FREE THE WEED 51
A Column by John Sinclair
Highest greetings from New Orleans, where I’ve been staying with my pal, the great painter called Frenchy, and working with my daughter Celia on completing the design and layout for my new book IT’S ALL GOOD: A John Sinclair Reader that’ll be published this summer under the aegis of the MMMReport.
For the past several months I’ve been printing some of the prose pieces from the book in this column to try to drum up interest in the book when it appears. This month’s offering is one of the last entries in IT’S ALL GOOD called Moving Together, a piece I wrote for High Times magazine in 2004, and it goes something like this:
To effect a change of direction in the perilous course upon which our sorry nation is now embarked may seem a difficult and even hopeless task, and the problem is so vast that it’s hard to know just where to begin.
But mass movements sprout from the efforts of singular individuals or isolated handfuls of people who come together to make social change when they can no longer stand the way things are.
When disgusted Americans rose up in the 1960s to demand an end to the war in Vietnam and the institution of racial, sexual and economic equality for all citizens, we were driven by deep feelings of revulsion for what our country had become and the conviction that it was our personal responsibility to change the way things were.
Then as now, the radical right and its corporate superstructure had established what they believed would be a changeless system of exploitation and control that would allow them to loot and plunder the populace without effective opposition.
But this social fabric began slowly to unravel as small oppositional groups started to cohere and take concerted action in support of their needs and beliefs.
The civil rights struggle was touched off when a singular individual in Montgomery, Alabama named Rosa Parks—inspired by the teachings of Rev. Martin Luther King—refused to move to the “colored” section in the back of the bus, and it grew into a massive movement that won the support of millions of Americans.
When the military-industrial complex decided to wage war on a tiny nation of rice farmers called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, they were severely shocked when one, then two, then dozens, scores, hundreds and thousands of young Americans refused to serve in the armed forces. And they were ultimately defeated after public opposition to the war spread from tiny collectives of students and intellectuals to the very mainstream of American society.
On the cultural front, who could have known what would follow when Little Richard screamed out “Tutti Frutti,” Chuck Berry hit with “Maybellene” and Bo Diddley proclaimed “I’m A Man”? When Allen Ginsberg howled “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness” and Jack Kerouac celebrated the ecstasies and adventures to be discovered On The Road? When Bob Dylan sang “The Times They Are A-Changing” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and the Beatles urged us to “turn off your minds, relax and float downstream”?
America was humming along on whiskey, beer and prescription narcotics when young people began to discover by ones and twos the mental benefits and sensual joys of smoking marijuana and turned on the populace one person at a time. Then Tim Leary and Richard Alpert revealed the amazing results of their early experiments with LSD and blew the minds of millions.
The truth is that we can move as far as our imaginations will take us. We can turn our backs on popular entertainment, shut off our television sets and make and enjoy art and creative activity of the highest order.
In fact, we can insist upon and institute in our own lives a culture of humanism and creative intelligence. We can inspire others by example and spread the word through astute use of the communications media available to us in our homes, studios and workplaces.
What follows are a few pointers from back in the glorious days of cultural upheaval and political protest that you may find useful:
• Live your life according to your own principles and beliefs. Refuse to be a working part of the imperialist paradigm and, in the immortal words of the late Dr. Timothy Leary, “Turn on … Tune in … Drop Out.” Once you take the vow of poverty, you’ll be free to engage in any sort of creative activity you may imagine and make it the central force in your life.
• Develop organic affinity groups among friends and co-workers who share your outlook. Pool your human resources, rent a big house, share the economic burden and live and work together collectively.
• Choose your work and your targets with great care. Be clear in your heart and mind and clear in your slogans and pronouncements so that your fellow citizens may be able to understand and support you.
• Never forget, as Che Guevara taught us, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love and shape your activity accordingly. Never allow yourself to be reduced to the base moral level of your oppressors.
• Always remember that “a revolution is not a dinner party,” as Chairman Mao pointed out. Serious consequences beyond your control—beatings, arrest, jail, felony prosecution, prison time—may result from oppositional political activities. The more extreme your actions, or the more successful your efforts at organizing resistance, the more vicious the official reaction is likely to be.
• In political action as in life itself, we must always remain flexible and we must retain our sense of humor. There’s nothing wrong with having our fun in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves, and if you can’t enjoy yourself in the pursuit of your goals, you’ve probably chosen the wrong path.
• Finally, whatever you do to express your beliefs in the months before the presidential election, be sure to get yourself and everyone you know to the polls on November 2nd and cast your votes against George W. Bush. This is where democracy begins.
May 17-20, 2004
Last month we talked about the marijuana legalization initiatives being considered for the State of Michigan in next year’s presidential election, and my own pick is the one titled Michigan Marihuana Legalization, Regulation and Economic Stimulus Act. I’ve just received the latest draft of this proposed legislation from Atty. Matt Abel and need more time to study it in depth, but basically this is “a bill to legalize and regulate marihuana and hemp cultivation, production, testing, sale, distribution, possession, and use for medical and nonmedical purposes.”
The key provision is that “a consumer shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for… acquiring, possessing, using, or transporting marihuana, marihuana products, or marihuana accessories; cultivating, growing, harvesting, possessing, propagating, processing, or transporting 12 or fewer marihuana plants, each of which is at least 12 inches high or 12 inches in diameter, and possessing the marihuana derived from those plants.”
This is a hell of a good start as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll look farther into the details of the proposed legislation in next month’s column. But here’s a good example of what I was talking about in Moving Together, because by moving together we can finally get the police out of our business and get high when we want to without fear of official interference. Yes! FREE THE WEED!
May 22, 2015
© 2015 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.