By Hank Pellissier
“Yes (sort of),” says Chris Hables Gray, a “pragmatic anarchist feminist revolutionary” who works as a lecturer of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cal State Monterey. He believes “devolution” of large nations into smaller regions will improve democratic decision-making.
Is this a “transhumanist” topic? Indeed, it is.
The Terasem Survey revealed that 20.1% of H+ responders predict “Abolition of Government” in the next 100 years, with an additional 15.% foreseeing “Thousands of Small Fractured States.” California secession fits handily into the latter category.
I interviewed Dr. Gray via email last week on this controversial topic. Our e-dialogue is below:
Hank Pellissier: hi Chris – can you tell us a bit about your family background and upbringing?
Dr. Gray I was born in Bishop, California in 1953. On my mother’s side I’m a direct descendant of Jose Francisco Ortega, pathfinder of the Portola expedition, a number of other Spanish and Catalan explorers and, in two cases, of the Native California women they married. But I don’t claim any real indian heritage. These women’s real names are lost. But I did grow up thinking of myself as Spanish and Catalan (my great-grandmother who raised my mother lived in an adobe in King City), my favorites of the 23 nationalities that my parents have documented in my background.
How you define yourself politically and how did you reach that position?
Dr. Gray I’ve been an anarchist since I was 14 and a revolutionary feminist since I was 18. As a frosh at Stanford in 1971 I was arrested and beaten (not for the last time) during an anti-war protest and as I became an organizer I realized that feminist process, consensus decision-making, and anarchist organizational principles were what I believed in. For people interested in the anarchist-feminist
perspective I strongly recommend the autobiography of Emma Goldman, the fiction of Ursula Le Guin (especially The Dispossessed), and also the writings of Alexander Berkman and Colin Ward. I am a pragmatic revolutionary, working toward the logical conclusion of the saying (popular with American revolutionaries such as Thomas Jefferson): “The government is best that governs least.”
What’s your career history?
Dr. Gray I have had many jobs, including over a decade doing blue collar and white collar work as I organized and took part in nonviolent direct actions around the Vietnam War, US support for apartheid, union organizing, the American Empire, nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
Currently I lecture on the cultural studies of science and technology at the University of California, Santa Cruz (where I got my doctorate in 1991 in the History of Consciousness) and California State University at Monterey Bay. I have published a great deal. My book Postmodern War (Guilford Press, 1997) is now free on my web site (http://www.chrishablesgray.org), my other academic books are still for sale (Cyborg Handbook (ed.); Technohistory (ed.); Cyborg Citizen; and Peace, War and Computers) and I’ve put my memoir of my 19th year on-line (http://issuu.com/chrishablesgray/docs/19thyear), as well as a punk magical realism novel I wrote in the 80s (http://www.scribd.com/doc/76210205/It-Could-Be-Magic) while living in San Francisco.
Why would California thrive if it seceded from the USA? What is your motivation for wanting this?
Dr. Gray The United States as we now know it will not last forever. In the long term I am working toward an autonomous California that will be part of an American (North) Union, not unlike the European Union but with much less bureaucracy and most of the power at the local level. Empire is
the enemy of democracy and as long as the US is an empire we will see our democracy erode. California (Alta) has more in common economically and culturally with California (Baja) than with Alabama. We share a bioregion and culture with Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia
while we share much less with Missouri (where a majority of people don’t even accept the reality of evolution).
But I don’t believe in total isolation (of the individual, let alone larger political entities). Humans are profoundly social, and so I believe in belonging to many different associations. It certainly makes sense for California to keep relations with places such as New York and Chicago. A looser system, think of the Articles of Confederation with a Bill of Rights made stronger by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is what I dream of.