by William Skink

After just a few days of dancing in the streets and breaking bread with homeless people, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) has been taken over by a heavily armed soundcloud rapper by the name of Raz Simone.

Go ahead and read that sentence over a few times. I did, and still don’t believe it.

CHAZ and the brief reign of Raz got me thinking about TAZ, or Temporary Autonomous Zone. Sound familiar?

TAZ is a book written by a very problematic person. Peter Lamborn Wilson, aka Hakim Bey, is looked upon by some as an anarchist poet who imbued his sense of anarchy with a heady blend of eastern mystic thought. I’ll use wikipedia to sketch the official framing of this character:

While undertaking a classics major at Columbia University, Wilson met Warren Tartaglia, then introducing Islam to students as the leader of a group called the Noble Moors. Attracted by the philosophy, Wilson was initiated into the group, but later joined a group of breakaway members who founded the Moorish Orthodox Church. The Church maintained a presence at the League for Spiritual Discovery, the group established by Timothy Leary, and it is alleged Wilson would visit it for supplies of LSD.

Appalled by the social and political climate, Wilson had also decided to leave America, and shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 he flew to Lebanon. In the words of Michael Muhammad Knight, “The emerging postcolonial world was crowded with American hippies blowing their trust funds on mystical quests … and [Wilson] was one of them.”

Sounds like harmless trust fund fun, right? Wikipedia goes on to connect Wilson to the rave culture that emerged in the 90’s, and the Occupy Wall Street movement, which arose in 2008. Commenting on the latter, Wilson had this to say:

I was beginning to feel that there would never be another American uprising, that the energy was gone, and I have some reasons to think that might be true. I like to point out that the crime rate in America has been declining for a long time, and in my opinion it’s because Americans don’t even have enough gumption to commit crimes anymore: the creative aspect of crime has fallen into decay. As for the uprising that takes a principled stand against violence, hats off to them, I admire the idealism, but I don’t think it’s going to accomplish much.

Are you starting to get a feeling something is wrong with this dude? Why is he lamenting the fact the crime rate in America is declining?

The reason I’m writing about this guy and his writing career is because we need to be thinking much more seriously about vacuums of power and what fills those vacuums. It might be entertaining to think about Raz Simone taking over the CHAZ, but actually digging in to the ideology behind some of this stuff takes reading more than just a few tweets to understand.

Which leads me to this: Paedophilia and American Anarchism – the other side of Hakim Bey. From the link:

Born in 1945 at New York, Wilson became involved in a revival of “Moorish Orthodoxy” at age twenty. He has a trust fund by way of his affluent family, and traveled to the Middle East (especially Iran) from around 1970 until 1978, and then from around 1980 through the mid-1990’s, he wrote poetry, prose fiction, philosophy, and literary criticism conjoining pedophile sexuality with anarchistic ideology and with Islamic mysticism. His venues include the NAMBLA Bulletin (organ of paedophile organisation the North American Man-Boy Love Association), Gayme, and the Acolyte Reader. Books by Bey on this thread have been published by Semiotext(e), Autonomedia, NAMBLA, Entimos Press, and Coltsfoot Press.

Hakim Bey has been recommended in many American media outlets, including “All Things Considered” in 2003, on National Public Radio. On 28 October 2004, Europe’s ARTE television network, on the show “Tracks,” broadcast an interview with Hakim Bey to tens of millions of viewers in both French and German. When I learned of the TV interview, I contacted ARTE and the small company that made the film. Both companies carefully acknowledged their error and regret. They intended no harm, but as a result of this sort of favorable exposure, Anarchist Pedophilia becomes more popular, its star philosopher more famous. Every December for at least ten years, New York’s Libertarian Book Club has sponsored Peter Lamborn Wilson’s annual “Chaos Day Lecture.” He now lives in New Paltz, New York, north of the city. I have met him on a few occasions, and I even arranged a lecture by him when I was new to anarchism, around 1992. In early November 2004 he led a workshop at a conference on secession in Vermont, where leading radicals of that state gave lectures against the Bush government.

Read the whole essay if you want to better understand what is happening.

Or, just laugh at the insanity of Raz taking over the CHAZ.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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3 Responses to Raz-a-CHAZ

  1. john mcnaught says:

    What is the connection between RAZ and this Wilson (or PLW or Hakim Bey) ?

    • the connection isn’t between Raz and Bey, the connection is the concept of an autonomous zone, which Bey wrote a book about, and the attempt to establish an autonomous zone. Raz, as far as I can tell, was an opportunist who stole the spotlight for a brief moment.

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