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Ten Warning Signs of Totalitarianism



To the editors:

In lieu of slitting him a new asshole, which is my immediate impulse whenever I read ignorant, facile, crypto-nazi, xenophobic, chauvinistic, machiavellian, proconformist, Reagan-McCarthyite pap, I would like to genteelly respond to Mark Jeffries's fascist little letter in the December 18 Reader. Well, at first I thought he was a fascist, but then I considered that he might be one of the smug idiots who thinks that recycling his gourmet cat food cans and lecturing street people on the moral dangers of idleness means they have a moral conscience. Then it occurred to me that perhaps he was a frustrated actor or writer himself, a kind of Solieri to Oobleck's Mozart. But since by his own admission he is a tightwad, the cat food theory died, and as Solieri had at least a vestige of neocortex, I was left on closer inspection of his letter to conclude that he was, indeed, a member of an underground fascist movement. Mad, you say? But why will you say that I am mad? I have proof! Yes! I consulted a psychologist, who is himself an avowed Nazi, and when I read Jeffries's letter to him his eyes began to spout tears in great torrents, and he cried, "I want to marry this man!"

He also elucidated to me the Ten Hallmarks of a totalitarian mind:

1) Pathological aversion to modern art. After over one hundred years of sober discussion its strategies are now accepted as valid by fine, upstanding citizens all over the world. And yet the People's Republic of China and Mark Jeffries, in their paleolithic stubbornness, continue to view it as a social threat.

2) The view that honesty, integrity, suspicion of authority, and radical critiques of society are in some way immature or sophomoric, or inherently collegiate and elitist. Jeffries espouses this view to the letter, as if all mature intellectuals would immediately agree. I believe Zola, Socrates, Jesus, Gandhi, Einstein, Paine, Thoreau, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer would disagree. But I'm sure Nixon, Pol Pot, Mussolini, and Stalin would gladly share a pitcher of Adolf Coors's rectal pus with the otherwise lonely Mr. Jeffries.

3) Blatant disregard for facts. Mr. Jeffries seems to think that Oobleck published The Slow and Painful Death of Sam Shepard and Ugly's First World. They are under my copyright, as is clearly stated in the chapbooks. If he wanted to know a particular person's opinion on publication and plagiarism he might have asked. But lies serve his purpose better, as does his ignorance. He also does not seem to be able to distinguish parts from wholes, a common symptom of paranoid psychosis.

4) A belief that one has a monopoly on the definition of "reality." Mr. Jeffries continually posits a "real world" to which, it seems, he is the only one with access. My own opinion is that there seems to be sprouting up in the U.S. a breed of young capitalist apologists who are under the impression that, because they themselves are unprincipled, obsequious sheep, everyone else in the "real world," a projection of their own infantile egos, must be one as well.

5) A denial of one's own fascism. I have little doubt that Jeffries would disagree that his letter evinces the classism, conformism, and anti-intellectual stance common to classic totalitarian regimes. Just wait and see if he responds! Ten to one he tries to deny he's a fascist!

6) Red-baiting. Nixon did it. McCarthy did it. Reagan did it. Hitler did it. Jeffries now lobbies for his position in the great pantheon. He is mistaken, however, if he thinks I am a commie or a liberal. He will find out what I am after the revolution when he is forced to eat a dumpsterful of gravel.

7) The labeling of intellectuals, artists, and social activists as narcissistic or "self-indulgent." This is the most vapid of fascist strategies, as it seeks to define action as limited to the destruction of all enemies. Therefore, in the infantile projection of the fascists' "real world," self-indulgence is defined as lack of adherence to the most violent edicts of the party line. In Jeffries's case, however, the charge of narcissism is hypocritical. The psychologist told me that his prose indicated a propensity to "masturbate while watching The McLaughlin Group."

8) The view that the success of others is somehow a crime. Oobleck, in Jeffries's "real world" projection, commits the heinous crime of having supporters and an audience. These supporters are then accused of being "ass-kissers," as if they had some kind of fortune to gain by supporting free experimental theater. Is this kind of theater a threat to Jeffries? Are he and his Nazis starting a Nazi theater troupe? Or has he already tried and failed, now bitter and friendless? Almost makes me feel sorry for him. My advice is that he pull himself up by his own bootstraps, in fine capitalist fashion, brush himself off and start fresh. I'm sure he can succeed if he just perseveres. Go, Mark, go!

9) Lumping together while trying to divide. What is "Generation X"? Some degenerate disease Jeffries has diagnosed in the art world? I just do what I do. And why does he assume I don't like Annoyance Theatre? Once again, Jeffries's self-constructed "real world" is a place of mysterious phenomena where anything can be true.

10) Inability to distinguish commodities from human beings. Jeffries's arguments equating plagiarism with capitalist exploitation makes this psychological debility of his crystal clear. It may also explain who keeps sending Exxon all those valentines.

To conclude let me just caution Jeffries that people are getting more and more fed up with those who contribute nothing to society but sit around criticizing the struggle of others to improve a flawed system. I offer him the following advice; if you want to be a fascist, that's fine. But please, next time you feel the need to express your asinine opinions, won't you please have the courtesy to die first?

Jeff Dorchen

Theater for the Age of Gold

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