When The Tribe Moves In Next Door

October 14th, 2013   Submitted by Gyorgy Furiosa

PsyTribeYou’ve moved to the boondocks, surrounded by forests and mountains on all sides, minimal road access – sheer idyll. There are neighbors within a couple of kilometers who are farming and living off the land just like you. Your homestead is thriving, the gardens blooming and fruiting, the atmosphere peaceful and productive.

Then, the tribe moves in next door.

They arrive with no warning on the government forest reserve bordering your land, and set up a cloth boundary around what is traditionally open pasture, within which they erect a series of shacks and most prominently a large sound system that begins to pound out psytrance for the next 48 hours.

When this happened to us, we were presented with something of a dilemma in our response. We could leave for the duration, risking our property becoming part of the tribe’s realm and possibly squatted or damaged. We could attack – a well-placed petrol bomb would have made short shrift of their rig and scared them from ever coming back – but flight or fight should not be the only responses in an anarchist’s lexicon of reaction.

Instead we set up a kitchen and guest rooms and invited the wandering cosmic ferals into our home, providing food and shelter in exchange for money. It gave us the opportunity to study and evaluate this transient flock of neo-hippies.

On the surface, the psytrance tribe – a decentralized and apparently anti-authoritarian drugs caravan focused around a strain of psychedelic dance music that originated in Goa in the late 80s – appears to follow an anarchic structure of organization and intent. The crews organizing these parties are, supposedly, rabidly anti-establishment in their views, and the punters who attend seemingly reject conventionality in favor of a free and radical lifestyle.

The crew look like anarcho-primitives – ripped, ragged clothing, wild hair, moving from place to place and party to party. They are affinity groups – friends who have come together in an unofficial affiliation in order to throw the party. They carried large amounts of food and ran a kitchen and chai shop. Yet all these proved to be the trappings of fashion, and from our observation it appears that the psytrance movement does little to challenge authoritarian structures, and in fact, collaborates in their continuance.

The organizers had paid the appropriate sums of money to various police and bureaucrats to attain a semi-legal ‘license’ to have their party. They were charging money at the door for entry, and controlling the drugs sold within – predominately LSD and MDMA, but with a sinister dose of cocaine and methamphetamine thrown in. The undercover narcotics police were highly visible during the event, and we heard stories of busts being made of people who had consumed large quantities of psychedelics the night before.

The party-goers were largely Israelis stomping furiously, as if trying to exorcise the demons of their military service through a spastic tarantella, and rich Indians escaping the phone-pits of Delhi and Bangalore. Together they whirled and pranced and leaped, twirling poi and juggling and tripping the light fantastic within their psychedelic stalag in the mountains. The entire event revolved around the consumption of high-powered hallucinogens, and without them two days of psytrance is entirely unlistenable – resembling something akin to being locked in a washing machine which is being hammered on the outside by a variety of metal objects.

It became clear that the entire event, rather than challenging social conventions or promoting a radical alternative lifestyle, was little more than a narcotics playground organized for monetary purposes. Granted, prudent use of psychedelics can provide insight into interconnectivity, personal development, spiritual growth, but the greatest challenge is in applying these experiences into a more sustainable model. The psytrance tribe serves as little more than an initiation rite – you go somewhere in nature, listen to home-made hypnotic beats on very large sound-systems, and frolic around with your hallucinations. Cosmic.

But there was little in the way of independent thought or action involved. The majority of people paid their money, took their drugs, danced, and left. The interactions between them were minimal, and the general consciousness of the impact they were having on their environment almost nil.

Compare this with the UK squat party movement, or teknivals, where I first heard the phrase “party is protest”. Even though they are still often money-making ventures, their basis is inherently anti-authoritarian as it asks for no permission and brooks no collaboration with authority. The atmosphere and nature of these events is comparatively militant compared to what I have experienced at psytrance parties, which seem exclusively focused on the twin social crutches of hedonism and escapism. You could never have a psytrance solidarity party, or benefit for an activist group. The whole point is to generate a placating numbness, to force consciousness out for prolonged periods. There is no information on causes or actions to get involved in – the outside, experiential world doesn’t figure, hence why we were subjected to a two-day sonic assault, whereas with squat parties, it’s pretty standard to try and minimize the public relations collateral damage. The narcissistic selfishness of the movement was summed up by one psytrancer’s oblivious question: “Who asks the neighbors?” Even the Rainbow Family of Love and Light has a better claim to conscious resistance and alternative lifestyles.

Yet here are hundreds of people looking for something different, and I can’t help but feel the movement is a co-option of people’s natural will to rebel, to cast off societal norms, to break loose. In all, it felt liked a missed opportunity to do something more than indulge and satiate base desires for inebriation and unconsciousness. With the effort that had gone into organizing it, we were left feeling that it could have been so much more.

One image will remain with me from the migration of the psytribe to our locale: that of a hundred people leaping and prancing to repetitive beats in a fenced off compound whilst the local stonemasons relentlessly chiseled granite in the foreground, keeping pace with the furious music with each blow of their hammers. I know which group I have more solidarity with.

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35 Responses to “When The Tribe Moves In Next Door”

  1. Aside from putting the ‘libertine’ in libertarian, I think this article is raising the important issue of voluntary segregation. I think libertarians have to be for it. It’s the natural consequence of privatized roads. We all deserve the chance to find or form our own tribe.

    • Gyorgy FuriosaNo Gravatar says:

      It’s true – with more solidarity and organization in the area, it would have been a simple matter to reject the psytrance party by stopping people at the access to the area. The problem is that the trancers were able to deal with ‘the authorities’ and get permission from them directly, whereas the locals have to start from scratch to resist such decisions being made. Already a mother’s group is forming in the area who are in opposition to psytrance in the neighborhood – a model copied from a nearby larger town which has successfully thrown them out – for now.

  2. The Mad WolfNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with the previous post wholeheartedly.

  3. Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

    Alot of “activism” is just a circle jerk.

  4. Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

    Is this sonic attack going to end soon? Is this a temporary permit? Noise pollution is an invasion of privacy. But I would not go to the authorities. You seem to be handling it as well as can be expected.

    Part of the problem is the “public property” concept.

    • Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

      Does private property really fix the situation? It’s just changing the name on the title.

      • Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

        Public property leads to “the tragedy of the commons”. The property still might be misused in a way that infringes on rights, but the odds go way down when the property is owned. A property owner wants his rights respected. Therefore, he tends to respect the rights of others. A transient occupier is not as likely to have a stake in reputation.

        So, yes it makes a difference, but even capitalism grants no guarantees.

        • Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

          There are critiques of the tragedy of the commons. It’s the tragedy of the Mismanaged commons. Furthermore as a demonstratable fact sheep herds in scotland had no such problem. Turns out that the tragedy of the mismanaged commons occurs when the population exceeds the number of individuals that a member of the community can keep track of. This number is about 150.

  5. michael barkerNo Gravatar says:

    The rave scene in California is both organized parties that pay for permits ect and smaller groups that occupy public lands for the night without notification of authorities. The philosophy is P.L.U.R. (peace, love, unity, respect) and its non violence and respecting people and the environment. Usually theirs a chill tent with water for people to high and a clean up crew after the parties over. Social media promotes the parties. Places chosen are abandoned warehouses, secluded beaches and in the Mojave desert. We took over White Cove at San Pedro after 11:00pm without permit. You use plywood to lay over the tire puncture exit and because it isn’t near any neighboring homes it didn’t get shut down. The desert raves generally don’t get busted but when the do the locale media films it and focuses on all the drug use. Mostly its hallucinogen’s, pot and alcohol. People on meth aren’t fun to be around. Its a great cash business.

  6. state haterNo Gravatar says:

    This raises an interesting issue that I have been pondering for a while. Sound being produced by others on land adjacent to or near your land can be considered to constitute acoustic trespass. Does anyone have an ideas for how to decide where the line between sound that is low enough that it’s your responsibility to block out with the right materials and sound that is high enough that one should not reasonably be expected to endure the expense of having it blocked? I think that if you’re there first, and if they generate sound that you can hear in your home, then they are guilty of acoustic trespass, and the onus is on them to change.

    • Gyorgy FuriosaNo Gravatar says:

      I used to live in a squat which was essentially one huge acoustic unit with no real doors or even walls … the concept of acoustic trespass becomes hilarious on this scale as it often relates to hearing other people having a chat, playing music, or vigorously having sex. Generally, it was a social old time, and people would join in, scream shut up, assemble and rearrange as their personalities dictated. Each situation was dealt with without blanket pronouncements, but the set-up was much more ancom than ancap …

  7. RagnarNo Gravatar says:

    I did my time in the rave scene some years ago. Political/social change agenda is near nil. I did a lot of drugs, had a lot of sex, had a hell of a good time, but it wasn’t particularly productive. Most of the people involved grew out of it and went to work at straight jobs, got 2.5 kids, a mortgage, and an SUV. A few died or went to prison. A few became aimless burn-out addicts, clinging to their party days. I became political. In the end, my thinking is this:

    1) America is a very Apollonian culture, and has needed a Dyonisian outlet for a long time. This is it.

    2) This is what individual freedom looks like. We all want to believe that in a truly free society, people will regulate themselves. The reality is, though, large numbers of people will use that freedom to indulge in wanton hedonism. They will have varying levels of social responsibility in how they do so. We’ll all have to deal with them.

    3) The majority of participants, (not organizers), are kids, lacking direction and looking for something to be passionate about. It’s a very fertile recruiting ground.

    4) Many (Not All) of the organizers are agorist, black market, businessmen, with widely varying levels of personal responsibility and ethics. Some of them both refuse to deal with authorities and try to regulate themselves and protect their customers. Others are ruthless, amoral, greedy opportunists, filling out govt forms and shrugging indifferently when kids OD or get heat-stroke/dehydration induced brain damage.

    5) Noise pollution sucks, and I consider it one of many “grey area” forms of aggression. Dealing with it must be on a case-by-case basis, IMHO.

    • Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

      Been there, done that. (I should be dead, several times over)

      At 71, I can look back and say I would try to stop someone by verbal arguments but never by physical restraint. That would be an attack on their sovereignty. If they survive they will have learned, abet the hard way. If they don’t survive, a controlled life is no life at all, so everyone must be free to follow their own path, even if that path kills them. It’s their life, their choice.

      • Gyorgy FuriosaNo Gravatar says:

        Nice response Don and Ragnar … I’ve also passed through such a stage. Is Dionysian raving a necessary rite of passage on the way to conscious resistance then? Plus to all the above, this experience is not in the US …

        • RagnarNo Gravatar says:

          Is Dyonisian revel a necessary step in everyone’s journey? Almost certainly not. Damn few shoes fit every foot, in my experience. Was it a necessary step in MY journey? I believe it was. A different journey would have lead me to a different place, in the here and now. What I do think, though, is that there is a strong drive, during and shortly after adolescence, to defy convention, experiment, try to break loose. For most it’s temporary, and they are soon assimilated, but whether its the hippies of the sixties and seventies, or the ravers of today, they are agent of more social change than they get credit for, because even those who become soccer moms pass on different attitudes to their children than they would have without the experience.

  8. VanmindNo Gravatar says:

    Great stuff, Mr. Furiosa, thanks.

    Two thoughts that are at least tangentially related to this article…

    The term “neo-hippie” describes both republican & democrat parents and their kids (or equivalents in other countries) who have embraced the “get in touch” approach to interpersonal communication & child-rearing. It’s analogous to how the terms “republican” and “democrat” have themselves lost meaningful distinction, or to how a bunch of Trotskyites suddenly relabelled themselves as “neo-conservative.” In terms of education, neo-hippie means something like SEL (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114527/self-regulation-americ an-schools-are-failing-nonconformist-kids?google_editors_picks=tr ue#primary-form).

    Music festivals are giant eugenicist petri dishes. There is some interesting research to do (and articles to write) regarding Michael Riconosciuto, Wackenhut (aka G4S), Indio, Cabazon, and Coachella.

  9. KreditanstaltNo Gravatar says:

    “It became clear that the entire event, rather than challenging social conventions or promoting a radical alternative lifestyle, was little more than a narcotics playground organized for monetary purposes.”

    Sounds rather like North Americans in general. Most of them, too, live only for the moment, are drugged up on alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, soft drugs, hard drugs, or I-gadgets, and support the system through never-ening mindless consumption…

    • Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

      My lifestyle(North America), for the last 59 years, has been a radical alternative. I challenged political and social convention. I do not use alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, drugs, or I-gadgets but I do support the system through never-ending INTELLIGENT consumption (I am frugal). By consumption I assume you mean shopping.

      Shopping is necessary if you live in society. I did consider being a hermit early in life as I do not fit in. I am an atheist, voluntarist, Objectivist, natural foods advocate. I do not know what % I represent, but I know it is growing. The others die off a lot sooner, and reproduce less. I doubt the % worldwide of people like me is higher anywhere else.

      • KreditanstaltNo Gravatar says:

        Don Duncan, you sound like you have CONTROL over your life!

        I fear for my neighbours who spend enormous amounts of money, never save, never exhibit concern about their futures and yet never seem to accumulate anything substantial…

        In the future, the survivors will be GENERALISTS. Yet today we see a consumerism which is unable to distinguish between objective needs and subjective wants, between good value and sheer capital misallocation, between “spending” and “investing”, between good quality and shoddiness…in a world of constant change and many dangers, isn’t it prudent for us all to have as a goal the gaining of resilience, sustainability and preparedness in our personal lives?

        Instead of consuming, as do most people, like an immature chimpanzee…?

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        It is pleasing to see that you are out there. I am a bit younger than you at 61. I share much of the basic lifestyle. I hope you are right and people like you are a growing percentage of the population, but I seriously doubt it. At this juncture I am just trying to survive my few remaining years without much hope left of seeing a turn towards freedom and rationality in the general society.

  10. MattNo Gravatar says:

    As someone who has come up through rave culture as a young(er) man… I found there was something beyond just partying and drugs which kept pulling me back. Yes, I took drugs and danced all night… and yes this was largely an act of hedonistic enjoyment… (although I prefer to look at it in the light of paganistic celebration of life and the simple joys of existing rather than the nightmarish picture of decadence and escapism depicted here by the blogger.)

    But there was something that I always felt was happening which lay slightly deeper than the surface. I don’t think everybody senses it, but it is there. There are certain lessons that you learn simply by forcing yourself out of your element, to go and camp and survive for days on end amongst a community of people seeking a communion with music and each other, and I think Martina Hoffman put it best when she described one edition of Boom Festival in Portugal as “Boot Camp for Communal Living”. I admire the strength of will and initiative that has brought true survivalists and homesteaders to build their own systems outside of our present one, but I think for many people that phase of growth is still very far away… and sometimes baby steps are better than no steps at all.

    While I can’t speak for this particular single party (and I know that this is not the only one of its kind… escapist hedonism without point is probably the norm in the world outside of my blessed little community) I will say that for many people, the openness of communication enabled by these events can often be the starting of a much larger growth. For myself, I think that the thing below the surface was best summed up by a girl I met at one of these things who I had not seen since high school… she was steeped in the culture at this point, a full dreaded hippie and I later discovered a recent mother… but when I asked her what she thought was the reason for us gathering there in the woods, he said to me:

    “It’s about communication.”

    Don’t forget, political evolution is just one facet of the human experience. Emotional experiences and transformations can be just as powerful as societal/political ones. Not everyone is going to drop out of the system and start farming. But maybe the office drone who lives inside the current system will be able to bring slightly more light and critical thought into their day to day job. Maybe we can even turn around the outlook of someone who pulls the strings in the higher offices of some twisted corporate establishment.

    Are psytrance parties the solution to societies ills? Fuck no. But they can be a starting point for many people.

    …and as a side note, just because they aren’t wearing leather and military fatigues doesn’t mean they aren’t valid as their own societal organization! Not everyone wants to live in a militant commune, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from the ideas.

    Sooo. yeah. Did I say anything meaningful there? Talk to me. Criticize my points. Let’s communicate.

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Matt, new experiences are one thing. Drug induced mental aberation is another. As Ayn Rand pointed out “The only reason to use recreational drugs is to be out of control of your own mind. Why would anyone wish to be out of control of your own mind?”

      • MattNo Gravatar says:

        Well, I didn’t think I needed another reason to disagree with Ayn Rand but there you are… that quote sounds to me like someone who has not really had very much experience with drugs.

        Drugs have been used for generations by human cultures across the globe for spiritual, recreational, and medicinal purposes. Would you discount all of those traditions?

        Besides, I think that it is missing the point of this article a little bit to focus and debate on the drugs aspect. The author Gyorgy speaks positively of the Teknival subculture, the members of which (believe me) are no stranger to altered states of consciousness.

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          Matt, I suppose in a technical sense that one’s morning breakfast is a “mind altering drug”. But in reality this lis a case of differing apriori assumptions which no amount of argument will change. I think druggies are fucked in the head and disregard much of what they say as drug induced stupidity. I am all for the total removal of laws stopping the individual’s freedom including drug laws. But recreational drug use is purely stupid. Alcohol and cigarretes are legal, but only a fool uses them.

      • Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

        Ayn was a heavy drug user. She wrote for days on uppers and smoked. She would defend this as helpful for her creative process. I agree with respect to the uppers but not the nicotine. She was prone to making pronouncements that she could not defend because she had “blind spots”, i.e., she could have used some psychological therapy. That would have been impossible for Nathan because of his relationship as protege and the age difference.

        Mind altering drugs can be very helpful. Or not. If not, using just for escape, i.e., recreation is not always a bad thing. Ayn would not claim that the mind-altering hormones produced by great sex were bad. Nathan has pointed out that their is a time and place for mental control. Sex is not one of them. Rest, sleep, meditation are all mind-altering states with benefits. Hypnosis is a mind-altering medical treatment, learning technique, and self employed can be beneficial.

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          Don, yes Rand was a hypocrit in many ways like her support of Israel. That does not change my admiration for her basic concept of objectivity, even though our better understanding of psychology today says that most human decision making is emotion based. We still should strive to find rationality and balance our emotions with it. My father wrote a paper on this subject many years ago. He called such balance “motigration” and considered it as much an artform as a science.

  11. psyberimpNo Gravatar says:

    Anarcho-Capitalists like National Anarchists are an embarrassment to the terms Anarchist/ Anarchy. Anarcho-Capitalists are far right neo cons who oppose socialism, humanitarianism, and true communism (mutual aid, collective responsibility, equality, and workers’ control). Anarcho-Capitalists know they cannot recruit people to their movement if they would be honest about who they are: people who want open plutocratic capitalism, where there is no government aid, public housing, public hospitals, taxing the rich, public schools, and public transport. Everything would be privatized and based on the principal of user pays. Margaret Thatcher could have been described as an Anarcho-Capitalist. Tony Abbott (the racist moron who is prime minister of Australia) and his entire criminal cabinet are rabid Anarcho-Capitalists. Anarcho-Capitalists and National Anarchists have no place in the Anarchist movement (a movement based on fighting capitalism, racism, imperialism, sexism, and heterosexism).

    • Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

      What’s it like to have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about?

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      psybeimp, your concept of anarchism has nothing to do with the concept as I understand it. Anarchy describes a society without government. Many of the things you promoted such as taxation depend on government. I have some reservations about anarcho-capitalism myself, but they are based upon the screwed up capitalism of today which is really corporate tyranny. There is no intrinsic reason that anarchy and capitalism can’t coexist. They just need to be private not governmentally controlled.

  12. Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

    psybeimp is so confused I was no going to respond because I did not think he could understand. But others might.

    We can speculate at the consequences of no govt., i.e., anarchism, voluntarism. But one thing is sure. No institutionalized violence, no popular support for gang rule would exist. But that is all we know for sure. Since govt. is a monopoly on violence, all governments result in the initiation of force. Give any group the moral sanction (blank check) to push everybody else around and that group will abuse their power, become more and more corrupt as their power grows, until near total power completely corrupts and destroys the society. The irony with the critics of anarchism is that they claim this is what will happen without govt.

    Since govt. is control by brute force, commerce is controlled. Capitalism is an economic system where no control exists. Therefore, capitalism can only exist where govt. does not. A society without govt. may have rigidly structured organizations in which obedience is demanded but they will not be able to force membership on everyone. It will be voluntary. This will allow change. It will allow comparison with other group organizations. In time, the most efficient will become dominant, perhaps with the extinction of present paradigms.

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Don, very well said! Most people have been brainwashed into equating anarchy with chaos. Anarchy simply describes a society without government. Government however does tend to become chaotic. Most folks can’t get past their kneejerk reaction that anarchism equals terrorism while patriotism is one of the ultimate “goods”. Anarchy would allow people to find out if freedom does allow a person to live up to their potential. There are no guarantees it would work, but government will never allow men to be free enough to find out.