Bloody hell. I didn't know.
I just found out that anarchist philosopher Peter Lamborn Wilson, a.k.a. Hakim Bey, is a pædophile. I've written about his long essay Temporary Autonomous Zone on this blog. I feel that it's my responsibility to my readers, many of whom are acquainted with Wilson's writing, to inform them about this aspect of his character.
Having brought it up, I want to be very clear and specific.
In America, pædophilia is a magic word that leads to panic, making me a little wary. I don't want to be making a hysterical condemnation of Wilson. I want to condemn Wilson in as serious and clearhead a way as possible.
This starts with being very clear about the sexual mores in play. In my experience many social conservatives have a hard time understanding this stuff, so let me be a little long-winded.
Consent is the centerpoint of my whole conception of sexual morality. It doesn't matter to me who's getting it on with whom, or how. The configuration of bodies is neither moral nor immoral. A man kissing his boyfriend on the lips, a professional dominatrix working over a client with a flogger, four drag queens in a whipped cream orgy ... whether or not I or anyone other than the participants think the act is good (or appealing, or tasteful) is not the moral question. Nor is desire itself moral or immoral. What does matter, morally, is that everyone involved an exchange is consenting to do it: they know what they're getting into, they've agreed to it, there was no coercion, they're mentally capable of consent.
And that last absolutely excludes children, who simply cannot sexually consent with an adult. The differences in power and understanding are too great for the relationship to not be fundamentally coercive.
I also think it's important to distinguish thoughts and acts. The best evidence is that the fundamental shape of one's sexual desire is deep, immutable, and not subject to personal choice. The sexual desire for children—the desire itself—is beyond choice and has no consequences for others. I would not see people punished for having that desire, which is not a sin but a curse.
Yes, that's a touch of sympathy for pædophiles you're hearing. To desire partners who cannot consent to your embrace? Who will, in fact, likely be severely harmed by your embrace, by even the knowledge of your desire? To have a sexuality that can never be morally expressed? A nightmare. I don't have it in my heart to condemn a person for feeling a desire which taunts and tortures them.
Violation of sexual consent is rape, in the first rank of moral crimes. To do this violation with a child, who is profoundly vulnerable and likely to be severely harmed, is truly monsterous. A pædophile who acts on their desires has committed one of the worst imaginable crimes. And making an effort to justify pædophilic acts is perhaps not monsterous, but is certainly repulsive.
Which brings us back to Wilson.
In a long and troubling article from anarchist Robert P. Helms, I see him make clear that Wilson is undoubtedly not only a pædophile in desire, but in unforgivable words and actions.
First, Helms argues that Wilson's anarchism is of a piece with his pædophilia, and serves as a justification for it.
Beginning with the July-August 1985 issue, the [NAMBLA Bulletin] carried a long series of items by Hakim Bey, who was already a distinctly anarchist writer. Most of them were discussions of the paedophile obsession with a clear anarchist slant. Anarchist ideology was the mode of justification, the method of persuading children to have sex and to keep it secret.
Helms provides a poem by Wilson, published in the NAMBLA Bulletin, as an example. Here's the damning bit.
The touch of his wet, bath-wrinkled fingers in my hand... but then...
one of his parents clumps down the hall... I suppose to make sure neither of us is raping the other...
[chorus of groans] Ohhh! for a
Buster-Keaton-bomb all spherical & black as coaldust with sweet sparkling with sweet sparkling fuse a mindbomb to
Drop on the Idea of the Family! O for a libertarian isle of runaways! O goodnight Moon, I am lost, actually lost without him
But I didn't want this to be
Just another poem about hopeless love. Pretend it's a manifesto instead. Down with School! Boy Rule OK! In the land of dreams
No governance exists
But that of anarchs and kings, for dreamers have not yet learned to vote or think past the unfurling of the moment. He touches my cheek, runs delicate fingers through the hairs on my arm.
My liege shatters all Law for a triple kiss.
This makes it very clear—especially if you've read some of his more directly anarchist writing—that his anarchist vision is thoroughly entangled with his pursuit of the embrace of young boys.
Further, Helms provides evidence that Wilson has apparently used anarchist circles as an unwholesome way of getting access to children.
In the letters column of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed (#20/21, Nov-Dec 1989, p. 42), a letter announced a new a zine for contributors 17 and under. Wild Children, as the zine was called, solicited articles on “anarchy (of course!), sci-fi, sexuality & love, spiritual paths (or lack thereof), and anything else kids would like to submit.” The letter gave Hakim Bey as the editor, at a Brooklyn PO Box.
In another essay, Helms argues persuasively that this agenda poisons Bey/Wilson's anarchist writing sufficiently that anyone reading his work should be informed of the connection.
In this writer’s opinion, 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. This is an abuse of anarchism, and new readers of Hakim Bey should take the pedophilia into consideration before being led “down the garden path.”
And last, and worst, back in the first article Helms quotes Wilson making what sounds like a roundabout admission to consummating his pædophilic desires.
“I admit to a philosophical preference for Mackay's position...” [which means the] “giving up of all false chivalry and self-denying dandyism in favour of more ‘pagan’ and convivial modes of love.” He closes the essay with his clearest anarcho-paedophile statement: “it has taken on a tantalising reality and filtered into my life in certain Temporary Autonomous Zones an impossible time and space and on this brief hint, all my theory is based.” What he means by this is that he really has sex with children, rather than leaving the matter to fantasy, and that this is his purpose when he preaches anarchism.
This, of course, is cause for the most vigorous condemnation. I'll be linking this essay everywhere I mention Bey/Wilson.