February 25, 2014

A Miraculous Disaster?


"There is simply no room left for 'freedom from the tyranny of government' since city dwellers depend on it for food, power, water, transportation, protection, and welfare. Your right to live where you want, with companions of your choosing, under laws to which you agree, died in the eighteenth century with Captain Mission. Only a miracle or a disaster could restore it." -- William S. Burroughs, Cities of the Red Night (1981)

The pirate utopia's motto was "for God and liberty," and its flag was white, in contrast to a Jolly Roger.
They were anarchist, waging war against states and lawmakers, attacking their ships, sparing prisoners, and freeing slaves. They called themselves Liberi, and lived under a communal city rule, a sort of worker owned corporation of piracy. They had articles (shared codes of conduct), and used elected systems of re-callable delegates.
Misson was French, born in Provence, and it was while in Rome on leave from the French warship Victoire that he lost his faith, disgusted by the decadence of the Papal Court. In Rome he ran into Caraccioli - a "lewd Priest" who over the course of long voyages with little to do but talk, gradually converted Misson and a sizeable portion of the rest of the crew to his way of thinking:
…he fell upon Government, and shew'd, that every Man was born free, and had as much Right to what would support him, as to the Air he respired... that the vast Difference betwixt Man and Man, the one wallowing in Luxury, and the other in the most pinching Necessity, was owing only to Avarice and Ambition on the one Hand, and a pusillanimous Subjection on the other.
- - On Libertatia

Posted by gerardvanderleun at February 25, 2014 3:56 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Sounds like the US, circa early 21st century.

Posted by: ghostsniper at February 25, 2014 8:08 AM

When Burroughs wrote coherent stuff, when he did not employ the cut and paste, he made a lot of sense and had an interesting POV. Certainly not mainstream: as a homosexual and junkie back in the days when that was almost a hanging offense (with or without trial, 'pends on which side of the Mason-Dixon line he was on) he managed to turn out novels and verse. Hung around with a bunch of er, un-American folks, shrug.

"Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.” — William S. Burroughs

Posted by: chasmatic at February 25, 2014 9:31 AM

"Hung around with a bunch of er, un-American folks,"

Yup and carried a gun. But did not use it on the right people (sigh).

Posted by: vanderleun at February 25, 2014 11:01 AM

Burroughs was wrong, as if anybody, anywhere, anywhen lived with who they wanted to under rules they all agreed on.

There are always rules. And there are always people who will break the rules. Everybody will break a rule at one time or another. Some may just speed. Some may murder.

There is no golden age, no arcadia, to go back to, because that never existed. Burroughs was wrong, and Defoe made it all up. Ever read "Memoirs of a Cavalier"? "Captain Singleton"? "Colonel Jack"? He made it up.

Posted by: Eric Blair at February 25, 2014 7:08 PM