Up Against The Wall Motherfucker

A new dynamism exists; one fueled by science and fired by revolution. One which has followed Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism to a point where they must be left behind. Where they attempted to revolutionize “art” we must change life. We seek a form of action which transcends the separation between art and politics: it is the act of revolution.

Each culture determines those forms which it’s art will take and we seek nothing less than the destruction of this culture. We have an art which is a substitute for living, a culture which is an excuse for the utter poverty of life. The call for revolution can be no less than “total”. To change the wielders of power is not enough, we must finally change life itself. Man must seize direct control of his environment—socially, economically and culturally. We can recognize no power outside of the people, no elite (whether it calls itself revolutionary or not) which determines the political direction, no separation between politics and the rest of life. The same must be done culturally—a “total” culture needs no experts, no artists—it needs only men.

Black Mask / August-September 1967

 

SOCIETY was too much for Ben Morea, so he ran away from home in New York when he was 17. For the complexities of living among people by their rules, he substituted living alone on the Lower East Side, making his own rules.

But the dropout soon meets other dropouts, or malcontents on the verge of dropping out; he establishes bonds, he eventually becomes part of a community of his own kind. This community faces the problems of any social unit: how to protect itself, how to meet the physical needs of its people, and how to meet their spiritual needs.

Nine years after he ran away from the rules and the problems, Ben Morea finds himself one of the leaders of a community, the street hip community. And when he talks about his people’s problems, he sounds more like the leader of an impoverished third world nation than like the anarchist he claims to be.

"There’s an overuse of drugs in the street hip community," Morea says, speaking about the 200 or so hippies who have taken to the streets of Boston, the kids who do not go to a home at night, who keep alive through panhandling, drug-pushing, or petty thievery. "When you sleep in the street under lights, and you can’t fall asleep, you speed."

Morea reaches out a hand as if asking for help and says, "Some of these kids won’t live a few more years. We need some space to work things out."

Lebensraum could be the political cry of the street hips. When he was in New York, Morea and his Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers literally battled the police for control of the Lower East Side. This summer he moved to Boston, where the street hip community has been engaged in a hassle over sleeping rights on the Boston Common. After receiving many complaints from Charles St. merchants and residents, White slapped a curfew on the Common. Night after night, there were dozens of arrests. Some nights, there was violence. One of those nights, Morea got embroiled in a massive street fight, was found holding a knife when the police came, and was charged with stabbing a man whom he claims he did not stab. He faces trial in Boston next week.

"Sure, hippies are armed," Morea says. "When the hippie movement began with flower children from the upper middle class, there were no arms, but the new hip movement is buttressed by the lower middle class and the lower class too, where they know about weapons." To Morea, now a social and political philosopher, the hip’s thing is "to build our own community, one which can protect itself."

MOREA’S dilemma is that his people have picked up weapons without picking up enough support to make the weapons matter. The street hip community–which does not include the flower child hippie, "who is still tied to property relationships"–never got over 200 in Boston this summer. Near the end, after several weeks of pounding from the police, it was down to fewer than 20. With so few troops, weapons are meaningless, unless the hips take to the hills and employ insurrectionist tactics.

Morea is hardly a guerrilla fighter. All he wants is for the hips to be left alone, so they can carry out what he considers to be "a social revolution." The police, however, "can’t allow us to grow, because what we’re about calls into question everything they stand for."

So Morea, and other leaders, make the crucial decision: fight back. "It’s a matter of survival, not principle," he says. "It’s not a question of violence vs. non-violence; it’s living vs. dying."

And he says it like a man dying. On trial him-self in a week, knowing that his hip community dwindled to almost nothing under police pressure, wondering whether his hip comrades will ever find peace anywhere, Morea seems to know that while he may have found in the street a successful solution to his own hangups, he is failing as a revolutionary.

Joel Kramer for The Harvard Crimson October 4, 1968

%s1 / %s2

 

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One Comment

  1. pinkie
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    f’kin great post !

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