Sunni: Hi Mike. Thanks for taking some time out of your schedule to talk with me. How’re things with you today?
Mike: Howdy! The pleasure is all mine, really. I am absolutely tickled to be part of your Salon! Today has been a recovery day for me: even though Halloween isn’t really big here in Slovakia, I did manage to fall in with a small group to paint the town red last night... and this morning! [laughing] So, I’m a bit less than 100%, but that’s okay.
Sunni: I’ll be as gentle as I can, then. I suppose I should confess at the outset: I had planned to feature your thought-provoking blog in this issue, and perhaps interview you later. But things worked out differently, and here we are, about to go at it! [laughs] How would you like to introduce yourself?
Mike: Tough question! I’ve had so many labels in my life, it’s quite difficult to really sum up who I am. I recently abandonded a corporate IT career—data network engineering, infrastructure and staff management—in favor of running my own show, and became a freelance translator and editor. Alongside that, I either am or have been: a “gifted” child, a Ritalin-addled ADD kid, an honors student, a metalhead, an anti-war protestor, a college dropout, a hacker/phreak, a Buddhist, an atheist, a Discordian, a SubGenius, an acid-head, a raver, an entheogens enthusiast, a programmer, an ex-husband, an absentee father, a guy who missed out by mere months on dot-com millions, an aspiring Perpetual Traveler, a drug policy reform activist, a Libertarian, a libertarian, an anarchist, a blogger and an expatriate. I suppose all of this might make me any conservative mother’s worst nightmare. [chuckles]
Sunni: Wow, what a list! That pretty much guarantees we won’t get to touch on everything I’d like. What was your introduction to the freedom philosophy? Has your path to anarchism been fairly direct, or did it take you some time and thinking to get there?
Mike: I guess overall it’s fairly direct, though there are a couple of things from my teen years that I can point to which speak to origins. At around 14 I started to read the works of Robert Anton Wilson, which dramatically affected my thinking. Besides Wilson’s anarchist tendency and his efforts to get people to see outside their own “reality tunnels” as he called them, his writings about drugs intrigued me greatly. Looking at the situation, as a kid, where here you have a number of authors praising the effects of certain drugs both on the self and on society while those drugs are banned and denigrated by the culture at large [pauses] something was obviously wrong there, and the conclusion I was drawn toward—before ever taking anything—was that the drugs were suppressed because they presented a danger to the powers that be. At least with respect to the psychedelics, I still believe that to be true.
The other way-back-when event was taking a summer school class in American Government right on the heels of the Tiananmen Square protests of early 1989. All this big stuff was happening out in the world, most of which I didn’t really understand, but that famous image of the man standing firm ahead of a line of Chinese tanks must have done something to me. The final exam for the class was to write a synopsis of American history from the Mayflower landing up through the years immediately preceding the Revolution. I wrote it from the Indians’ perspective, receiving an F for the exam and a D for the course. I repeated the class in my senior year to improve my grade, and had the same teacher for first period. I quit standing up for the daily Pledge of Allegiance ritual then.
Later on my thinking was influenced greatly by the Libertarian Party—early 90s, Murray Rothbard, David Friedman, Extropy magazine—mid-90s, Spooner and Bastiat—late 90s. I probably started really identifying myself as an anarchist around 1999.
Sunni: [laughs] Ack, it’s started already—too many interesting stopes to pursue! Reality tunnels, eh? Which book was that, do you recall?
Mike: [laughs] Well, you’re the interviewer, so it’s your job to make certain that focus is maintained, and of course to exercise iron-fisted editorial discipline.