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Allen Ginsberg

movement is basically a very good thing. Healthy foods, ecological understanding – that’s all fine. It’s just very specific spiritual materialism that seems to me to be the problem; accumulating experiences as credentials for the ego.

RMN: In the fifties, did you anticipate that a cultural revolution was in the making?

Allen: Not in the fifties, no. But I think that the sixties were politically awry because of animosity. You know, the notions of rising up and getting angry, i.e., using anger a a motif.

RMN: Didn’t that anger lead to a lot of positive social change though, like in the area of human rights?

Allen: No, no. Things started fucking up when people got angry because they started action from that angry pride. By 1968, 52% of the American people thought the war over in Vietnam was a big mistake, but instead of leading people out of the war, seducing them out, people got out onto the streets and got angry.

RMN: Just because half the people in America thought the war was a bad idea doesn’t mean that would translate into political action. It was the anti-war movement which vocalized those concerns and effectively changed government policy–whether they were angry or not.

Allen: No, if you do it that way you get it all wrong. You immediately open the door for crazies and the double agents to come in and fuck everything up. You need absolute discipline and for everything to be calm, otherwise where do you get to? You know that if you get excited while you’re doing martial arts, you lose. You have to be stabilized, balanced and centered. The guy who gets excited becomes off-center, off-balance, and falls on his own weight. So there was this idea that if you set one blade of grass alight, the whole nation will follow suit, “prairie file”. All we have to do is to get together and physically attack the police and then all the negroes and hippies in America will rise up and abracadabra! (laughter) Oh God! Lunatics! A bunch of lunatics! And it prolonged the war.

RMN: In the present situation, growing unrest and dissatisfaction has spread from farmers in the mid-west to the unemployed in inner cities to middle-class suburbia. Keeping in mind what we’ve seen in Eastern Europe, do you believe that an American revolution is possible?

Allen: Well, what do you mean by revolution? No, I don’t think so, because if you mean violence, I don’t want to be around – and it wouldn’t be interesting. It would be just another group of jerks getting up there with their fucking gun, thinking they have this power. It happens every time. It happens endlessly. If we ever get into one of those left-wing, right-wing revolutions, it could be worse than any country on earth. The Americans are the most stupid and heartless….

RMN: And the best armed.

Allen: Yeah. It would be worse than Cambodia. They’ll be sending junkies off to concentration camps.

RMN: With social attitudes tending to swing from openness and tolerance to discrimination and fear, do you feel there can ever be any real collective advance towards enlightenment?

Allen: Maybe not. Maybe the very nature of high technology imposes centralized authority. The nature of the bomb is such that once you have created it you need to have some kind of omnipresent surveillance to monitor it’s use. You can’t be open to people in other countries very much because you are constantly suspicious of their activities, maybe they’re making H-bombs just like you did.

RMN: Do you feel hopeful that someday the spirit of cooperation will overcome humanity’s competitive and territorial urges?

Allen: I don’t think that hope is useful at all here. I don’t think in terms of progress, particularly in the face of the hyperindustrialization because it carries too many connotations. It is technology which imposes more and more goals. “Science is a lie,” said Harry Smith.

RMN: Do you see the current hostility towards gays as a minor hiccup or as a serious regressive trend?

Allen: Yeah, it’s a minor hiccup, but it’sa classic political thing – a lot of Republicans are cocksuckers.

RMN: Looking at the general rise in fundamentalism, I’m left wondering, what went wrong? Why has it happened again?

Allen: Well, I think the left fumbled the ball by allowing right-wing style closed-minded aggression to be part of their policy. It’s a fuck up, but it should be seen as a fuck up rather than something to be penalized for. Unless people get the idea, they’ll just repeat it over and over again, rising up angry, and then wondering why no permanent change has occurred. There’s a small band of thieves,

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