I met up with the lovely Victoria Tischler of the University of Nottingham yesterday, who told me about something called the Dialectics of Liberation, a two-week event that took place at the Roundhouse in Camden, in 1967, and that brought together Allen Ginsberg, RD Laing, Herbert Marcuse and Stokely Carmichael of the Black Panthers on one combustible platform. Check it out:
Well, some people are working to recreate the event next January in Kingsley Hall. Look:
VIOLENCE AND LIBERATION
Sunday 8th January 2012, 4 pm to 6 pm
Powis Road Bromley-by-Bow E3 3HJ
1967: Vietnam, race riots, the Summer of Love, revolution in the air…
In the Roundhouse, London, a gathering of firebrand activists hippies intellectuals artists
summoned by the famous psychiatrist RD Laing to debate capitalism, racism, the roots of violence, climate change – and how to build a better world at the great Congress of the Dialectics of Liberation
Today there’s another mounting wave of protest; worldwide people are questioning this dysfunctional system and looking for alternatives. Riding the spirit of the times, multi-media event DIALEKTIKON 2012 recreates the essence of the original Congress, its quest for truths to guide us through the mess we’re in, its big open debates, its spirit of play.
DIALEKTIKON 2012 Is designed as a political entertainment that everyone can take part in and that can be put on anywhere; for instance we plan to take it shortly to the Occupy London protesters as street theatre.
DIALEKTIKON 2012 re-enacts five great Congress speeches in their key moments and intersperses them with jazz poetry and contemporary folk-song. Afterwards there will be space for everyone who chooses – participants and audience together – to debate the situation we’re in now and how these great revolutionary ideas from the ’60’s might make sense today.
Actors perform the speeches in a dialectical sequence, starting with radical psychiatrist RD Laing on the violent forces employed against the individual in the treatment of the ‘mad’, and against the ‘other’ in the West’s dealings with the rest of the world. This is picked up by Black Power leader Stokely Carmichael who rages against white violence and claims the right to react with equal force. In response Beat poet Allen Ginsberg teaches the wisdom of Bodhisattva conduct, the recognition that we are all one. Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse analyses the failure of capitalist society and the need for a deep revolution in human behaviour leading to a new world run on socialist/communitarian principles. Finally visionary scientist Gregory Bateson shows the destructive effects of our unwise purposes on the planet’s natural systems.
Ultimately each speaker points in different ways to the same teaching:
Act together Think for yourself Look into your heart
DIALEKTIKON 2012 is lucky to have the participation of co-organisers of the original Congress, friends and colleagues of RD Laing Dr Joseph Berke and Dr Leon Redler,who will introduce the event; also of jazz poet and friend of Allen Ginsberg Michael Horovitz, who took part in the Congress poetry session and will perform for us now from his grand polemic A NEW WASTE LAND, and also poems by Blake. Performing alongside Michael will be folk-singer Pete Morton with a range of songs written specially for this event.
All this will recreate something of the original heady mix of rhetoric and song.
Playing throughout as background will be ANATOMY OF VIOLENCE, the original film of the Congress shot by award-winning documentary film-maker Peter Davis
The venue is Kingsley Hall, the old community centre in the heart of the East End
where Gandhi stayed when he came to London and where RD Laing set up his experiment for psychiatrists and the mentally distressed to live together in a healing community.
A key element is the participation of the audience in an open discussion about how all this relates to today. The subject of the recent riots is one where Stokely Carmichael’s speech is deeply relevant, and we aim to give space to hear the views of people from the neighbourhood on these happenings using his and Allen Ginsberg’s views to illuminate the discussion.
And we hope by the end of the event that with the help of the poet and the singer a mellow atmosphere will lead us all into some kind of shared awareness…
Producer Victoria Childs 07904 514617 firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer/director Jacky Ivimy 07977 501593 email@example.com