRONTIERS, the psychedelic magazine that eventually transformed into MONDO 2000. MONDO, for those who don’t know, was the first technoculture magazine. It was what Wired copied and watered down into a successful mainstream magazine.
CA: You talk about corporate sponsorship of social programs beyond the occasional Christmas photo op. Why do you think it is that the population has evolved to a point where destruction is more profitable than construction. It’s almost like people in the mainstream shy away from helping. What do you think could be done to encourage people to be kinder to one another?
RUS: : Well, I think destruction has always been at least as profitable as construction. That’s why we have the history of colonialism, the ripping of diamonds and oil from the earth, the use of slave labor ad infinitum. But now, technology has evolved to the point where most people are no longer involved in producing stuff that’s necessary for life. But we still demand that they make this thing we call money, which is a social construct of increasingly dubious value. So now we have millions, if not billions, of people on a disparate hustle, finding ways to make themselves necessary. They are polluting the world with crap, both physical and conceptual. And it’s all because we insist that earning money is the equivalent of making a contribution.
As far as people being kinder to one another, I think it needs to start from the top. So long as we have a society that sends out the message on a meta-level that conflicts are solved with bombs, the confusion of drug abusers is solved by zero-tolerance, and murder is solved by more murder, we’re going to produce the kinds of values that lead to Columbine and the like.
It’s also a memetic problem. Memes are idea viruses, attitudes that spread and multiply. And hostile memes are more exciting, more dramatic, than tolerant memes. That’s why any good narrative has conflict in it. There’s only one place to go as far as I can see from the visceral kicks of Xtreme culture and that’s towards a psychedelic culture where the kicks are even bigger but friendlier.
CA: Part of your platform is to stop global warming now. What should we do to recycle all the left over petro-technology if we go green?
RUS: I haven’t really given much thought to what to do with all of the oil and the oil tech, but I suppose we could give away lots of plastic raincoats!
CA: You mention the patenting of the human genome as horse-shit. Philosophically it is horse-shit, and scary as shit, but on the corporate hand it is a reality. What has driven us to the point where this makes sense to anyone and what do you think could be done to reverse this mind set.
RUS: It’s easy to see how a tradition of patenting the ability to exploit natural forces could be presumed to apply to the genome. So the genome projects really form a kind of crisis point that demands that we think about the limitations of property. Of course, most native Americans thought it was bizarre that the white people thought they could own a piece of the earth, when we’re only passing through here for maybe 70 years. There is a lot to iron out in terms of property as we move into the 21st century, from Napster to the Genome Projects.
CA: I like your embracing of “pleasure activities” as you put it. Sex, drugs, nudism (I hope) things like that that the mainstream sees as dangerous. Why do you think overall society has developed such a “no fun, no way” attitude towards sex & other free, fun activities, but is willing to work inane jobs to pay hefty tax dollars to have people incarcerated for 25 years for possession of marijuana?
RUS: America has these two endlessly conflicting traditions. The Puritans who landed on Plymouth Rock to get away from decadent fornicating urbanizing European culture, and the Libertarians who led the revolution and sought greater freedom. That conflict has probably become mostly inchoate to more modern ahistorical generations. So the conflict now exists within most individuals. So we seek pleasure badly and without knowledge, then we hurt ourselves, then we seek punishment and redemption. It’s the old sin-and-redemption game. But I think, after a brief step backwards in the eighties, more members of each succeeding generation sees it for the horse-shit it is. So all power to the youth and may they hook up any way and any time they like.
CA: Your platform point 14 is worded to sound like abortion is a form of birth control, which for some it is. I don’t want to start a row, as I am absolutely for choice, but do you think the pleasure of something like sex can be balanced with the responsibility of something like pregnancy in the world you are proposing. Can people handle unhindered control of their lives with out adversely affecting others? Or does the promise of full liberty out weigh the dangers for you?
RUS: I probably should focus more on RU 486 (my namesake!) which has been denied the American people for an outrageously long time. But I think abortion, particularly early term abortion, *is* birth control, and when technologies like RU 486 make it easy, that will become obvious to most people.
Generally speaking, there is much less paranoia about sexual liberty in most of Europe, particularly about teen sexuality, and the kids there get into far less trouble with disease and pregnancy. Wherever you maximize choice and minimize taboo, you get open and honest discourse, and people get into less trouble. Americans, particularly the authorities, are convinced that people can’t handle freedom of choice and real information. Like our counterparts in Russia, we are probably so addicted to authoritarianism that we might fuck up under freedom for a period of time.
CA: Your platform and the book in general implies that most people want to be autonomous and self efficient. What would the society of the Revolution do with someone like, say, Dan Quayle? or Newt Gingrich who exist solely through the political system as it stands today?
RUS: We’re sending Quayle back to Junior High School and we’re putting Gingrich on Ritalin…
But seriously, I don’t see anything in my platform that prevents anyone from doing what they like, joining the Republican Party, running for office, writing books… even more than under the present system, everyone will have the right to their own stupid opinion, even Quayle.
CA: What happens to the police force in the society of the Revolution? As I live in LA, this is of particular concern to me.
RUS: It seems to be an obscure, outragously lilly-livered, hippie liberal weirdo notion to suggest that the police should do their jobs within the law, and respect the constitution. How do we get them to do that, when they can create, or allow, all kinds of unholy violent chaos to occur if they don’t like the rules? Even if we had a government that opposed police state actions, we would probably have to go through several iterations of *their* uprisings and refusals to cooperate. I think, in general, any attempt by the body politic at large to adapt the ideas of the revolution will bring about an explicitly fascist reaction from forces within law enforcement, the military, the prison-industrial complex etc.
CA: The section in the book on censorship is fabulous. For the sake of the readers who might not read the book can you expand a little on your statement, “You can’t protect children from content in a media-saturated, on-line world. And you shouldn’t try.”
RUS: The basic idea in that essay is that the Internet is where all communications is moving to. By its nature, this medium changes the game. There’s no “late night programming” on the internet, no ticket takers to check ID cards. All the information on the net is ubiquitous and can be accessed by a reasonably skilled teenagers nearly instantly. So we either have to censor all media to make it safe for children, or we must teach children to cope with adult content.
CA: As far as privacy issues go, you are a big proponent, but don’t you think that people crave so much privacy because of the authoritarian vise we live in? I know I wouldn’t care who knew I did certain things (see) if I wasn’t afraid of certain repercussions.
RUS: Yes. I wrote a piece about this for PrivacyPlace.com. Perhaps you can find it. I think that individuals should have the right to privacy from government snoops and corporate pitchmen, but I also think that if we didn’t criminalize and proscribe so many behaviors, our need for privacy would be diminished.
CA: You mention nominating Larry Flint for Attorney General, how do you think he would have handled Waco?
RUS: Probably sent some naked 19-year-old babes in stilleto heels and sub-machine guns. After a few hours of posing, most of the men and a few of the women would have surrendered.
CA: Jocelyn Elders, the bravest and most short lived Surgeon General of the United States. Your VP candidate, why?
RUS: It couldn’t hurt to have a nationwide teach-in on skillful masturbation. In my lifetime, she is the one person in the Federal government who hasn’t been full of shit. Plus, having a black woman VP candidate is a good vibe.
CA: Explain your theory of ad hoc coalition?
RUS: Ideology is dead. Libertarians and Greens will never take an election because their ideas are too rigid and appeal only to a narrow band of the populace. The majority of the young population are Left Behinds. They don’t have politics, they have culture. But they need to coalesce around some issues so that they don’t lose their freedom and don’t wind up with the Pacific Ocean in Kansas. Ad hoc coalitions bring people together around specific issues, and don’t worry about ideological purity.
CA: Who is R.U. Sirius and why should we vote for him?
RUS: R.U. Sirius is just a name you all made up to question authority. Write him in as a message to the American political system and the mainstream media that you want to mock the vote.
CA: Let’s lay it on the line: Have you ever inhaled? Been in rehab? Comforted your rod with your staff? Do you think it’s anyone’s business?
RUS: Nobody has any particular right to the info, but I think it can be interesting. When I listen to a musician or see a film or whatever, I sometimes want to know if the creative person behind it has been in any way inspired by mind-altering substances, because it’s such a powerful thing.
Anyway, I’ve inhaled marijuana probably about every other day, averaged out, since the glorious year of 1967. And I’ve sniffed and swallowed probably all of them… believing in trying everything twice. However, I’ve only injected Ketamine, and that only three times.
CA: Who would be your first lady if you were elected and would you let her redecorate the white house?
RUS: She’s Eve Berni, my fiancée, and she would sculpt and paint and redefine the White House with her own particular style, which is sort of a cross between Kenny Scharf and Peter Max.
CA: What kind of an inaugural party would you throw, and would there be a band?
RUS: I’m imagining a sort-of three day rave, punctuated by performances from Beck, Public Enemy, and a reunited Velvet Underground.
CA: Why do you think frivolity is so underrated?
RUS: It has something to do with the printed page… so stately, so self-contained, but soon to be obsolete.
CA: Can I stay overnight at the White House with my friends when you’re elected?
RUS: Absolutely! I’m going to install a 24 hour a day DJ in the chill room. The Revolution – It’s a party stupid.