All Hail Chaotopia!
A paper by Choronzon 999
- Issues of personal freedom
- Entrenched Neophobic Attitudes
- The Hegemony of Finance
- A Socio-Economic Testbed
- How To Get An Island
- Visions of Chaotopia
For the title of the paper I have used one straight quotation - from Chapter III of Aleister Crowley's "Book of the Law" (Liber AL); and one paraphrased quotation from the Marx Brothers' film "Duck Soup" - specifically a modification of the chaotically repeated refrain from what purported to be the national anthem of the fictional State of Freedonia.
Throughout history various schools of philosophical thought and religious belief have proposed idealised conceptions of the way in which human society might optimally be structured, each in a fashion consistent with the central paradigm being expounded. The philosophers of Chaos, thus far, have either drawn back from doing so, or, perhaps more likely, have had other more immediate matters to concern themselves with.
In one sense this is a little puzzling, since a philosophy which embraces the libertarian extremes implicit in the Illuminist cliche "Everything is Permitted" must inevitably find itself on a collision course with the authoritarian social structures which dominate virtually every recognised Sovereign State on the surface of the planet.
Crowley's development of the Rabelaisian concept of 'Thelema', with its almost synonymous dictum "Do What Thou Wilt", did at least put forward a few suggestions, albeit that in the 87 years since the New Aeon was proclaimed, that doctrine's adherents have done precious little to follow them through. One of the contradictions which may have contributed to this lack of progress lies, in my view, in the superimposition of a rigid heirarchial quasi-masonic structure upon an essentially libertarian philosophy. The result, to all intents and purposes, is a contradictory, but unspoken, codicil to the Rabelaisian original which should now be interpreted by Thelemites as "Do What Thou Wilt - so long as it's approved in writing from Grand Lodge". The schismatic traumas which have afflicted the Thelemite corpus in recent decades can, in most cases, be traced back to difficulties arising in one way or another out of this fundamental philosophical contradiction.
The genius which inspired the "Book of the Law" certainly understood the antipathy between "Do What Thou Wilt"/"Everything is Permitted" and mainstream attitudes within society. That is why the injunction "Choose ye an Island!" is immediately followed with advice to "Fortify it!" and "Dung it about with enginery of war!". This guards against two possible consequences attendant upon a Thelemic Utopia being seen to be established and viable: firstly the threat to the orthodox authoritarian paradigm of government posed by the existence of such a State would be so fundamental that there would be little alternative but to attack it physically on some pretext or other; secondly, there would be tendency for runaway migration to occur, which would place disproportional burdens on the Utopian infrastructure.
It might of course be asked "What's so wrong with the present structures of society?" Surely the capability exists to make whatever modifications may be necessary through the Ballot Box, or, failing that, by some magical operation such as the one conducted exactly six months ago to get rid of the Poll Tax. The problem is partly that the major objections are so intermeshed that it is difficult to propose surgical solutions which do not impact in a chaotic fashion in other areas leading to a lot of grief and aggravation.
The following major categories encompass many of the impediments in the present set-up which encourage me to consideration of utopian notions - each might comprise another lecture, or even a book, in its own right, so I do not propose to explore any depth of detail at this time:
I find it quite ridiculous that the State can continue to endorse the basic tenets of Christianity, when the central pillars of that belief system are continually being shown to be based on contrived hearsay enshrined as Holy Writ, and supported by forged "evidence". People are quite entitled to adopt whatever religious paradigm they wish, but freedom of religion should carry with it the corollary idea that people are freed from having other peoples irrational beliefs imposed on them at an impressionable age with the blessing and encouragement of the State. Christianity as a technique of social control was introduced quite cynically by Constantine in 325 AD, and it has survived more because of fraud, terror and state support than because of any rational basis.
The ascendency of evangelism heralded by the enthronement of Dr Carey, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, may herald an era of persecution and witch-hunting along the lines seen recently in Rochdale and Orkney. The only way that the professional objectivity of those co-ordinating these obscene spectacles can be questioned, on the basis of slavish adherence to an irrational belief system, is through Disestablishment of the Christian Church. If this were done a lot of the hypocrisy in society would melt away, in my view.
People should be free to amuse or conduct themselves in private in whatever way they see fit, provided they do no harm to anyone but themselves. Such an attitude would render domestic violence (physical and mental) socially unacceptable, but would allow people otherwise to do as they please without concern about harassment. If people do stupid things and injure or even kill themselves, so be it. That happens all the time today. The key to making the notion work lies in training each individual's ability to defend his/her own personal space - this is one of the most basic magical exercises.
In the present situation, for example, I would be happy enough to accept a ban on the smoking of tobacco in public places on the basis that there may be some risk to other people's health, provided that I was free to smoke anything I liked in private.
The most obvious solution to the "How to replace the Poll Tax?" question is for marijuana to be legalised and distributed by the local councils, perhaps through the refuse collection and/or street-cleaning functions which many of them already support. It may seem crazy but it is possible that in about nine months time they may be forced to it - as the only way out of the jam!
There is a theory of human personality which divides people into 'Neophobes' and 'Neophiles'. Neophobes shun the idea of anything new, almost on principle; Neophiles welcome new things, albeit with scepticism and caution. The Neophobe position is ultimately futile, because new things happen whether they like it or not.
There is often an association of Neophobism with increasing age, but I do not find that to be borne out. Where the Neophobe attitude dominates is through its pervasive presence in most, if not all, heirarchial structures.
The "Not Invented Here" Syndrome, which is used so effectively to stifle the flow of creative ideas, is an example of Neophobic attitudes being manifest even in the sort of technological environment where that very flow of ideas is vital to survival.
Most Chaos Magicians are Neophiles, and it is little coincidence, I submit, that many of them are also anti-heirarchs.
Financial mechanisms provide the most effective means today for stifling creative endeavour. Since ideas themselves in present day society have no actual worth, the originator of any idea is forced, in order to bring it to any sort of fruition, to effectively relinquish control of it to some larger body, to a bank or indeed to a potential commercial competitor.
One of the main problems in the fields of Sociology, Politics and Economics is that the conventional procedures for testing hypotheses are usually not available. If someone devises a new theory in Physics, experiments can be set up, with properly monitored 'control' studies established to ascertain that the effects generated are actually caused by the phenomenon being tested, rather than some spurious influence.
Where theories in economics or social science are postulated, test environments can rarely be established in the same way. Computer simulations may be available, but these can only be approximations. As things are at present, economic theories are tested out on real economies, while the populus are duped into acquiescence with bromide slogans dreamed up by the political image makers - "There is no alternative" - "You've never had it so good" - "All our problems are the problems of success".
Political/Social theories rarely have the luxury of being tested in any sort of objective way. Frequently they are presented in a manner more appropriate to the marketing of a religion. We are expected to accept that belief in what is being put forward will make it happen - "Workers unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains" - "This glorious Reich will last for a thousand years" - "Nuclear power will bless us with electricity which is too cheap to meter".
The sensible way forward is to facilitate the establishment of some sort of experimental social environment where new or radical ideas can be operated on a test-bed basis. To enable such an environment to exist would require suspension of the normal constraints of sovereignty - this, in my view, is the first prerequisite for any Utopian experiment.
In days gone by all that the enthusiastic Utopian had to do was to collect together a band of like minded head-cases, and set off to found a colony somewhere. Pythagoras did this when he got fed up with the prevailing attitudes in his native island of Samos, so also did one of my more illustrious namesakes when he sailed the Mayflower out of Southampton in 1620. Today things are not as simple as that.
Practically every square inch of the land surface of the globe (with the exception of Antarctica) is acknowledged to be under the Sovereignty of one or other of the 220 odd countries or dependencies in the world. Inevitably disputed areas exist, but these are often the object of some tug-of-war between two larger countries.
The basis on which chunks of real estate become Sovereign States may often be seen to be accidental. The same applies to the processes by which a number of significant ethnic groups now find their traditional lands subsumed into a Sovereign State dominated by another people - and in some notorious cases (Kurdistan, Tibet) one dominated by their worst enemies.
The original conception was that Sovereignty derived from some divine entity assuring a group of people that the land they lived on (or proposed to inhabit) was theirs, reinforced by a monarchial succession which ideally monopolised the right to exercise violence upon anyone in the vicinity who thought differently - that assumed or de facto right was then codified into some often arbitrary set of Laws, and anyone who disagreed was topped, banged up, sold into slavery, or was best advised to keep quiet.
Sovereignty by right of conquest was then popular for many centuries. This particularly appealed to military types like Alexander of Macedon, the Romans, Napoleon, Cecil Rhodes, Hitler and other would-be builders of Empire. Nowadays some distinction is made between Suzerainity and Sovereignty, where the former means simply that a particular state has rights over a territory by right of conquest or monopoly of violence, and where the latter implies some loftier claim.
Many countries established in this century owe their existence to the grace and favour of a former colonial power, who, having previously claimed sovereignty by divine right or conquest, eventually finds the claim more of a burden than an asset, and decides to return control to the original inhabitants.
Some of the strangest countries are ones which have come into being and continued to survive independently as a result of historical accident. Included among these might be Liechtenstein, San Marino, Andorra and Monaco. Although small countries like these are dependent for their existence on the goodwill of (or their usefulness to) their neighbours, they are nonetheless some of the best test-beds for experiments in international financial manipulation, and some are effectively designer tax-havens. That characterisation might also apply to some obscure British dependencies like the Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man.
An attempt was made unilaterally to add Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel to the above list, and the incumbent resident, a retired military officer, loosed off a few rounds from a cannon (dating from the Napoleonic War, as I recall) at a launch carrying inspectors from the Inland Revenue some years ago. Lundy does apparently have the right to issue its own postage stamps, though it is now owned by the National Trust. Sovereignty, though, is about more than stamps.
There are numerous small islands around the coast of Britain and Ireland which are habitable (just) but uninhabited. Occasional attempts are made to establish utopian communities on one or other. A particularly spectacular flop in the glare of the media spotlight was that by Sid Rawle the celebrated "King of the Hippies" and Convoy notable. Sid's band of pilgrims, either the Hyde Park Diggers or some later derivative, were granted residence by one of The Beatles (John Lennon?) who owned a small skerry off Ireland's west coast. The venture (in 1969 or 1970 as I recall) was a sincere attempt to do the whole thing for real, but it foundered: partly because of dependence on locals (who were hostile towards the venture) for boat passage to their territory; partly from lack of an adequate water supply (or the infrastructure to provide such); and perhaps from an overdose of idealism which provide the basis for their being mocked and pilloried in the press. There were silly-season "Hippy Isle" stories in the tabloids for weeks.
The one lesson from Sid Rawle's adventure is that trying to mount such a project as some sort of idealistic subsistence operation is probably doomed to failure, not much fun, and a lot of hard unpleasant work. Whether or not the ultimate intention is to experiment with different economic paradigms, the only way that a such project can get to that point is by interfacing in a highly efficient fashion with the conventional economic system. Any other approach and you are doing little more than a voluntary Robinson Crusoe performance; Alexander Selkirk, on whom the Defoe story was based, was indeed castaway on one of the Juan Fernandez Islands (of which more later) off the Pacific coast of Chile.
Ignoring the sovereignty issue for a while, if you have a relatively unlimited budget the number of islands available to you is substantial. There is an Estate Agent (Realtor) in Hamburg who specialises in nothing else. The price range is very broad running from $7 million for a Bahama with an airstrip, to around 10000 sterling for a rocky few acres with no facilities off Scotland or Nova Scotia. The most idyllic island that anyone has ever attempted to sell to me was one in the San Blas Archipelago, off the Caribbean coast of Panama; the guy wanted $60000 back in 1984, but didn't tell me whether or not this included the tribe of Cuna Indians who were in residence there. It may be that he makes some sort of living from selling their island.
There are few precedents for purchase of sovereignty however; two cases which spring to mind are the acquisition of Alaska from Russia in 1867 by the USA, and that same nation's acquisiton of Manhattan Island from the Indian Tribe of the same name in 1626. Duping Amer-Indians into selling their land is nothing new, but it seems unlikely that the Manhattan realised they were also effectively selling Sovereignty on the adjacent continental landmass.
Leases of Sovereignty are not unknown - the best known example is the deal by which parts of Hong Kong were leased to the British by China. Issues raised by the termination of the 100 year lease are now exercising diplomatic minds, and the regrettable feature, in my view, is that those issues are clouding any clear focus on some of the abominations taking place today (and every other day) in Chinese occupied territory - like Tibet. Those sad events however are quite unlinked to the matter of leasing sovereignty, and appear to have more to do with some ideological will to annihilate the rich and ancient culture of a neighbouring people.
The point becomes increasingly clear however that if a territory does not have what is defined by the corpus of nations as Sovereignty, then anyone can occupy it, in an apparent extension of the Right of Conquest forward from Roman times, and then brutalise anyone living there with impunity. That is what makes sovereignty a vital ingredient which anyone considering a Utopian undertaking should ignore at their peril.
Let's make a few assumptions now. Just suppose that some bargaining counter exists which could conceivably induce an existing sovereign state (any one at all) to negotiate a Hong Kong style lease on a chunk of territory; what sort of territory would fit the criteria to give some Utopia of Chaos - or Chaotopia - a fighting chance of success.
An obvious notion is a habitable but uninhabited island. The only one around the British Isles which has previously supported a population, but which now lies deserted is Hirta, the largest of three mid-Atlantic rocks known as St Kilda. It is now a Nature Reserve under protection of the National Trust for Scotland, and is notable for the world's largest population of gannets. The island was evacuated in 1930 when the population was 35; this ended continuous inhabitation since prehistoric times. The island's cliffs rise to 1300 ft so there is no risk of flooding even under the most catastrophic scenarios of global warming, also St Kilda escaped glaciation in the Pleistocene epoch, so there seems little chance of it freezing up even if the Gulf Stream changes direction. Nothing is known to me about landing facilities, or any other infrastructure which may be there. St Kilda may have some strategic importance, and certainly some significance in regard to any mineral wealth and fishing resources in the surrounding ocean, but if such issues were addressed and an agreeable outcome reached, Hirta could be a candidate for Chaotopia.
A shore base would also be necessary, somewhere in Ireland or Western Scotland - even, at a pinch, somewhere on the Caledonian Canal. Issues of sovereignty would not have to apply there beyond those normally pertaining to a foreign embassy premises. Already it becomes clear that this is rather more than a shoe-string subsistence operation if it were ever seriously proposed as a real project.
Looking further afield, the task is to identify islands which are habitable but uninhabited, though there do exist a few bizarre opportunities with habited ones which would not necessarily compromise the position of the present inhabitants.
For example, some of the islands of Vanuatu, previously the New Hebrides (north of New Zealand), are inhabited by tribes adhering to various 'Cargo Cults'. One such, in the Sulphur Bay area of Tanna, worship a God called Jon Frum. The religion dates from as recently as the 1940s.
One theory has it that an American seaplane pilot once off-loaded supplies there, and for some reason unknown these were left there, presumably forgotten about or not needed for the war effort. Ever since, the Cargo Cult have been waiting for the return of Jon Frum, their benefactor from the skies, to take up his rightful role in their society. The problem is that the present adherents have no real idea what Jon Frum looked like. Would-be pretenders beware however - the Tribes of Tanna were never substantially converted to Christianity, possibly because they found the missionaries better to eat than to listen to. The Jon Frum cult is simply a modern accretion to traditional local animist beliefs, which involve the need to propitiate a nearby active volcano. Now it is conceivable that seismology and Chaos Maths could give credible notice of eruptions, so that an application for the vacant post of Incarnate Deity made today would carry a better chance of survival in office than was possible previously.
A further consideration for Cargo Cult deity applicants in that region (there are at least three such vacant posts in Vanuatu) is the social stratification criteria applying to male members in some tribes. On the Islands of Malakula and Espiritu Santo exist several ethnic groups where no self-respecting gentleman wears anything more elaborate than a penis guard, and where the size of that garment is an important social parameter. So if you turn up with a group of companions hoping to convince these canny folk of the reality of the Deity's return, make sure that your spokesman is the guy with the biggest knob or it will be obvious from the start that your perception of what is important in civilised society. Fraud or wishful thinking might carry the day for a while, but it would be unlikely to escape the notice of the alluring temple attendants which any credible animist Deity would expect to be provided with for assistance with divine carnal needs. Deficiencies in size could probably be overcome by prodigious athleticism, but it might make the job hard work (no pun intended!).
There are large numbers of Pacific Islands which, as well as being uninhabited, and potential candidates for a lease of Sovereignty, are also strategically situated in terms of their time-zone location relative to the world's money markets. With a satellite communications link the 'designer tax haven' potential should not be ignored.
Raoul in the Kermadecs between New Zealand and Vanuatu is habitable but uninhabited aside from a small staff at the weather station. It is high enough not to be washed away in next century or so, though it also has an active volcano, so an Atlantis or Krakatoa scenario could not be entirely ruled out; albeit, that might present a better risk than the Big Nambas tribal cooking pot a few degrees to the north.
The Marquesas group includes some beautiful uninhabited islands, though some of them are low coral atolls and might even be vulnerable to tsunami (tidal waves). That island group, together with Tahiti, has a sovereign status as the dependency of French Polynesia, and there is ongoing controversy about nuclear weapons testing in the region which might militate against an acceptable Lease of Sovereignty, as well as reducing the long term desirability of the whole central pacific region.
The world's largest habitable uninhabited island is Mas Afuera in the Juan Fernandez group. Situated between the Chilean coast and Easter Island (on the Critical Path of migration of Megalithic Technology) are two substantial islands, Mas a Tierra is inhabited, and is now sometimes called Robinson Crusoe Island. The locals say Alexander Selkirk was marooned there in 1704 and, like the monster in Loch Ness, he sustains the island's tourist trade. Defoe set his Crusoe story in the Atlantic off Brazil, but it does seem to bear a lot of the particulars of Selkirk's adventure. The second main island in the Juan Fernandez group is some 120 miles further from the South American coast on the same latitude as Valparaiso - its name 'Mas Afuera' means Far Out Island. It is some 33 square miles (3 x 11) and it has only ever briefly been occupied, most recently as a Penal Colony until about 100 years ago.
The problem is access. The island has no anchorage and is surrounded by precipitous cliffs which might demand a landing similar to that portrayed in the film 'Guns of Navarone'.
If Mas Afuera, over which Chile claims Sovereignty, is not designated as a protected natural environment then it certainly ought to be. Reports by a botanical expedition in the 1950s describe a very rich flora, with some 50 percent of the species 'endemic' to the island - i.e. half of all the plants there do not grow anywhere else in the world.
Descriptions are given of rhubarb trees with leaves 20 feet across, for example. I have no information about Fauna, but the island's proximity to the postulated site of ancient Lemuria (Churchward; 'Lost Continents') might spur the International Society for Crypto-zoology to mount an expedition. An excellent potential habitat for dragons, unicorns, or even some survivor like the dodo.
Apart from the 'Far Out Island' tag, there are several features about Mas Afuera which would place it high on any shortlist of potential Chaotopias. The climate is temperate, and, albeit that the mainland coast is chilled by a northward spur of the Antarctic Circumpolar Drift (or Current), Mas Afuera may be far enough out to lie within the warmer circulation of the South Pacific Current which washes the balmy shores of Easter Island and Tahiti. Nonetheless, storms in the area are cited as one of the reasons why the place wasn't even viable as a penal colony - one report says convicts were put into a long boat within sight of the island and left to get on with it. There is some possibility that the Chilean Government might have started using the island for that purpose again in recent decades, but, if so, I am unaware of it; so a Lease of Sovereignty might be negotiable, as the present government appear to have moved somewhat towards being the sort of people one could do business with.
An image starts to emerge of a sovereign entity which might qualify for recognition under international law, which would be less based on some permanently fixed area of territory, than established on various Leases of Sovereignty entered into with other governments. The novel concept is that of a distributed "country" operating in different time zones.
The Individual settlements would be free to sort their own affairs out as they see fit, consistent with the notion of "Everything is Permitted"/"Do What Thou Wilt", though compliance with certain philosophical criteria might be binding on any particular territory which wished to affiliate to such a Chaotopian Federation.
The substance of my last Philos-o-Forum Lecture on 'Mathe-Magic and Money' may have indicated that it is not beyond the wit of Chaoticians to devise Mathematical models with the capability of generating sufficient flow of hard currency to finance the initial stages of such an operation; so what about the logistics?
The first stage would be a feasibility study to explore some of the raw ideas, and to put straight any misconceptions or false assumptions. This would not be prohibitively expensive, but would involve professional fees for advice on international law, and some plane tickets to exotic places. That phase of the exercise was nearly carried out in 1989, but the cash got spunked on a motor cycle. The plan was to do an island hop across the South Pacific taking in an overflight of Mas Afuera, and stop-offs at Easter Island, Tahiti, and Vanuatu (Lan Chile fly that route from Santiago, though you have to make an excursion to take in the Cargo Cults).
A trip to St Kilda could probably be organised, but there would be little point in it unless HM government gave some indication that they might be prepared to countenance a limited transfer of sovereignty to a social/political/economic experiment of this type. There seems little chance, and in all probability some recourse to Chaos Magic would be called for to raise the odds of such an acquiescence above the zero mark; an application to build a permanent rock festival site at Stonehenge would probably bear more chance of success - unless of course the Raving Loony Party holds a balance of power after the next election.
If that eventuality occurred, a supported settlement on St Kilda would provide useful experience for a greater challenge, such as colonisation of Raoul Island or even Mas Afuera.
In the meantime I daresay that a prominent body of Chaos Magicians would be prepared to put their sound system at the disposal of anyone who fancied themselves as an incarnation of Jon Frum. There is after all the story of Fitzcarraldo, who, as I recall, navigated the Amazon on a small boat or raft, hypnotising hostile primitives along the route with 78s of Caruso on a wind-up gramophone - I have no doubt that 4000 watts of the Ozric Tentacles emanating from a suitably equipped nautical platform would attract the attention both of a cargo cult interview panel and of their chef. Potential applicants should give notification in advance of the next Chao-Masonic Ladies Night, and arrangements will be made for aptitude testing, bearing in mind the onerous responsibilities of a Living God in fertility oriented cultures.
The search for international recognition would be predicated on marketing the 'designer tax haven' concept. It is difficult for those in positions of influence in any country to take advantage of services and facilities available from a country they do not recognise, so if the services and facilities are sufficiently attractive, the answer is to recognise the country - How on Earth else do places like Liechtenstein, Monaco and the Vatican manage to qualify. If Tibet or the Kurds could offer the same sort of financial facilities, those who run other countries would take more notice of their plight - and that is a serious point.
Chaotopia is no more than a collection of raw ideas which have been bounced around for a few years. Tribute is due to one John Blankinship from Seattle who provided much of the original impetus to the search for suitable islands back in 1970. He identified the potentiality of Mas Afuera and Raoul, and also contributed the notion of being able to negotiate or buy sovereignty.
The objective in giving this talk is less to put forward any serious agenda for action than to initiate some consideration of the key factors. If anybody feels interested in trying to kick some part of the project into life by magical means or any other, I would be interested to know about it - not out of any wish to hijack the project, but because investment has already been made into key features of designer tax havens, and compatible money-market and communication systems; not to mention (for those who follow the occult gossip scene) a scheme to persuade the Egyptian Government to swap Crowley's "Stele of Revealing" for the return of the lost Sarcophagus of Mycerinus to its Pyramid at Giza.
Lastly, people who have been following my Philos-o-Forum lectures may perceive herein some convergence of what often appeared to be completely separate concepts. Chaos Maths, Chaos Physics, Chao-Ecology and Chaos Magic, then Megaliths and Crypto-zoology; - and then some frank analysis of specific techniques of Sex Magic, often said to be the most effective of occult disciplines. Most recently there was the placement in the public domain of the key elements of a money market program trading system, which could provide the cash flow to allow serious consideration of ambitious strategic projects like Chaotopia. It's a magical challenge for the 1990s, and available for anyone with the Will and the Wit to see it through, or to see through it!