Blast from the Past: Of Continued Relevance

NEWS RELEASE · 25th August 2010

VANCOUVER CO-OP RADIO SHUTS DOWN NATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAM “HIDDEN FROM HISTORY” AFTER NINE YEARS ON THE AIR

A Reflection by its broadcaster and host, Kevin D. Annett

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I was a budding activist in the summer of 1975, fresh out of a Vancouver high school, when Co-op Radio came into being. I remember the month it opened, in a crumbling building off Pigeon Park, long before East Hastings street had become the garbage can it is now.

An old communist sailor named Joe Hendsbee told me about the station one night over a beer at the Lotus Hotel. Joe had survived RCMP bullets on the Vancouver waterfront during the 1946 Canadian Seaman’s Union strike that had won him a lifelong blacklisting, and he didn’t have any time for idiots or fake radicals.

“They’d better do something more than talk and scratch their asses” he pronounced.

Those were the days when nobody felt the need to be politically correct, because people were authentic back then. They did what they promised. When you called a protest, five hundred people would show up, padded and armed with clubs to fend off the riot cops. When we rallied, we’d tie up traffic on a business day and never apply for a permit to gather – not politely assemble on a weekend at a closed government office, like nowadays.

Joe and I checked out Co-op Radio, and at a general meeting he pissed off some of the feminists by asking one of them out.

“How the hell was I to know she was a lesbian?” he bemoaned, later.

But nobody made a big deal about it. People were less paranoid and suspicious back then. We weren’t ego-bound. We knew we could overturn the world.

Over the years, Co-op Radio gradually acquired the middle aged layers of fat that adhere to anyone or anything that stays stuck. As the government grants arrived, so did domestication and bureaucracy. During the early 1980′s, I worked for a while on a labor program with the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union, and I remember the horror I felt when asked to fill out a form about our show for the government’s federal CRTC agency.

“You mean they monitor us, like Big Brother?” I exclaimed to the program host, who was equally appalled.

That just wasn’t on back then, any more than was the thought of being filmed by a close circuit video camera. We would have assumed you were nuts, or joking, if you had have told us that one day, Co-op Radio would be monitored by many such cameras, inside and out.

And yet for all the creeping Orwellian restrictions all around us and at the station, just knowing there was a space on the airwaves that was still moderately open and offering some alternatives was a lifeline during the regressive 1980’s – and the ‘90’s. The stupidity of Reaganism and Thatcherism, and their contrived, profit-driven scare of nuclear Armageddon, injected a new and deadly demon into our collective veins: Fear. And out of that toxin sprang distrust.

People of my generation and those who followed learned to be cautious and to worry about everything. From 500 souls at a spontaneous protest, our numbers fell to fifty or less. Many of us no longer knew that we could change the world. We had lost our faith, and self-concern replaced valor.

We are adrift in the cesspool created by those times, and for those of us who survived that era with our principles and our drive intact, we have had to fight against the stream and not go under to keep truth and clarity alive. Co-op Radio helped me and some others do that at critical moments: not because of its policies or the station staff, but simply because the space it provided helped us to remain ourselves and be freely heard.

In the fall of 2001 I returned to Co-op Radio after a long hiatus, when I was invited to share over the air my labors with Indian residential school survivors, and our evidence of church-sponsored genocide in Canada. I launched a new program that I named “Hidden from History”, based on a book I had just written. I was guided by a single aim: to give a public voice to the survivors of the worst crime in Canadian history, long before anyone – whether native or white – wanted to.

Lindsay Bickford was one of the bright souls who ushered me back into the station then. A gentle but ornery guy in his seventies, Lindsay operated as my techie for a few years.

Lindsay would spontaneously break into tears and sob when one of my guests would describe their torture, or the death of a friend, at a residential school. Afterwards, Lindsay would rush from his little booth to the native man or woman before they left the station and embrace them with a completely open and unassuming love, urging them to stay strong and pure, and to come back again. Of course, if anyone ever banged the table or fiddled with the mikes during a show, Lindsay would flail his arms and scream in anger from the other side of the glass with equal passion. And woe betide me if I didn’t announce the station I.D. every fifteen minutes!

Lindsay died suddenly one day, and when I conducted his funeral in the spring of 2004, I remember telling the many mourners that afternoon that Lindsay had made me a vegetarian, for awhile at least, by his own personal example, which was simply that he had an unflagging love for all living creatures.

As the best of us went that way and the years passed, our Hidden from History program persisted, and it kept something alive that began to shake the very foundations of the Canada we knew. From those airwaves, voices began to open sealed graves and official secrets. Churches were confronted and occupied by the same stumbling men and women who found their lost voice on our airwaves. Official Canada was forced into a pseudo “apology”, and even some admissions of criminality. The women who still go missing were remembered, and their murderers named. The myth of a liberal, decent Canada was forever shattered because of the struggling men and women who spoke every week on our show.

But more vitally, the program saved lives. As one survivor recently told me, “Doing Hidden from History let me be myself.” The freedom to speak what we are without fear, in season and out, is part of our soul’s right to breathe, and sharing that right brings life again to even the most unlikely of people.

Every week, I fought to give William Combes and Bingo Dawson and Harry Wilson and a hundred others like them the right not to be censored, not to crawl away with their pain and die from it, but to shout it to a world that wouldn’t listen, to name the names and demand something as unattainable as justice.

It worked. William survived longer than he would have, thanks to that microphone. So did Bingo, and Harry. Their torture didn’t hold them, during that blessed hour from one to two p.m. every Monday, when we gathered as in a sacred circle to simply tell the truth. Somehow, they acquired their manhood again.

Often, ten or twelve people would show up fresh from the street and crowd Studio B in a noisy and joyous clamor, each wanting to share something of their life or some latest brutality. I never had to worry about scheduling the truth. It always arrived and was heard. And often it sang, like when homeless Ricky Lavallee would arrive with a battered and near-stringless guitar, and belt out a new tune of his about seeing Jesus that day, laid out and drunk behind a dumpster.

The spontaneous nature of our show raised hackles among the senior staff, especially those like station manager Leela Chinniah who would one day axe our program on government orders. I was told I needed to be careful about allowing people to speak of murders. I was told to restrict people, and guide them, and structure everything.

It didn’t impress me much, that fearful need for management, nor did it the way that station policy was selectively enforced or ignored at the whim of the staff. I saw programmers who weren’t liked by particular staff people ostracized and forced to give up their shows; and those who were favored granted privileges and rights denied to the rest of us. But the worst filth was never seen until it was too late, as Leela and the other staffers went behind our backs and made a secret deal with a corporate media mogul named Jim Pattison to buy up the station. And all the time, these actors in deceit justified everything with the same politically correct lingo.

Hannah Arendt observed that evil is mostly banal, utterly sure of itself and bureaucratically incapable of hearing any voice but its own. So too with the now-extinguished Vancouver Co-op Radio, and those who pretend to run it. 

But now is not the time to mire our spirit in banality, especially in the light of the victorious nine years that I was honored to establish and share Hidden from History, and help change the nation. Now is the time for all of us, bureaucrats included, to rise to the opportunity granted to us by William and Harry and Bingo, and those many others who will no longer sit with me in Studio B.

Opportunities in life come and go too rapidly to notice, and in our daily stumbling, these golden chances are easily lost. The truth is, we who were Hidden from History held out every Monday to anyone who would truly listen a priceless gift: the chance to know what we are really a part of, here in “Canada ” – our true legacy on this land, and how we can overcome its blood and horror. And we did so not by speaking “about” the truth, but by embodying it.

The Beast that is devouring all of us can only tolerate that kind of upsetting example for so long. Then it takes careful aim and strikes at the head of the threat, and the others scatter – for a time. Thus do I find myself now on the outside of what had been our voice, after so long, as the calumny and deceit tries to discard me and our witness like so much refuse.

But that is only the present moment. We have made our mark, and its impact continues to swell like an approaching off-shore Tsunami.

Shortly before he was killed by three Vancouver cops last December, Bingo Dawson – a regular on our program – showed a rare joy in his eyes when I asked him to come with me to Rome and help confront the Pope for what his church did to Bingo’s people. He paused and looked around the struggling human ebb and flow from his perch at Main and Hastings street. And then he said,

“I wish we could bring all of this shit with us there to make them see.”

I can’t remember how I responded, but then Bingo gave me a happier look and continued,


“Remember when me and Frank invaded that Anglican church with our banner, about the missing kids? And we got locked in there with all of those idiots and those priests went ballistic in panic?”

I nodded, smiling and remembering. Then Bingo said,

“That was the best.”

As George Orwell wrote about a stranger he briefly met who was later killed fighting fascism during the Spanish Civil War,

For the look I saw in your eye,
No power can disinherit.
No bomb that ever burst
shatters the crystal spirit.

Struggle and survive, O you poets and witnesses.


The Great Looting: A Post-America Obituary on the Road to Revolution

by Kevin D. Annett

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The wealthy parasites, the pimps, the criminals had all fled like drowning rats to Havana’s docks as the insurgents approached the capital. But ahead of them the dictator Batista had already left the country with the entire Cuban treasury in his pockets, billions of pesos stolen from the people. In their final days the rulers of the collapsing order showed their true face.- Che Guevara, Cuban revolutionary, 1965

Trump’s latest tax cuts for the super rich will kill at least ten thousand poor Americans every year by taking away what little health insurance they have. - former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, December 4, 2017

O, let America be America again! The land that never has been and yet must be: the land where every man is free. The land that’s mine: the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s: the ones who made America, whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, must bring back our mighty dream again. From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives, we must take back our land again! O yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me; and yet I swear this oath: America will be! Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, the rape and rot of graft and stealth and lies, We the People must redeem the land, the mines, the plants, the rivers and the endless plain: and make America again. - Langston Hughes, Let America be America Again, 1938

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrqeywXhKfY

The other day an unusually astute media pundit remarked that no-one seemed to be in charge in Washington anymore. The nation’s capital, he observed, felt like “the last day of a massive closing-out sale, where everything has to go”.

It should be mundanely self-evident by now that the wealth of America is being systematically looted by a tiny class of super-rich traitors, epitomized by the felonious psychopath in the White House who calls himself a President. This past week the Republicans cut taxes to the rich and thereby increased the national deficit by over a trillion dollars: a loss that will be shouldered by already-crushed low income Americans. The fact that Mr. Trump and all the other billionaries in his cabinet will personally profit from their tax bill by soaking the nation and killing low income Americans doesn’t seem to bother many of those same victimized poor folks who suicidally voted for him, any more than does the “President’s” treasonous philandering with foreign powers.

That said, the media pundit’s sage observation about the “closing out sale” state of the United States government was accompanied by the comment that even to the Republicans, Donald Trump is nothing more than a convenient figure head these days, “someone to sign the bills and not do anything too stupid”, in his words. Almost like a dictator about to pack up and leave a sinking and looted ship, he may have added.

In fact, it isn’t just America’s wealth and its people that are being ravaged, but the government itself. Since his election, Trump and his ever-shrinking circle of minions have systematically dismantled the Justice and State Departments and prevented them from operating. All of the professional diplomats and civil servants – and anyone who comes close to uncovering Trump’s own criminal activities – have been purged. According to one of the cashiered State Department officials, “The White House seems intent on destroying the fabric of effective and responsible government in a manner that can only benefit our enemies.” (October 12, 2017)

Like Russia and China, perhaps?

Of course, as every honest soul soon discovers, one’s real enemy is not in some far-off land but right at home, and often masquerading under a cloak of patriotism. But even that garb has been stripped from the Trump administration nowadays as its putrid “rich guys only” agenda stands so naked and exposed that hopefully even the stupid can’t ignore it.

The issue now is what is to be done about it.

There’s a woman in her seventies named Judy Wanchisn who may have an answer. She lives in the heartland of the nation, in a small pastoral community of seven hundred people called Grant Township, Pennsylvania. Since October of 2012, she and her family and friends have stood up to a giant corporation and its friends in government that want to inject toxic fracking waste water into their land. But the Grant folks have done so with a weapon as potent as the one that fusiladed British troops at Concord and Lexington in 1775: a proclamation of community self-governance. In a word, they are reclaiming their country from the corporations that run it.

The battle Judy and the others face is not really the obvious one, against the combined money and power of business and government, and their lackey courts. It’s in truth a fight for an idea, against the dead weight of conformity and programmed subservience that passes for “democracy” in a corporatized world. That idea formed the American Republic and has persisted for over two centuries: namely, that people’s inborn right to govern themselves under their own laws outweighs all other interests and statutes. It’s an idea as revolutionary and disruptive now, and as necessary, as it was in 1776.

On whatever front the American people and every other people fight for justice and survival today, this single idea always raises its head. Who will rule, the people or an elite? This issue can easily be forgotten or lost in the stream of legalese and arbitrary authority that descends the moment that vested interests are challenged. But any struggle eventually faces that issue, which is one of power and who will wield it.

Judy Wanchisn and her neighbours in Grant Township have found this out the hard way. And the repressive Corporatocracy that considers itself the law has been their best teacher.

“Everything is the opposite of the way it should be now” Judy Wanchisn told me the first time we spoke. “The Environmental Protection people are helping the company destroy our land and our water. The courts are denying us our constitutional rights and our right to life. All we’re doing is trying to remain free Americans who are defending their homes.”

Judy is a stubbornly free woman. Spearheading the Grant Township resistance, she didn’t back down to Pennsylvania state court orders that allowed the company, Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE), to poison her home. In response, Judy, her daughter Stacy and their neighbours issued a local Home Rule Charter that nullified the court order and not only banned any fracking deposits but devolved political power to their township, making them self-governing. As a sovereign authority, their Township then legalized civil disobedience to preserve the land and recognized the rights of nature and its creatures under the law.

A shot heard ’round the world, indeed! The Grant Township action has caught the imagination of many others. Already, inspired by the example of the Pennsylvanians, local townships in Maine, Michigan and Colorado are passing similar Home Rule Charters to empower them to wage their own local battles against predatory corporations. The Grant Township’s establishment of direct democracy especially gained traction after they gained coverage in the Rolling Stone magazine in May of this year.(http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-a-small-town-is-standing-up-to-fracking-w482577 )

History shows us how the repercussion of a single act can eventually shake down the strongest tower of oppression, but only if it is learned from and generalized by many others. Judy Wanchisn and her neighbors have made such an act. The Grant Township seizure of its own self-governance is a genuine working answer to the corporate tyranny of Donald Trump and his ilk that has subverted the American Republic. America must be created again from its grassroots. But that can only be done by its citizens relearning freedom and the courage to reclaim what has been taken from them: their personal and communal liberty, which is our real nation’s very heart and soul.

This new but very familiar American Revolution is greater than politics and the sordid bi-polar two-partyism that’s run by the same wealthy masters. As Judy Wanchisn points out, their self-governance Charter was approved by more than 80% of the people in their community, both Democrats and Republicans. The usual divide and conquer malaise by which the few rule the many has been shattered by the people of Grant Township. And thus armed, everything becomes possible for them.

The waters are rising and many of us have already gone under. But as long as the idea and the spirit of independence and freedom remains so too will our heartland. As John Adams said in 1781, the Revolution dwelt first in the hearts and minds of the people before the first shot was ever fired. So too today. A new fire is spreading in our people, unseen by official politicians and media alike. Like the Great Spiritual Awakening of the 1740′s that inwardly freed our ancestors and allowed them to launch their political revolution, a new light has appeared in the very midst of our gloom. It is carried and found in the witness of the Judy Wanchisns of America. Our 1776 is approaching once again, even more quickly than we realize. In fact it has already arrived.

To arms, then, citizens. In your own communities, take back the law, the government, and the land. You carry within you all that you need to reclaim the Republic of America, and establish it once again.

……………………

For more information on the community self-government movement or to contact the Grant Township movement, see https://celdf.org or write to thecommonland@gmail.com .

Lingering with Intent in the Land of No-one

by Kevin D. Annett

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“They treat me like I’m invisible” said Joe, homeless and toothless.

“Well you’re not” I assured, extending my hand to him. “I see you.”

And life returned to his eyes.

The view out the window tonight appears unchanged from forty years ago: the same deceptively quiet slum and its hundred-window stare. But behind those shutters and my own reflection dwell entire lifetimes of wisdom, won drop by bloody drop.

I didn’t even own a typewriter in those days, and the words bled laboriously from my pen. I wrote on a wobbly green stand-up desk that I’d filched from a neighbour’s throw-away pile. My stories were barely-concealed autobiography, set in harsh and dried-up places that tested everything about their characters. I recurringly warred with a never-published creation, a novel about a young communist trapped in a Depression-era Saskatchewan town. My work never amounted to anything but a mirror of myself since nothing was making me grow up back then. And so the novel withered like any Dust Bowl wheat field.

Pouring through those surviving scribbled parchments is to plunge again into the acid-despair of that twenty one year old boy as the better world he sought evaporated even in its imagining. I had forgotten how crushingly lonely he was, how incapable of showing his heart to another. The boy’s writing was an escape valve for the cyclones of suffering in him and around him, from which he refused to take shelter. His words created what he and his few comrades could not conjure in the world. And so each night the young writer found solace and a renewed consecration at his broken but still-standing desk.

Most of the familiar land marks from that time have collapsed and blown away, save personal devotion. The world around me is as abandoned now as the ruined town my protagonist Samuel Wedge occupied while he lived through my pen. My voice still resounds in the wasteland but none are there to reply. An empty gallery once audience-packed greets me now; humanity has become an entire ghost nation.

It is unfathomingly strange to end up like Homeless Joe, unseen and invisible, after the tumult I unleashed. Joe’s tears at my greeting may have been more than relief, but the recognition that others like him still existed despite our erasure.

In my cheerier moments I interpret our exile as a necessary vindication of the few just souls: the way that the universe refines and sets apart its chosen warriors and messengers, and preserves its remnant. For have we any need any more of the sluggish and dead mass of people, or had we ever? But then I recall the Great Cosmic Shrug, and where Joe will try to sleep tonight, and reality returns.

I’ll publish this tidbit soon and it will be read by hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, but it will receive no replies. The pilot light in mankind has gone out. If there is to be a rekindling it will only come from something other than ourselves as presently constituted.


The Asylum is our World: Lessons from Ward Two West

by Kevin D. Annett

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Personal adjustment to a psychotic social order is no sign of mental health. - Eric Fromm

One of the more gratifying illusions granted to me by advancing age is the sense that my sixty one years have occured to teach me something. Take my time working in a psychiatric facility, for instance.

Perhaps fittingly, I paid my way through seminary and into a kafkaesque United Church ministry by working at the University of British Columbia Psych hospital, in my early thirties. My assignment was on Ward Two West, among those souls designated as “schizophrenics and psychotics” by doctors whose main job was to keep them drugged up and manageable. As a roving orderly I was quickly introduced to the five basic personality types on the ward, among both the patients and the staff.

What is fascinating is how, during the many years since that brief spell in the nuthouse, those same five personas keep manifesting all around me. Ward Two West in fact introduced me to all of the kinds of people I would later encounter in the moral madness of the United Church and its various cohorts in crime. In fact, it seems to me now that the normalized nuttiness of Ward Two West has become our world.

The first and most common persona I encountered was of course the Tranquil Majority: the mass of dissociated and managed patients who had no idea of anything. They led the kind of 9 to 5, sleep walking dullness common to 90% of our populace, habitually following the rules and going along without harbouring an ounce of their own vision.

The next group was far less common because they were awakening to themselves and to their situation. But these Awakeners were just as confused as the Tranquils because they remained trapped within their own obsessive bubble and babble. They were the ones who over coffee in the day room would give me torturously long explanations of the real problem in the world and the secret villains behind the scenes responsible for their misery, in the manner of any internet word-warrior who’s worked everything out. But that’s where it began and ended for the Awakeners, for they were as glued to the Ward as the Tranquil Majority.

The third group were the Ardent Rebels: the very few of the patients who’d eschew words for direct action. These Rebels had held on to enough of their natural outrage and courage to simply bolt and run from the Ward, or slug a nurse rather than take their meds. I suppose you’d call them the obvious activists. They never lasted too long, any more than does a lone-hero, “free man on the land” type who single handedly tries taking on the corporate state and its courts.

And then there was the fourth class of patients: the seasoned Veterans whose capacity to endure and learn from their own mistakes had allowed them to know themselves as well as they knew the system. The Veterans remained quiet, camouflaged and off the radar, biding their time for the right moment to act. They were the ultimate realists who trusted and relied on no-one, and for that reason stood the best chance of surviving and even transcending the Nut Ward.

And the fifth persona? They were, of course, the staff members themselves: the nurses, doctors and administrators who made the whole thing operate, and who therefore were the most insane. For as the system’s professional Managerial Class, they had been assimilated most completely into the required illusions and delusions of the Ward.

This basic schematic of the Insanity Industry’s power structure is but a stage setting for an appreciation of the main event, which is the mutual dance the Five performed and still perform. Learning the steps of that production is key to breaking free from its madness and finding that liberation from the walls of delusion that keep all Five of us personas trapped and condemned.

The first recognition about the dance is that it is precisely that: constant motion and change. None of our five classes of people tend to think or live in terms of continual movement, but rather limited static jumps, which is the energy signal of right-angled, interior prisons like the Nut House. Observe a swarm of flies if you need proof of this: bugs that are outdoors move in circular or randomly unpredictable patterns, reflecting the energy of nature. But indoor flies jolt about in restricted, right-angled motions, mirroring the contained energy grid of a house.

Such a grid pattern is stamped on every child born into so-called western culture. Its angular control of all the energy within its boundaries is present in the most basic template of our culture: the so-called Cross of Christ, which replaced the early Christian symbol of open-ended eternity, mistakenly described as a fish image. The Cross is in actuality the pattern of an angular energy grid. That configuration emerged millenia ago. It arose from the right-angled street plan of the army camps laid out by the Roman legions on campaign, which later evoved into the most common layout of modern cities. That angular grid pattern depicts the nature of power that emerged from Rome and captured the world: in a word, domination.

The Domination archtype of the one or the few over the many conditions every aspect of thought, religion, law, medicine and power in our culture, and shapes all five of the personality types in question, whether on the Nut Ward or off. It is not surprising then that these Five groups habitually operate in predictable patterns that can be anticipated and controlled by a small elite acting through the Managerial class. Nevertheless, the nature of the dance between the Five remains one of a constant movement that persists despite an interior-conditioned thinking. This tight web can be disrupted by the entry of conscious thought into the energy pattern: a consciousness that claims that energy for itself and redirects it in a new manner, by acting outside the experience of the system in new and creative ways.

I observed how this began to occur, even among the heavily medicated and managed denizens of Ward Two West, through as simple an act as switching off the Ward television set. Silence then began to draw the attention of normally comatose patients to gaze out the windows or towards one another, as something deeper began to stir in them.

Knowing this, the system has become increasingly adept in not allowing such personal energy from prevailing or even finding a momentary foothold in the normally managed populace. The latter of whatever persona cannot be allowed themselves. Instead, thanks to the internet and an increasingly domineering and invasive technology, people are kept universally immersed in a single electronic energy medium that can uniformly control all thought and action. Through an artificial environment that is now effectively absolute, humanity is thereby being deliberately componentized into the operating units of a single global machine: the inevitable and perfect expression of the Domination archetype.

This imperative of uniformity by the system determines the nature of the dance between the Five. The motion of the Managers is singular: simply a top down, domineering control. While powerful, this motion is the most static movement of the Five, for it is monolithic and restricted to only one course of behaviour. The other Four personas therefore have a potentially enormous strategic advantage over the Managers and their tyranny, since the Four are capable of greater movement and unpredictability provided they can overcome their habitualized natures.

Of the four personas, the Veterans and the Ardent Rebels are best prepared to operate thus outside and against the system. In practice, they constitute the vanguard that can drag the others along with them in those fleeting moments when the system begins to break down and new alignments of power are necessary and therefore possible. But by their natures, Veterans and Rebels are highly individualistic and self-reliant, and are not inclined to think or act collectively. They can, paradoxically, also constitute the greatest barrier to change because of that individualism.

Nevertheless – to use another Ward example – it was the Rebels and Veterans who led initiatives to bring about reforms or changes to Ward routine when the conditions allowed it. In a nutshell, Rebels provided the energy and Veterans the thinking for change. The rest of the inmates eventually moved according to the new energy pattern created by these two personas against the dominant norms on the Ward.

The Managers and their controllers knew this, of course, and as in politics, their main effort went towards dividing and splitting the Rebels from the Veterans with bribes and selective repression. When they became identified, Veteran Ward members would be the ones invited to sit on Ward committees and be coopted into the administration. Rebels, on the other hand, would be neutralized through threats or overt punishments. The analogies to our own situation are obvious.

I also experienced how the Awakeners often became the biggest distraction and disruption to the coalescing of any real change on the Ward. In fact, it was often more likely for a sudden dissent to emerge from within the mass of Tranquils than from the Awakeners, who operated from the false belief that they already knew what the problems were and what had to be done, thereby isolating themselves from the others and from any capacity to move or to change. Awakeners are invariably just armchair talkers. But the majority – the apparently dead and sluggish Tranquils – are like elementary particles that can be shaken into a sudden and even radical opposition for brief moments, like the masses of people become during any socially revolutionary period and situation.

All of these movements invariably pose a basic question of power: of who will run the Ward, and why, or even of abolishing the Ward altogether. But that question must first be imagined by our different personas before it can be perceived as a “practical” goal: an imagining which in itself is the biggest and seemingly most difficult thing to do. Inmates cannot imagine escaping their confinement until either they have begun to think outside of its walls or become engaged in concrete actions and experiences that alter their thinking and open them up to new possibilities. The purpose of any leadership among the four inmate-personas is to unite both thought and action to establish a continual counter-culture of opposition within the bowels of the Ward itself: a new way of being that is in reality the seed of a new power arrangement that will replace the old one altogether.

I have used the experience and the model of a psychiatric ward to illuminate our own situation in a way that takes seriously the personalities molded by conditions of domination and “ward management”. We are all very much the inmates of a psychotic, violent and dissociated global culture that requires segmented, unintegrated and functionally-defined personalities in order to survive: that is, a population of inwardly sick and dependent people, not healthy and conscious ones. No society thus formed has a future except as a managed machine one, devoid of life and change. Regaining our own minds and lives is therefore the first most basic step in breaking down the walls of such a global insane asylum and finally allowing all of us captives to be set free into the Natural Law and Liberty that is our birth right.

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