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[liste ra-l] (en) Leaving out the Ugly Part: on Hakim Bey

From: Research on Anarchism <anarchism-AT-sympatico.ca>
Date: 08 Aug 2004 14:55:29 UTC   (10:55:29 AM in author's locale)
To: RA-LEN <ra-len-AT-univ-montp3.fr>
From: Robert Helms <gpzero-AT-earthlink.net>

Leaving Out the Ugly Part: The Interview with Peter Lamborn Wilson,
appearing in The Brooklyn Rail (July-August 2004).
By Robert P. Helms

The Brooklyn Rail has just published an interview of Peter Lamborn
Wilson (Hakim Bey), that gives the reader a misleading and incomplete
picture of the subject. The interview was then forwarded to the Research on
Anarchism list-serve. «Wilson rightly became celebrated as a kind of urban
prophet,» the interviewer writes, «It was an identity to add the others he
bears seamlessly and without contradiction: anarchist, poet, public
intellectual, psychedelic explorer, artist, social critic, Sufi mystic.»

The interviewer's special phrasing, «seamlessly and without
contradiction,» is where she begins, unintentionally, to mislead. I am
writing to discribe another unusual way in which Mr. Wilson has
distinguished himself that may make a wrinkle or two in the average
person's opinion: he is a public pedophile intellectual of international
reputation, and one who mixes anarchist ideology into his pedophile
discourse. Even though we’re talking about a writer whose work has now been
translated into French, Russian, German, Dutch, and other languages, I
should like to emphasize that there is no reason why the interviewer should
have already known this. The Rail's pages, however, have presented him as
entirely respectable thinker, and I am writing to correct that mistake.

It was actually the very first thing I ever heard about the man:
«Same person as Hakim Bey. Goes for little Boys,» was the matter-of-fact
comment from one of his New York City comrades, around 1991, when I was
still new to anarchism, and living in Philadelphia. At first there was no
special reason for me to make an issue of it. I have known people who have
mentioned sexual encounters they had with adults when they were children,
and which they considered to have been harmless. I've simply pointed out
that the burden of responsibility lies only with the adult, and not with
the child, and that was the end of it. I have not once been considered a
prude by anyone who knows me, nor anything but blunt and heavy-handed when
discussing in favor of one’s right to choose the sexual lifestyle. But
choices made by «consenting adults» is the realm of the discussion.

Peter Lamborn Wilson (who writes at least as often as Hakim Bey
and makes no secret of the pseudonym), uses anarchism in an ethically
warped, opportunistic way by pretending that adult-child sex is a natural
freedom. It isn't, and not only would almost any anarchist disagree with
him, but they'd also dispute a child-rapist’s right to a non-violent remedy
in many cases. As a person who is and always is, in both public and private
life, as an anarchist, I feel the responsibility to simply put my
disagrement on record. I do so now because the forwarding of the Rail
interview creates an error of omission on the r-a list.

There is a periodical, preserved at the University of Michigan’s famous
Labadie Collection, that seems to make an unlikely fit with the purpose of
that special archive, which is to preserve anarchist materials in
particular, as well as those of other social movements, including sexual
freedom and gay liberation. It is the NAMBLA Bulletin, which has been
published monthly since 1983 by the North American Man-Boy Love
Association. «Man-boy Love» is a term used by apologists of pedophilia. I
hereafter use the term pedophilia where such people would object to its
use. But why was a pedophile magazine acquired by an archive with such a
charter? Most people would argue that "Man-Boy Love" is not an issue
relating to gay culture at all, since pedophilia occurs no more or less
frequently among gays than it does with straights. Very few people of any
politics consider adult-child sex to be a legitimate lifestyle choice. But
the former curator who added NAMBLA Bulletin to the Labadie was actually
keeping to the central mission of the anarchist archive when he subscribed
to the journal.

Beginning with the July-August 1985 issue, the magazine carried a
long series of items by Hakim Bey, who was already a distinctly anarchist
writer. Most of them were discussions of the pedophile obsession with a
clear anarchist slant. Anarchist ideology was the mode of justification,
the method of persuading children to have sex and to keep it secret. Take
for example the following poem,"My Political Beliefs," from NAMBLA
Bulletin's June 1986 issue, page 14:

barelegged on his bicycle in the park he rides beneath
a children's fountain droplets catch his hair which
the afternoon makes somewhat bronze, beaded with molten dew
--the sunset over Jersey like an industrial krakatoa:
Newark Gold, Secaucus Red, East Orange.
The button on his blazer: Anarchist Bicyclists
he's in the bathtub, I see
him through a crack in the door playing with himself, he calls me in, shows me
underwater push-ups and sit-ups, except for his gallic buttocks his skin is
gilt as the air over the Hudson. The touch of his wet, bath-wrinkled
fingers in my hand… but then…
one of his parents clumps down the hall… I suppose to make sure neither of
us is raping the other…
[chorus of groans] Ohhh! for a
Buster-Keaton-bomb all spherical & black as coaldust with sweet sparkling
with sweet sparkling fuse a mindbomb to
Drop on the Idea of the Family! O for a libertarian isle of runaways! O
Moon, I am lost, actually lost without him
But I didn't want this to be
Just another poem about hopeless love. Pretend it's a manifesto instead.
Down with School! Boy Rule OK! In the land of dreams
No governance exists
But that of anarchs and kings, for dreamers have not yet learned to vote or
think past the unfurling of the moment. He touches my cheek, runs delicate
fingers through the hairs on my arm.
My liege shatters all Law for a triple kiss.
--Hakim Bey

Many of Hakim Bey's best-known anarchist pitches first saw print
as pedophile apologies. NAMBLA published his "Association for Ontological
Anarchism, communiqué #2" in July-Aug 1986, and a journal called Gayme ran
"A Temporary Autonomous Zone" and "Pirate Utopias" in issues of 1993-95,
along with his more obscure "Contemplation of the Unbearded."

Bey's best-known book Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ) describes spiritual
zones in which anything goes, where the oppressive rules of the outside
society need not interfere with what feels good to do. I realize that many
honest people have read TAZ without taking any sleazy impression from it. I
hope they'll forgive me for pointing out that pedophiles say these same
things to children. In his essay «Obsessive Love» (Moorish Science Monitor,
Vol. 7, #5, Summer 1995), in which he pretends to be quite the classical
scholar, he talks about ancient religious views on romantic and obsessive
love. «The Greco-Egypto-Islamic ferment adds a pederastic [i.e. pedophile]
element... the ideal woman of romance is neither wife nor concubine but
someone in the forbidden category...» He uses the term «spiritual alchemy»
for witnessing the «Devine Beloved in certain beautiful boys,» and remarks
that, «since all homosexuality is forbidden in Islamic law, a boy-loving
sufi has no 'safe' category for sensual realization.»

In fact, one of the commonest defense-lawyerish lines about pedophilia is
how «the Greeks did it,» or how incredibly well Michael Jackson sings and
dances; or how some long-dead and noteworthy author was also was in the
habit of boning the baby. These are feeble and irrelevant ways to side-step
the ethical issue. Knowledge is power, and children know almost nothing.
But just so we go through the points, it was a minority of rich Athenian
Greeks during the Classical period, not all «the Greeks,» who accepted
pedophilia, while, by the way, they were also proclaiming their misogyny in
rhetorically gorgeous ways. Athens was a slave-owning society in which
democracy was observed only between citizens not between everyone --and the
use of slaves as sexual chattel carried no age-restrictions. Furthermore,
in no way should artistic talent cause one to be forgiven a sexual abuse or
rape. In fact, when a pedophile is very witty and well-spoken, this very
same skill is used to attract young, gullible targets. To argue for
pedophilia is imbecile when it is sincere. It is so logically pathetic, in
fact, that one almost needs to be a child to believe that it’s sincere.
Pressing the anarcho-pedophile cause in another way, Wilson (Bey) reviewed
the reprint of the late 19th century German-based anarchist John Henry
Mackay's book Fenny Skaller and Other Poems, etc.. Bey's essay was entitled
" Man-Boy Love Novel Still Relevant 100 Years On." (NAMBLA Bulletin April
1989). In «Obsessive Love,» Bey again invokes Mackay (1864-1933), whose
pedophilia was never known to other anarchist writers during his life: «I
admit to a philosophical preference for Mackay's position...» [which means
the] « giving up of all false chivalry and self-denying dandyism in favor
of more 'pagan' and convivial modes of love.» He closes the essay with his
clearest anarcho-pedophile statement: «it has taken on a tantalizing
reality and filtered into my life in certain Temporary Autonomous Zones an
impossible time and space and on this brief hint, alll my theory is based.»
What he means by this is that he really has sex with children, rather than
leaving the matter to fantasy, and that this is his purpose when he
preaches anarchism.

Hakim Bey is the pseudonym for 59-year old Peter Lamborn Wilson,
who has been based in New York City for most of his life, but is now living
upstate in New Paltz. The Brooklyn Rail's interviewer, has this mistakenly
reversed, giving Bey as the original name, Wilson as the pseudonym. The guy
was born a WASP, and perhaps became Sufi one day while prowling the
mountaiuns of Asia. He has no occupation, and in 1994 told an interviewer
(Voice Literary Supplement, New York, Feb. 1994) that he "thanks God that a
trickle of family money keeps him 'independently poor.'"(i) The name
Lamborn is rare in New York, and it is where the Sugar industry magnate Ody
Lamborn died in 1971. It’s been my impression that Hakim Bey's trust fund
was originally earned by tormented laborers on sugar plantations. Whether
it's from sugar or from something else, this brings us to Wilson's touching
concern, about what he called «a class war situation» in the Rail interview
: «Where's our support for the Mexican migrant agricultural workers?»

I have operated dangerous machinery in factories, carried lumber up flights
of stairs, and I have (like most anarchists) done other boring, low-paid
jobs to feed myself, starting around age thirteen. Still, I have known
several anarchists who come from wealthy families, and I've thought well of
them because they make the choice to use their privelege (freedom allowed
by their trust fund) in good faith; perhaps to heal wounds made earlier by
their own relatives. But Peter Lamborn Wilson gives me an unquiet feeling
when he pretends to understand and hold concern in his heart for that other
world, where he’s never paid a visit, and where people work because they
must work. It has the very phoney ring of someone pouring syrup into a
liberal ear.

His use of his word-skills, of course, has me feeling still worse. As he
conjoins his pedophile mission with anarchism, he knows very well that
anarchism is now very popular among the very young. This is not «spiritual
anarchism,» as he entitled a public «Chaos Day» lecture in December of
2002. It is pedophile opportunism. Another device he uses a lot is
exemplified in «Tectum Theatrum» (Fifth Estate, Summer 2003), in which he
uses Latin phrases over and over, never to say something there’s no English
word for, but to impress the utterly naive reader. Having read Classical
languages in college, this is especially tedious and transparent to me, but
it certainly will have its desired effect on adolescent readers.

While he has no occupation, Bey/Wilson has not been idle. In Fifth
Estate #363, just this past winter, he relates how, when he was in his
mid-twenties, he was wandering around Persia and South Asia, smoking opium
and "looking for traditional anarchism" in Sufism. Under his pseudonym
(Bey), he's found some pedophile culture over in that region as well. His
translation of Abu Nuwas' poetry, O Tribe That Loves Boys was published in
Amsterdam in 1993.

When he was about thirty, Bey founded the Semiotext(e)-Autonomedia
Publishing group in New York. It has since become one of the larger of the
US-based anarchist publishers, and Bey remains with the group, which
carries several of his titles. An early release was Loving Boys:
Semiotext(e) Special (1980), edited by Bey. Thus he's been on this crusade,
in print, for at least twenty-five years. For some time, he had a program
on WBAI Radio, entitled «The Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade.»

In the letters column of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed (#20/21,
Nov-Dec 1989, p. 42), a letter announced a new a zine for contributors 17
and under. Wild Children, as the zine was called, solicited articles on
"anarchy (of course!), sci-fi, sexuality & love, spiritual paths (or lack
thereof), and anything else kids would like to submit." The letter gave
Hakim Bey as the editor, at a Brooklyn PO Box. Lev Chernyi, the editor of
Anarchy (ii) replied that "Wild Children sounds like an interesting idea. I
hope it works out. Any young readers interested?" In 1998, a 64-page
anthology of this zine was published, switching over tothe name Wilson as
editor.(iii) While the anthology is not considered a pedophile text and is
carried by some anarchist bookstores without concern, it should be noted
that its contents were solicited by a public anarchist-pedophile apologist
during the same years (1993-1997) when he was contributing pieces of
clearly anarchist-pedophile intent to the magazine Gayme, which was a bit
more strident than other child-molester periodicals, and was once the
target of a public prosecutor in Massachussetts. Due to legal issues
relating to the its contents, in fact, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay
Archives in Toronto preserves the title but will not allow scanning or
copying of its pages. I have been unable to locate original copies of the
zine Wild Children, but in yet another NAMBLA publication, its Journal (#7;
1986), the age «ten-and-a-half» occurs as the age of a boy in a sketch by
Bey. In typical pedo-style, everything is pushed to where he can't go
farther without the expectation of some angry person attacking him. But Bey
takes things to the next step by using a name by which he (Peter Wilson) is
actually identified. He's safe in doing so because of the extreme
toleration of anarchists in general, and the shallowness of many.
Pedophilia is not the only opinion for which Hakim Bey has irritated other
anarchists. One example is his views on abortion. In "Communique #9" of the
Association for Ontological Anarchy, Bey wrote: "According to Chaos Theory,
it does not follow that we are obliged to like or approve of murder or
abortion. Chaos would enjoy seeing every bastard love-child carried to term
& birthed; sperm & egg alone are merely lovely secretions, but combined as
DNA they become potential consciousness, negentropy, joy... If 'meat is
murder!' as the Vegans like to cxlaim, what pray tell is abortion?»

I will not offer any reason to be offended by the pedophile literature or
the misogynist position of Hakim Bey as quoted above. The ethical idiocy of
both are self-evident, and neither is part of anything that should be
considered an anarchist idea. I am not surprised that these opinions exist,
but I am most uncomfortable for realizing that there is a discreet haven
for both within the anarchist culture of the United States. It makes me
wonder, in fact: why did the world-wide Catholic Church sex abuse scandal
go by a few years ago, without any commentary from American anarchists? Is
this another dirty little anarchist secret?

As for what I mean by a «dirty little anarchist secret,» here's another
example: when about 7,000 priests were killed, many Catholic churches
burned, and many saintly cadavers mockingly defiled at the beginning of the
Spanish Revolution of 1936, it was in pretty bad taste, but there were very
logical and fair reasons for people (including a huge number of anarchists)
to take their anti-clerical rage into action. Many anarchists have denied
that any of this happened, saying that it was all just fascist propaganda,
or that it’s been wildly exagerated. Actually, there is plenty of hard
evidence that it did happen. Rather than a bizarre, revisionist denial, I
would rather hear us say that the current craze for anarchist soccer-teams
has its roots in Spain (Madrid, I believe), where teenagers played football
with the skull of a saint, out in the plaza in front of the church named
after him. Why don't we just talk about it? Why can't we talk about a
fairly well-known anarchist author as the pedophile personality that he
most certainly is? What's the point of calling onesself «anarchist» if
there's some area of discussion where it's too disturbing to ever step?

More directly intriguing to me is why I have been shut out of letters
columns or declined for print in anarchist periodicals on about twenty
occasions (and again now, in the Brooklyn Rail) when I cite the articles,
name the issue, and express my disapproval for a man who presents child
molestation as a point of anarchistic freedom. The reasons given by editors
vary widely. Some reactions are hostile, taken very personally. Other cases
express appreciation and some concern for the information. Certain editors
have written so much thick, loving praise for Bey, and printed so much of
his work that they find themselves cornered when the pedophilia item is
raised. They have no sympathy for child-molestation but they frantically
search for paths by which they can stay clear of its discussion, perhaps
fearing that somehow, the stink of it would cling to them and their
publication. They'll sometimes argue that it's unfair to link the person
with the person’s writings. I point to these editors, as I have here, that
it's in the writings that all this is happening, with the less bold
examples sometimes drooling out in their own anarchist pages.

In the present case, the writer who interviewed Lamborn Wilson recently at
his green wood-frame house in New Paltz was glad to have been informed, and
there was a short, respectful exchange between us. But the editors of the
Rail merely tossed off a form letter: «Thank you for your input...» There
was no evidence of any sort of concern, nor admission that the interview
made a completely skewed impresssion of its subject, no hint that editors
have an ethical responsibility for what they put on their pages.

Worse still is for there to be no reply, not even a private note. I was
particularly disgusted by Andrei Codrescu, the (obviously anarchist)
National Public Radio commentator who gave «TAZ and the Tazzerites» a
glowing ten minutes of his voice on All Things Considered in July of 2003.
I very respectfully wrote him about these concerns, then I confirmed that
he'd received my letter, but I received no reply at all. The obvious
message is that it's beneath Codrescu's consideration to acknowledge in a
ten-second message --Yes the pedo-stuff is a drag but I like his other
writings, sorry but I disagree or whatever he thinks. He means that Hakim
Bey's 25 or more years as a public intellectual of anarchist pedophilia is
not any problem for him when he tells seventy million people what cool
stuff the guy writes, without reference to the pedophile origin and
undercurrent of TAZ, the same item he recommended.

No one anywhere denies that Peter Lamborn Wilson (Hakim Bey) is pedophile,
least of all the man himself. I state what I see on his pages, I offer my
opinions as opinions only, and I make no accusation of criminal conduct.
The citations are right there, for anyone to check for accuracy. Endlessly,
anarchists have privately agreed that I am absolutely right, on-the-money
correct, about this issue. The number who have written that opinion down
where anyone else can read it is very close to zero. I am left with the
impression that they are not taking responsibility for what they know. This
does not speak well of the anarchists of the United States. I feel that
with anarchism becoming ever more popular, the greater portion of new
anarchists are just consumers of anarchist stuff. Since such people can't
deal with a new ethical problem, they probably would not know what to do
with that new, real revolutionary opportunity for which they pine so

The fact that a widely celebrated, living anarchist writer has smeared the
anarchist tradition with a sugar-coated image of pedophilia is an issue
that will continue to be raised. I feel that this is fair and relevant
because I keep spotting distorted presentations of Hakim Bey and his
motives, as in this last issue of the Brooklyn Rail.
Robert P. Helms is an independent historian of anarchism, now writing about
the early movement at Philadelphia. He is editor and principle author of
Guinea Pig Zero: An Anthology of the Journal for Human Research Subjects
(1992). Formerly of Philadelphia, he now lives in a suburb of Paris. He can
be reached at gpzero-AT-earthlink.net
Notes :
Anyone who wants a copy of the Hakim Bey pedophile bibliography (a work in
progress) should just ask, and I'll email it to you.
i Erik Davis, interviewer,"The Wandering Sufi: Itroduction to the Mystic
with Peter Lamborn Wilson," Voice Literary Supplement, New York, February 1994
ii The same editor sometimes uses the name Jason McQuinn.
iii Wild Children: A Zine For Kids. New York, Scb Publishers, 1998. Peter
Lamborn Wilson (Editor) and Dave Mandl (Editor).

The Research on Anarchism List (RA-L) is an international
forum which was started on January 1, 1996, and is devoted
to book reviews, research and discussion of the theories,
histories and cultures of world anarchist movements and to
other topics related to anarchism.
Our site: raforum.apinc.org

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