A world computer data base that
takes account of the world's resources forming a commonwealth accounting
system. Buckminister Fuller envisioned an "omni-world-integrating
electrical-energy network grid" powered by free-flowing solar
energy becoming the currency of the Earth Bank.
A word coin by architect Paolo
Soleri combining the word architecture and ecology. Arcologies are
self-contained opend and closed structures that evolve our present
post-modern cities from wastelands and places of environmental destruction
into a network of biospheric wonderworlds of high-technology. Arcology
is the evolution of city.
A non-violent, world-wide spiritual
revolution; the evolution of revolution; world movement for social
and economic freedom, a romantic rebellion for planetary peace and
The feeling of ecstasy caused by
global enlightenment as the people liberate themselves from the dictatorial
bureaucracies and begin to understand our organic unity and the inward
powers of communication such unity brings to the human species.
Advancing from the idea of Chancellor
David Scott's idea of the transversity--an interactive, connected,
transcultural, transdisciplinary, university of the future which is
based on the global corporations image of development--the goal of
the Neutopian Transversity is to base education on a feminist cybersocialist
mission of building a network of arcologies.
First Day of Classes 1995
I didn't know if I had the nerve to call the Deputy Chancellor after
I found out that she had terminated my account at the OIT (Office
of Information Technologies) computer center, but I decided that I
needed to know from her the reason why she had taken such severe action
against me for allegedly violating Copyright Law. After Duncan Chesley
left a message on my telephone service that I had lost my account,
I was in shock. I had arranged my entire life around my research account
and now to have lost it meant losing the intellectual life I had established
for the past several years over the Internet. Nevertheless, by the
afternoon, I was ready to call the Deputy Chancellor.
It was the first day of school and
I knew that the Whitmore Building, the headquarters of the Administration,
would be an insane place with all the students running around trying
to find enough financial aid to go to school. So, I left several messages
with Marcie Williams' secretary for Marcie to call me back. When I
was away from the phone, she did. She left a message that the University
had decided to terminate my account, but she had the phone numbers
of the local commercial services where I could pay to get back online.
That was not the kind and quality of information that I was seeking
from her as if she were an advertiser for the commercial sector!
Everything at Umass had become a commercial.
When I was part of the Chancellor's Civility Commission several years
ago, I was horrified when members referred to the students as customers
who were educational consumers of their educational products. I objected
to this language, but no one seemed to agree with me that the purpose
of education wasn't to make consumers. In my mind, the purpose of
education is to create critical thinkers who would not serve the profit
motives of the elite at the top of corporate management, but who would
serve the interests of quality survival for the human race.
Finally, I called her in the late
afternoon when she was available to answer the phone. She is a well-spoken
woman who seemed opened to discussing the issues with rebel me. The
problem she said was that since I posted Clarinet news articles on
the women's movement to my public newsgroup-- alt.society.neutopia--the
Clarinet corporation, who Umass pays for their service, might threaten
to cancel Umass' Clarinet connection, and could possibly sue Umass for Copyright
Law violation. In an attempt to avoid these consequences, Umass had
decided to terminate my account. She explained to me that she had
talked with the Clarinet owners and that they were pleased that she
had inflicted such severe punishment upon me.
I explained to her that the termination
of my account was too strong a punishment and that I would not be
able to finish my research on the women's movement in China if I could
no longer get into my account. I tried to get through to her that
I didn't know about Copyright law because there were no courses offered
at Umass about such things and that OIT never gave me any information
about such policies. I told her that I realized the entire field was
new because I had heard, only that afternoon, over National Public
Radio that President Clinton had assigned a task force to draft up
new recommendations for such Electronic Copyright laws. Those facts
didn't seem to change her mind. She kept on repeating that I had broken
Copyright Cyberlaw and that I had to pay the price by being dropped
from my research account. She said I had to be terminated since I
was a not a registered student and that I was not employed by the
University, so they had no way to control me. I wondered, "Is
that what the university structure is all about, controlling the actions
of people as oppose to offering the opportunity for free interchange
She and I figured out that it would
cost about $120 a month to use the Internet the way I had used it
at Umass for a least six hours a day since this was before the time
when services charged fate rates. I explained to her since I was unable
to get state or corporate support for my research. If I didn't receive
money from my father, I would be a homeless woman or I would be working
at some miserable job making minimum wage working for some patriarchal boss,
forsaking the scholar/activist/artist within me. I had a car to keep
up, student loans to pay off, plus I was living without health care.
When I said that I was living without health care, she gasped and
said that I really need health care. As she talked, I felt the breast
lump that I needed to see a doctor about. But without insurance, I
certainly couldn't go. Health care was going to cost $160 a month.
I told her that it was probably difficult
for her to realize how hard it was for me as a scholar to make a living
as a Futurist since she, as a top university official, was making
more than $120,000 a year. I needed society to care of me so that
I would have time to be a truth-teller for the public. But, in a capitalist
society, the work that I did was not valued. My research account had
made it possible for me to continue my work of building a more humane
Williams reply was that we were not here to discuss her personal
finances. All I was trying to do was to point out the class divisions
between us and why $120 a month would be difficult for me to come
by, when she had more money than she knew what to do with. "Was
my work less valuable than her work?" I asked myself.
In a Neutopian meritocracy, everyone
would have access to the information technologies and everyone's basic
human needs would be provided for, so that people had time to do the
creative work the universe was calling them to do. But Umass was certainly
not a meritocracy! The bottom line was, no matter how talented or
gifted you are, if you don't have the money to pay for tuition, the
university could care less if you got the education you needed in
order to develop your gifts, talents, and skills. They talk a lot
about the benefits of life-long education, but the reality is that
the university doesn't support the concept. Even alumni are not permitted
access to the Umass computers, though the four other Ivy League-type
colleges in the Five College system give accounts to their alumni
to enable them access the Internet. This seems like a definite class
war issue to me, since the rich private schools give access to their
alumni while the poor state university does not.
I tried to explain to her about my
work on alt.society.neutopia. Also, I told her about the sexism and
hatred I had experienced on the newsgroup and how one of the administrators
had even posted hateful and sexist things towards me. It was obvious
that my posting were being monitored by Peter, the patriarchal sysadmin.
Since I was given no warning message that I had violated Copyright
Law, I felt the violation was just an excuse for kicking me off the
I explained, "I am struggling
to create a loving consciousness so that we can have the solidarity
to build a truly literate world. The work I am doing on alt.society.neutopia
is good work. Cyberspace is dominated by capitalist patriarchal thugs
and female impersonators who are uncultured misogynists, whose greed
is consciousnessly destroying the world."
The Deputy Chancellor said
that she realized that Cyberspace had been compared to the Wild West
and that there was a lawlessness about the place, but nevertheless,
I had broken the law. "Doctress Williams," I stated, "I
don't think that you realize that there is a war going on in cyberspace
right now." I recalled the poem I had written the week before:
On Usenet, I am in the trenches. There
is a war going on within the market place of ideas. In the trenches,
I am a truth teller in a world of vicious lies. Is it WWI or WWII,
Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, or the War in the Persian Gulf? Maybe
it is all the wars together-- the bomb, the nuclear tests in the Pacific.
the war on the poor, the war against women. I am in the trenches.
Fighting for my right to be a Visionary, visualizing the Internet
as a medium of love and peace where people from all over the world
lay down their mental weapons and begin to build Neutopia, the world
of our collective dream.
I asked the Chancellor if she had read the
article in August 25, Time magazine on Cyber War. When she said
that she had not, I pleaded with her to take a look at it. If she
read it, she would see how men are again using technology to plan out
another generation of immoral war games. They weren't thinking about
how to use the technology to feed the hungry or stop the causes of
war, poverty, and environmental devastation. No, they were thinking
in terms of "computer logic bombs", "jamming the enemy's
TV with propaganda messages" (that sounds like commercial TV),
"EMP bombs" (non-nuclear electromagnetic-pulse) which would
fry the electronics of the communications systems and bank computers
of the opposition, feeding electronics-eating microbes into the enemy's
infrastructure to destroy the enemy's phone system. It was this militaristic
patriarchal thinking that I was hoping to stop on alt.society.neutopia,
and that is why I was so unpopular to the supporters of the status
quo, because I opposed the whole idea of nationalism, militarism,
money, war, poverty, and the root cause of it all, the patriarchal
I explained to her that the reason
why I had posted the Clarinet articles about the women's conference
in China was that I'd hoped to educate the brutal part of my readership
that women ARE powerful and that we were demanding radical changes
in our lives. I posted the articles there to help educate the public.
I asked, "Is it really a crime to help educate people by passing
on enlightening information? Isn't the role of the educator to bring
forth such information for the public good?"
The response was the same. I had broken
Copyright Law and that teachers were not free to give out Copyrighted
information. The information that I had taken was only intended for
paid customers. I had given it out free to the public, and who knows
how many people read it without paying for it. She said that I shouldn't
have acted on my inspiration, but should have contacted the publisher
and gotten his permission to post it into my newsgroup. It was his
intellectual property and it wasn't mine to do anything I wanted with
it. I explained to the Deputy Chancellor that I didn't know that that
was the procedure. I didn't even know that Clarinet was not a public
domain! I thought everyone in Usenet had access to Clarinet! She insisted
that the Copyright message was on the bottom of every Clarinet article
when the fact was that on the four articles that I had taken from
Clarinet the warning was on none of them.
It was obvious that she had not even
seen the evidence against me! If this had been a public hearing, and
I received due process guaranteed under a democratic constitution,
then the evidence could have been presented in my defense. But, of
course, Umass is a dictatorship of the plutocracy. The Deputy Chancellor
had no desire to share power with me through serious dialogue about
the problems. Under her regime, leadership was not recognized as a
comradeship of the ideas and ideals which make up universal patterns,
a common ground to guide students to beneficial political behavior.
Oh no. The autocrat had power over me in a master/slave relationship.
She began to flex her muscles with every word she said, the muscles
which controlled the technocracy.
The situation of the enormity of what
I had done was becoming very clear to me. I had acted like Robin Hood.
I had "stolen" information from the haves and given it to
the have-nots. Copyright was the way capitalism was going to control
the "information superhighway." People who had the money
and credit card numbers available to them received passwords to the
"information superhighway," just like they are the ones
who have the bank cards to flash past the tellers at the grocery stories
to buy food. In this barbaric society, if you don't have money, you
starve. And at a time when most of the jobs are being automated away,
or are being exported to Third World countries in order to extract
huge profits from slave labor, it was the job of Futurists to come
up with an alternative purpose of education for the Computer Age and
that is what I had been doing on alt.society.neutopia.
I had come to realize that censorship
had more subtle forms than just stopping the flow of information by
blocking off one's computer account. The first level of censorship
is economic censorship. If you don't have the money to pay for a computer
and the time and resources to learn how to use the machines, then
you are blocked from getting on the Internet because of your lack
of resources. Once on, if you don't follow the policies set by the
provider, then you could be kicked off for whatever reason, any time
the owners felt like it without a public hearing. The founder of the
Electronic Fronter Foundation, Mitchell Kapor, writes in Scientific
American (Sept 1991): "Our society has made a commitment to openness
and to free communication. But, if our legal and social institutions
fail to adapt to new technology, basic access to the global electronic
media could be seen as a privilege, granted to those who play by the
strictest rules, rather than as a right held by anyone who needs to
I tried to appeal to the woman in
Marcie, a sister struggling for justice against male abuse and violence
toward feminist thinking, by explaining to her that I had no experience
with Copyright. For nearly twenty years, I had been struggling to
penetrate into the "malestream" press only to find no publisher
willing to print my ideas except for a few left-wing ones who had
no money to pay for the writings that they publish. If I wanted to
share my vital vision of the future with the people, I had no choice
but to give my labor for free. Now I had found the technology which
allowed my voice to be heard without having to submit and be rejected
The Deputy Chancellor rebutted by
saying that my dissertation had been Copyrighted and that I wouldn't
want anyone to take it without my permission. "Doctress Williams,"
I said, "I feel that what I wrote about in my dissertation is
important information which the public needs to know about. Since
I have not been able to find a publisher for it, I have given it out
for free. Thanks to my Umass computer space, I have placed it on my
Web page for anyone to download. As a scholar, it is my duty to work
for humanity, not to horde my knowledge in order to make a profit.
To hold back knowledge in order to make a profit is an act against
Giving out my writing into which I
had put so much labor for free had been a difficult thing to accept
as I witnessed my contemporaries becoming rich on their royalities.
Writing on alt.society.neutopia is not even recorded since it is not
archived. So writing on alt.society.neutopia is like a sand painting
used by the medicine men and women of the Southwestern Native American
tribes to cure the sick. Beautiful paintings are created with sand
to psychically heal the illness of the patient. After the paintings
have worked their miracles, they blow away in the wind just like my
words disappear when the computer eliminates them from Usenet after
their time is up. But, in Western Culture, since one can make money
on words, many authoress and authors don't think of giving their words
for free, just like many MDs don't see the sick for free. Holding
back enlightenment for whatever reason is another form of self-censorship,
a crime against humanity.
The result is that we have ended up
with zillions of words without any spirit. It is the spirit behind
the word which is the essence of language, not the product of words
on a book or on a computer disc. As the word becomes more electronic
and as we begin to understand our specieshood as text flys across
the world at near the speed of light, we realize that all the world
is one, and all our words lead us to the same conclusion...to love,
care and work for one another. In order to do so, we need to restructure
the world into a sustainable network of arcologies based on a leisure/learning
I then quoted from a book I had been
reviewing from for the Society of Utopian Studies newsletter, Earth
Follies: Coming to Feminist Terms With the Global Environmental Crisis,
by Joni Seager. She writes "All elites use secrecy to privatize
access to knowledge." Isn't this what is happening now on the
Internet at Umass? The economic elites will have a wealth of information
at their finger tips, while the lower classes are completely left
out of the entire new world of the Net. Shouldn't the university come
out against the information elite? I reflected on the quote of inventor/poet
Buckminster Fuller next to my computer screen, "If man [sic]
chooses oblivion, he can go right on leaving his fate to his political
leaders. If he chooses Utopia, he must initiate an enormous educational
program--immediately, if not sooner." It is time for such an
educational program, making it possible for everyone to have access
to the information technologies. As we enter the Age of the Internet,
universities should be the centers of such a massive educational conversion,
since it is now possible for a world-wide spiritual democracy to be
formed as the creative minority begin to recognize one another.
But the Deputy Chancellor repeated
the University party line, "You violated Copyright law and now
you must be terminated." I wondered if there was any way to communicate
with a woman of color who had bought the entire white male academicians'
enslavement so thoroughly. I had hoped that somehow I could break
through her armor to make her see the principle involved here: why
scholars, cyberactivists, and intellectual dissidents needed protection,
and why the University needed to support free thought on the Internet
by granting them an intellectual tenure. As far as I can see, free
speech and free access are the same thing. If our mission is to create
a world-wide spiritual democracy, then our goal is to create ways
for everyone to have access to the information technologies. In a
logical world, her job is not to kept people off the Internet, but
to help them find a way on.
"Umass ought to be happy that
I am struggling for social justice," I said. "By giving
me a computer account, you are helping liberate the world. And besides,
isn't communication a human right? Isn't communication as essential
to our mental health as nutritious food is to our body?" I could
easily think of a solution to the problem, working within a capitalist
framework of economic reformation. Cut back the salaries of the administration
so that they earn the same pay as a child-care worker. With the surplus
money, buy more computers so that Umass can be the center of community
access for the Pioneer Valley. Then Umass can hire more computer instructors
to teach the community how to work the technologies and offer everyone
in the local area access to the Internet. But as someone who has had
years of experience with the state bureaucracy of Massachusetts, I
knew that the trend of the administration was to give themselves higher
salaries while cutting out such positive programs as Future Studies.
The more I thought about the social
and economic injustices and the propagandistic lies of the global
corporations with which Umass indoctrinates into its students, the
more I began to think in revolutionary terms. Copyright Law made absolutely
no sense to me just like ownership of land was against my basic belief
system. The ideas that flow through my brain are not my own. I gathered
these ideas under Umass professors. They are part of the collective
wisdom of the ages. I do not own them, but embody them. They are channeled
through me by creative powers greater than myself. I simply work as
a tool of the Great Ideas, an instrument of their Vision. It is not
my goal to get rich from "my intellectual property" but
to spread the message of love and peace. My goal is to work like a
cultural meme, passing on the way to Neutopia, a world freed from
the tyranny of money. If my meme virus works its magic, then a neu
spell will take effect as we move into a feminist cybersocialist Neutopia.
How much money one has in the bank will be rendered completely meaningless.
In Neutopia, what counts is one's character. A sell-out, talent-prostitute,
rat-race conformist like Doctor Williams would have no power in
I was beginning to see myself as a
Cyberspace Outlaw until the true law of justice for the people could
be established. Then I could claim my natural role as a CyberQueen
directing the spiritual democracy into the glories of the Neu Millennium.
There seemed no way to reason with women like Marcie who had totally
accepted the Old Boys Club ideology. Revolution was the only solution.
We would have to force her and all the other anti-human beings out
of positions of power.
Closing our conversation I said, "Deputy
Chancellor, I know that your decision to terminate my account was
a move on your part to suppress my free speech. There is an ideological
problem which stands between us. I am a socialist feminist and you
are paid by the patriarchy to maintain the status quo. I have seen
the Administration expel some of the best minds from Umass year after
year so that now the creative spirit at Umass has been suffocate.
I have studied university governance and I know that your regime is
not a good one looking out for the best interests of the student.
It is a kakistocracy, government by the worst people. I could imagine
her at the end of the school day calling her stockbroker to find out
about her latest financial investments and making an appointment with
her accountant to discuss tax shelters on her most recent vacation
home, all of course, paid for legally by the tax payers of the Commonwealth
Chancellor Scott writes in The Campus
Chronicle(May, 1995), "I have chosen as a rally cry for the
vision of the future--Towards a Commonwealth of Learning, which seems
appropriate for the Land Grant University of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
in an information age. The original idea of a commonwealth denotes
shared wealth, a public good accessible to all. We need to create
such a Commonwealth of Learning, which will call for a commonality
of purpose, of conviction and of direction in the complex, expanding
and dynamic universe of learning. This will be our vision-- not a
commonwealth of independent states, a federation of autonomous disciplines
and intellectual activities accountable elsewhere for the satisfaction
of their claims and subject of competing external as well as intrinsic
demands and goals, as Hannah Gray has said. It is a truism to say
that we are in the midst of the Information revolution."
A commonwealth of learning, yes, I
think that is a noble idea. But after talking with Scott about his
transversity, I soon realized that he is not talking about creating
a commonwealth of learning where everyone can access the information
technologies. His transversity is being funded by the transnational
corporations to train workers to be able to compete in the global
economy. His vision of unity is the merger of the university and the
transnational corporation in order to make the rich richer.
"Oh dearest Goddess of Love,"
I pleaded with the invisible forces after getting off the telephone
with the heartless and mindless Deputy Chancellor, "help me connect
with the people who are trying to create a just world. If only the
social hackers (people who carry revolutionary messages) and the physical
hackers (people who know how to break into computer systems) would unite! Please, grant us the
way to bring our forces together so that we could organize massive
actions to shut down the computers used to run the anti-intellectual
With the heart of a peasant guerrilla, I wished
I were part of a world-wide revolution to collapse the unbalanced
economic system. If a group of dedicated lovolutionaries had thousands
of those EMP devices, using email we could arrange a time to go to
the financial capitals of the world and fry their goddamn evil economic
system, paralyzing the temples of capitalism by crashing their stock
markets. Then we could re-organize the wealth by putting it into an
Earth Bank. We could reprogram the computers that run the banks,
insurance companies, educational institutions, credit unions, prison
systems, state bureaucracies etc., to provide the systems needed to
get people online so that they can find their place within the context
of the global Neutopian Transversity.
The thought of such emancipation gives
me a massgasm! Finally, a bloodless revolution for a Neu Epoch! Can
you hear the electronic music of the sounds of crashing international
bank systems? Crone Goddess, I feel like doing the snake dance on
the top of Bill Gates desktop during our illustrious victory party!"
After Dame Phyllis, my 81 year old
mentor read the "Declaration of Global Education for A Future," she
sternly looked at me and said, "You know you are taking a big
risk by posting that over the air. Did you see the movie JULIA from
the story of Lillian Helman? Do you remember what happened to Julia?"
A deep silence fell between us until
I said, "Yes, the Nazis came into her house while she slept and
killed her for her socialist ideas."
Phyllis replied, "Just
as long as you know that you are dealing with the same kind of people.
But the important thing is that you have the knowledge to write what
you do. You learned a great deal from Umass. You are up against the
top guys now. They are afraid of change."
I gave her a good-bye hug and kiss.
On my way home walked alone on the long dark road past the brutal
architecture of the School of Education. I stopped to look up into
the starlit night to nurture my dreams of a Neutopian Future.