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
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
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
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.