A conversation with anarchist philosopher John Zerzan
By the time martial law was declared in Seattle, the establishment press had decided to blame one person for bringing the World Trade Organization to its knees - a social critic from Eugene named John Zerzan.
Zerzan is the spiritual leader of the small group of masked anarchists who attacked such corporate icons as Nike Town, McDonalds and Starbucks, smashing windows, knocking over store shelves, spraying graffiti and provoking a massive police crackdown. Mayor Paul Schell declared a civil emergency and Washington Governor Gary Loche dispatched hundreds of National Guard troops to secure the downtown core. Police dressed up like Robocop chased WTO protesters through the streets for the next few days. Thousands of people were shot with rubber bullets, sprayed with tear and pepper gas, or beaten with ballistic batons. Many of the victims were innocent bystanders and business owners who simply didn't get out of the way fast enough.
The chaos was broadcast around the world. TV viewers saw police firing at protesters at point blank range. One cop went out of his way to kick an empty-handed protester in the groin. Another cop ripped a gas mask off a pregnant foreign reporter and struck her. The global trade conference ended in disarray on December 3, 1999, and Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper resigned in the face of mounting public criticism a few days later.
It was a stunning victory for the WTO opponents - and especially for the small number of young anarchists who forced the heavy hand of the New World Order.
So who is John Zerzan? Contrary to the stereotype image of an anarchist, he is not a wild-eyed bomb thrower. Instead, Zerzan is a quiet, unassuming 56-year-old who spends most of his days babysitting for friends and writing lengthy essays on the problems of modern society in longhand on pads of paper (he doesn't own a computer).
A former Cub Scout and altar boy from Woodburn, Zerzan earned a degree in political science from Stanford University before moving to Berkeley to protest the war in Vietnam. While there he received a master's degree in history at San Francisco State and spent three years in a Ph.D. program at the University of Southern California, although he never got a doctorate. Instead, he spent several years driving cabs and working as a labor organizer before moving to Eugene in 1981, where he began advocating a form of anarchy called "primitivism" which argues that technology is responsible for many of today's most serious problems.
Zerzan's thoughts have been spread through obscure publications such as The Black-Clad Messenger and the Green Anarchist, published by small anarchist groups in America and Europe. His themes have been echoed by Rage Against the Machine, the most political rock 'n roll band since the MC5. I caught up with Zerzan at his Eugene co-op house just after he returned from Seattle.
Jim Redden: The establishment press describes you as an "anarchist philosopher." How do you see yourself?
John Zerzan: I'm just a writer. There are various terms that people throw around. I've been working on some of these questions for a long time, and trying to make some kind of a contribution, but that's about it. That's all I can say.
Redden: Do you accept the term "anarchist"?
Zerzan: Yeah, I definitely accept that, at a minimum.
Redden: How do you define anarchy?
Zerzan: Oh, well, that's a pretty elastic term. To me, it's the effort to deal with all forms of domination. I think most political philosophies accept some forms, and anarchy tries to identify and ultimately get rid of all of them.
Redden: How did you come to embrace anarchy as your own philosophy?
Zerzan: It's been a long process. I learned quite a lot as a labor organizer back in the 60s in terms of some institutions. That was a learning process. And I think part of it also was, in the post-60s, well, there was kind of a re-thinking, let's put it that way. Kind of a scratching of heads in terms of what were we trying to do in the 60s and did it go far enough. Kind of looking again at it. I mean, things slowed down to nothing [laughs], so you had to think about it if you were into it. In fact, that's where I got started thinking about technology as part of the problem and not part of the solution.
Redden: Is it really possible to live as an anarchist in this country at this time?
Zerzan: No, I don't think so. If you could, there wouldn't be the necessity of transforming society. The argument that you can live authentically within the system of domination means that there really isn't such a need to get rid of it.
Redden: What is your impression now of everything that happened in Seattle?
Zerzan: Overall, I think it was a great step forward. I think it took virtually everybody by surprise, including me. I was hopeful, but I didn't expect so much dedication and such a level of militancy. I had started to get the impression there would be a lot of people there, but you can have a lot of people and there and if they're still stuck in the old stuff, it's not necessarily that great.
Redden: So what impressed you about what happened in Seattle? The number of people who turned out, their tactics, what?
Zerzan: Well, I was impressed with all of it, yeah. The various things that were going on, the endurance, the dedication of the people that put up with being sprayed for hours and all the rest of it that happened there when they were keeping the delegates out and keeping the thing from happening, and all of the other militant deals, like the willingness of people to confront the cops, to engage the cops when they started attacking people. They didn't just go away without a fight. And now it seem like, from what I've been hearing, the heat is on the authorities in Seattle.
Redden: That's sure the way it sounds, isn't it?
Zerzan: Yeah, as more and more things are coming out, including nasty things like the use of nerve gas, for Christ's sake.
Redden: What is your reaction to the extent of the police response? Are you surprised by all the equipment that was deployed?
Zerzan: I'm never surprised by that. Personally, I'm generally not into making a big deal about the cops. They do their thing. I don't want to minimize what people went through and what the cops are capable of, but to me that's just the way it goes, that's no big surprise. There are more important things to think about than whether the pigs do this or that. That's what they do. That's what they're there to do, and that's just the way it is. People who are always totally shocked, well, I don't know why they are because it's never changed. It's the same old shit. That's not very interesting to me, frankly.
Redden: I agree. I'm always been baffled at protesters who say they expect police brutality but, when it happens, still seem surprised by it.
Zerzan: Exactly. But with every fresh outrage - I mean, those people who live up on Capitol Hill, up above Broadway, they were shocked. They came out of their apartments and houses and they were very surprised that they were being attacked. What did they do? Of course they're pissed off and they're making their voices heard up there now.
Redden: What was the most important message that came out of all the protests?
Zerzan: To me, that there's a new movement here. After 30 years of really no social movements, this is a new day. And there a lot of people, especially young people, who see this whole society as just really bereft and bizarre and intolerable. I don't think that should come as a surprise, given the reality, but there's no guarantee there's going to be opposition or resistance just because society is getting to be more pathological and empty by the day. It doesn't guarantee there's going to be a fight over it. But now, frankly I'm struck by the number of people who agree with that or say that, for example, before I would it. Like some reporters who seem to be convinced that this is just the beginning.
Redden: Isn't it amazing that you just really haven't heard that kind of critique for so long, unless you're reading some anarchist journals or something like that. But generally, there's been just no critique of society, despite how bizarre it's been getting in recent years. I mean, some political activists in the late 60s and early 70s thought things were getting strange then, but that was nothing compared to what's happening now.
Zerzan: Yeah, exactly, that's just the way I see it. We started things starting to develop, but you would have been horrified to guess what's going on now on every level. And everybody knows it. School children are murdering each other, the teenage suicide rate has tripled in the past 30 years, I mean you can go on and on. It's right there in the paper every day, but it's just kind of ignored. Nobody is going to talk about it on any serious level. But now, I'm hoping that the real questioning of things is finally on the table.
Redden: Until recently only the right wing seemed concerned about the concept of the New World Order. What do you see is coming down and what the target of the protests should be. Is it really on that kind of global scale?
Zerzan: I don't want to sound like a politician here, but I think that's kind of remote to me, frankly. What happens to transnational capital in some total sense of the whole world order and all that is certainly nothing to minimize, but I think it's everyday life that's going to get people going, if anything does. You can't separate the two because it is a totality. It isn't one thing or another. I think another way to put it is, even if there was no WTO for example, what would be different? For one thing, the people who just make the WTO the issue are really missing the point. That's superficial. WTO or not, would things scarcely be that different? They've got to realize it's the depth of the thing. This is nothing new. There are people who say, "Oh, this is just unbelievable, where did this come from, this is qualitatively new." Well certainly it isn't, not at all. So you go back down to the roots of it, what is the real logic of the whole nature of the whole deal at the most basic level. That's what people have to got to make the connection to. I mean, I'm interested in the Third World and certainly the environment is a very crucial, persuasive issue for a lot of people, but I think it's more - my general feeling is, it's just the emptying out of daily existence, the whole leeching away of everything, the whole texture of living, the whole idea of meaning and values. I'm not saying that what the corporations are doing on a global level is nothing, but isn't really the fundamental stuff to me.
Redden: You mean just what you encounter on a day to day basis trying to live in this country, or live anywhere in this world?
Zerzan: Yeah, yeah. And how much it's getting worse, and what people think about what kind of a world that they want to have for there kids. Stuff like that. I think that could open up this movement, that's what's going to make this thing come to the fore. But who knows. I don't know that, I'm just guessing. But these issues on the level of, say, the WTO protests, really are the same issues as everything that's going south in this society.
Redden: What can people do in their day to day lives to fight back?
Zerzan: Well, I don't know. That's of course the challenge. That's really the basic question, it seems to me. But the first thing is, the essential first step, is just that it be talked about. Instead of just this massive denial, where it's going to be, just, Gore versus Bush and nonsense like that. And then they'll wonder why no one is voting. As the voting percentage plummets every time, virtually. I mean, you can't go on forever ignoring what is so stark and so crazy. Sooner or later - and I hope we've seen the beginning of it - we have to start looking at just how out of whack everything is, and why. Without that there's nothing else going on.
Redden: For years the establishment has basically prevented anyone from questioning globalization by saying it's a done deal, there's no sense talking about it because nobody can stop it. But it seems to me that one of the big things that came out of what happened in Seattle was the realization that, yes, you can talk about it. One of the major obstacles thrown up in front of everyone trying to question the global economy is all of a sudden gone.
Zerzan: Exactly. It's the old cliche that nothing succeeds like success. We stopped the WTO meetings, the chief of police is gone - that was an unmistakable victory. And without that, a lot of people would still just accept that you can't talk about it, that it's just the way it is. You can point out everything under the sun - the ocean is dying and 50,000 other things - and they'll say, "Well, yeah, you're right, but so what? What are you going to do about it? Nothing's happening, there's no prospect for change." And now there is. Now pretty much suddenly there is. That's why the whole anarchy thing. I think anarchy is the only real opposition. That's the movement. Otherwise there isn't any, in my view. Now people are over the country are hearing about anarchy, of course because of some pretty flashy things that happened up there, but I think it's not going to go away. It's a real alternative. I'm very optimistic. Of course, I couldn't prove it and maybe I'm just a Pollyanna here, but given how bad things are I just don't think it's likely that people will go right back to thinking, "Well, I'm not curious, there's no issue, you can't do anything."
Redden: How many people do you think there are in this country now who consider themselves anarchists?
Zerzan: That's so tough. On one level, there are a number of books that say that Americans are basically anarchists in a real general way because they're distrustful of government and this and that. And that's pretty much true. But in terms of explicit identification or affiliation with the label anarchy, that is also hard for me to figure out because it's such an elastic term. That's quite a range of stuff. Right here in Eugene, there is the militant hard core anarchists and then there's a bunch of people who also consider themselves as anarchists and they're not that hard core. I think people are getting more militant, and I think that also the analysis is deepening, the critique is deepening and getting more radical, especially the most extreme one, which is primitivism. But the question of just how many people that is, is something I've wondered about myself. But I think it's going to grow real fast. That very word was pretty much proscribed, but now - that would be a whole piece in itself that would be worth checking into, the kind of ban on that word. And when it is grudgingly used, it's always "self-proclaimed anarchist," you know what I mean. They're so reluctant. And now, it's just anarchists. Anarchists this, they do this, they do that, or supposedly. The thing is kind of out of the bag. But in answer to your question, boy, I couldn't even guess but I think it's going to be growing as people realize that it is an alternative way to look at things.
Redden: Could you explain primitivism for me?
Zerzan: Well, most simply, let me see. I think one way to put it is, the problem isn't just capital, it's also technology and it's also even civilization. In other words, that's what is problematized. I mean, to the leftists capitalism is the problem, but I think it's more than that. It's just the realization to look at that as an issue. And of course, the Unabomber was perhaps a certain benchmark to open up that discussion a but. I think that helped. That was a mixed bag in some ways, of course. But, in terms of argument, it's almost effortless to abolish the argument that technology is neutral, it's just a tool and you can pick or not and all that stuff. Technology is the embodiment of the system, of capital if you will. There's no separating, "Well, we want to get rid of capitalism but we want the technology." That's what we all used to think, even the anarchists were, "Of course, we want that 'cuz that will free people or whatever, you know." Now I don't think there's that much belief in that, and that's a shift in a primitivist direction, if you will. But beyond that, I mean my main hypothesis or provisional deal - and I don't want to make a dogma or an ideology out of this, really - I believe division of labor and domestication are negative things, and the fullness of these things is creating the crisis right now. So in other words, if you could undo division of labor, you'd have whole people. And if you undid domestication, you'd have free people. To put it in real crude terms here, maybe the problem is a lot deeper than we've thought is the conclusion that I've come to.
Redden: Over the holidays, DVD players have been one of the most heavily-advertised gifts for Christmas. It's not enough that you can go to a movie theater these days and experience the big screen and wrap-around sound with a lot of other people, now you're suppose to want to have all that in your home theater and watch it by yourself.
Zerzan: That's the big refrain, isn't it, of the whole high-tech vista - we empower you and we connect you. And yet of course, people have never been so disempowered or so isolated. So it's just a big lie. That isn't what's going on at all, but yet we're suppose to believe. And there's more and more incredulity about it, if you will. I see these letters to the editor all the time, for example about Y2K where people say, I hope it all does collapse because look at what technology has done to family life, look at what it's done to one-on-one communication, look at what it's done to - you know it at least as well as I can say it, wherever, out in the country or anyplace else.
Redden: Yeah, I've seen some of that in what people are writing about Y2K. Not much, it's real marginal, but there's that feeling out there. But obviously, one of these major issues that's come out of what happened in Seattle that's related to the anarchists is the violence that occurred and the appropriate role of violence and the fact that some of the other protesters were appalled by the violence and things of this nature. What was the role of violence in Seattle, and what is the appropriate role of violence in this kind of a struggle.
Zerzan: Well first, just to quibble about the word, I don't think property damage is violence. I think there's an important distinction. You can't be violent against a window, in my opinion. I understand the general sense, I don't want to make a great big semantic deal out of it, but I don't think it's violence per say.
Redden: Violence is something you do to a living thing, not a piece of property?
Zerzan: Exactly, that's worth posing or proposing as a distinction. But aside from that, it seems pretty unmistakable - and it's certainly sad, it's certainly unfortunate, it's too bad it works this way - but that's the kind of thing that seems to be necessary to pierce through the general dominant stuff. You know, when the regular media people bring this up, and I guess it's often with the usual kind of knee-jerk deal about how they're thinking - and sometimes they're saying it, like when I've done some call-in radio shows, you know, violence never accomplishes anything, blah, blah, blah. And I always say the same thing: Well, I'm not necessarily speaking in favor of violence, but we wouldn't be having this show without it. And you can't get around it. I hope we get past this stage of violence, to use the term loosely. It seems to be, sadly or otherwise, effective in terms of putting the issues on the table. Or another way to put it is, all the good ideas and all the rational, polite conversations and all the peaceful parades don't achieve that. If they did, I think society would have been changed a long time ago. And I'm not putting down the people who would doing other things than damaging stuff. I don't mean it that way. I just mean that, well, for example, the most spectacular instance, I guess, is in the Unabomber case. No one would have heard of that manifesto without the bombings. And of course that doesn't mean that anybody I know is bombing anyone or injuring or threating people or anything like that, any kind of personal violence whatsoever. But I think that, you do seize the issue or make some noticeable statement if you're willing to go to that level of going past the rules that the system lays down, the protest as usual, the protest by the numbers stuff. That I think will only take you so far. Unless somehow magically everybody has access to some free play of ideas, but the system just doesn't work that way.
Redden: As I understand it, you've actually visited Ted Kaczynski and corresponded with him.
Zerzan: Right. yeah, I visited him three or four times in the Sacramento County jail in the almost two years between his arrest and sentencing.
Redden: Now, clearly the public perception of him is the classic mad bomber, completely nuts. What is your impression, having actually met and talked with him?
Zerzan: I have found Ted Kaczynski to be completely sane. His liberal death penalty lawyers decided that the only chance to avoid his execution was to portray him as insane, contrary to his wishes. And so they worked overtime to give out that message. And I'll tell you, any experience that I had with him in person or in correspondence or even a couple of phone calls in there, as a matter of fact, towards the end of the whole business of trying to change lawyers, I was always on guard for that because I'm not, I certainly, I would have been open to, "Well, maybe he's crazy." I don't go into it upholding some abstract notion of him even though our ideas are similar, what's the point of that? But I'm just saying, I never saw the slightest sign that he wasn't in touch with stuff. I found him to be a very intelligent, very direct, very tuned-in person with a sense of humor and just quite appropriate, just very normal. In fact, in terms of the diagnosis they kept putting out, and by the way the judge, Judge Morrell, he had quite a number of dealings in chambers, conversations with him - this is in the record, too - he told his lawyers he didn't see anything nuts about him whatsoever. He said that once or twice towards the very end of it. And he was really kind of smelling a rat, but it wasn't up to him, but he said that, he said I don't see any reason at all for some kind of diminished capacity [defense], Mr. Kaczynski seems completely capable.
Redden: I'll admit I've not read the Unabomber Manifesto, but I get the sense you think it's a fairly significant, what's the word to describe it, serious?
Zerzan: First of all, it's not a manifesto, because that's a declaration of opinions. What it is, is a treatise. In fact it's a very modest, carefully argued treatise or argument which essentially says, in a nutshell, that technological society rules out freedom and fulfillment. He just basically makes that - it's so, you just can't around it. Of course, I have to totally grant that I already believe that [laughs], so it's not for me to disagree, but just the way it is developed, it's just unmistakable. You get the kind of feeling of, well, this guy was supposedly a brilliant mathematician, it's just so logical. You end up with no way to find any fault with it. It's just, there it is, there's no getting around it. Anyway, I kind of skipped over the thing about Kaczynski's sanity. Paranoid schizophrenic was the diagnosis, but you can find shrinks to tell you anything you want. That's well known. It just depends on which one you hire, basically. Anyway, the thing about the paranoia strikes me as really ironic because what I saw of him that struck me as a little funny, not funny, but how trusting he is, how trusting. Of course, that's just the opposite of someone who paranoid. And that's how they kept the wool over his eyes for so long. They kept telling him, "Ted, this is not an insanity defense, we're not doing that." And that exactly what they were doing, but he believed them. You know, afterwords, I'll tell you one of the most touching things I ever read in my lifetime was a letter I got from him after it was all over, towards the very end, when he finally did figure it out that they were not telling him the truth, he tried to first change his lawyers to get Tony Serra, a political lawyer in San Francisco, and the judge wouldn't allow him to do that, and then he wanted to defend himself and the judge ruled against that, saying it's too late to do that, but anyway, he wrote to me afterwards and he said, and this is just kind of amazing to me, impressive in my reading anyway, he said, "I hope you won't be too hard on my lawyers. They don't think like you and I do, but they did what they thought they should do. They're liberals and that was their deal, according to their ethics." And that just brought me to tears, frankly. I thought, Jesus Christ, here's a guy who'd rather die than be thought of as crazy. In fact, he's filing to have a new trial, and I understand there's some chance of it. A reporter I talked to in Denver told me he thought it could happen, but I don't think so for political reasons. But he's willing to put his life on the line to back up his thinking, to explain it and not to be thought of as nuts. But he's telling me - you know, I might find that contemptible that people don't think, this is so much like liberals, I guess it's like the stereotype, they know what's best for people and the individual doesn't get to choose, it seems like a right-wing stereotype - but here he's telling me, "Don't be too hard on my lawyers." I just thought, here's a guy with some healthy depth that's capable of that kind of perspective. Instead of saying, "You filthy pigs, you lied to me for almost two years, you lied to me every day and then you got what you wanted, but what about me, what about my desires," which was exactly true.
Redden: The media is blaming the "anarchists from Eugene" for causing all the trouble in Seattle. What's going on down there?
Zerzan: Well, there's been stuff brewing here for a year or two, and some of it has to do, in terms of reputation or whatever, with property damage. I mean, it was accepted as a tactic beginning in the early summer of '98 and it caused quite a stir. People began to say, "Well, this is what you've got to do. You can pretend. You can pretend with voting and going to hearings or whatever else. But you know it doesn't do anything, we know it doesn't do anything, so we're going to take the next step." In fact, there was an L.A. Times piece that came out in August and focused on the Eugene deal and the gentrification issue in particular. Here's a thing that's really grabbed me. It's just anecdotal and doesn't prove that much, but there's a quarterly conservation journal that comes out of Vermont called Food and Water. It's been in the same family for a couple of generations at least. It's an old guard, kind of write-your-congressperson kind of deal, nothing too exciting. There are number of deals like this pointing out different issues and different horrible things going on in the environment and everything. Well, in the spring issue, Spring '99, they put out an editorial called objectifying violence and it's quite interesting in itself. It starts out talking about the Unabomber and it says, "We're not advocating Unabomber methods" - as if anybody on earth, as if anybody thought they were! It was quite wild when I first heard about this and then I actually saw it. Anyway, the last sentence is, "Go forth and sabotage." Isn't that something? I think it's the old cliche, one swallow does not make a summer, and you can only guess at the readers' responses in the next issue, they thought the editor had totally lost his mind. But here was somebody with the courage of his convictions. I don't remember exactly what he said, I don't have it right in front of me, but, you know, we can keep on playing at it like we're getting somewhere, but just look at what's going on. It's getting worse faster. And we can just keep on with this smug sort of deal, "Well, I wrote a very angry letter to the head of this corporation," you know, some crap like that, but this guy had the guts to say, "Are we real or not?" And there were a few people who said, "Wow, that was heavy and you're courageous and that was right," and any number of liberals who said he's insane, dangerous, you can imagine. I've mentioned this in a talk or two I've given, and I think this is a pretty interesting development, in my opinion.
Redden: Is there are term that's more appropriate, other than violence, that you would use?
Zerzan: Well, "property damage" or "sabotage" or "property destruction" or "targeted vandalism." I mean, I think they're all more valid than just violence, which to you and I both that mean some living being or others, somebody who can feel a violation. A piece of wall can't feel it's been violated.
Redden: Here in Portland, the civic leaders launch regular crusades against graffiti, and they will talk about it as "damaging" buildings. I just keep thinking, how does a microscopic layer of spray paint actually damage a brick? But they'll talk about it as the "damage caused by graffiti."
Zerzan: Yeah, the use of words. Orwell talked about it. In Seattle, it was the source of a lot of bitter humor actually. Some of these peace Nazi's, these peace police, who would push and shove people to protect Nordstom's or Starbuck's or something, and they're the pacifists. I saw that, some really crazy stuff. A friend of mine was arguing with some of them about whether more militancy isn't appropriate, and even the more ethical thing to do, instead of these charades which some of them were only interested in and this woman was berating him for "verbal violence." And he wasn't even shouting. It wasn't like he was screaming at people. For one thing, I think if you've got something to say you, you never need to be screaming at people, but what made it even worse, like the final punch line of this story, is she just started shrieking at him, "You fucking asshole!" at the top of her lungs. And we just kind of looked at each other and thought, you were saying about verbal violence? And she was just going, just amok and frothing at the mouth. She was dangerous. And she looked at us like we were the people who wanted to kill her baby. They were more violent than us, in terms of people, actually, frankly, than the people I knew. At one point, on Monday I think it was, we wanted to go up on the freeway. We were close to the freeway, like a block away. And that street wasn't even blocked off. But instead they just wanted to mill around and sit and there was no tactical deal, they just wanted to sit, I guess. And some people did want to go and some people didn't, and it was that kind of encounter. And these peace police, you know, they were closer to violence than we were.
Redden: Do you see another event in the future that could become another significant protest, or landmark event, or anything like that?
Zerzan: I don't think I know of any. I think the anarchists here are just trying to return to the everyday work of trying to put out literature and speaking to groups and tabling, you know, the different projects. Food Not Bombs and other projects they do as less spectacular deals, things that go on every day like Cafe Anarchista here in the neighborhood which is free coffee in the morning for street people and dopers and anybody else that's hanging around.
Redden: Clearly the police screwed up in Seattle, but one of their excuses is, we didn't anticipate what was going to happen, our intelligence wasn't very good, blah, blah, blah. But I'm going to assume that there have been attempts to infiltrate you guys in Eugene and gather intelligence over the past few months.
Zerzan: I don't know. It's conceivable. Some of the times it seems like the arrogance of power, well, maybe that's changed forever. After Seattle they won't make that mistake again. But I think a lot of people, including myself, didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal. So maybe that's the explanation, I don't really know. But on the other hand, it's not like, we didn't know either, so even if they had infiltrated they wouldn't have picked up anything down here as far as I know. My general reading is, people were just going to go there are see what happened, play it by ear and see what's interesting and what's going to happen. I don't think there was any concerted plan, any orchestrated deal by any group to go and plot out, "Well, we're going to do such and such on this day and this location," I don't think it was like that at all. I wouldn't be able to totally prove that or anything, but that's my impression.
Redden: When I lived in Eugene in the '70s, I worked on an underground newspaper called The Augur.
Zerzan: I've heard of that.
Redden: And it was run by a cooperative that held open meetings anyone could attend. And some straight-looking guy would show up at every meeting and just sit there and not say anything and never come back again, but there would always be a new straight-looking guy at the next meeting.
Zerzan: Right now, in the aftermath of this stuff, I've been told by many people that for several days in a row some of these local places like Keystone Cafe and Out of the Fog, you know, these are coffee houses, the straightest looking, fed looking people would come in, look at everybody, practically like with a neon sign going, "We're not from here, we're just here to scope it out." Nobody went up and asked them, and they probably wouldn't have got a straight answer from them anyway, but there was a whole bunch of that. And now one explanation is simply, they want people to know, they want to scare people, they want to make people clam up and be less willing to have public meetings and all the rest. That serves a function to. Either that or these are the tactics of the people they have, their level of skill. I don't know which it is.
Redden: Do you worry about a federal grand jury trying to indict people on incitement charges or things of that nature, because what happened?
Zerzan: Well, I've heard that. I've heard that floating around and references to Janet Reno saying something in passing about a possible federal grand jury. I mean, I'm worried about it. I don't put any particular stock in it, as if I know something, as if I know anything, but, yeah, that's a possibility. It's worrisome. I don't know what that would be, or how that would play out. It doesn't fill me with joy. But what are you going to do?
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