Thursday, December 29, 2011

Newsletters and Subcultures


That was quite a panicky and petulant New York Times editorial Wednesday about Dr. Ron Paul, wasn't it? Of all the things they could editorialize about-- his building of a political movement outside the Harvard-Yale Duality, for instance (see below), or his ideas-- they chose a 20 year-old newsletter. They must be panicky indeed. Pants-wetting panicky. Someone's upsetting the carefully arranged game.

Now, I know nothing about the specifics of the Ron Paul newsletter; who wrote it, any of it. But I do know newsletters. Cranking out newsletters was how I began writing.

I wrote a local union newsletter on a job when I was in my 20's. Did it piss off people?

After I left that job, I found myself working with a commodity trader and doing a couple issues of an investment newsletter. This was also my introduction to libertarian thought, which gave an added dimension to my intellectual "game." Ideas they don't teach at the university. In 1992 or thereabouts I began a literary newsletter, New Philistine. Any still-extant copies are rare collector's items.

The 80's and 90's were the heyday of newsletters, which included the zine scene. An amazing subculture, or collection of subcultures, of outsider ideas. The kind of things you'll never encounter in the New York Times-- and which Times staffers in their narrowly regulated button-down world haven't been exposed to in variety and totality, if at all. Call it real America, outside the cardboard Officially Approved robotic facsimile of America projected by monopoly media. All ideas; extremes of Right and Left, everything in-between and ideas outside those extremes. (But to me, you see, the New York Times is the extreme. Extremely predictable conformity.) Libertarian to anarchist, every kind of anarchist. Racists, sure, and also vociferous anti-racists as exemplified by the many ARA (Anti-Racist Action) publications. The original factsheet 5 was a great compendium of the broad scene.

In a word: democracy.

As literature, it was the organic American reality, comprehensively the American voice, as elite literary journals can never be.

Know this: it was nearly impossible to plunge into that mass of activity without making contact with what button-down society considers to be loons, weirdos, and crackpots. "Extremists." (Human beings.) To create a newsletter, and market and sell it through the mail, took work. It took real commitment. It took fanaticism. We were all extremists, by trying to achieve the impossible.

We drew the membership of the Underground Literary Alliance from the underground zine scene. This included explosively unorthodox talents, with a wide diversity of characters and ideas. a small group, but we had in our ranks many punks and anarchists, at least two trannies, a couple libertarians, and most extreme of all, even and one out-and-out conservative. Crazy indeed.
You have to watch out for those subcultures, you really do. You know. They can be dangerous. Like that Jesus guy from 2,000 years ago. He and his tiny band of lowlife nobodies stirring things up, disturbing Empire. Friends with whacked-out uber-hippie John the Baptist. Outsiders with absolutely no standing daring to question the tops-down Authority of the day. Plainly crazy. The power people quickly disposed of the ringleaders, beheading John and crucifying Jesus. After all, you know. Outsiders are dangerous!
I don't know if the accusations against Dr. Paul have validity. I do know that if they hadn't found that, they'd have found something. Though Ron Paul is building his movement, he's always had 0% chance of getting the nomination. Outsiders, and outsider ideas, in literature OR politics, are unacceptable to what's presented to us as the mainstream.

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