Journal for t he Study of Radicalism, Vol . 4, No. 2, 2010, p p. 83–108. 193 0-1189.
© 2010 Mich igan State Univer sity Board of Tru stees. All ri ghts reser ved.
simon sellars , melbourne, australi a
Repopulating the Temporary Autonomous Zone
The poet and essayist Peter Lamborn Wilson is widely known for his
anarchist manifesto “ e Temporary Autonomous Zone” (TAZ),
developed across a series of essays written from 1981 to 1988 and
published in collected form in 1991 as T.A.Z.: e Temporary Autonomous
Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. e essays were attributed
to “Hakim Bey,” Wilson’s infamous pseudonym, and the writing itself
was a potent brew of mysticism, historical narratives, autonomous Marx-
ist politics, and French critical theory. e overall aim was to highlight
indeterminate zones within late capitalism, everyday occurrences that
refuse, whether by accident or design, to be incorporated into dominant
narratives. is enabled e TAZ to become an extraordinarily inuential
(and divisive) text in anarchist circles, and in various pop cultural move-
ments. But has that moment passed? Can the concept hold any meaning
for observers in the early twenty-rst century? is essay will argue that,
although the cultural capital of the TAZ has undoubtedly become degraded
through overuse, the circumstances of its cultural reception are indeed
worth returning to and remembering. Repopulating the TAZ can reward
us now (as it did at inception) with valuable insight into the perceived role
of critically engaged literature and philosophy as an activator of political
potential, illumining a debate regarding the supposed (in)compatibility of
le ist theory and politics that continues today.
84 Simon Sellars
The TAZ and cyberculture: “Life in the trenches”
e TAZ may have remained a fringe wor k if it wasn’t for c yberc ulture, w here
it proved to be among the more resilient memes in alternative art and culture
from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. e original electronic networks that
became the prototype for today’s commercial Internet were developed in the
1980s, a development of the rst interconnected computer channels produced
in the 1960s for U.S. military purposes. As François Cusset summarizes:
“ ese networks embodied, for some, a space for resistance, a social dead
zone, a territory that was still imperceptible, in whose shelter they could build
a new community and undermine the ruling powers . . . the rst groups of
hackers emerged [and formed,] in Bruce Sterling’s words, a veritable ‘digital
underground.’”1 In cyberculture’s incandescent popcult moment, the gritty
noir futures of cyberpunk science ction, built upon the template forged
by the ascending reputations of novelists William Gibson and Sterling, and
extrapolated from present-day technological developments, were cited as
metaphoric portrayals of a real world in thrall to the nascent Internet and to
the implications for mediated life it held. Cyberphile magazines like Mondo
2000 (and late r, Wired and 21C) spliced cyberpunk attitude with digital culture’s
bleeding edge, carrying advertisements for dial-up modems, cd-roms, and
pixel art so ware in between articles and interviews exploring every facet
of cyberculture: from body modication to the emergent politics of the net,
from new strains of cyberpunk ction and rave music to the “bumper sticker
libertarianism” leaking from cyberculture’s startling new cachet.2
Fermented within this heady “frontier” atmosphere, manifestos were
abundant. John Perry Barlow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation drew
up “A Declaration for the Independence of Cyberspace,” demanding that
the net—“the new home of Mind”—be forever self-governing, forever free
from corporate and governmental restriction.3 Douglas Rushko produced
a book-length vérité document of “life in the trenches of cyberspace” (or
“Cyberia”), where “cyberians” “believe the age upon us now might take the
form of a categorical upscaling of the human experience onto uncharted,
hyperdimensional turf . . . Whether or not we are destined for a wholesale
leap into the next dimension, there are many people who believe that
history as we know it is coming to a close.”4 But with its call to “dowse” for
potential free zones within the globalized economy, couched within an explicit
Hakim Bey 85
terminology that drew upon Sterling’s work and the jargon surrounding
the “Web” and the “net,” e TAZ quickly became the clarion call. “Bey,” the
so-called “anarchist Su,” seemed to deliver precisely the kind of liberated
mind state that Barlow had so dramatically hoped would be delivered, and
that Rushko had so eagerly tried to imagine. E ectively, e TAZ became
a blueprint for a full-scale ecology that could be inhabited by true believers.
Inside the TAZ: “An intensiﬁcation of everyday life”
Previously, Wilson had formed the Autonomedia publishing house with
the academic Sylvère Lotringer, publishing works by Paul Virilio and Jean
Baudrillard as well as the inuential magazine Semiotext(e). In 1989, he
also conceived and coedited (with Robert Anton Wilson and Rudy Rucker)
Semiotext(e) SF, an anthology of science ction and speculative ction that
featured writing from the three editors as well as Sterling, Gibson, J. G. Ballard,
Ian Watson, William S. Burroughs, Colin Wilson, Robert Sheckley, Philip
José Farmer, and others. In light of this literary background, what exactly is
the TAZ: another experiment in speculative ction,5 an academic essay, or
a serious political manifesto?
e TAZ is largely informed by Guy Debord’s treatise on the Society of the
Spectacle, which describes how the simulacra of mass communications and
advertising ll all available social space. For Debord, rebellion is inevitably
turned into product, a dynamic force generated within an all-encompassing
media landscape in which “modern conditions of production prevail, all of
life [presenting] itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything
that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”6 For Bey,
the dream of real-world revolution (“opposition” in its most literal sense)
remains unobtainable within the terms of the Spectacle, that is, within the
late-capitalist era of interlocking communications technology, mass media,
and corporate control. All revolutionary movements, he reckons, will succumb
to the Spectacle’s natural state of absorption once the revolution has been
fomented, set in train, and triumphed:
Absolutely nothing but a futile martyrdom could possibly result now from a
head-on collision with the terminal State, the megacorporate information State,
86 Simon Sellars
the empire of Spectacle and Simulation. Its guns are all pointed at us, while
our meagre weaponry nds nothing to aim at but a hysteresis, a rigid vacuity,
a Spook capable of smothering every spark in an ectoplasm of information,
a society of capitulation ruled by the image of the Cop and the absorbent eye
of the TV screen.7
is was a process already occurring with cyberpunk itself, as the Mondo
2000 crew was to note archly in a 1995 interview:
“ e term ‘cyberpunk’ has been used to describe music, lifestyles, and artistic
sensibilities, but it really describes one narrow school of science-ction writ-
ers,” [Chris] Hudak says. “God, it was a good word . . . poetic, efcient, and
romantic. Distance and passion. Machine and man. Technology and attitude.
Cyberpunk. Great fuckin’ word. And what the hell; we stole it.” . . .
When did cyberpunk die? I ask.
“1993,” smirks somebody. “ e release of the Billy Idol record.”8
Bey’s solution to mainstream recuperation of revolution is to study closely
“past and future stories about ‘islands in the net’”9 to look for folds in the
information matrix where spaces can be opened out to radical potential
and then closed again before commodication recuperates. Beginning with
an evocation of eighteenth-century “Pirate Utopias,” the TAZ maps out
the “information network” created when sea rovers and corsairs secreted
themselves on remote and uninhabited islands, trading booty and equipment
and creating minisocieties that were deantly set up to exist beyond the
reach of established law. Onto this historical superstructure, Bey mapped
psychospatial coordinates from Sterling’s novel Islands in the Net (1988),
a near-future romance based on the assumption that the decay of political
systems will lead to a decentralized proliferation of experiments in living: giant
worker-owned corporations, independent enclaves devoted to “data piracy,”
Green-Social-Democrat enclaves, Zerowork enclaves, anarchist liberated zones,
etc. e information economy which supports this diversity is called the Net;
the enclaves (and the book’s title) are Islands in the Net.10
Hakim Bey 87
Within this stereoscopic overlay of past with future, pirates with hackers,
Bey divines resistance as embodied in everyday instances or moments that
refuse to engage directly with the Spectacle, that lie outside of simulation
and recuperation, inhabiting “cracks and vacancies” only to disappear and
re-form elsewhere, thus avoiding detection and invasion. Such spaces he
terms “temporary autonomous zones”—“an uprising which does not engage
directly with the State, a guerrilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of
time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen,
before the State can crush it.”11 Ultimately, he claimed, the TAZ was “a tactic
of disappearance,”12 a sympathy with autonomist Marxism that is claried
when compared with Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s account of the latter:
e city is a jungle. e urban guerrillas knew its terrain in a capillary way
so that any time they can come together and attack and then disperse and
disappear into its recesses. e focus . . . was increasingly not on attacking the
ruling powers but rather on transforming the city itself . . . e great struggles
of Autonomia in Italy in the 1970s, for example, succeeded temporarily in
redesigning the landscape of the major cities, liberating entire zones where
new cultures and new forms of life were created.13
Bey suggests that “psychic nomadism” could help to locate any potential
TA Z. i s i s a t ac ti c th at dr aw s on De le uz og ua tt ar ia n rh iz om e t he or y to fo ll ow
unexpected tangents, charting a course by pursuing “strange stars, which
might be luminous clusters of data in cyberspace, or perhaps hallucinations
. . . unexpected eddies and urges of energy, coagulations of light, secret
tunnels, surprises.”14 Although the TAZ irts with cyberspace imagery, as in
this quote, and devotes a section to the potential countercultural value of the
“net” and the “Web,” Bey insisted that the aim was not to transcend the esh
in favor of the type of clichéd virtual reality found in the cheapened versions
of cyberpunk that so irked Mondo 2000. Instead, the goal was to seek out the
kind of autonomy already existent within consciousness:
e Web does not depend for its existence on any computer technology.
Word-of-mouth, mail, the marginal zine network, “phone trees” and the like
already sufce to construct an information network . . . e Web is like a new
88 Simon Sellars
sense in some ways, but it must be added to the others—the others must not
be subtracted from it, as in some horrible parody of the mystic trance. Without
the Web, the full realization of the TAZ-complex would be impossible. But the
web is not the end in itself. It’s a weapon.15
It is heavily ironic, then, that e TAZ would become so associated with
cyberculture, as Wilson has made no secret of his Luddite tendencies. Indeed,
in the preface to T.A.Z.’s s e c on d e di t io n , pu b li s h ed i n 20 03, B e y r e it e r at es
this in no uncertain terms, taking aim at those who took the book’s small
section on the Internet to be the philosophy’s main theme:
I think perhaps the least useful part of the book is its section on the Internet
. . . What’s le of the Le now seems to inhabit a ghost-world where a few
thousand “hits” pass for political action and “virtual community” takes the
place of human presence . . . e TAZ must exist in geographical odorous tactile
tasty physical space . . . otherwise it’s no more than a blueprint or a dream.16
For Wilson/Bey, the net was only ever “envisioned . . . as an adjunct to
the TAZ, a technology in service to the TAZ, a means of potentiating its
emergence.”17 Instead of a mediated life, Bey wanted “an intensication of
everyday life,”18 looking for instances that might be found, say, in a no-car
zone in the city, where pedestrians appear might reclaim the streets for a
brief moment, or in a more serious register, when a mob at a demonstration
holds its own against the police, forming a zone that not only cannot be
breached, but also that can break apart and re-form elsewhere. Bey further
idealized the “TAZ as festival,” celebrating those moments where the elements
of spontaneity, joy, and community are inbuilt as the template for what a
temporary autonomous zone could and should hope to achieve:
Participants in insurrection invariably note its festive aspects, even in the midst
of armed struggle, danger, and risk. e uprising is like a saturnalia which has
slipped loose (or been forced to vanish) from its intercalary interval and is
now at liberty to pop up anywhere or when . . . “Fight for the right to party”
is in fact not a parody of the radical struggle but a new manifestation of it,
appropriate to an age which o ers TVs and telephones as ways to “reach out
and touch” other human beings, ways to “Be ere!”
Hakim Bey 89
Onto this “festal culture,” he gra ed Stephen Pearl Andrews’s metaphor of
the dinner party as the model for anarchism, where a spontaneous and basic
desire to create “mutual aid” is embodied in the desire for “good food and
cheer, dance, conversation, the arts of life; perhaps even for erotic pleasure,
or to create a communal artwork.” Individuality is admitted within the
group, which comes together as a result of mutual attraction, forming a
celebratory space where friendship and community are the only “authority,”
what Andrews calls “the seed of the new society taking shape within the shell
of the old.” us, the TAZ was armed with a potent mix of radical politics,
modish French theory, and memorable phraseology. ( e manifesto’s high,
ornate narrative style follows from the classication “Bey” itself, which is a
Tu rk i s h t i tl e e q u iv a l e nt t o “c h i e ain”; “Hakim,” intentionally or not, connotes
hackers and hacking.) It carried the right amount of cultural cachet: aside
from anarchism, it also became a major rallying cry for the embryonic rave
generation in England—indeed, for any movement looking to reterritorialize
perceptions of time, space, and identity.
The TAZ takes oﬀ : “Almost a poetic fancy”
An indication of the TAZ’s sphere of inuence can be gleaned from a simple
literature review. Besides numerous academic essays and popular culture
articles, there is a startling array of book titles that make some use of the
concept to think through all manner of methodologies, ideas, and ideolog ies.
ese diverse titles include:
• M. T. Kato, From Kung Fu to Hip Hop: Globalization, Revolution, and
Popular Culture: “I am partly inspired by Hakim Bey’s concept “TAZ” ...
I am, however, using his concept in a much broader sense than he does
(which is focused on clandestine movements without confrontation with
the State)” ().
• Michale Gardiner, e Cultural Roots of British Devolution ().
• Chris Carlsson, ed., Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Deant Celebration: “I ride
[in Critical Mass] because I nd the mass creates a temporary autonomous
zone . . . a place where bicycles do have the right of way—and not just on
90 Simon Sellars
• H-Dirksen L. Bauman, ed., Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking: “In setting
aside one’s own . . . national cultures [with the use of sign language], one
enters what has been characterized elsewhere in postmodernist writing
as a Temporary Autonomous Zone” ().
• Charlie Hailey, Campsite: Architectures of Duration and Place: “Hakim Bey
. . . describes [the] conation of camp and virtual space. His formulation
of the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ) as ephemeral ‘uprising’ builds
on the possibility that such camps rely on clandestine, sometimes virtual,
nomadic routes” ().
• Randy P. Conner, Blossom of Bone: Reclaiming the Connection Between
Homoeroticism and the Sacred ().
• Barbara Bender, Stonehenge: Making Space: “Hakim Bey denes what he
calls e Temporary Autonomous Zone: ‘pirate economics’, living high
o the surplus of social overproduction” ().
• Onyekachi Wambu, ed., Hurricane Hits England: An Anthology of Writing
about Black Britain ().
• Jacqueline V. Brogan and Cordelia C. Candelaria, eds., Women Poets of
the Americas: Toward a Pan-American Gathering ().
• Charles H. Lippy, Faith in America: Changes, Challenges, New Directions:
“I could not partake of e Pirates of the Caribbean [at Florida’s Disney-
world] without thinking of the notion of ‘pirate utopias’ as historic zones
of freedom, anarchy, and temporary autonomy, as proposed by cultural
theorist Hakim Bey” ().
• Tony Mitchell, ed. Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop outside the USA ().
• John L. Jackson, Jr., Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity: “. . . for a
gloss on sincerity as political manifesto, see Hakim Bey, T.A.Z.” ().
• Devon W. Carbado, ed., Black Men on Race, Gender, and Sexuality: A
Critical Reader: “Standing there in that temporary autonomous zone, I
experienced Washington, D.C., as a free person, for the rst time” ().
• Ward Churchill, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reections on the
Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality: “ e idea here
goes far beyond that expounded by Hakim Bey in his useful but overly-
celebrated TAZ, e Temporary Autonomous Zone” ().
Most of these titles pay lip service to the concept, but the review is useful
insofar as it demonstrates one important principle that Bey had outlined as
a precondition for the TAZ to take root:
Hakim Bey 91
Despite its synthesizing force for my own thinking, however, I don’t intend the
TAZ t o b e ta ke n a s mor e th an an essay (“atte mpt”), a sugg esti on, a lmos t a p oeti c
fancy. Despite the occasional Ranterish enthusiasm of my language I am not
trying to construct political dogma. In fact I have deliberately refrained from
dening the TAZ—I circle around the subject, ring o exploratory beams.
In the end the TAZ is almost self-explanatory. If the phrase became current it
would be understood without difculty . . . understood in action.
As self-prophecy, this is remarkably prescient. Judging by the above examples,
the phrase did “become current,” able to be “understood without difculty,”
but perhaps in a way that was not intended: redolent with loaded meaning—
“an ar chy ” a nd “f re ed om”— but wi th out an y m ea nin gf ul si gn ica ti on. e TAZ
as vague referent stoked the ire of detractors such as the “anti-civilization”
activist John Zerzan, who bemoaned Bey’s “hip-sounding, three-word solution
. . . in capital letters.” However, the se nse B ey intende d is b etter captu red by
Colin Ward, who, despite initial skepticism, concluded:
Plenty of us must have been in situations when we reect that we all have certain
experiences that seem to us to be the way things would happen if we were living
in an anarchist society . . . [O]nce the phrase Temporary Autonomous Zones
lodges in your mind you begin to see it/them everywhere: eeting pockets of
anarchy that occur in daily life. In this sense it describes a perhaps more useful
concept than that of an anarchist society, since the most libertarian societies
that we know of have their authoritarian elements, and vice versa.
In this reading, the “three-word solutions” in the above examples are less
“hip” posturing and more a recognition of an intrinsic dynamic rooted within
and informed by fundamental spatial, temporal, and ontological experiences
of capitalist society.
Accordingly, commentators began to map a full-scale ecology of di er-
ence using the TAZ as foundation. As mentioned, rave culture in the United
Kingdom was particularly strident in applying the concept to its rhetoric of
liberation of sound, space, and consciousness. At the most basic level, this was
a perfect t: the well-documented history of the nascent rave scene (from the
late s to the early s) is told through a series of narratives detailing
running battles involving party organizers and partygoers versus the police
and the state, with illegal parties consistently broken up and moved on only
92 Simon Sellars
to regenerate and re-form elsewhere. According to James Ingham, “Bey’s
characterisation is a pretty exact description of the political situation of the
illegal party scene.” Ingham used the concept to articulate his own concept
of “cultural geography”: the sense of “suspended memories” and feeling of
autonomy he perceived as being instilled in participants at warehouse parties
in Blackburn during –. He saw in the TAZ the ideal framework for
what he describes as a “sensory experience of the [illegal] space . . . an outcome
of both repetitive music and altered perceptions . . . o en characterised as
a suspended moment, a oating feeling.” For Ingham, this perception of
time and space is (relatively) eeting, tempor ary, and ulti mately, profoun dly
[ e music relies on an] highly complex technological-physical interface: the
mix, the DJ, the drugs, the body and the crowd, without which there would
have been no TAZ in Blackburn . . . e musical interface creates a narrative for
both the individual and the social gathering, an ever-changing narrative that is
charged from the “emotional tension” caused by anticipation and experience
playing o each other. It was this narrative that drew people to the warehouse
parties and generated the value of a TAZ in their participants.
Indeed, the concept came to be a default setting for music writers attempting
to articulate what was so signicant about this moment in time. Documenting
the “free party” scene in the early s, Simon Reynolds enthuses:
e . . . movement constitute[s] an uncanny fullment of the prophecies of
Hakim Bey. In his visionary prose poems . . . the anarcho-mystic writer called
for the rebirth of a new “festal culture” based around “spiritual hedonism”
and tribalism . . . e illegal free rave, with its lack of entrance fee or security,
is a perfect real-world example of Bey’s “temporary autonomous zone,” aka
TAZ . . . [ Be y’s ] “cr ac ks a nd v ac an ci es” so und s l ik e th e ab an do ne d ai r ba se s
and derelict government buildings taken over by traveller sound systems for
a few days or weeks.37
But it wasn’t only in the spaces of “spiritual hedonism” that the concept
gained traction. It of course became a viable blueprint within anarchist
circles, even though, as Reynolds implies with the term “prose poems,” the
Hakim Bey 93
TAZ a s m an ife st o i s ve ry mu ch a literary application: social criticism, to
be sure, but an exercise in imaginative, creative writing nonetheless (recall
Wilson’s own words: “almost a poetic fancy.”) According to Je Shantz, the
TAZ i nj ected m uc h n ew e nerg y i nt o a na rch is m, especially am ong y oun ge r
adherents, who “took Bey’s call for ‘poetic terrorism’ as inspiration for
the waves of ‘@-zones’ (anarchist community centres) which emerged in
inner-city neighbourhoods across North America in the s.” In addition,
“the debates it inspired in the pages of Anarchy magazine and various ‘do-
it-yourself ’ publications within the anarchist milieu were among the most
lively in decades.” Shantz himself devotes considerable space to the TAZ,
which he considers to be the “most extensive and exhilarating theoretical
expressions of explicitly anarchist future-presents.” But n ot ever yone came
to the party: “Others (most notably Murray Bookchin) condemned Bey for
supposedly o ering up apolitical ‘post-modern’ bohemianism in the guise of
anarchism,” a stigma of supposed inauthenticity that Bey would continue
to wear over the years.
First backlash: “Word-salad posturings”
John Armitage argues that the TAZ concept is extremely problematic in
that it fails to consider the importance of class struggle and misrepresents
libertarian philosophy as well as the “politics of everyday life.” For Armit-
age, Bey’s attitude toward cultural politics is “intellectually conservative,” a
“political obscurantism” that inverts real-world events to t an all-purpose
theoretical framework. He quotes, and agrees with, Richard Barbrook, who
takes Bey to task for:
unashamed support for reactionary political positions. For instance, Bey claims
that the seizure of the Croatian city of Fiume by D’Annunzio’s supporters in
was a forerunner of contemporary “Temporary Autonomous Zones” ...
Ye t , t h e F i u m e i n c i d e n t n o t o n l y p i o n e e r e d t h e s t y l e a n d i d e o l o g y o f I t a l i a n
fascism, but also led directly to the imposition of totalitarianism on Italy.
But this is a somewhat deceitful citation, as it neglects to mention Bey’s own
94 Simon Sellars
D’Annunzio, like many Italian anarchists, later veered toward fascism—in
fact, Mussolini (the ex-Syndicalist) himself seduced the poet along that route.
By the time D’Annunzio realized his error it was too late: he was too old and
sick. But Il Duce had him killed anyway—pushed o a balcony—and turned
him into a “martyr.”
Ye t b y f o c u s i n g o n D ’A n n u n z i o ’s l a t e r f a t e , A r m i t a g e a n d B a r b r o o k i r o n i -
cally prove Bey’s central thesis: that revolution will always be annexed by
the super-absorbent powers of the state. For Bey, we must therefore return
to those moments when there is suspension between the old world and the
new, a suspension of old beliefs and ideologies, of political consciousness,
realizing and reinhabiting an indeterminate zone where rigid attitudes toward
social organization are challenged and, in many cases, overturned, however
eetingly. Honoring the spirit of suspension, then, means foregoing the
ideal of permanent revolution in favor of ongoing temporary revolution that
continues to replicate, indenitely, the rolling suspensive zones suggested
by the Fiume incident. Whatever one’s own views regarding the validity of
this tactic, taking Bey to task for adhering to the logic of the framework he
himself has set in train seems misguided. In any case, Bey nds an echo (if
not in the idea of suspension, then certainly in the tactic of reappraisal of
historical circumstance) in the philosophy of Slavoj Žižek, who returns to
the roots of Stalinism as a tool to unwork the current deadlock between
competing Marxist ideologies: “Even if we conclude that the Stalinist terror
was the necessary outcome of the Socialist project, we are still dealing with the
tragic dimension of an emancipatory project going awry, of an undertaking
which fatally misperceived the consequences of its own intervention . . .”
e validity of Žižek’s views on the matter of Stalinism has been a topic of
some debate. Yet what is certain is the force within his position that urges
the need to look to historical “hinges” where future outcomes take severe
turns, but inside of which, paradoxically, redemptive potential lies. is same
forceful argument underpins the TAZ and demands that it be assessed and
debated on similar terms.
Additionally, what if it is indeed the case that, as Shantz writes, “Despite
the novel twists Bey applies, and the controversy his ideas engendered in
some anarchist circles, TAZ, or something very much like them, have long
been a part of anarchist culture and politics” (emphasis added). Shantz cites
Hakim Bey 95
the examples of the Wobbly union halls in the s and s, Spain’s
“revolutionar y community centres” in the s, and the “numerous squatted
cultural centres of Europe from the s to the present.” He concludes:
“Wilson/Bey’s inspiration is drawn from the many heterotopias and intentional
communities of history—pirate utopias, the Munich Soviet of , Paris
, autonomist uprisings in Italy during the s.” us, Armitage and
Barbrook, by choosing to highlight D’Annunzio’s later fate, and by ignoring
the many examples of temporary autonomous zones that do not compromise
their beliefs (as opposed to being crushed by the ruling powers), are as guilty
of selective reporting as Wilson is in their accusation. Finally, Armitage’s
critique is based mainly around the idea that Bey has in some fundamental
way failed to address the dynamics of Internet activism as it was evolving
at the time: “How useful are ontological anarchy and the TAZ as political
tools of cybercultural analysis and tactics?” But as mentioned, the TAZ
was only ever associated with cyberculture by default, something Bey railed
against in the preface: “What a joke. Time magazine identied me as a
cyber-guru and ‘explained’ that the TAZ exists in cyberspace.” If the TAZ
became a “hip-sounding, three-letter solution” as a result of this mass-cult
indoctrination, then that is less to do with the author and more to do with
a process, by which, as Geert Lovink argues:
Certain aspects of the late eighties “Californian” mindset had to be cultivated
and taken out of their political and cultural context. And this is what happened
to Hakim Bey’s notion of TAZ . . . We could therefore easily state that TAZ was
been boiled down to a late eighties concept for Internet plus rave parties. e
restless souls however can easily jump over this tragic reading of the history
of ideas, and open other chapters full of yet unknown, unlikely futures.48
is process of “boiling down” is one crucial reason why the TAZ attracted
such heat. But it is not the only reason. At this juncture, it is worth returning
to Wilson/Bey’s statement: “I am not trying to construct political dogma.”
Ye t de s p i t e t h a t p r o n o u n c e m e n t , B e y w a s hi g h l y v i s i b l e i n t h e re a l w o r l d ,
debating anarchist principles on radio, in person, and on the Internet, chal-
lenging and provoking long-standing views. In this light, negative reactions
to the TAZ seem plausible: the author seems to step outside of the text with
a esh-and-blood presence advocating the concept as a serious political
96 Simon Sellars
doctrine, and therefore a doctrine that can be opposed. But how seriously
are we supposed to take a writer o ering up this particular biography:
Hakim Bey lives in a seedy Chinese hotel where the proprietor nods out over
newspaper & scratchy broadcasts of Peking Opera. e ceiling fan turns like a
sluggish dervish—sweat falls on the page—the poet’s ka an is rusty, his ovals
spill ash on the rug—his monologues seem disjointed & slightly sinister—outside
shuttered windows the barrio fades into palmtrees, the naive blue ocean, the
philosophy of tropicalismo.49
Asking that question is not to imply that the ideas within the TAZ are
not “serious” or “political”; rather it is to assert that Bey’s satirical biography
is more Burroughs than Bakunin. Burroughs’s work undoubtedly contains
deep insight into the nature and function of capitalist society, and could
even serve to inspire activism under some circumstances,50 but to attack
Hakim Bey for failing to provide a watertight treatise on class struggle free
of “political obscurantism,” as Armitage does, seems as absurd as criticizing
Burroughs’s most infamous character, Dr. Benway, for neglecting to follow
ethical medical procedure. Moreover, the “high” style of Bey’s writing seems
to conrm that “Hakim Bey” is not merely a pseudonym, but as much a
character as the creation of any novelist. ( e oratory seems to say, “Follow
me; do as I do,” at least if the ambiguities in the text are glossed.)
But if the character of Bey was satire, it was also a highly successful
provocation. Although there is no denying the complexities of, and dif-
ferences between, contemporary anarchists, what is certain is that when
dogma-anarchists attacked Bey, they held up a mirror to themselves, reecting
brightly the inexibility of their own position. is is illustrated by Zerzan,
who was moved to write, “I’ve become increasingly annoyed by [Bey’s]
word-salad posturings.”51 For Ze rzan , Be y’s “Prim itives & Extropians” essay is
a “pathetic exercise” that blatantly retreads the “patented” TAZ formula—that
is, a “stylistic mantra about the glories of inconsistency and hip-sounding,
three-word solutions in capital letters.”52 He rages agains t Bey’s “ inconsistent,
messy, open, impure, non-exclusive” text, without considering the fact that
Bey might be a ctional narrative voice who, namedropping Sterling, Gibson,
and Philip K. Dick, even admits that he “begin[s] to tilt a little toward my
old SciFi enthusiasms.” From w here does Z erzan’s anger spr ing? In an es say
Hakim Bey 97
entitled “ e Case Against Art,” he writes: “Art is always about ‘something
hidden.’ But does it help us connect with that hidden something? I think it
moves us away from it.”54 For Zerzan, art is a profound corruption of the
natural world of the senses, a “symbolic activity” akin to shamanism that
results in alienation and stratication, outsourcing memory and perception,
and mediating all mental functions so that we are confronted with nothing
less than “the Fall of man”:
e world must be mediated by art (and human communication by language,
and being by time) due to division of labor, as seen in the nature of ritual. e
real object, its particularity, does not appear in ritual; instead, an abstract one
is used, so that the terms of ceremonial expression are open to substitution.
e conventions needed in division of labor, with its standardization and loss
of the unique, are those of ritual, of symbolization . . .
e agent, again, is the shaman-artist, enroute to priesthood, leader by
reason of mastering his own immediate desires via the symbol. All that is
spontaneous, organic and instinctive is to be neutered by art and myth.55
It is no surprise that Zerzan would take umbrage with a shamanic
“c ha ra c te r” w ho m as t er s hi s de s ir es “ vi a th e s ym bo l” — na me ly, B e y’s p ro gr a m
of “poetic terrorism.” What is surprising is that many aims within Zerzan’s
own philosophy are actually mirrored within the TAZ. Most obviously,
Zerzan also “masters the symbol”—he cannot fail to do so, enabling “human
communication by language” from within the technology of writing. is
is an obvious contradiction that his philosophy can never resolve,56 thus
it has no recourse but to appeal to the mysticism of primitive telepathy as
an ideal that can sidestep this impasse, seemingly the type of mysticism
he would decry in Bey.57 Zerzan also recognizes that the “spectacle” is an
e ective framework for understanding the nature of a society in which “the
representation of representation” means that daily life is nothing less than
an aestheticized experience:
Daily life has become aestheticized by a saturation of images and music, largely
through the electronic media, the representation of representation . . . [T]he
distance between artist and spectator has diminished, a narrowing that only
highlights the absolute distance between aesthetic experience and what is real.
98 Simon Sellars
is perfectly duplicates the spectacle at large: separate and manipulating,
perpetual aesthetic experience and a demonstration of political power.58
erefore, he requires “a sensual life in nature unmediated and unbounded
by representation.” is is a striking corollary to Bey’s assertion that the
“TAZ desires above all to avoid mediation, to experience its existence as
immediate.” 59 ese supposed polar positions become blurred further
when Zerzan suggests that the “things that sustain a city are still part of
the problem. Maybe in its place we’ll see uid sites of festival, reunion,
play”60 (emphasis added). is, too, seems indistinguishable from Bey’s
identication of “ e TAZ as festival . . . Because the State is concerned
primarily with Simulation rather than substance, the TAZ can ‘occupy’ these
areas clandestinely and carry on its festal purposes for quite a while in relative
peace.”61 e question therefore remains: is Zerzan responding to Bey, or is
Bey anticipating Zerzan? With his “princely” Turkish title, “Hakim Bey” can
now be conrmed as a deliberate intervention designed to mock, ush out,
and highlight the obstinacy of much revolutionary debate, underlining the
disunity that causes various factions to retreat into “efdom,” never uniting
toward a common goal but forever condemned to inghting. is outcome is
further proven by social ecologist Murray Bookchin, who, in his book Social
Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm, tilts at various
versions of anarchism that do not tally with his ideal conception of a “social
anarchism that seeks freedom through structure and mutual responsibility,
not through a vaporous, nomadic ego that eschews the preconditions for a
social life.”62 Here, Bey endures the most sustained and scathing attack to
date on the TAZ (derided as “lifestyle anarchism”), while the hapless Zerzan,
despite his disavowal of Bey’s work, himself falls squarely within Bookchin’s
sights, dismissed as “sanctimonious,” selshly using anarchism as his own
“primitivistic demimonde.” It is not Bey’s message, then, but Bookchin’s
that loudly proclaims: “Follow me; do as I do.”
Bookchin repeatedly uses Wilson’s pseudonym as a title, as in “ e Bey
. . . minces no words about his disdain for social revolution . . . Having
eliminated the classical revolutionary aim of transforming society, the Bey
patronizingly mocks those who once risked all for it.”64 Taking umbrage at
a self-satirizing pseudonym indicates the direction his attack would take.
As in Zerzan, there would be no time for, indeed no room for, literature,
Hakim Bey 99
artistic creativity, or abstract thought in this version of the anarchist utopia.
e arts in Bookchin’s reading, as in Zerzan’s (although the twain never did
meet), are something to be despised, mistrusted, a gross distortion of the real
world of politics and direct action. is is also indicated by the straight literal
interpretation Bookchin applies to the text. When Bey asks, “Why bother to
confront a ‘power’ which has lost all meaning and become sheer Simulation,”65
Bookchin retorts: “Power in quotation marks? A mere ‘Simulation’? If what
is happening in Bosnia with repower is a mere ‘simulation,’ we are living
in a very safe and comfortable world indeed!”
e argument is akin to the uproar that followed Jean Baudrillard’s
announcement that the “Gulf War did not take place,” with certain com-
mentators accusing Baudrillard of disregarding the lives of those killed in
the war, while themselves steadfastly ignoring (or simply failing to identify)
Baudrillard’s main thesis.67 e self-defeating nature of such an attack is
usefully summarized by Ward, who, in his short piece on the TAZ, states:
“Bookchin and I have opposite ways of coping with people whose ideas have
some kind of connection with our own but with whom we disagree. His is
to pulverise them with criticism so that they won’t emerge again . . . As a
propagandist I usually nd it more useful to claim as comrades the people
whose ideas are something like mine, and to stress the common ground,
rather than to wither them up in a deluge of scorn.” Of course, Bookchin
in his later life broke with anarchism, no longer considering himself part
of the movement, but no matter. e ght did have some value, as even
Bey acknowledges: “I should mention that the book has been attacked as
‘d an ge ro us’ an d ‘un s avor y’ —e .g . , by Mu rr ay B o ok ch in —a nd t h is p ro ba bl y
helped to boost sales somewhat.”
Second backlash: “Opportunism, not good will”
Hakim Bey remains a deeply divisive gure, no less controversial now than
he was then. Much of this recent resentment, highly visible online, arises
from accusations leveled against Wilson’s private life, especially in Robert P.
Helms’s widely circulated series of articles. Helms asserts that Wilson’s earliest
writings appeared in publications released by ambla and other “man-boy
love” organizations (including, he claims, an early version of the TAZ). For
100 Simon Sellars
Helms, “the pedophile writings of Hakim Bey indicate a general deceit in his
philosophy, and are evidence that his concept of the Temporary Autonomous
Zone is inspired by opportunism, not by good will. He presents arguments
for human freedom while actually wishing to create situations where he is
free to put his deranged sexuality into practice.”70 is, in turn, has inspired
a new backlash against the TAZ, in which it is claimed that Wilson’s version
of anarchism serves to justify pedophilia. Much of the opprobrium directed
toward him stems from a perception of pedophilia as solely concerned with
the grooming of prepubescent children for sexual purposes, and even rape
(also from a muddling of the distinction between pederasty and pedophilia).71
In this respect, it is apposite to draw upon the research of Steven Angelides,
who has written at length about the moral panics surrounding contemporary
representations of pedophilia:
It scarcely mattered that that many gay and p aedophile support groups . . . ha d
been articulating clear distinctions between paedophilia, incest, homosexuality
and child sex abuse [and] that research revealed a much smaller proportion
of homosexual men engaged in sex with prepubescent children than did
heterosexual men . . . [A]ny space for subtle distinctions between children and
adolescents and between the concepts of paedophilia and child sexual abuse
was almost completely eroded.72
It is clearly farfetched to suggest that Wilson/Bey is advocating sex with
prepubescent children, as there is nothing in the texts to suggest this. Regard-
ing pederasty, and regardless of one’s own views on the moral legitimacy
of such sexual desire, it should also be recognized that Bey is not the rst
high-prole writer to admit to a sexual attraction toward adolescent boys.
Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg made no secret of it, yet by and large their
readers do not seem to have trouble separating this from their consumption
of the work. Instead, the question of sexuality within Bey’s work should be
analyzed within the framework of the academic writing Wilson has published
under his real name, such as his non-TAZ overview of early pirate utopias:
A Foucaldian history of sexualities would indicate that such phenomena as
pederasty or androphile homosexuality are behaviours rather than categories.
Hakim Bey 101
Seen as categories, such phenomena can only be called social constructs rather
than natural states of being. e imputation of “normalcy” or the privileging
of one sexual behaviour over another is truly a double-edged sword for any
homosexual theory, since these are precisely the terms used by heterosexual
theory to discredit and condemn all same-sex love. In any case, the word
“homosexual” belongs to the late 19th century, and the concepts of androphilia
and pedophilia are even later renements. e 17th century knew no such
words, nor did it recognize any categories which might have been expressed
in such words.73
As with Angelides, who applies a similarly Foucaldian perspective to
the history of sexual categorization,74 the outcome seems clear enough: to
stimulate discussion surrounding the terms and denitions in place around
pedophilia, and the sexual agency of adolescents, even if in Wilson’s case
this means deploying a ctitious alter ego able to express and reinternalize
a controversial viewpoint that his own “objective” academic discourse could
never do. Recall the notion of the “Bey” character as provocation. In T.A.Z.,
he lists the slogans of the ctitious “Association for Ontological Anarchy,”
some of which gesture toward the illicit sexual desire under question, such
as “Young Children Have Beautiful Feet.” Others, he writes, are “‘sincere’
slogans of the A.O.A.[and] others are meant to rouse public apprehension
& misgivings—but we’re not sure which is which.” It is that last assertion
that really summarizes the objections to the TAZ, and indeed its value. Quite
simply, detractors of Bey and Wilson were not sure which is which. us,
the reactions to Wilson’s supposed sexual attitudes seem more to do with
institutionalized homophobia brought to a head by Bey’s satirical intervention
than they are to do with reasoned objections to a taboo subject that, histori-
cally, by many accounts, has not always been so. is intervention raises an
important implication, one that a purely academic discourse could not to
the same degree: if the TAZ, and any kind of alternative politics, can serve
to reassess questions of race, disability, nationhood, and gender, why can it
not be used to reassess sexuality? Inevitably, the reactions of Helms and his
supporters do not bode well for a movement seeking to overturn government
and society on the grounds of historical irrelevance.
102 Simon Sellars
Repopulating the TAZ: “Without passing around a poisoned chalice”
To d ay , W il s o n / B e y l o o k s b a c k o n t h e TA Z wi t h a m i x o f f o n dn e s s a n d d i s t a n ce .
In the 2003 preface, he writes, “T.A.Z. feels to me very much a book of the
80s, a strangely romantic and more erotic era than the 90s or the nameless
decade we now inhabit.”77 Yet he qualies this with an acknowledgment that
today more than ever, when national boundaries appear more porous than
ever, when late capitalism has triumphed and society is the spectacle, “the
TAZ se ems more r el ev an t th an e ver . . . it s om et imes app ea rs t ha t th e TAZ
is the last and only means of creating an Outside or true space of resistance
to the totality.” Indeed, a case could be made that the TAZ, by virtue of
the number of discourses that make use of it (as cited earlier, queer theory,
theories of race, notions of dea ood, among others), has succeeded in reaching
more people than “social anarchism,” “anarcho-primitivism,” or plain vanilla
anarchism. In so doing, it has become a lightning conductor for an ongoing
debate regarding the meeting point of philosophy and politics that shows no
sign of slowing or resolving. Why is it such a conductive work?
e answers do not lie within dated cybercultural tropes, self-defeatist
anarchist inghting, or emotive sexual politics, but within a rethinking of
the TAZ as an ongoing and inuential node in the ever-evolving strand of
alternative politics. With a similar approach, Patricia Pisters reconsiders
arguments against political readings of Deleuze and Guattari’s work, and her
views are worth repeating, as the arguments she challenges—“towards the
relationship between politics, cultural theory and philosophy”—are applicable
to Wilson’s own writing, which is, of course, inherently Deleuzoguattarian
in its operating principles. As Pisters notes: “According to Richard Rorty, the
academic le in general has become powerless because it does not engage
in ‘real’ politics . . . [A] major objection . . . against the academic le is the
level of abstraction of many academic discourses . . . ‘a er reading . . . you
know everything except what to do.’” However, she insists that the real
political value of Deleuzoguattarian philosophy is the attention it pays to the
interplay between “conscious and unconscious political activities,” of which
art and artistic expression form a part, all the more powerful in its ability to
shape reality, or at least an understanding of reality, in ways that are outside
of societal norms:
Hakim Bey 103
With the ma ny conc epts t hat De leuze and Gu attari have invented, it has be come
clear that “politics” in contemporary society really takes place at the microlevel
of beliefs and desires. It is this invisible level that is most important in a culture
that increasingly depends on the visible, to the point where “capital becomes
cinema” . . . All theory and philosophy can do is to give tools to sharpen our
perceptions and sensibilities for grasping the complexities of the various
political lines that constitute the individual and the social. With this modest
mission it might be possible to see where philosophy and politics can meet
again, without the risk of passing round “a poisoned chalice.”81
Indeed, with this “modest mission” in mind, it is time to return to the TAZ,
to the text its elf, regardless of t he author’s persona l histor y, an d once again to
unpack the insights it holds. Wilson/Bey’s concept is not an aberration but a
crucial element enmeshed within a continuum of deeply held philosophical,
political, biopolitical, physiological, sexual, and even metaphysical debates.
It is no less relevant today, as Benjamin Noys highlights:
If, according to Sun Ra, “space is the place”, then what type of space is the
place we want to be? From Hakim Bey’s mystical-Stirnerite “Temporary
Autonomou s Zone”, to Alain Badi ou’s post-Maoist invo cation of “independent
spaces” subtracted from the State, from the “o ensive opacity zones” of the
neo-Agambenian anarchist group “Tiqqun”, to Masteneh Shah-Shuja’s libertarian
communist “zones of proletarian development”, the answer appears to be the
“zone”, or its equivalent, as the space of liberation.82
Without further mentioning Bey, Noys seems to conrm the inherent
characteristics of the TAZ when he suggests that we need to rethink the
“zone of liberation” in a way that refuses to “leave radical politics with only
consolatory and symmetrical fantasies of inexplicable and yet somehow total
revolution.” at “revolutionary fantasy” is also something that Bey, as we
have seen, took great pains to repudiate.
Ta ki n g t hi s c ue a s a s i gn o f o ng o in g r el e va n ce , t h en , l et u s n o w re p op u la t e
the TAZ, reexamining it in the spirit with which it was created: as a satiric
mirror to our own foibles. e trick in so doing, as Bey knows all too well,
is never to inch.
104 Simon Sellars
1. François Cusset, French eory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the
Intel lectual Li fe of the United States , trans. Je Fort (2003; trans., Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press, 2008), 250.
2. As Darren To s writes about a collection of cyberculture essays edited by Mark Dery:
“Mondo 2000 di d a lo t to g ener ate t he cy ber phil ia (t ake a nyth ing a nd bun g ‘cyb er’ i n fro nt
of it) gripping anyone who has anything to do with computers, modems and William
Gibson novels . . . [In response] Dery has assembled writers with considerable experience
of cyberculture as lived ex peri ence bey ond, i n [Viv ian] Sob chack’s t erms , ‘bu mper- stic ker
libertarianism’.” Darren To s, “Flame Jamming,” 21C 4 (1995): 91.
3. John Perry Barlow, “A Declaration for the Independence of Cyberspace,” 1996, http://
homes.e .org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html (accessed May 2010).
4. Douglas Rushko , Cy beria: Life in the Trenche s of Hyperspace (1994; repr., Manchester,
UK: Clinamen Press, 2002), xxii.
5. For Semiotext(e) SF, Wilson had written a poem, “ e Antarctic Autonomous Zone,” that
covered some of the themes of the TAZ within a slightly fantastical setting.
6. Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (1967; repr., Detroit: Black & Red, 1983), paragraph
7. Hakim Bey, T.A . Z. : e Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism
(1991; repr., Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2003), 99.
8. Jack Boulware, “Mondo 1995,” San Francisco News, 11 October 1995, http://www.sfweekly.
com/1995-10-11/news/mondo-1995 (accessed May 2010).
9. Bey, T.A.Z., 97.
10. Bey, T.A.Z., 96–97.
11. Bey, T.A.Z., 100.
12. Bey, T.A.Z., 126.
13. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude (London: Penguin, 2006), 80–81.
14. Bey, T.A.Z., 106.
15. Bey, T.A.Z., 108, 132.
16. Bey, T. A . Z . , xi. Wilson also made his sympathies clear at the time of Robert Anton Wilson’s
death: “Bob was a Futurist and I am a Luddite, but a er a long series of letters back and
forth we agreed to disagree on the subject of technology, since neither of us wanted to
put ideology in the place of camaraderie . . . In later years . . . we lost touch because Bob
decided to colonize the Internet and I decided not to.” Peter Lamborn Wilson, “‘Liquor
and weed for him were bardic fuel’—Peter Lamborn Wilson’s obituary for Robert Anton
Hakim Bey 105
Wils on,” Arthur, 5 December 2007, http://www.arthurmag.com/2007/12/05/peter-lamborn-
wilsons-obituary-for-robert-anton-wilson (accessed May 2010).
17. Bey, T.A.Z., xi.
18. Bey, T.A.Z., 110.
19. Bey, T.A.Z., 104.
20. Bey, T.A.Z., 105.
21. Bey, T.A.Z., 104.
22. M. T. Kato, From Kung Fu to Hip Hop: Globalization, Revolution, and Popular Culture
(Albany: SUNY Press, 2007), 237.
23. Chris Carlsson, Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Deant Celebration (Edinburgh, Oakland: AK
Press, 2002), 109.
24. Paddy Ladd, “Colonialism and Resistance: A Brief History of Dea ood,” in Open Your Eyes:
Deaf Studies Talking, ed. H-Dirksen L. Bauman (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 2008), 51.
25. Charlie Hailey, Campsite: Architectures of Duration and Place (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University Press, 2008), 196.
26. Barbara Bender, Stonehenge: Making Space (Oxford, New York: Berg, 1998), 200.
27. Charles H. Lippy, Faith in America: Changes , Challenges, New Directions (Westport, CT:
Praeger Publishers, 2006), 10.
28. John L. Jackson Jr., Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (C hica go, Lo ndon : Univ ersi ty
of Chicago Press, 2005), 278.
29. Anthony Paul Farley, “Sadomasochism and the Colorline: Reections on the Million
Man March,” in Black Men on Race, Gender, and Sexuality: A Critical Reader, ed. Devon
W. Carbado (New York, London: New York University Press, 1999), 79.
30. Ward Churchill, On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reections on the Consequences of
U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality (Oakland, Edinburgh: AP Press, 2003), 296.
31. Bey, T.A.Z., 97–98.
32. John Zerzan, “‘Hakim Bey,’ Postmodern ‘Anarchist’” (1996) in Running on Empty: e
Pathology of Civilization (Los Angeles: Feral House, 2002), 146.
33. Colin Ward, “Temporary Autonomous Zones,” Freedom, Spring 1997, http://raforum.info/
spip.php?article1079&lang=fr (accessed May 2010).
34. James Ingham, “Listening Back from Blackburn: Virtual Sound Worlds and the Creation
of Temporary Autonomy,” in Living rough Pop, ed. Andrew Blake (London: Routledge,
35. Ingham, “Listening Back from Blackburn,” 117.
36. Ingham, “Listening Back from Blackburn,” 126.
106 Simon Sellars
37. Simon Reynolds, Generation Ecstasy (New York: Routledge, 1999), 169–70.
38. Je Shantz, Constructive Anarchy: Contemporary Anarchism in Action (Fr ee Pr ess, 2006),
105–106, http://www.freewords.org/freepress/book/14 (accessed May 2010).
39. Shantz, Constructive Anarchy, 27–31.
40. Shantz, Constructive Anarchy, 106.
41. John Armitage, “Ontological Anarchy, the Temporary Autonomous Zone, and the Politics
of Cyberculture: A Critique of Hakim Bey,” Angelaki : Journal of the eoretical Humanities
4, 2 (1999): 115.
42. Richard Barbrook, quoted in Armitage, “Ontological Anarchy,” 119–20.
43. Bey, T.A.Z., 125.
44. Slavoj Zˇizˇek, “No sex, please, we’re digital!” in On Belief (London, New York: Routledge,
45. Je Shantz, Living Anarchy: eory and Practice in Anarchist Movements (B ethe sda, MD:
Academica Press, 2008), 129–30.
46. Armitage, “Ontological Anarchy,” 119.
47. Bey, T.A.Z., xi.
48. Geert Lovink, Dark Fiber: Tracking Critical Internet Culture (Ca mbri dge, MA: M IT Pre ss,
49. Bey, T.A.Z., 23–24.
50. In 2005, for example, online feedback was sought for a “working list of authors, writers,
and artists whose work is being considered for inclusion” in a proposed book entitled
North American Anarchi st ought Since 1960. Burroughs appeared on this list, as did Bey,
Zerzan, and Murray Bookchin; http://libcom.org/forums/north-america/north-american-
anarchist-thought-since-1960 (accessed May 2010).
51. Zerzan, “‘Hakim Bey,’ Postmodern ‘Anarchist’,” 144.
52. Zerzan, “‘Hakim Bey,’ Postmodern ‘Anarchist’,” 146.
53. Hakim Bey, “Primitives & Extropians,” Anarchy 42 (1995) , http://www.t0.or.at/hakimbey/
primitiv.htm (accessed 23 October 2009).
54. John Zerzan, “ e Case Against Art.” http://www.primitivism.com/case-art.htm ( acce ssed
55. Zerzan, “ e Case Against Art.”
56. As Zerzan admits, “Of course . . . one is subjected to that very criticism . . . We are all part
of this: these contradictions are here, like it or not. I could go live in a cave, as some people
have suggested, but I am trying to be a part of the dialogue, trying to make some kind of
contribution here. So that is just the nature of the reality that we are in.” Zerzan quoted
in Arthur Versluis, “Interview with John Zerzan,” Journal for the Study of Radicalism 2, 1
Hakim Bey 107
57. According to Zerzan: “ inking of a world without language entails an enormous specula-
tive leap. From where we are now it is extremely difcult to posit or fathom a life-world
based on non-symbolic communication, though of course some of that exists even now.
Freud guessed that a sort of telepathy held sway before language; lovers need no words,
as the saying goes. ese are hints in the direction of unmediated communication. I’m
sure you can think of others!” Zerzan quoted in Anonymous, “Interview—John Zerzan,”
http://www.primitivism.com/zerzan.htm (accessed May 2010).
58. Zerzan, “ e Case Against Art.”
59. Bey, T.A.Z., 109.
60. Zerzan quoted in Lawrence Jarach, “A Dialog on Primitivism: Lawrence Jarach interviews
John Zerzan,” Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed 1 (2002), http://www.insurgentdesire.
org.uk/dialog.htm (accessed May 2010).
61. Bey, T.A.Z.
62. Murray Bookchin, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm
(Edinburgh, San Francisco: AK Press, 1995), 54.
63. Bookchin, Social Anarchism, 64, 60.
64. Bookchin, Social Anarchism, 20.
65. Bey, T.A.Z., 127.
66. Bookchin, Social Anarchism, 20.
67. Namely, that the conict was more an event mediated by spectacle and technology, so
that nothing is as it seems, rather than a “war” in the traditional sense with clearly dened
winners, losers, and outcomes.
. Ward, “Temporary Autonomous Zones.”
. Bey, T.A.Z., ix.
. Robert P. Helms, “Paedophilia and American Anarchism— e Other Side of Hakim Bey,”
(accessed May 2010).
71. On Zine Wiki: e Independent Media Wikipedia, for example, a disclaimer begins the
entry for “Hakim Bey”: “ is article is included for purposes of encyclopedic completeness
only. Zine Wiki does not endorse or condone the views of Hakim Bey.” e entry later
declares: “He remains a controversial gure within the anarchist mileau [sic], due to his
advocacy of paedophilia, and his position as propagandist for child rape, sexual abuse
and exploitation.” http://zinewiki.com/Hakim_Bey (accessed May ). Although such
sites are not renowned for independently veried data, or indeed objectivity, it should
be noted that the Internet’s “echo chamber” e ect means that such allegations have been
108 Simon Sellars
repeated o en enough online for this to become an issue surrounding the work.
72. Steven Angelides, “ e Emergence of the Paedophile in the Late Twentieth Century,”
Australian Historical Studies 126 (2005): 93.
73. Peter Lamborn Wilson, Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes (1993;
repr., Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2003), 185–86.
74. For example, Angelides writes: “As a discourse, paedophilia, like that of modern
homosexuality, is a decidedly Western invention of the late nineteenth century. Yet
unlike homosexuality, paedophilia was not at this time the object of particular concern
. . . In stark contrast to the discourse of homosexuality . . . an individual practicing
intergenerational sex in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was infrequently
labeled a ‘paedophile’.” Angelides, “ e Emergence of the Paedophile,” 272.
75. Bey, T.A.Z., 27.
76. Bey, T.A.Z., 28.
77. Bey, T.A.Z.
78. As Žižek writes: “One of the clearest lessons of the last few decades is that capitalism is
indestructible. Marx compared it to a vampire, and one of the salient points of comparison
now appears to be that vampires always rise up again a er being stabbed to death. Even
Mao’s attempt, in the Cultural Revolution, to wipe out the traces of capitalism, ended
up in its triumphant return.” Slavoj Žižek, “Resistance Is Surrender,” London Review of
Books 29, 22 (2007): 4.
79. Bey, T.A.Z., x–xi.
80. Patricia Pisters, “Introduction,” in Micropolitics of Media Culture: Reading the Rhiz omes
of Deleuze and Guattari, ed. Patricia Pisters (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press,
81. Pisters, “Introduction,” 25.
82. Benjamin Noys, “Space is the Place,” presentation at the “Is Black and Red Dead?” Confer-
ence, e Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, University of Nottingham,
7–8 September 2009, http://leniency.blogspot.com/2009/09/space-is-place.html (accessed
83. Noys, “Space is the Place.”