Bufe Goof

A Future Worth Living: Thoughts on Getting There.
By Chaz Bufe. Tucson, AZ: See Sharp Press, 1998.

This pamphlet purports to explain why the revolutionary left isn’t running the country. For Bufe, this is cause for regret; for most of us, it is cause for thanks. Although he claims to be an anarchist, Bufe makes clear that he is a leftist first and foremost; his anarchism is an afterthought. It never occurs to him that for anarchists, the “disarray” of the left might be an opportunity, not a misfortune. Why anarchists, so few in numbers and so limited in resources, should waste themselves on the thankless and probably futile chore of reanimating the left, Bufe never explains. Should they succeed, history teaches that they can expect no gratitude from the authoritarian left and no better climate in which to advance their distinctive project. Russian anarchists enjoyed far more freedom of action under the Czars than under the commissars.

After a perfunctory review of some economic statistics, Bufe moves on to identify the mechanism of social control as fundamentally psychological. It is the authoritarian conditioning imposed above all in the “patriarchal” family which reduces the masses to servitude, primarily through sexual repression. “Patriarchal” religion reinforces familial repression. The everyday authoritarian conditioning imposed by state functionaries (including schoolteachers) is slighted, and that imposed by wage-labor is mostly ignored. Bufe has not only vulgarized Wilhelm Reich, he has severed the link which Reich strove to sustain between society and psyche. If he understood the logic of his own position, Bufe would have to concede that what most people (who, he reports, don’t “think very well”) need is not revolution but therapy. Whereas I think revolution is the best therapy there is. (Not a facetious remark. History confirms that during the great revolutions — the “accelerations of history” — tremendous transformations of popular consciousness, and self-consciousness, may take place in remarkably brief periods of time. Reich would have agreed with me, not Bufe, in recognizing the political priority of the social over the psychological.)

The main message of Bufe’s essay is that ”any realistic movement toward real social change must address sexual issues.” Bufe identifies no such issues, except for implying that teenagers should be allowed to fuck. Most American teenagers do fuck, but that doesn’t seem to have revolutionized their thinking or stripped them of character-armor. They don’t need leftist organizations to tell them that what they’re doing is okay. The kids are alright, it’s neurotic grown-ups like Bufe who have sexual hang-ups.

Bufe has a serious preoccupation with “violence,” with “coercion.” “You can’t achieve a noncoercive society through the use of coercion,” he says. Since we have never achieved a noncoercive society at all, through coercion or otherwise, there’s no way to verify or falsify this sweeping generalization. Violence is a natural and normal dimension of social life. It occurs in all forms of society, including anarchist band and tribal societies. Most anarchists hope and expect that in the anarchist society they strive for, violence would be drastically reduced. I share their hope and their expectation. But ’getting there,” in Bufe’s phrase, is something else again. Without glorifying armed struggle, it’s possible to point out that there has rarely if ever been an entirely bloodless social revolution. The authorities are violent through and through, so there will be violence whether or not the anarchists refrain from initiating it. I really don’t see why the anarchists should swear off violence altogether — does anybody think the cops and courts will give them any credit for their forbearance? The Wobblies were almost always nonviolent but they got long terms of imprisonment anyway when they weren’t deported or executed or lynched.

Bufe is big on vague foggy generalities but weak on particulars — a serious default in an essay about “getting there.” Repeatedly he holds up ZEGG, a German commune he must have visited, as an exemplar — but he never tells us a damned thing about what ZEGG is (or even what the initials stand for). Bufe thinks that “model communities” arethe way to go, but he has nothing to say about the history of the hundreds of anarchist or utopian socialist intentional communities which were set up in America in and after the 1840’s. Anybody thinking of starting up such a community should, at the very least, become acquainted with the experiences of its predecessors. Some risks are inherent, but others are avoidable. If the point of an anarchist intentional community is to set a good example, then everything possible should be done to ensure that the example is good. Bufe doesn’t do this. Nor is there any sign in this tract or anywhere else that Bufe is doing anything toward “getting there” besides issuing edicts to less enlightened anarchists (he has a long history of this) and waiting for them to raise the capital and do the drudge work. I expect his wait will be a long one.

A look at ZEGG, based on its own Internet postings, explains why Bufe might prefer not to get into specifics. Bufe, emulating his demented mentor Fred Woodworth, has long and stridently affirmed his atheism and rationalism, although his careful readers have often regarded him as more rationalist than rational. Regardless, ZEGG is a New Age sex cult! Its primary principle, as is Bufe’s, is free love — for patriarchs.

According to a founding member, Rotraud Rospert, “The women’s field is the most important thing. I could feel how serious they were to find solutions [to] the questions of how they can support each other when they are in love with the same man. The women also need to come together to support the men in the community . . . how they can work together to support the men so that the men find it easier to give love to the women.” There is nothing about the men coming together to support each other to love the same woman, or to give love to the women. Love, like laundry, is women’s work. The ZEGG women are the collective property of the ZEGG men.

Reading between Bufe’s lines, you don’t have to be Wilhelm Reich or Dr. Kinsey to figure out what went on between him and ZEGG. Correctly perceiving in Bufe a credulous, sex-starved potential publicist, the male elders extended their hospitality in the form of Prussian pussy or Saxon sex or Westphalian ham. That was quite enough to blind Bufe to the totalitarian reeducation of the “forum,” a Maoist-style criticism/self-criticism control mechanism.

It also led him to ignore publicly, and try to explain away privately, ZEGG’s bizarre ideology, which embraces (among other absurdities) “resonance technology” based on “soft power,” “cellular nonviolence,” ”fundamental research of functional and structural mystical logic which leads to the creation of living material,” inter-species communication, and the notion that every illness, including cancer and AIDS, is curable by positive thinking. ZEGG peddles its several crackpot concepts through a dozen front groups with such names as the Erotic Academy, House of 1000 Possibilities, Sex Peace, and the Transformatory Bordello. Bufe, then, is bedazzled by a cult which is something like a cross between Bhagwan and Jim Jones. Bufe who doesn’t (as he might phrase it) “think very well” with his brain, thinks even worse with his dick. Sometimes small is not beautiful. Bufe’s goof is that, though professing to offer ”Thoughts on Getting There,” all he was really doing was acting out through verbal symptoms his private privation, ”Thoughts on Getting Some.”